Empress Theodora
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theodora byzantine
Theodora, Byzantine empress (born c. 497 ceódied June 28, 548, Constantinople), wife of the emperor Justinian I (reigned 527Ė565). To most historians, she was the most powerful woman in Byzantine history, her charm and intelligence made her Justinianís most trusted adviser. She had her influence in making crucial decisions in almost all imperial affairs.

Secret History of Procopius of Caesarea probably provides the best information on what we know about her today. Her father was a bear keeper at the Hippodrome (circus) in Constantinople. She became an actress while still young, leading an unconventional life that included giving birth to at least one child out of wedlock.

For a time, she made her living as a wool spinner. When Justinian met her, she had been converted to monophysitism, a non-orthodox doctrine. Attracted by her beauty and intelligence, he made her his mistress, raised her to the rank of patrician, and in 525 married her. When Justinian succeeded to the throne in 527, she was proclaimed augusta.

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