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Theodora (wife of Justinian)

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The holy and right-believing '''Empress Theodora''' (''c''. 500-548) was empress of the [[Roman Empire]] and the wife of Emperor [[Justinian the Great]]. Along with her husband, she is a [[saint]] in the [[Orthodox Church]], commemorated on [[November 14]].
==Life==Theodora was born into the lowest class of [[Byzantine]] society, the daughter of a bearkeeper for the circus. Much of the information from this earliest part of her life comes from the ''Secret History'' of Procopius, published posthumously. Critics of Procopius—whose work reveals a man seriously disillusioned regarding his rulers and out to defame them—have dismissed his work as vitriolic and pornograpic.
It is believed by some scholars that sometime before meeting Justinian she became an adherent of the [[Monophysitism|Monophysite]] Christianity, which claims Christ was of one nature, remaining their partisan throughout her life. Others instead argue that her association with [[Monophysitism]] is largely because of Justinian's putting her in charge of courting the Monophysites' reunion with the [[Fourth Ecumenical Council|Chalcedonian]] party in the Church, and so while remaining Chalcedonian herself, she was pastorally favorable toward the non-Chalcedonians.
Other scholars (and those who venerate Theodora as a [[saint]]) instead regard Theodora's achievements for women not as a modern feminist "liberation" to commit abortion or adultery but rather as a truly egalitarian drive to give women the same legal rights as men, such as establishing homes for prostitutes, passing laws prohibiting forced prostitution, granting women more rights in divorce cases, allowing women to own and inherit property, and enacting the death penalty for rape, all of which raised women's status far above that current in the Western portion of the Empire.
Theodora died of cancer (probably breast cancer) before the age of 50, some 20 years before Justinian died. Her body was buried in the [[Church of the Holy Apostles (Constantinople)|Church of the Holy Apostles]], one of the splendid churches the emperor and empress had built in Constantinople. Both Theodora and Justinian are represented in beautiful mosaics that exist to this day in the [[Church of San Vitale (Ravenna)|Church of San Vitale]] at Ravenna in northern Italy, which was completed a year before her death.
==External links==
* [http://www.isidore-of-seville.com/justinian/ Justinian, Theodora and Procopius]
[[Category:Empresses and Queens]]
[[Category:Saints]]
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