(Empress consort of the Byzantine Empire (527-48))
Born In: Paphlagonia
Theodora was the wife of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. She is considered as one of the most powerful women in the history of the Byzantine Empire. She was the emperor’s most trusted consultant. It is said that she used her influence over the king to endorse policies related to religion and social issues which served her interests. We come to know about Theodora’s life from historical documents like that of Procopius’s ‘The Wars of Justinian’. The book portrays the empress as a very strong and dominant personality. On the other hand, ‘Secret History’ by the same historian, shows her as a shrewd and mean queen who used her sexuality to control the emperor. Other documents record her as a very beautiful and pious woman. History remembers Theodora as an empress who fought for women rights and passed laws to prohibit the trafficking of young girls. She also made significant changes to the divorce laws. The most important event that happened during her reign was the Nika revolt where she proved herself to be a commendable leader by giving a moving speech about the honor of a ruler. It is believed that she died of cancer at the age of 48.