Biography Essay on Theodora

Published: 2021-06-22
888 words
4 pages
8 min to read
Middlebury College
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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The biography of Empress Theodora reveals that she was born around 497 AD and died on 28th June 548 in the present day Istanbul Turkey, formerly Constantinople. She acquired her Empress identity after marrying the Byzantine emperor one Justinian who reigned between 527 and 565 and got depicted as the most powerful woman in the history of the Byzantine. Among her virtues was pointed out in her high level of intelligence which gave her the position of the emperor's adviser. She was equally able to use her dominant position in offering influence in promoting both the social and religious policies which favored her interests. Therefore, the paper gets founded on life and influence of Theodora, the great Empress of Byzantine Empire.

History traces her birth to around 497 AD as noted earlier. Her father was Acacius and practiced beekeeping at a place known as Hippodrome in Constantinople. She first became an actress and a prostitute at a very young age before becoming the Empress of the Byzantine people. At the time, her life got depicted as unconventional coupled with various aspects of controversies ( Par, 2). She ended up giving birth to one of his children out of wedlock thereby getting married while having an already grown child. She also made a living out of wool spinning. She later got converted to monophysitism which at the time was referred to as a non- orthodox doctrine. It was at this time that he met Emperor Justinian whom she attracted with her beauty coupled with her high level of intelligence. The emperor, therefore, made her mistress and later took her as a wife at around 527. In consideration of her disreputable past, there were particular legislations which had to be made before their marriage to straighten societal laws and values. One of the critical legislation that got passed legalized the marriage between actresses of any character and men of honor, particularly those that came from senatorial ranks. At around 527, Justinian succeeded his father on the throne and became proclaimed Augusta (Britannica Par, 3).

Apart from the information presented in her life, Theodora also exercised significant influence on the people of Byzantine Empire. She gets highlighted as a woman who was never coregent but used her great level of intelligence in assisting the emperor to handle political matters. The justification on the issue gets depicted in the Nika revolt of January 532. Her name became mentioned in nearly all the laws which got passed by the Byzantine. Another significant influence also gets founded on her consideration for the rights of women. She passed very strict laws which prohibited certain practices that were getting conducted against women. For example, she signed into law the legislation which prohibited the traffic of young girls (John Par, 4). She went further in altering the divorce law and offered greater advantages to women. Previously, the Byzantine divorce laws majorly favored men as opposed to women, a concern which subjected them into a state of ruthlessness.

She also spent much of her time trying to use her powerful influence in trying to mitigate the laws which were against Monophysitism. He influences also assisted in ending the persecution of 533 against the Byzantine people (Potter, 6). It, therefore, gets argued that most of the empress influence was majorly on strengthening the rights of women and matters of religion. Some of her critics also share in the argument that the underlying reasons which formed the basis of her influence were mostly influenced by the life she lived before converting to monophysitism. Even though she had a significant influence on matters of religion, she failed in changing the religious policies of the emperor from the key emphasis which got made on orthodoxy and the relationship built with Rome. One of her most argued and appreciated influence gets depicted on the representation of the mosaic portrait in the church especially that of San Vitale in Ravenna. As was the routine, she made the people change their religious doctrines using her dominant position. In consideration aspect that most of them majorly impacted women, she ended up building a strong position for herself and attained great respect from the Byzantine people. In the political dimension, some of her important influence gets argued by the important legislations that date from the time of her death and the era of the Justinian's. She later passed on after a severe struggle with cancer from the gangrene which also came as a blow to the people of the Byzantine Empire (Potter, 9).


In summary, the paper presents the life and the influence of Theodora of the Byzantine Empire from various perspectives as mirrored. It begins by noting when she was born at around 497 AD until the time she became the Empress. The paper goes further to argue the different influence she offered to Justinian and the Empire at large through her high level of intelligence. It gets claimed that she only failed in changing the husband's religious policies, but that never threatened her commanding position. Her untimely death brought much sadness to the Byzantines considering the love they had for her.

Works Cited,TheodoraBiography,2014.Retrievedfrom,


John, J, Empress Theodora, 2017. Retrieved from

Potter, D S. Theodora: Actress, Empress, Saint. , 2015. Print. Retrieved from


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