Remarkable, influential woman who equaled & sometimes surpassed her husband. Born into lower class (dad was bear keeper for Constantinople’s circus) Teenage career as dancer and actress Loved adventure, new friends, travel Married Justinian in her 20’s after a long trip to Africa. Became active in politics - advancing her friends, destroying her enemies & sometimes vetoing her husband’s orders.
Responsible for several social welfare programs, including one for city’s poor and homeless girls Convinced the Emperor to expand women’s rights. What a girl!
AD 532 in response to huge amounts of money being poured into overseas wars and to Justinian’s tyrannical rule, there was a riot in Constantinople - Nika Rebellion. It started as a simple shouting match in the stadium but soon a mob formed and the city was in flames The royal family took refuge in the palace - counselors advised to escape by sea.
“ In my opinion this is no time to admit the maxim that a woman must not act as a man among men; nor, if she fires the courage of the halting, are we to consider whether she does right or no. When matters come to a crisis, we must agree as to the best course to take. My opinion is that, although we may save ourselves by flight, it is not to our interest. Every man that sees the light must die, but the man who has once been raised to the height of empire cannot suffer himself to go into exile and survive his dignity. God forbid that I should ever be stripped of this purple (the royal robe), or live a single day on which I am not saluted as Mistress. If thou desirest to go, Emperor, nothing prevents thee. There is the sea; there are the steps to the boat. But have a care that when thou leaves here, thou dost not exchange this sweet light for an ignoble death. For my part I like the old saying; the empire is a fine winding sheet.”
Rallied by her speech Justinian sent troops to crush the rebellion. The emperor and his troops surrounded the hippodrome, killed 30,000 of the rebels, and order was restored. So what do we think about Theodora?