1) Empress (q.v.) from 527-548; wife of Justinian I (q.v.). Prokopios (q.v.), in his Anekdota (Secret History) (q.v.) claims that before marrying Justinian in 525 she led the life of a stripper and courtesan. Whether true or not, her iron will saved Justinian during the Nika Revolt (q.v.) and she continued to be his partner in the affairs of state. She seemed to have her own religious policy (favoring Monophysitism [q.v.]), and she was a master of intrigue who engineered the downfall of Justinian's powerful minister, John of Cappadocia (q.v.). She also caused the downfall of two popes, Silverius and Vigilius (qq.v.). Some of the behavior that Prokopios maligns a modern reader might call feminism. Her charitable works were many, including the founding of orphanages, hospitals, and even a home to rehabilitate prostitutes. The dazzling portrait of her in the church of San Vitale in Ravenna (qq.v.) is as unforgettable as that which Prokopios paints of her.
   2) Empress (q.v.) and wife of Theophilos (q.v.); regent for Michael III (q.v.); saint. Her brothers were Petronas and Bardas (qq.v.). She is remembered for her bride show (q.v.), but primarily as the Iconodule (q.v.) wife of the last Iconoclast emperor. She venerated icons (q.v.) in secret in the palace, and after Theophilos's death she aided in the restoration of icons in 843, for which she was made a saint. She insured that Theophilos was not condemned by claiming that he had repented on his deathbed. She was deposed in 856 after the murder of Theoktistos (q.v.).
   3) Co-empress with her sister Zoe (q.v.) in 1042, and empress (q.v.) in her own right from 1055-1056, after the death of Constantine IX Monomachos (q.v.). She was the third daughter of Constantine VIII (q.v.) and became the last surviving member of the Macedonian dynasty (q.v.). Her brief sole rule evoked the hostility of patriarch Michael I Keroularios (qv.), who resented a female exercising imperial authority. One of her generals, a certain Bryennios, raised a revolt and was exiled. Before she died in 1056 she consented to the choice of Michael (VI) Stratiotikos (q.v.) as her successor.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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