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Theodora: Portrait in a Byzantine Landscape

By Antony Bridge

Theodora was a Byzantine courtesan who rose from the gutter to the throne. Her story is as romantic and improbable as that of Cinderella; and yet it actually happened.

The Byzantines were a remarkable people, and they produced some remarkable women. But by any standards, Theodora must rank as one of the most remarkable of them all. Historically, she has been slandered by her enemies. But while some of their scandalous stories may be partly true, she also had some excellent qualities. And it’s time the record was put straight.

One of the worst riots in Byzantine history took place when Theodora had been on the throne for only a short time. During much of her reign there was war in Italy, marked by appalling suffering and barbarity. And towards the end of her life Constantinople was devastated by bubonic plague. Yet she triumphed over every adverse circumstance, rising from her humble beginnings as a dancing girl to become a great empress.

Antony Bridge’s artistic and theological background, and lifelong interest in Byzantium, fit him particularly well for the role of Theodora’s biographer. He has produced a scholarly and entertaining book that will fascinate and delight readers with an interest in ancient history, as well as those who enjoy high quality biography.

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