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date: 15 December 2019

Theodora, Empress of Byzantiumlocked

(b Paphlagonia, c. ad 810; d after 867).
  • L. James


(b Paphlagonia, c. ad 810; d after 867).

Byzantine empress and patron. She was selected as the wife of the iconoclast Emperor Theophilos (reg 829–42) in a beauty contest in 829. She was strongly attached to the worship of images and unsuccessfully tried to soften Theophilos’s persecutions. At his death she took over as regent for their son Michael III (reg 842–67) and governed through her favourites. With the support of her ministers, she began a reversal of iconoclasm and a general restitution of images. Although less resistance was encountered than during the first period of iconoclasm under Eirene, Theodora progressed slowly, careful to maintain her own position. Exiles and prisoners were released and icons, frescoes and mosaics restored, including the image of Christ at the Chalke Gate of the Great Palace (see Istanbul §III 12.). Many of the major monumental restorations, however, took place after Theodora’s deposition in 856, and there was no instant redecoration of churches, although the ...

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