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Unrivalled InfluenceWomen and Empire in Byzantium$
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Judith Herrin

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691153216

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691153216.001.0001

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In Search of Byzantine Women

In Search of Byzantine Women

Thre Avenues of Approach

(p.12) 2 In Search of Byzantine Women
Unrivalled Influence

Judith Herrin

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines some of the roles of women in early medieval Byzantine society. It follows three particular avenues of approach, devised as a means of identifying the positions, activity, and authority of women in Byzantine society. The first is to pick up chance references to female activity in the sources written by men, especially those that occur spontaneously in narratives unconnected with women, incidental remarks, and stray observations. The second seeks to document the ingenuity with which women exercised their limited legal rights and is therefore dependent upon the case law that survives—the Peira (Teaching) of Eustathios Romaios is the outstanding example. The third approach attempts to outline the significance of ecclesiastical institutions and Christian beliefs for women, an area in which female subjectivity is perhaps most closely revealed. The overall aim of these avenues is to illuminate a practical reality rather than a legal ideal.

Keywords:   Byzantium, Byzantine women, Byzantine society, women's roles, Christian beliefs, female subjectivity, women's rights

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