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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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The Imperial Feminine in Byzantium

The Imperial Feminine in Byzantium

(p.161) 7 The Imperial Feminine in Byzantium
Unrivalled Influence

Judith Herrin

Princeton University Press

This chapter analyzes the cultural heritage, the imperial precedents, and variety of visual models on which powerful Byzantine empresses could draw. In particular, it demonstrates that by the eighth and ninth centuries there were significant resources available that might permit imperial authority to adopt feminine forms. The reason for this chronological framework lies in the prominence of two empresses, Irene and Theodora, during the periods of iconoclasm (roughly calculated from 730 to 843). Both reversed bans imposed on the veneration of icons. Irene set a precedent by summoning the Seventh Ecumenical Council held in 787, which justified icons and restored them to a central position in the church, while Theodora is commemorated as a saint for her role in ending the second phase of iconoclasm in 843.

Keywords:   cultural heritage, Byzantine empress, iconoclasm, icons, Byzantium, Empress Theodora, Empress Irene, Byzantine women

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