Friday, August 31, 2012

This Day in History August 31, 1056

Map Byzantine Empire 1076-fr
By Odejea [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

First of all the map above is twenty years after this date, but this was about as close as I could get.  It is the Byzantine Empire, however.  Today's feature concerns Empress Theodora from the 11th century (she is not the only Empress Theodora).  She was born in 980, and she was of the Macedonian Dynasty.  Evidently, she was a plain woman, so her sister, Zoe, was the one chosen to marry the Holy Roman Emperor.  Unfortunately, this man died before that could happen.  Following this situation, Theodora chose a life of obscurity until her father died without having a son to succeed him.

This is where Theodora's story becomes quite interesting.  She was supposed to marry Romanos, but she defied her father.  She cited two reasons:  Romanos was already married, and they were third cousins.  So Zoe, Theodora's sister, again took over Theodora's "rightful" place and married Romanos.  And there was evidently some jealousy and intrigue that implicated Theodora in a conspiracy.  She thirteen years confined to a monastery while her sister reigned.  

Then there were more supposed conspiracies which cause Zoe to be banished to a monastery.  This caused an uprising which resulted in Zoe and Theodora becoming co-regents.  Zoe tried to force Theodora back to the monastery, but the people would not let it happen.  She finally became junior empress, and her throne was situated slightly behind Zoe's throne.  But make no mistake--she was the driving force behind the throne.  Zoe was so jealous that she did marry again.  And the throne reverted to her husband.

Following Zoe's death in 1050, Theodora, in spite of her advanced age of 70, became empress yet again.  In late August 1056, she became gravely ill with some kind of intestinal order, and on this date in 1056, she died without and heir.  Thus, the Macedonian Dynasty ended.  Things were unstable until 1081 when a new dynasty was ushered in.

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