Famous Love Stories of Istanbul; Justinian and Theodora,City of Love part II

Theodora-at-the-ColosseumThere are lots of rumors about the love between the Byzantine emperor I. Justinian and his wife Theodora. But I think they are nice example of love having no boundaries at all.
From the historians we know that Theodora’s father was the bear-keeper(or dancer) of the Hippodrome and for sure she was born into lowest rung of society.

Furthermore when Theodora’s father died at a young age, she had to work as an actress and courtesan, became mistress of governor of the Pentapolis, followed him down to North Africa, finally broke up with him and left penniless so far from home. While she was trying to make her way back, she met with patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch, learnt more about religion. These monks influenced Theodora a lot and devoted her more to spiritual life.
When she finally came back to Constantinople, she didn’t go back the way she lives before and earned her life by spinning the wool. We don’t know how exactly Justinian and Theodora met. But we know from the scripts of Procopius that Justinian fell in love with her when he saw.

‘Justinian fell violently in love with her. At first, he kept her only as a mistress, though he raised her to patrician rank. Through him Theodora was immediately able to acquire an unholy power and exceedingly great riches. She seemed to him the sweetest thing in the world, and, like all lovers, he desired to please his charmer with every possible favor and requite her with all his wealth.’


That time the law didn’t permit high ranking soldiers or governors to marry courtesans, Justinian changed the law for her and married to her in 525 with a ceremony in Hagia Sophia.

From that day, Justinian and Theodora started to rebuild the country, worked and thought together, ruled jointly. There are bunch of regulations done by Theodora for women’s rights during their reign. She became the most successful and productive courtesan of the history.

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