[thee-uh-dawr-uh, -dohr-uh]
Theodora, d. 548, Byzantine empress. Information about her early career comes from the often-questionable source, the Secret History of Procopius. It appears that she was the daughter of an animal trainer in the circus, and that she was an actress and prostitute before her marriage (523) to Justinian I, who, on his accession in 527, made her joint ruler of the empire. A stronger person than her husband, she helped save the throne through her energetic action in the Nika riot (532; see Blues and Greens). In her youth Theodora came under the influence of the Monophysite sect; Justinian's efforts to reconcile the Monophysites to orthodoxy were probably inspired by her. She is represented in the mosaics of the church of San Vitale, in Ravenna.

Theodora, detail of a Byzantine mosaic in the church of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy.

(born circa 497—died June 28, 548, Constantinople) Byzantine empress, wife of Justinian I. The daughter of a bear keeper at the Hippodrome in Constantinople, she became an actress and the mistress of Justinian. He married her in 525, and when he became emperor in 527 she was proclaimed empress. Probably the most powerful woman in Byzantine history, she was her husband's most trusted adviser, sponsoring legal reforms and wielding great influence in diplomacy, military appointments, and internal politics. Her impassioned speech gave Justinian the strength to order the brutal suppression of the Nika revolt (532) and save his empire. She recognized the rights of women and ended persecution of Monophysite Christians, with whom she sympathized.

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(born Sept. 3, 1849, South Berwick, Maine, U.S.—died June 24, 1909, South Berwick) U.S. writer. Concerned to capture the folkways of a vanishing culture, she wrote realistic sketches of aging Maine natives, whose manners, idioms, and pithiness she recorded with pungency and humour. Outstanding among her 20 volumes are Deephaven (1877), A White Heron (1886), and The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896).

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