Unrivalled Influence: Women and Empire in Byzantium

Unrivalled Influence: Women and Empire in Byzantium

by Judith Herrin


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Unrivalled Influence explores the exceptional roles that women played in the vibrant cultural and political life of medieval Byzantium. Written by one of the world's foremost historians of the Byzantine millennium, this landmark book evokes the complex and exotic world of Byzantium's women, from empresses and saints to uneducated rural widows. Drawing on a diverse range of sources, Judith Herrin sheds light on the importance of marriage in imperial statecraft, the tense coexistence of empresses in the imperial court, and the critical relationships of mothers and daughters. She looks at women's interactions with eunuchs, the in-between gender in Byzantine society, and shows how women defended their rights to hold land. Herrin describes how they controlled their inheritances, participated in urban crowds demanding the dismissal of corrupt officials, followed the processions of holy icons and relics, and marked religious feasts with liturgical celebrations, market activity, and holiday pleasures. The vivid portraits that emerge here reveal how women exerted an unrivalled influence on the patriarchal society of Byzantium, and remained active participants in the many changes that occurred throughout the empire's millennial history.

Unrivalled Influence brings together Herrin's finest essays on women and gender written throughout the long span of her esteemed career. This volume includes three new essays published here for the very first time and a new general introduction by Herrin. She also provides a concise introduction to each essay that describes how it came to be written and how it fits into her broader views about women and Byzantium.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691166704
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 06/23/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 691,118
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Judith Herrin is the Constantine Leventis Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Hellenic Studies at King's College London. She is the author of Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire, Women in Purple: Rulers of Medieval Byzantium, and The Formation of Christendom (all Princeton).

Table of Contents

Abbreviations ix
Introduction xiii
1.Women in Byzantium 1
2.In Search of Byzantine Women: Three Avenues of Approach 12
3.Women and the Faith in Icons in Early Christianity 38
4.Mothers and Daughters in the Medieval Greek World 80
5."Femina Byzantina": The Council in Trullo on Women 115
6.Public and Private Forms of Religious Commitment among Byzantine Women 133
7.The Imperial Feminine in Byzantium 161
8.Political Power and Christian Faith in Byzantium: The Case of Irene (Regent 780-90, Emperor 797-802) 194
9.Moving Bones: Evidence of Political Burials from Medieval Constantinople 208
10.The Many Empresses of the Byzantine Court (and All Their Attendants) 219
11.Theophano: Considerations on the Education of a Byzantine Princess 238
12.Toleration and Repression in the Byzantine Family: Gender Problems 261
13.The Icon Corner in Medieval Byzantium 281
14.Marriage: A Fundamental Element of Imperial Statecraft 302
Index 321

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