the wife of the emperor Justinian was the daughter of Acacius, who had charge of the wild beasts of the Prasini at Constantinople. The decease of her father and remarriage of her mother obliged her to earn her living as an actress, and she also became a notorious courtesan. She accompanied Ecebolus as his mistress to Pentapolis when that wealthy Tyrian was appointed praefect of that government, but was soon deserted by him and obliged to return in poverty to Constantinople. She then altered her mode of living and sought to earn a virtuous name; and while living in retirement she won the favor of the imperial prince Justinian, and so excited his passion that on the death of the empress he persuaded the reigning emperor, Justin, to suspend a law which stood in the way of his marriage with Theodora (see Cod. Just. lib. 5, tit. 4; "De Nuptiis," 1, 23). They were married in A.D. 525; and on Justinian's accession, in 527, Theodora was publicly proclaimed empress and coregent of the empire. Her influence over him became unbounded, and continued even after her decease.
Theodora participated actively in the Monophvsite controversy, lending her influence secretly to the propagation of that error, and endeavoring to win her consort from the orthodox view. Colloquies instituted between bishops of the two conflicting parties in 531 accomplished no substantial result; but the empress succeeded, in 535, in promoting the Monophysite bishop Anthims to the patriarchate of Constantinople, and afterwards, through the assistance of Belisarius, the famous general, in advancing Vigilius to the same position. She was twice visited with the ban of the Church, but was not thereby intimidated to such a degree as to prevent her intervention in the controversy of the Three Chapters. She died, however, before the dispute wags determined, at the early age of forty years. Historians describe her as having been proud and tyrannical; but no charge is raised against her chastity after her marriage with the emperor. She bore the latter one child, a daughter, who died early.
Literature. — Procopius, Hist. Arcnat; id. Aquee. c. 9, 10; id. De Aedif: 1, 11; Nicephorus Callistus, 16:37; Mansi, Collatio Cathol. cum Severian. a. 531, 8:817 sq.; id. Joannis Episc. Asice, in Assemani, Bibl. Orient. 2, 89; Acta Syn. Const. a. 536, in Mansi, 8:873 sq.; Evagrius, ch. 4; Liberal. Breviar. p. 21 sq.; Anastasius, Vitae Pontif.; Vigilii Epist. ad Justin. et ad Mennam, in Malasi, 9:35,38; Wernsdorf, De Silverio et Vigilio; Gregor. Nazian. Epist. 9:36; Theophanes, Chronicles p. 350; Vict. Tununens.
Chronicles; Ludewig, Vita Justiniani Imp. et Theodorce (Hal. 1731, 4to); Invernizzi, De Rebus Gestis Justisniani (Romn. 1783); Gibbon, Decline and Fall, ch. 40; Walch, Ketzergesch. pt. 6:7; Gieseler,; Monophys. Wett. Variceide Cristi. etc. (Gött. 1835-38); and the Church histories. Also Smith, Dict. of Biog. and Mythol. s.v., and Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.
wife of the emperor Theophilus, who succeeded his father, Michael II, on the throne in A.D. 829. She obtained the regency of the empire on the death of her husband, in 842, and hastened to restore the worship of images, which had until then been savagely repressed. She banished John Grammaticus, the patriarch of Constantinople, and gave his place to Methodius, who was in sympathy with her plans, and then called a synod which decreed the restoration of image worship throughout the empire. To commemorate this event she ordained an annual "festival of orthodoxy." Not content with having thus ended a dispute which had agitated the empire during 150 years, she inaugurated a persecution of the Paulicians (q.v.), and thereby occasioned a succession of wars in which entire provinces were devastated and depopulated by the allied Paulicians and Saracens (see Cedrenus, p. 541 sq.; Zonaras, Chronicles 16:1; Petr. Siculi Hist. Manich. p. 70 sq.; Photius, Contra Manich. 9:23; Constantin. Porphrog. Continuator, 4:16, 23-26).
A more creditable work was the conversion of the Bulgarians, which was accomplished by the Thessalonian monks Cyril and Methodius in 862. The empress, however, was not permitted to see this success. Her son Michael III compelled her to resign the regency, and incarcerated her in a convent, where she died of grief in A.D. 855 (see Dalleus, De Imaginibus [Lugd. 1642.]; Spanheim, Hist. Imaginumu Restituta ibid. 1686 ]; id. Opp. vol. 2; Schlosser, Gesch. der bIderstirm. Kaiser, etc. ; Marx, Bilderstrait deir byzant. Kaiser ; Walch, Ketzergesch. pt. 10:11; Schröckh, Christl. Kirschengesch. vol. 20; Gieseler, Kirchengesch. [4th ed.], 2, 1, 9). —Herzog, Real-Encyklop S v.