Unrivalled Influence: Women and Empire in Byzantium

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Princeton University Press, Mar 13, 2013 - History - 352 pages
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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.


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1 Women in Byzantium
Three Avenues of Approach
3 Women and the Faith in Icons in Early Christianity
4 Mothers and Daughters in the Medieval Greek World
The Council in Trullo on Women
6 Public and Private Forms of Religious Commitment among Byzantine Women
7 The Imperial Feminine in Byzantium
The Case of Irene Regent 78090 Emperor 797802
Evidence of Political Burials from Medieval Constantinople
10 The Many Empresses of the Byzantine Court and All Their Attendants
Considerations on the Education of a Byzantine Princess
Gender Problems
13 The Icon Corner in Medieval Byzantium
A Fundamental Element of Imperial Statecraft

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About the author (2013)

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).

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