Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Servants of the DynastyPalace Women in World History$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Anne Walthall

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780520254435

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520254435.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 24 May 2022

Women and Power at the Byzantine Court

Women and Power at the Byzantine Court

Chapter:
(p.65) 3 Women and Power at the Byzantine Court
Source:
Servants of the Dynasty
Author(s):

Kathryn M. Ringrose

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520254435.003.0003

The Byzantine Empire is an easy target for the historian's orientalizing reflexes. Long accused of oriental decadence and overlaid by centuries of Western perceptions of the oriental harem, the Byzantine court has been stereotyped by observers as a place where women lived in harems—in oriental seclusion guarded by fierce eunuch guards. Like aristocratic women elsewhere in Byzantium and in many other aristocratic societies, Byzantine court women lived in settings segregated from men. They did not, however, live in enclosed communities of wives and concubines available for the emperor's pleasure. In the first place, the Christian Byzantine emperors were, in accordance with church law, allowed to have only one wife at a time. The two most powerful empresses of middle period Byzantium were Irene and Theodora. This chapter shows that Byzantine women's access to power was possible despite the specially gendered nature of palace space and that this access was facilitated through the mediation of eunuchs, who were uniquely able to transcend the boundaries between the gendered spaces in the palace.

Keywords:   Byzantine Empire, court women, empresses, harems, eunuchs, Byzantium, power, palace, emperors, Byzantine court

California Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.