Theodora was the wife of the Byzantine emperor Theophilus. Originally from Paphlagonia, Theodora was selected by Theophilus' step-mother Euphrosyne as his bride and travelled from her homeland to Constantinople accompanied by several members of her family. During their marriage she bore him five daughters and two sons, the younger of whom became the future Michael III.
Following the death of her husband, she overrode his ecclesiastical policy and summoned a council under the patriarch Methodius, in which the veneration (not worship) of icons (images of Christ and the saints) was finally restored and the iconoclastic clergy dispossessed. Appointed guardian of her infant son, Michael III, she carried on the government with a firm and judicious hand; she replenished the treasury and deterred the Bulgarians from an attempt at invasion. However, it was during her regency that a vigorous persecution of the Paulician 'heresy' commenced.
In order to perpetuate her power she purposely neglected her son's education, and therefore must be held responsible for the voluptuous character which he developed under the influence of his uncle Bardas, who was Theodora's brother and likewise of Mamikonian heritage. Theodora endeavoured in vain to combat Bardas's authority; in 855 she was displaced from her regency at his prompting, and being subsequently convicted of intrigues against him was relegated to a monastery. She died after his assassination at the hands of Basil I, thus witnessing the end of the dynasty she had worked so hard to preserve. She was sainted in recompense for her zeal on behalf of the restoration of icons as objects of veneration.
This article incorporates text from the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, a publication in the public domain.
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