Irene of Athens & Theodora the Armenian: The Overlooked Heroes of the Byzantine Iconoclast Controversy

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Authors
Paris, Reagan
Advisor
Fregulia, Jeanette
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Date of Issue
2024
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Title
Irene of Athens & Theodora the Armenian: The Overlooked Heroes of the Byzantine Iconoclast Controversy
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Abstract
In this paper I discuss the impact the empresses Irene of Athens and Theodora the Armenian had on the political and spiritual thinking of medieval Byzantium. I argue that these women, who brought both periods of Byzantine Iconoclasm to an end, demonstrated a political savviness and spiritual understanding that was not typically credited to women of the medieval world. Using both primary and secondary source documents, I examine the political and spiritual views of both empresses to create an understanding not only of what it meant to hold so much spiritual power, but also how they were able to navigate the struggles of being women in the male dominated sphere of Byzantine politics.
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History