Theodora I

c.500-548. Wife of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I.* After a notorious career as an actress, with adventures in Syria and North Africa, she became a Christian and married Justinian in 523, after he had persuaded his uncle Justin I to repeal the law forbidding the marriage of senators with actresses. Justinian and Theodora were crowned together in 527, and afterward she exercised a great influence over his policy. She took the side of the Monophysites (see Monophysitism), whom she had known in Egypt, and so caused the reactionary policy of Justinian which led to the Three Chapters Controversy.* She showed great bravery during the insurrection at Nika in 532, and she opened homes for prostitutes. There is a contemporary portrait of her in mosaic in the apse of the church of San Vitale, Ravenna.