Solid Yellow Gold set with Carnelian
6th century Byzantine
Dimensions: 3/4″ wide by 1 3/16″ high
Theodora (c.500-548) was born into the lowest class of Byzantine society, the daughter of a bear keeper for the circus. In 523 she married Justinian and in 527, on Justinians accession to the throne she became Empress of the Roman Empire. It is said that Emperor Justinian the Great regarded Theodora as a full partner in their governance of the Empire. Scholars believe Theodora was a womens rights activist of her time who fought to give women the same legal rights as men. When Theodora died her body was buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles, one of the magnificent churches she and her husband Justinian the Great had built in Constantinople. Both Theodora and Justinian are represented in stunning mosaics in the Church of San Vitale at Ravenna in northern Italy, which was completed a year before her death.