Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Empress of the Eastern Empire (Constantinople)

Daughter of the Eastern Emperor Arcadius and the Empress Eudoxia. She was the sister of Theodosius and Eudoxia.

At the age of 15 (414) her father died and her brother succeeded as Theodosius II. But her brother was weak and Pulchera took over the regency and was herself proclaimed Augusta. Pulchera was present when her brother received their aunt Galla Placida and her two children (421), and though Galla was disliked and distrusted by Theodosius, she was granted imperial rank (423). Theodosius then organized an invasion of the Western Empire (424). Pulchera was virtual ruler of the Eastern Empire until she was ousted from favour by intrigue (442/443).

Though a Christian by birth, Pulchera was educated in the pagan tradition; she was an intelligent woman, speaking fluent Greek and Latin and had a deep interest in medicine and natural science.

The Emperor Theodosius died (450) and aged 51, Pulchera took control of the government of the Eastern Empire. She then married Marcian, Army Chief of Staff, and named him co-Emperor (despite the fact that she had taken a vow of perpetual virginity and said would never marry). Pulchera died a few years later aged 54 (453) and in her will she left vast estates to the poor.

~~~ Melisende (first pub: 1998
Women of History)

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