Episode 8

Published on:

17th Mar 2020

Empress Theodora: Demoness or Saint?

"May I never be deprived of this purple robe, and may I never see the day when those who meet me do not call me empress."

So spoke Theodora, Empress of Rome. Born into the lowest class of society, Theodora rose to the pinnacle of the Byzantine Empire. But like many women who demand and receive power, her journey was a contentious one. Join Ash and Sarah as they explore the life of this controversial figure who was sanctified by one part of the Christian Church while being crowned the succubus of hell by others.

There are also quite a few sexy bits - even involving geese.


  • Browning, R. (1987). Justinian and Theodora (Rev. ed.). London: Thames and Hudson.
  • Evans, J. (2002). The Empress Theodora : Partner of Justinian. Austin, Tex.: University of Texas Press.
  • Procopius, and Atwater, Richard. Secret History (1961). Print.
  • Theis, L., Mullett, M., Grünbart, M., Fingarova, G., & Savage, M. (2014). Female founders in Byzantium and beyond (Wiener Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte ; Bd. 60/61). Köln ; Weimar ; Wien.
  • Cesaretti, P. (2004). Theodora : Empress of Byzantium. New York: Vendome Press.
  • Andrews, R. (2004). Theodora: Empress of Byzantium. Library Journal, 129(10), 148.

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About the Podcast

Demons and Dames
Demons & Dames is a tongue-in-cheek feminist history podcast. Ashley Mauritzen and Sarah Worley-Hill dive deep into the stories of notorious women who shaped history - by design or simply by being in the right (or wrong) time or place. We examine how they were viewed by their contemporaries, and how and why their stories have been interpreted, shaped and passed down. We also laugh. A lot.

About your hosts

Ashley Mauritzen

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Writer, thinker and former wild child, Ashley has a BA in English Literature from Oxford (apparently - she doesn't remember any of it) and an MA in Fashion Journalism. She does an uncanny Kate Bush impression, wears wigs on nights in, and asked for 10 metres of black velvet ribbon for Christmas when she was seven. By day, she's a commercial semiotician. It's a thing. Former alter egos include Oxford gossip column denizen 'Masher', queer comedy performance artist 'the Dreary Mademoiselle', cerebral burlesque star 'Curious Peach', and everyone's favourite Halloween mashup - 'Adam Antoinette.'

Sarah Worley-Hill

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Bibliophile, historian, and all round goof ball. Sarah has an MA Oxon from Oxford University in Ancient and Modern History, but has also taught maths at a boys' boarding school so considers herself an all-rounder. She would invite Alexander the Great, Queen Teuta of Illyria, and Wu Zetian to her ideal time-machine sponsored dinner party but would definitely need a translator. She loves her Shih Tzu, Calypso, very much and wants to get a French bulldog named Odysseus. She's terribly dyslexic and really really can't spell (or pronounce things). She has a mild tea obsession.