Theodora and Justinian had a romance to rival many of the most famous love stories in history, and theirs certainly had a happier ending than the likes of Antony and Cleopatra or Napoleon and Josephine! Procopius recorded that when Justinian first saw Theodora, he fell violently in love with her and that after he made her his mistress, she seemed the “sweetest thing in the world.” Justinian might have had any woman in the Empire, but it was Theodora he chose and essentially fought his aunt and uncle to marry. Theodora was an attractive, well-traveled, intelligent woman who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, and in those qualities Justinian recognized his future Empress. After her death, he chose not to remarry, remaining a widower for seventeen years.
Stephanie Thornton, history teacher and writer, author of “The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora”