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Theodora Theodora was the wife of Justinian I who was crowned Emperor of the Byzantine Empire in 527 AD As his wife she ruled by his side as his partner and her intelligence helped to advance the Empire The exact place of her birth has not been agreed upon While some historians say she was born on the island of Crete off the coast of Greece others speculate that she might have been born in Syria Whichever the case she was brought up as the daughter of a bear trainer who worked at the Hippodrome a huge stadium-like circus in Constantinople She worked there as a mime and later as a full time actress At the time acting was not a highly esteemed occupation especially for women so the term actress was considered synonymous with the term prostitute While on stage she was remembered for her daring entertainment skills off stage however she lived a normal youthful life and was most remembered for her wild parties At the age of 16 she traveled to northern Africa as the companion of an official She stayed there for 4 years before returning to Constantinople She stopped by Alexandria the capital of Egypt and here she adopted Monophysitism This was a form of Christianity that believed that Jesus Christ was wholly divine and not both human and divine as was the orthodox Christian belief Monophysites were thus not liked by orthodox Christians since their teachings did not conform to those of the orthodox church On conversion to Monophysitism she gave up her former lifestyle and upon reaching Constantinople in 522 settled down as a wool spinner in a house near the palace of the Emperor It was while in this humble lifestyle at the age of 20 that she drew the attention of Justinian then a government official Theodora was not
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