The Role of Women

Liz James

in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199252466
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

 The Role of Women

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Research on Byzantine women has been skewed towards the lives of individual women, particularly empresses. However, things began to change as feminism became increasingly accepted in the academic field. Studies undertaken in the 1970s and 1980s, influenced by both feminism and Marxism, focused on individual non-imperial women and their life histories. Based on the available evidence, Byzantine society was misogynist and patriarchal, with the prevailing ideology towards women regarding them as inferior to men. The nature of the Byzantine state offered little, if any, access to public life for women, whose political power in Byzantium was also limited. Despite these obstacles, women were still able to take important roles in Byzantine society.

Keywords: women; Byzantium; empresses; feminism; ideology; public life; political power

Article.  4088 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Middle Eastern Languages

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