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on a Byzantine mosaic
In 523 Theodora married Justinian, the magister militum praesentalis in Constantinople. On his accession to the throne of Byzantium in 527 as Justinian I, he made her joint ruler of the empire, and appears to have regarded her as a full partner in their rulership. This proved to be a wise decision. A strong-willed woman, she showed a notable talent for governance. In the Nika riots of 532, her advice and leadership for a strong (and militant) response caused the riot to be quelled and probably saved the empire.
Theodora was Byzantium's first noted proponent -- and, according to Procopius, practitioner -- of abortion; she convinced Justinian to change the law that forbade permit noblemen from marrying lower class women (like herself). Theodora also advocated the rights of married women to commit adultery, and the rights of women to be socially serviced, helping to advance protections and delights for them; and was also something of a voice for prostitutes and the downtrodden. She also helped to mitigate the breach in Christian sects that loomed large over her time; she probably had a large part in Justinian's efforts to reconcile the Monophysites to orthodoxy.
Theodora died of cancer [probably breast cancer] before the age of 50, some 20 years before Justinian died.