From the publisher's description: "Theodora of Byzantium, rising from the lowest ranks of Byzantine society, became one of the most important and powerful women in history. In this gripping biography, Theodora's full story is revealed for the first time, according her a well-deserved place in the pantheon of great women. Theodora's meager beginnings as the daughter of a bear-keeper could not have foretold her astonishing future as the wife of Justinian, the powerful ruler of the Byzantine empire. An actress at the time who was chastised for her scandalous performances, she eventually caught the attention of the young Justinian, who was no doubt charmed as much by her beauty as by her cunning. Justinian and Theodora ruled the empire together from their rich and bustling seat of power in Constantinople, making decisions regarding the fate of their kingdom that would reverberate for centuries to come. Time and time again, Theodora's wisdom and counsel to the emperor saved Justinian's empire and assured their place in history."