Donnerstag, März 15, 2007
I have just been to Skopje, the first time ever that I have been to Macedonia. And I very much enjoyed it, not only because of a productive bureau meeting, but also because Skopje is a really nice town with a really friendly climate, given that it is only march. I did even manage to see a bit of town and we all got a nice guided tour by Diogo.
The tour included the Kale fortress that was built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian who was born in the village of Taorion near Skopje.
In 523 Theodora (a women coming from the theatre, if not even a prostitute that is now a saint) married Justinian, the magister militum praesentalis in Constantinople. On his accession to the Roman Imperial throne 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 – Theodora was the first women in European History that we have record of signing law decrees. As strong-willed woman, she showed a notable talent for governance.
Some scholars believe that 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 Christianity that loomed large over her time; she probably had a large part in Justinian's efforts to reconcile the Monophysites to orthodoxy.
Other scholars (and those who venerate Theodora as a saint) instead regard Theodora's achievements for women not as a modern feminist "liberation" to commit abortion or adultery but rather as a truly egalitarian drive to give women the same legal rights as men, such as establishing homes for prostitutes, passing laws prohibiting forced prostitution, granting women more rights in divorce cases, allowing women to own and inherit property, and enacting the death penalty for rape, all of which raised women's status far above that current in the Western portion of the Empire.
Some of the legislation passed includes:
∑ forbidding the exposure of unwanted infants - far more often girls than boys
∑ Easing the punishments for adultery - while a husband might kill his wife's lover with impunity, he might not kill his wife (and before he killed the lover, he must send him three written warnings, duly witnessed)
∑ Ensuring that a woman should not be put into prison where male guards might rape her; women who required detention might go to a nunnery
∑ Instituting equal rights for a woman to hold property
Given that this was all around 527 and the following years, she was truly a remarkable woman! And Macedonia is and was a remarkable country.