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Birth: 399

Death: 453


Daughter of Emperor Arcadius and Empress Aelia Eudoxia. She was born in Constantinople, to the imperial family of the Eastern Empire, becoming regent in 414 for her young brother Theodosius II, who became emperor following the death of their father in 408. Given the honorific title Augusta by the Senate, she took a vow of perpetual virginity and gave herself completely to the task of raising her brother to rule the Eastern Empire. Her control was considerable, including running the day to day affairs of the empire, reforming the moral and religious life of the imperial court, and watching over Theodosius’ education. In 421, Theodosius wed Athenais, who was baptized, took the name Eudocia, and was declared Augusta by her husband. A protracted political struggle between the two very formidable women started immediately. Pulcheria was exiled for a time, but was recalled after Theodosius leamed of his wife’s infidelity. Throughout, Pulcheria was a vocal advocate of orthodoxy against the Eutychian heresy, promoting the appeal of Pope Leo I the Great to the emperor after the decrees of the Latrocinium. In 450, following Theodosius’ untimely death from a fall while hunting, Pulcheria was declared Empress, and she married General Marcian after his agreement to share power with her and to respect her virginity. At her urging, the Council of Chalcedon was convened in 451 she attended the third session which signaled a complete triumph for orthodox Christianity. Pope Leo acknowledged in a letter her instrumental role in the defeat of the heresies of Eutychianism and Nestorianism and for securing the recall of the many orthodox bishops who had been exiled by Theodosius and the heretics after gaining ascendancy in 449. Pulcheria was also responsible for the building of churches, hospitals, and the school of Constantinople, which became one of the chief universities of the Eastem Empire.


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