This thesis seeks to theorize the rhetoric, power dynamics, agency, and rulership of Theophanu and contextualize it through the frame of an intersection of the Byzantine and Ottonian political culture. By analyzing the unique sources surrounding Theophanu – from charters written during her consortship to chronicles written about her posthumously – this thesis seeks to push scholarship to examining Theophanu at the intersection of these two hegemonic cultures. This thesis will analyze the rhetoric of transgression surrounding the empress, the politics of power in the Ottonian court, as well as the gender of Theophanu to bring a nuanced frame of analysis to understand complicated relationship the empress had with these two cultures.
This thesis seeks to use this frame of analysis to examine the political and social spaces surrounding Theophanu. The chronicles written about her during and after her life underline socio-political relations with the Ottonians and Greeks, which this thesis seeks to highlight. This thesis also analyzes the various titles in which Theophanu utilized in her political life, both masculine and feminine, through a complex political and gender frame. This analysis will help expand scholarship past thinking about Theophanu in dichotomous terms and will provide scholars a new lens to view a complex historical figure.
This involves analyzing the Ottonian court and its culture as a social space, and disecting it through Lefebvre’s framework. Theophanu’s role as a Byzantine princess and later empress becomes much clearer through a theoretical analysis. Then, this thesis moves on to examine the theoretical framework of Theophanu’s political and diplomatic power through the theory of Gilles Deleuze. Then, the implications and usage of her power will be explored, as well as the ramifications and legacy of her rule. Overall, this thesis highlights the extensive power Theophanu held at her disposal ̶ both actively and passively ̶ and how this molded the social space around her. This thesis shifts the discourse from seeing Theophanu as a positive or negative ruler, and instead focuses on how she utilized power, and how others around her utilized her power and image.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Norris, Harper J., "Empress Theophanu: The Politics of Power at the Intersection of Byzantium and the Ottonian Empire" (2020). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 799.