Late antique clerical exile is traditionally investigated from the perspective of banished cleric or banishing emperor and council. This article investigates the relationships between banished clerics and imperial women. Drawing on data collected by the Migration of Faith: Clerical Exile in Late Antiquity project, as well as quantitative methods such as social network analysis, I discuss how late antique authors exploited these (at times fabricated) relationships for their narrative agendas. Focussing on the case study of imperial women as patrons of banished clerics, I draw three conclusions: First, there was a constantly negative attitude towards involvement of imperial women in clerical exile throughout Late Antiquity. Second, there was, nonetheless, variation in this attitude across time and genres. Negative portrayal of imperial women engaged in cases of clerical exile peaked in the fifth century and in Nicene and Chalcedonian sources. Third, positive portrayal appears only towards the end of the period, and in sixth-century Miaphysite hagiography. I suggest that the identified differences were due to genre, but also responded to real changes in the institutional roles of imperial women over the course of late antiquity.
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Research Article| September 01 2019
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Julia Hillner; Imperial Women and Clerical Exile in Late Antiquity. Studies in Late Antiquity 1 September 2019; 3 (3): 369–412. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/sla.2019.3.3.369
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