She was born in the year 500, though history is unsure where. Her father trained bears; her mother danced bare. Yet she grew up to marry an Emperor and become one of the most renowned and respected women in history. The main historical reference for her life is a contemporary scribbler called Procopius; he wrote three accounts of her life, and they all contradicted each other. So our main source is completely unreliable. But we do know that when her father died, Theodora, her mother and her two sisters were rendered destitute and that she and her three sisters followed her mother into a Constantinople brothel. The terms of her employment would have included exotic dancing on stage and providing sexual services off it. According to Procopius she made a name for herself with her portrayal of Leda and the Swan, first performing a striptease, then lying on her back while her support act scattered seeds on her body. A flock of geese were then brought in to peck them off he
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By Lisa J. Yarde For women who ruled, it seemed as if power and enduring happiness could not often coexist. While they lived, these women proved they could be as competent, decisive, and cruel when necessary, similar to their male counterparts. Imperial Hall, Topkapi Palace In the seventeenth century, Sultan Mehmed III fathered a son, Ahmet I, who became ruler of the Ottoman Empire in 1603, at the age of thirteen. Until then, Ahmet had spent several years in isolation within Topkapi Palace's Golden Cage, an apartment reserved for princes younger than the reigning sovereign. Two years later, a fifteen year-old Greek girl born in 1590 entered his harem, a slave re-named Kosem. Daughter of a priest, Kosem entered the harem and in 1612, bore him their first son, Murad. She later became the mother of the princes Ibrahim and Bajezit. Ahmet died in 1617 and his younger brother, Mustafa I, succeeded him. All that time in the Golden Cage in his youth made Mustafa crazy.