|The Life and Times of the Empress
Pulcheria A.D. 399 - 452.
Ada B. Teetgen. Adamant Media Corporation, 2005.
"The Life and Times of the Empress Pulcheria A.D. 399 - A.D. 452" is the perfect title for Ada Teetgen's highly readable historical
narrative. Teetgen did not compose a simple biography of the Empress Pulcheria but took great lengths to present important and
relevant political, military, religious and other events that occurred during Pulcheria's lifetime. This book fuses a historical narrative
of the early fifth century Roman history with the an almost hagiographical biography of Pulcheria, who is regarded as a saint and
who played a very influential role in fifth century Church history.
Teetgen's classic is dated in terms of historiography, as it was written in 1907, though this does offer the reader an interesting
window into important historical writings from that period, which she frequently cites. However, this book is anything but dry
reading. Teetgen has done an excellent job at presenting the reader with vivid reconstructions of the description of specific
historical events, almost like a historical novel. At times, she makes note when taking historical liberties but does so providing an
indication of her sources.
The book consists of 32 chapters, starting with the lives of Saint John Chrysostom and Pulcheria's parents Arcadius and Eudoxia,
continuing through the reign of her brother Theodosius, finally finishing with the reign of her husband Marcian. Themes described
in the book include descriptions of court life in Constantinople and in the Western half of the Empire, the threat from Attila and the
Huns, and the theological controversies initiated by Nestorius and Eutyches.
This is a worthwhile and enjoyable read. I recommend this book to those interested in late Roman - early Byzantine history, Church
history or to those who are interesting in reading a book about an Empress who is regarded as a saint.