Augusta AD 414 - 453
Aelia Pulcheria (AD 399 - 453):
Sister of Theodosius II;
Daughter of Arcadius and Aelia Eudoxia ;
Wife of Marcian;
Sisiter-in-law of Aelia Eudocia;
Half-cousin of Valentinian III and Honoria;
Step-mother of Aelia Euphemia (wife of Anthemius);
Granddaughter of Theodosius I and Aelia Flaccilla;
Niece of Honorius;
Aunt of Licinia Eudoxia.
Aelia Pulcheria, born in 399, was the daughter of the Emperor Arcadius and Aelia Eudoxia, and was the elder sister of the Emperor Theodosius II. Pulcheria exercised enormous influence on her brother for considerable periods of his reign, starting with his education when both were still teenagers. Her decision to refuse to marry probably stemmed both from genuine convictions, as evidenced by her life-long devotion to Mary, and from political considerations. But there was a political reason as well: by rejecting marriage, she prevented any noble who was aspiring to the throne from using her as a springboard to unseating her brother. Theodosius made her Augusta in 414 and she appeared on coins crowned by the right hand of God. Throughout her life, Pulcheria devoted her wealth to the church. The marriage of Theodosius to Eudocia in 421, was followed by a waning of the influence Pulcheria. She withdrew from the imperial palace but maintained contacts with Christians of all kinds. She continued to be a lavish patron of the church, erecting several churches in Constantinople and playing a key role in the discovery of the relics of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. She was instrumental in elevating the female sex to an unprecedented height, through the doctrine of Mary mother of God in the clash known as the Nestorian controversy. After the unexpected death of Theodosius in 450, when she engineering the accession of Marcian and married him without breaking her irginity vow. Coins issued depict the imperial couple with Christ himself sponsoring their marriage - perhaps an attempt to deflect criticism of Pulcheria, whose vow of virginity was called into question by her marriage. Pulcheria lost no time in restoring the balance of church politics in favour of her line. At the Council of Chalcedon, held in 451, a more moderate christological position was proclaimed, which held that Christ was 'in two natures', rather than being entirely God (or entirely man). The assembled bishops eagerly offered up acclamations to the empress, on some occasions placing her before her husband. As he was declared a 'New Constantine', so she was hailed as a ‘New Helena.’ Pulcheria died in 453, bequeathing her worldly goods to charity. She is regarded as a saint in both eastern and western churches
Mints: Constantinopolis, Thessalonica.
List all Pulcheria coins in the Catalog.