The fact was kept secret in later years in order to spare the feelings of Theodora Cowper, who thought that her cousin had remained as faithful as she had done to their early love.
The mosaics of the choir (547) are due to Justinian, and, though inferior in style, are remarkable for their splendour of colouring and the gorgeous dresses of the persons represented, and also for their historical interest, especially the scenes representing the emperor and the empress Theodora presenting offerings.
They suffered, not only from the regular taxes, which were seldom remitted even after bad seasons, but also from monopolies; and Procopius goes so far as to allege that the emperor made a practice of further recruiting his treasury by confiscating on slight or fictitious pretexts the property of persons who had displeased Theodora or himself.
This he obtained, and was allowed to retire with Theodora into banishment in the little town of Oenoe, on the shores of the Black Sea.
Although Andronicus was at that time fifty-six years old, age had not diminished his charms, and Theodora became the next victim of his artful seduction.
A native of Tella in Mesopotamia, he obtained the favour of the empress Theodora while on a mission to Constantinople, and resided in that city for fifteen years (528-543).
She became his mistress, while her sister Theodora stood in a similar relation to the emperor Manuel.
The empress Theodora killed, drowned or hanged no fewer than 100,000.
As a result Michael grew up a debauchee, and fell under the sway of his uncle Bardas, who induced him to banish Theodora to a convent and practically assumed the chief control (857).
In 842 Theophilus died, leaving his wife Theodora regent; she was, like Irene, addicted to images, and chose as patriarch a monk, Methodius, whom the emperor Michael had imprisoned for laying before him Pope Paschal I.'s letter of protest.