What kind of lives did women in the Byzantine empire lead? Just how subservient were they in so male-dominated a society? In this collection of biographies Donald M. Nicol uncovers the unexpected fact that in the later years of the empire, at least, some aristocratic women enjoyed influence and exercised initiative. The ten ladies whose lives are described here did not complain of male oppression: instead, despite the conventions of caste and court, they found an outlet for their talents in religion, patronage, friendship and scholarship. They left a lasting influence on the society in which they lived. The story of their achievements offers new perspectives on the Byzantine empire, and a fascinating insight into the lives of women in past times.