“…as historians probe back into the twilight period of pre-history, it is becoming accepted that an ancient matriarchy existed when women were both honoured and looked upon as the guiding element in society”.
From the forward
“When I began many years ago to write a short account of the legal position of women from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day, I had no intention of embarking on a wider field. Then someone said to me: “You know, the mere account of the legal position of women affords a very partial view of their actual status at any given period.” This I saw was particularly true in medieval times when the influence of tradition and custom did much to mitigate the position of subjection laid down by Common Law. Gradually I started to collect the material to place a social and economic study guide side by side with the legal one and, in doing so, to endeavour to give a more complete picture of the status of women. Circumstance intervened and the manuscript was forgotten for many years. During this time I had become greatly interested in the Science of Religion, a profound metaphysical school of thought that bridges the material world of action to the immaterial world of idea. I realised that it is the thoughts of men and their philosophy of life which are the underlying causes of historical development. Thus eventually the present work emerged which views the subjection of women, and their emancipation, a part of the psychological development which cannot be shown without spanning the ages and placing it in the framework of an evolutionary process”.
The sixth century in Italy, with its lengthening shadows of the Dark Ages, could still claim enlightened names such as Theodoric the Great, Boethius and, at its end, Pope Gregory the Great. The East Roman Empire at Constantinople, was ruled by Justinian 1, with his consort Theodora, ably served by the minister of justice, Tribonia, and the great general Belisarius who had retaken North Africa from the Vandals and attempted the reconquest of Italy.
On a par with all these, and serving as a link, was a small Armenian who has largely been forgotten by later historians. Narses the Eunuch served as a court official in Constantinople for most of his life, rising to the position of Grand Chamberlain and trusted confident of the Emperor. His survival for so long in such a hot-bed of intrigue as the Byzantine Court is unusual enough, but in 551AD, when he was well into his seventies, Narses succeeded. The powerful Ostrogoth Kingdom of Italy was destroyed and the Goths were driven from the history books.
Narses then defeated an invasion by the Franks and Alammani. These feats alone should have marked him for greatness but, despite ruling as Regent over the newly unified Italy for a further twelve years, Narses has slipped from his rightful place among the great personalities who stand at this cross-roads in the devleopment of post-Roman Europe
L.H. Fauber was born in Virginia, USA. He is a professional researcher now living in England, and has worked extensively on both sides of the Atlantic. One area has been “Institutionalised Eunuchism’ and this has involved research at the universities of Harvard, Hawaii and McGill. For this particular book Fauber conducted further research at Harvard and the British Library, and undertook ten months ‘fieldwork’ in Italy.