Anna Komnene responded tactfully to the constraints her culture’s ideas about gender placed on her writing. Rather than using a pseudonym or hiding tensions, she allowed readers to see her efforts to be simultaneously demure and powerful, loyal and impartial, humble and authoritative. While Anna’s efforts at tact may have worked for her contemporaries, later readers’ misinterpretations of Anna’s self-presentation have led to negative evaluations of her character. While little can be proven about what happened on the night that Alexios died, modern depictions of Anna as consumed with ambition are not supported by current interpretations of medieval evidence or the politics of her era. Changes in our methods of historical analysis and advances in our understanding of Byzantine culture now allow us to recognize Anna, not as an embittered schemer, but as one of the greatest intellectuals of her era who succeeded in creating a masterwork of history.
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