Pointing out that the standard image of Anna Komnene in modern scholarship—as an ambitious and arrogant woman who desperately wanted to rule the empire—is the exact opposite of the image of a modest, demure and deeply loyal woman Anna tried to project into her history, this chapter opens the exploration of how far perceptions of Anna have been shaped by the cultural challenges she faced in writing history as a woman. It explores medieval narratives about the transfer of power from Anna’s father Alexios Komnenos to her brother John II Komnenos (1118-1140) looking to see how Anna’s character is portrayed and what can be known about those events. It discusses the texts of John Zonaras, Michael Glykas, George Tornikes, and Niketas Choniates, and the narrative known as Diegesis Merike.
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