Virgins of Byzantium: Between domestic isolation and forced early marriage


  • Fadila Hassan Kalaf


female- virgins- Marriage- Byzantine society- Church Fathers


Some concepts prevailed in Byzantine society that contributed to its construction, including religious writings and ideas spread by the Church Fathers, stating that the female is considered a source of evil and sin. Byzantine society was known to be a religious society and committed to what was proposed by the Church Fathers and the opinions of the saints, so customs and traditions became obligatory for the family to deal with strictness and severity with Among the females, one of these customs is the issue of isolating virgin girls in their own room at home and keeping them away from the eyes of men for fear of violating their virginity, because the honor of the family depends on the good behavior of the female, and in order to preserve her chastity and dignity, the family took the initiative of isolating the girls, preventing them from mingling and leaving the house, and hastening their marriage at an early age before they get married. She brings shame to her family. Laws have set the age for engagement and marriage, so this has become a societal norm for all classes without exception. 3. The treatment of virgin girls was more harsh and severe as a result of the prevailing ideas that created in the parents an obsession with fear for the girls’ virginity for fear of violating the family’s honor and degrading their dignity in society.Domestic isolation of virgins became a feature of Byzantine society in all its classes and levels.Isolation and confinement caused psychological illnesses and depression among virgins, which sometimes made them run away or attempt suicide, and may result in hostile behavior among some girls.