Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Castration and Eunuchs in the Byzantine Empire (6th-11th centuries): A study of legal sources

Kontani, Yuki 2021. Castration and Eunuchs in the Byzantine Empire (6th-11th centuries): A study of legal sources. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
Item availability restricted.

[thumbnail of PhD Thesis] PDF (PhD Thesis) - Accepted Post-Print Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 29 March 2023 due to copyright restrictions.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives.

Download (2MB)
[thumbnail of Cardiff University Electronic Publication Form] PDF (Cardiff University Electronic Publication Form) - Supplemental Material
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (289kB)


The purpose of this thesis is to draw a new picture of the history of eunuchs in the Byzantine empire through the complehensive study of imperial legislation promulgated from the sixth century to the eleventh century. Eunuchs were one of the key components of the empire, especially known for their close relationship with emperors. This study complements the conventional study of eunuchs, which has depended on non-legal sources, with the perspective of Byzantine law and the imperial authority behind it, focusing on the transformation and continuity in imperial views towards eunuchs and castration. This thesis is arranged in the following way. Chapter 1 provides a list of laws concerning eunuchs in laws codified and promulgated under the name of Justinian I (527-65) and compares it with the laws of the Isaurian emperors in the eighth century. Chapter 2 deals with the introduction process of a new form of punishment, mutilation of the penis, in the Isaurian legislation. Chapter 3 provides an overview of a legal project carried out in the Macedonian period from the end of the ninth century and compares it with that of the preceding emperors. The following three chapters examine the context of new stipulations concerning eunuchs promulgated by Leo VI (886-912). Chapter 4 examines laws prohibiting castration. Chapter 5 deals with the right of eunuchs to adopt. Chapter 6 studies marriages of eunuchs. Chapter 7 finally moves on to imperial decisions made by Basil II (976-1025), especially a decision which restricted the inheritance rights of eunuchs. This thesis concludes that the laws about eunuchs were transmitted between the later Roman empire and the middle Byzantine empire, reflecting a variety of changes which occurred in relations to the Byzantine empire, law, and eunuchs, especially, the Christianisation of Roman law and the integration of eunuchs in society.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D051 Ancient History
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 29 March 2022
Date of Acceptance: 17 March 2022
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2022 14:04

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics