The Princess Who Rewrote History

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Byzantine princess Anna Komnene took the motto, “If you want it done right, do it yourself,” to heart, penning a 500-page history of her father’s reign. Her tales of Byzantine Emperor Alexios’s reign attempt to balance truth with family loyalty. An engaging video introduces learners to not only her work, but also to her choices of occupation, which went against the traditions of the time.

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Instructional Ideas
  • To lead a discussion about recognizing biased writing, assign passages from The Alexiad and invite the class to analyze them for impartiality or bias
  • Before viewing, ask students what they know about what princesses do, whether it varies with location and historical era, and what factors govern a princess’s choices
Classroom Considerations
  • Requires geographical and historical preparation for full comprehension
  • Prepare pupils by explaining royal use of arranged marriages to strengthen a ruler’s claims
  • This resource is only available on an unencrypted HTTP website. It should be fine for general use, but don’t use it to share any personally identifiable information
  • Highlights an oft-overlooked medieval woman writer
  • Presents Anna as a complex and capable person
  • Animation contributes to understanding
  • The additional resources are fewer than in most TED-Ed animation lessons