My research evaluates the messages that visual and written representations of imperial Byzantine women conveyed, and how those messages changed across time. Empresses are the only group of Byzantine women about whom we have much information, and certainly the only women who regularly had access to social and cultural power. As I am interested in the public perception of women, I balance the textual sources with imagery, as texts had a restricted - and largely urban male - audience while imagery was a primary form of communication in a largely illiterate society. To track change across time, I present case studies of empresses, one from each century of the Byzantine Empire, starting with Helena, the mother of Constantine I (4th century), whose virtues and portrayals were emulated for centuries, to Helen Dragaš, the last empress of the Byzantine Empire whose image was made public (15th century). My thesis analyses why some characteristics of the empress (e.g. family connections) remained crucial to show across the entire Byzantine period, while others (e.g. dynastic legitimisation) fluctuated in importance. One key feature that has already become clear is that images of empresses always have a religious dimension of some sort, though how this is expressed changes over time, and in this they are quite distinct from images of the emperor. This plays very clearly into Byzantine gender conventions, and this aspect of imperial portraiture has never before been considered.