1st Edition

The Emperor in the Byzantine World Papers from the Forty-Seventh Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies

Edited By Sadie Pickup Copyright 2019
    402 Pages
    by Routledge

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    The subject of the emperor in the Byzantine world may seem likely to be a well-studied topic but there is no book devoted to the emperor in general covering the span of the Byzantine empire. Of course there are studies on individual emperors, dynasties and aspects of the imperial office/role, but there remains no equivalent to Fergus Millar’s The Emperor in the Roman World (from which the proposed volume takes inspiration for its title and scope). The oddity of a lack of a general study of the Byzantine emperor is compounded by the fact that a series of books devoted to Byzantine empresses was published in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Thus it is appropriate to turn the spotlight on the emperor.

    Themes covered by the contributions include: questions of dynasty and imperial families; the imperial court and the emperor’s men; imperial duties and the emperor as ruler; imperial literature (the emperor as subject and author); and the material emperor, including imperial images and spaces.

    The volume fills a need in the field and the market, and also brings new and cutting-edge approaches to the study of the Byzantine emperor. Although the volume cannot hope to be a comprehensive treatment of the emperor in the Byzantine world it aims to cover a broad chronological and thematic span and to play a vital part in setting the agenda for future work. The subject of the Byzantine emperor has also an obvious relevance for historians working on rulership in other cultures and periods.

    List of Figures


    List of Contributors

    List of Abbreviations

    Note on Spelling of Names

    Shaun Tougher Introduction


    Section I: Dynasty: Imperial Families

    1. Mark Humphries Family, dynasty, and the construction of legitimacy from Augustus to the Theodosians

    2. Mike Humphreys The shifting importance of dynasty in Heraclian ideology

    3. Mark Masterson Revisiting the bachelorhood of Basil II

    4. Dimitri Korobeinikov Byzantine emperors and sultans of Rūm: Sharing power?


    Section II: The Emperor’s Men: Court and Empire

    5. Meaghan McEvoy Celibacy and survival in court politics in the fifth century AD

    6. Jonathan Shepard The emperor’s ‘significant others’:

    Alexios I Komnenos and his ‘Pivot to the West’

    7. Jonathan Harris Who was who at the court of Constantine XI, 1449-1453


    Section III: The Emperor as Ruler: Duties and Ideals

    8. Bernard H. Stolte ‘Law is king of all things’? The emperor and the law

    9. Frank R. Trombley and Shaun Tougher The emperor at war: Duties and ideals


    Section IV: Imperial Literature: Emperor as Subject and Author

    10. John Vanderspoel Imperial panegyric: Hortatory or deliberative oratory?

    11. Oscar Prieto Domínguez The iconoclast saint: Emperor Theophilos in Byzantine hagiography

    12. Prerona Prasad Splendour, vigour, and legitimacy: The prefaces of the Book of Ceremonies (De cerimoniis) and Byzantine imperial theory

    13. Nikolaos G. Chrissis Ideological and political contestations in post-1204 Byzantium: The orations of Niketas Choniates and the imperial court of Nicaea

    14. Savvas Kyriakidis The emperor in the History of John VI Kantakouzenos (1347-1354)


    Section V: The Material Emperor: Image, Space and Empire

    15. Alicia Walker The emperor at the threshold: Making and breaking taxis at Hagia Sophia

    16. Lynn Jones Taking it on the road: The palace on the move 

    17. Mark Redknap Unveiling Byzantium in Wales: Connections and collections




    Shaun Tougher is Reader in Ancient History at Cardiff University. He specialises in late Roman and Byzantine political and social history. His publications include The Reign of Leo VI (886912) (1997), Julian the Apostate (2007), The Eunuch in Byzantine History and Society (2008), Emperor and Author: The Writings of Julian the Apostate (2012, co-edited with Nicholas Baker-Brian), and Approaches to the Byzantine Family (2013, co-edited with Leslie Brubaker). He is a Series Editor for Palgrave Macmillan’s New Approaches to Byzantine History and Culture.

    "The Emperor in the Byzantine World is coherent and mostly quite readable... it is a welcome contribution" - Mike Markowitz, The NYMAS Review


    "This book is very useful, as it allows us to draw up an idea of the functioning of the State around the emperor. What remains to be studied is who was the emperor himself, but further research will certainly help us understand more in the future."- Paolo Odorico, Sehepunkte