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Between January of 1417 and the last session of the great Council of Constance (1414–18) in April of 1418, Sigismund of Luxemburg (d. 1437), King of Germany, Hungary, and Croatia, was quartered intermittently at the House of Augustinian Hermits (f. 1268) in the southern part of the old city. The honor of hosting the king—the defensor ecclesiae—along with much of his vast retinue, must have come at great cost both to the community and to the townsfolk of Constance. Perhaps in recognition of this effort and expense, and surely aware that the Augustinians’ church had not yet been fully restored in the wake of a devastating fire in 1398, Sigismund arranged for the impressive sum of 1,400 Guilders to be paid to three local artists—Heinrich Grübel, Kaspar Sünder, and Johann Lederhoser—to paint the nave of the monastery church. Work on the frescoes began in July of 1417, and by September the job was complete.
Robert Bartlett's book is devoted to one question that, at first glance, is deceptively simple: Why Can the Dead do Such Great Things? The question, it turns out, requires an extensive answer in the course of just under 800 pages. They are supported by forty-four pages of bibliography of primary sources, which are quoted with preference in the relatively minimal footnotes (something the general readership will note with gratitude), and fifty-five pages that list the secondary literature (whose existence will gladden the hearts of the scholarly readers) that constitute the foundation of this scholarly edifice, although—very reasonably—only sparingly quoted.
This volume examines the evolving role of the city and citizenship from classical Athens through fifth-century Rome and medieval Byzantium. Beginning in the first century CE, the universal claims of Hellenistic and Roman imperialism began to be challenged by the growing role of Christianity in shaping the primary allegiances and identities of citizens. An international team of scholars considers the extent of urban transformation, and with it, of cultural and civic identity, as practices and institutions associated with the city-state came to be replaced by those of the Christian community. The twelve essays gathered here develop an innovative research agenda by asking new questions: what was the effect on political ideology and civic identity of the transition from the city culture of the ancient world to the ruralized systems of the middle ages? How did perceptions of empire and oikoumene respond to changed political circumstances? How did Christianity redefine the context of citizenship?
Tackling issues of church and state is a tall order under any circumstances. Taking the metahistorical view and summarizing the scholarship on church and state makes it positively daunting, especially when the half-century under consideration spans the entire lifetime of the author. This task is made even more challenging when the societies and cultures under investigation are late antiquity and medieval Byzantium, the former (c.300–c.800, encompassing the entire Mediterranean) a paradigmatic period of religious change, the latter (330–1453, focusing on the Greek-speaking eastern half of the Roman empire and its subsequent history) emblematic of ‘otherness’ when compared to the Christian tradition in the West that has shaped our worldview to the present day.
This chapter shows that many acts of veneration shown to saints after their death had their origin in the connections of the faithful to living holy men. The Christian notion of personal sanctity can be understood from its cultural context. The idea that certain individuals held an elevated status among humans because of their connection to the divine was common in ancient culture. In pre-Constantinian times, individual Christians proved their faith through martyrdom, and Christian communities derived their group identity from witnessing the death of their martyrs. The cult of a saint was prepared long before that person's death. The chapter illustrates the interplay between discipleship, the production and dissemination of texts, and patronage in creating a cult by presenting three examples from different regions of the later Roman empire: Martin of Tours in Gaul, Felix of Nola in Italy and Symeon the Stylite in Syria. Central to the cult of saints are their relics.
Justinian’s reign is distinguished by its lasting accomplishments in law and architecture. It is also unusually rich in written sources, a treasure trove of documentation that provides insight and detailed knowledge about the sixth century that is rarely matched for other periods in the ancient world or Byzantium. There is no consensus, however, in the evaluation by posterity of the literary activities under Justinian and the emperor’s role in fostering them. Scholars of an earlier generation, such as J. B. Bury and Glanville Downey, tend to credit “the favorable atmosphere of the capital” for producing “the glories of Justinian’s age” in literature. But critical voices were already heard in Byzantium. The twelfth-century chronicler John Zonaras remarks that “by making the teachers redundant,” Justinian was responsible for a new level of “boorishness” (agroikia). This refers to Justinian’s order in 529 to stop the teaching of philosophy and law in Athens - a measure that effectively shut down the Academy, a bastion of learning in the classical tradition that had been founded by Plato in the fourth century BCE where church fathers like Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nazianzus had completed their education. This order was part of Justinian’s effort to suppress any teaching by those “who are infected with the sacrilegious foolishness of the Hellenes [i.e. pagans[” in order to enforce Christian uniformity and imperial control on the institutions of higher learning in the empire.
Kinship networks and social hierarchies provide an important key to the Byzantine Empire's tenacious survival over the course of more than a millennium. This study concentrates on one such social networking strategy, that of ritual brotherhood. No investigation of ritual brotherhood can overlook the Byzantine evidence, for Byzantium is unique among medieval societies in having formally incorporated into its ecclesiastical ritual the ceremony by which the priest's prayers and blessing make ‘brothers’ of two men. Further, the history of the empire provides ample evidence for the concrete implementation of this bond. Hagiographical and historical narratives as well as regulations of secular and ecclesiastical authorities attest to the importance of ritual brotherhood as it was practiced by holy men and patriarchs, aristocrats and emperors. The Byzantine evidence is, unsurprisingly, at the core of John Boswell's argument in his Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe,' Boswell drew attention to this interesting and multi-faceted relationship, but he did not explore the full range of sources for ritual brotherhood, nor did he attempt to show how this relationship related to others within Byzantine society.
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