Imperial ideology in Middle Byzantine court culture : the evidence of Constantine Porphyrogenitus's De Ceremoniis
The subject of the thesis is the Byzantine Book of Ceremonies, produced during the reign of the Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (945-963). Through an examination of the prescriptions for imperial ceremonies contained in the first 83 chapters of Book 1 of the document, it seeks to explore the way in which the Byzantine political authorities of the tenth century endeavoured to preserve state ceremonial. It argues that these rituals, divorced from the context of historical events and the constraints of performance, offer a unique insight into the preoccupations of the Middle Byzantine administration. Dividing the ceremonies into three distinguishable groups - religious ceremonies, 'imperial rites of passage' and court promotions, and the entertainments of the Hippodrome - it focuses on the articulation of imperial ideology through the public presentation of the Emperor, the ritual consolidation of the contemporary court structure and the relationship of the imperial authorities to external agents, of which that with the Patriarch is of particular interest. It attempts to show the way in which the ritual life of the Emperor and the palace, as it is presented in the treatise, reveals the concerns of the tenth-century Byzantine administration, particularly its desire to strengthen the authority of the Emperor and to regulate the conduct of the court. In so doing, it demonstrates that the prescriptive chapters of Book 1 of the De Ceremoniis present a consistent image of imperial ideology, one that serves to underpin the political system by exhalting the Emperor and drawing to him a number of symbols of imperial legitimacy and by establishing him, unmistakably at the head of the political establishment.