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Title: 'The glory of ruling makes all things permissible' : power and usurpation in Byzantium : some aspects of communication, legitimacy, and moral authority
Author: Davidson, Alistair James
ISNI:       0000 0004 7426 2388
Awarding Body: University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 2018
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In Byzantium, usurpation was made possible by the conflict between hereditary-dynastic and meritocratic-republican theories of rulership. Legitimacy was founded upon subjective notions of idealized moral-behavioural norms drawn from the imperial virtues and Christian ideology. Authority could be challenged when it was perceived to deviate from these norms. Investitures transformed a usurper from a private individual to an emperor on the basis of ratification by popular consent. The historic ritual of reluctance allowed emperors to present themselves as ‘moral ideals’ at the moment of proclamation, ridding them of blame for a usurpation. Guilt and sin were inevitable byproducts of usurpation, but imperial repentance facilitated an expiation and legitimized imperial authority in relation to moral ideals. On occasion a usurper’s successors would perform repentance on his behalf, freeing the dynasty from the sins of its foundation. The treatment of defeated usurpers could take a variety of forms: reconciliations enabled a peaceful ‘healing’ of the community. Political mutilations transformed the victim’s appearance and rendered him ‘other’ in an attempt to demonstrate his immorality and illegitimacy. Degradation parades inverted recognised investiture rites in order to permanently alter a victim’s identity and reveal him to be a tyrant, acting against the interests of the people.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: D051 Ancient History