Emperor Konstantinos VII Porphyrogennetos' tenth-century Book of Ceremonies is a vital source for Byzantine court culture. As such, it has helped reinforce many negative assessments of the "archaic" and "bureaucratic" nature of Byzantium. This thesis considers these recorded outlines of court ceremonies not as ritualistic formularies, but as moments of political dialogue. In doing so, it follows scholarly work on the history and culture of Eastern Roman politics — which no longer treats the Roman polity as an autocracy ruled by a God-given emperor, instead, understanding the Byzantine polity to be ruled by a form of "republican" monarchy accountable to "the people." The present examination of ceremonies unfolds in two parts. First, the Book of Ceremonies is recontextualized as a product of tenth-century political life. Second, the ceremonial templates of the Book of Ceremonies are read in parallel with eleventh-century accounts of the attempted power grab of Michael V Kalaphates.
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Thesis advisor: Krallis, Dimitris
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