Level of study Third/Final year
Credit value 20
Semester Not currently scheduled, 1&2
You will study the role of ritual in Byzantium in the everyday life of the subjects of the emperor and in the routine of the emperor's court. We explore rituals of power (coronation, triumphs), legal rituals (oath taking, adoption, blood brotherhood), sacraments (baptism, marriage) and the ceremonial of the court. What was ritual for and how important was it? Did emperors think it was a bore? Was it the opposite of government by administration or was it integral to the process of governing? Our approach to the subject will be comparative, with reference to other medieval and early modern societies (the Carolingian west, the Ottoman successors to Byzantium). We will reconstruct rituals as they are described in narrative sources, ceremonial works and foreigners' accounts; and we will study changes and developments in ritual with a view to understanding changes in ideas about kingship and ruling. Finally, we contrast the medieval west and Byzantium with regard to the significance of ritual in government.