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Byzantine War Ideology Between Roman Imperial Concept And Christian Religion

Byzantine War Ideology Between Roman Imperial Concept And Christian Religion: Akten des Internationalen Symposiums (Vienna, 19–21 Mai 2011)

Volume: 30
Copyright Date: 2012
  • Book Info
    Byzantine War Ideology Between Roman Imperial Concept And Christian Religion
    Book Description:

    Holy war and just war are unfortunately not only keywords for recondite excursions into the past, but equally for problems of the present. This applies as well for the attempts of rulers to justify war through state or ruling ideology but also on religious grounds, whether from conviction or in order to cloak economic and political interests. The present volume summarizes the results of a conference held in Vienna, which the editors, Johannes Koder and Ioannis Stouraitis, hosted in May of 2011. The symposium was held in the context of a research project with the topic “Holy War? A study on Byzantine perceptions and concepts of war and peace in the period from the late 11th to the early 13th century.” This project was housed at the Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at the University of Vienna. The arc of the presentation topics spanned chronologically from seventh to the fifteenth century and thematically from the Christian and Islamic legitimation of war (“crusade”, “holy war”) to late antique and medieval imperial ideology to the motivations which were offered or imposed upon soldiers and civilian populations in order to make them amenable to the sorrow, sacrifices and privations which are the accompaniments of war: the promises of worldly rewards were complemented by the expectation of recompense in the afterlife. The results—many are new, some surprising—at one level reference the medieval period and its late antique intellectual foundations and are yet, in their critical evaluation of the ideological basis of war, of astonishing contemporary relevance.

    eISBN: 978-3-7001-7375-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. 7-8)
    Johannes Koder and Ioannis Stouraitis

    The current collective volume contains thirteen papers that were held at the international symposium “Byzantine War Ideology Between Roman Imperial Concept and Christian Religion” in Vienna, May 19–21, 2011. The subject of this symposium was closely related to the research project “Holy War? A Study on Byzantine Perceptions and concepts of War and Peace from the late eleventh to the early thirteenth century” hosted at the Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies of the University of Vienna and financed through a three-year research grant (2008–2011) by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)¹.

    As opposed to the project’s subject,...

  4. Byzantine Approaches to Warfare (6th – 12th centuries): An Introduction
    (pp. 9-16)
    Johannes Koder and Ioannis Stouraitis

    The title of this collective volume, “Byzantine war ideology between Roman imperial concept and Christian religion”, we believe to be well-chosen. There is no doubt that the Byzantines’ socio-political approach to war and peace was extensively influenced by Christian ethics and the Roman imperial tradition. The interaction of these two factors during the geopolitical transformation of the Roman world in the period from the decline of the western part of the Roman Empire up to the late seventh century contributed decisively to the configuration of the Eastern Roman (i.e. Byzantine) Empire’s political and cultural identity. Nevertheless, second thoughts about the...

  5. The Heraclians and Holy War
    (pp. 17-26)
    Walter E. Kaegi

    The issue of holy war bedevils medieval Islamic as well as Byzantine Studies¹. Varying shades of opinion exist among Byzantinists and some even among the Islamicists on just how much holy war there was in the seventh century.

    Some Islamicists believe there was holy war from the beginning, others argue that classic Jihād is a phenomenon of the ‘Abbasid period and thereafter. Among the principal problems is that of retrospective representation of historical events². On one side is Chase F. Robinson³, who observes that “the seventh century was a time of Holy War,” and “Jihad (the struggle on behalf of...

  6. Emperor Constans II’s Intervention in Italy and its Ideological Significance
    (pp. 27-32)
    Panagiotis Antonopoulos

    The seventh century represents a crucial period in Byzantium’s perspective towards the west, and vice versa. This is because, whereas the empire of Constantinople was recognized as the sole Roman Empire, the formation of Germanic kingdoms in the west, and the shifting of attention towards problems in the east, caused a gradual estrangement between the two sections of the Roman Oecumene. In this context, the seventh century constitutes a transitional period, in which the former eastern Roman Empire is still acknowledged as the sole legitimate Roman Empire, but this recognition takes the form of respect for separate political units, mostly...

  7. Opposition to Iconoclasm as Grounds for Civil War
    (pp. 33-40)
    Warren Treadgold

    This paper deals with a relatively neglected category of Byzantine warfare: the civil war, usually between forces supporting the reigning emperor and rebels trying to unseat him. Such wars have not been neglected because they were uncommon. By my count, the number of civil wars in the Byzantine period was around a hundred and twenty, for an average of about one civil war every ten years¹. Since our subject here is the ideology of Byzantine warfare, we may reasonably ask how Byzantine rebels could have justified civil warfare in ideological terms. St. Basil of Caesarea suggested that church tradition might...

  8. The Holiness of the Warrior: Physical and Spiritual Power in the Borderland between Byzantium and Islam
    (pp. 41-46)
    Olof Heilo

    As the title of this symposium suggests, Byzantine concepts of war can be said to belong to a field of tension between the collective struggle of the Roman state and the individual struggle of the Christian believer. The former is concerned with society and the world; the latter is concerned with God and the salvation of the soul. The problem in defining a Byzantine ideology of war thus arises from the opposites of an ancient existential problem that is not necessarily Byzantine¹. It becomes particularly evident in the borderland between Byzantium and the early Caliphate, where the prevalent ideology of...

  9. The Ideology of War in the Military Harangues of Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos
    (pp. 47-56)
    Athanasios Markopoulos

    The two harangues that bear the name of the emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos (945–959) are clearly texts of prime importance for the light they shed on the ideological context in which the Byzantine-Arab wars were fought in the latter half of the tenth century¹. It is generally accepted that the ideological component is a conditio sine qua non for understanding, and primarily for interpreting, the works included in the Porphyrogennetos’ voluminous corpus; though Constantine VII’s narrative is not especially difficult, its copious use of symbolisms coupled with its selective use of historical material imposes multiple readings while the conclusions...

  10. War and Nation-building in Widukind of Corvey’s Deeds of the Saxons
    (pp. 57-68)
    Stergios Laitsos

    Military conflicts constituted a central function of early medieval rulership and, correspondingly, of the historiographical tradition. War and violence in the Middle Ages have been the subject of various studies, which are above all devoted to warfare and to the army¹. War in the Middle Ages (as in any period), according to Malte Priezel, is to be viewed as a component of culture; that is, as a component of a conception within which facts are evaluated, arranged and put together into a whole². Viewed in this way, I shall attempt in my small study to analyze the role of war...

  11. Conceptions of War and Peace in Anna Comnena’s Alexiad
    (pp. 69-80)
    Ioannis Stouraitis

    The Alexiad of Anna Comnena is regarded as a masterpiece of Byzantine literature and has therefore been extensively studied in this regard¹. The decision to single out this text as a source of information about the perception of the Byzantine ruling class on war and peace in the period after the First Crusade lies, however, neither with its great literary value nor with its great importance as a historical source for the period of Alexius I Comnenus (1081–1118)². It primarily relates with its character as a military history written by a well-educated member of a strongly militarized imperial family³,...

  12. 1176 – A Byzantine Crusade?
    (pp. 81-86)
    Evangelos Chrysos

    In his well-written monograph on Manuel Comnenos Paul Magdalino¹ covers the expedition against the Seljuk’s of Iconium and the disastrous battle of Myriokephalon of 1176 under the title “The Byzantine Crusade 1175–76”. In this sense Magdalino describes the refortification of Dorylaion under Manuel’s initiative as “the beginning of a holy war”². This interpretation of the events of 1176 had been advanced already by Ralph-Johannes Lilie in his book on Byzanz und die Kreuzfahrerstaaten³. In Lilie’s reconstruction, Manuel’s military initiative was the beginning of a crusade (“Iniziierung eines neuen Kreuzzuges”). Scholars involved in the discussion about options and forms of...

  13. Niketas Choniates and the image of the enemy after the Latin capture of Constantinople
    (pp. 87-98)
    Theodora Papadopoulou

    The image of the other has been the object of increasing scholarly interest for the last two or three decades. The research thus far has focused on the definition of the other mainly through the study of a certain people or specific individual rulers, as represented in the Byzantine sources¹. Studies have been dedicated also to an approach of the concept on alterity in Byzantine society², as well as on the mechanisms of its formation³.

    Rather than looking at a people as the other or the alterity itself this article focuses on a specific feature of the other, that of...

  14. Reflections on Byzantine “War Ideology” in Late Byzantium
    (pp. 99-108)
    Efstratia Synkellou

    Towards the end of the fourteenth century the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaeologus stated: “It appears that it was my destiny to live with continuous war, with all kinds of war¹.” This statement implies the extent to which Byzantine society found itself in a state of crisis at the time. War was the product as well as the symptom of this crisis. In the late Byzantine period, when war became almost endemic, it was mainly connected with the phenomenon of political instability, which was characteristic of the era. Already in the thirteenth century the conquest of Constantinople by the Crusaders...

  15. Civilians as Combatants in Byzantium: Ideological versus Practical Considerations
    (pp. 109-120)
    Christos G. Makrypoulias

    In almost every discussion revolving around the use of civilians as combatants in warfare, a double standard is evident. This leads to a controversy that usually manifests itself as a tug-o’-war between small nations and Great Powers, the former insisting that every civilian fighting for his country – in whatever fashion – must be regarded as a “lawful combatant”, the latter claiming that only regular armies may take part in military operations¹. Furthermore, the perception of a civilian combatant’s legitimacy may also vary within the same state formation, the ambivalence depending not so much on the state’s changing political ideology,...

  16. “Holy War” In Byzantium Twenty Years Later: A Question of Term Definition and Interpretation
    (pp. 121-132)
    Athina Kolia-Dermitzaki

    During the 1980s, and after the establishment of the Society for the Study of the Crusades and the Latin East, the crusaders’ movement attracted the interest of scholars on a large scale. As a result, a series of related books and articles were (and still are up to this day) written and a great number of conferences were organized¹. It was, thus, inevitable to investigate and review – to some extent – the negative reaction of the Byzantines towards the Crusaders, who crossed the territories of the Empire². I was one of those attracted by the idea of conducting such...

  17. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 133-134)
  18. Index
    (pp. 135-138)
  19. Verzeichnis der Autoren
    (pp. 139-140)