The history of the Byzantine Empire was, for the most part, the history of Constantinople and its royal court. For over a thousand years from the 4th to the 15th century the monarchs of the Rome of the East were the embodiment of absolute authority that was perceived as inspired by God and superior to any other authority. The figure of the Byzantine emperor was thus surrounded by sumptuous rituals that involved firstly the empress and then the rest of the court, which visibly reflected the reverence owed to the person who was both the heir of Roman Caesars and the sovereign of the Christian world. But what was the Byzantine emperors really like? This book brings to life the complex ceremonial setting (hierarchies, uniforms, feats, titles) and accurately illustrates its meanings, especially in relation to notions of power and succession systems.
Giorgio Ravegnani teaches Byzantine History at the University of Venice.