Emperor and Court

Jeffrey Featherstone

in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199252466
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

Emperor and Court

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In the Byzantine Empire, the palace lay at the centre of the terrestrial order of the empire and was considered the reflection of the divine order. Through the Christianization of the imperial cult of Late Antiquity, the palace and the emperor's person were both seen as sacred. The Byzantine term "palace" (palation) referred not only to the physical setting, but also to the society surrounding the emperor, corresponding roughly to "court" in the western tradition. In the Byzantine world, high state officials were known collectively as the "senate", or "those in government", about half of whom were military officials. The emperor's close associates and relations held the highest civil offices. There was also a palace clergy, while scores of minor palace employees were at the lower end of the scale. A description of the ceremonies of the "Great Palace" of Constantinople best illustrates the nature and working of the Byzantine court. An octagonal hall known as the Chrysotriklinos was central to the everyday court life by the tenth century.

Keywords: Byzantine Empire; palace; emperor; court; senate; employees; clergy; Great Palace; Chrysotriklinos

Article.  5357 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Middle Eastern Languages

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