Official Power and Non-Official Power

Jean-Claude Cheynet

in Fifty Years of Prosopography

Published by British Academy

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780197262924
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734434 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Official Power and Non-Official Power

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For the government of what was for a long time the largest state in Christendom, Byzantine the emperor had at his disposal a mere handful of official and armed forces whose strength was insufficient to ensure lasting control provinces against the will of the peoples who inhabited them. In order to determine the nature of this power, this chapter examines the many surviving official seals that represent the major part of the extant prosopographical material, in order to explain the problem of classifying the holders of official and other power. The nature of the power exercised by one or another individual cannot be easily defined with simply prosopographic elements, even though the latter generally suggest the most probable hypotheses. One must never forget that in the Byzantine empire, in spite of the Roman heritage, the division between public and private was never so clear as it is in modem states.

Keywords: Byzantine rulers; Christendom; official power; imperial administration; Constantinople; Rome

Chapter.  6864 words. 

Subjects: Theory, Methods, and Historiography

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