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Topic ClosedClaims to the throne from Old Rome and New Rome

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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Claims to the throne from Old Rome and New Rome
    Posted: 31-Aug-2005 at 16:49

Originally posted by Maju

On the other hand, Charles had the Roman legality of military power... I don't think that Octavius or Constantine would have thought the claim of Charles lacking legitimacy, whatever their consideration on Papal intervention.

I agree....too many "legal" roman emperors came to power based on military might alone.  How many generals were declared emperor by their armies during the civil wars of the 3rd century?  What difference did legitimacy make?  Besides, even in the glory years of the western empire, there was no process for imperial sucession, especially once the praetorians started to murder their bosses.  This discussion is clouded by the view of filial succession from the kingdoms of medieval Europe.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2005 at 17:48
Originally posted by Imperator Invictus

What sources do you draw to conclude that Westerners did not view the Eastern Empire as legitimate? The Eastern Empire was known to the west as "Romania" (Romanland). When the Crusaders captured Byzantium in 1204, the Latin emperor of Constantinople held the title "Imperator Romaniae," Emperor of Romanland, showing that Byzantium was considered to be the land of the Romans.


As fully legitimate of the Western Empire and Latin culture. They were indeed the sole survivors of the Roman debacle. No sources: but is clear that Latin-speakers of the West did not consider themselves less Roman than Greek-speakers of the East and they didn't feel identified with the Eastern Empire or the Basileus either.

The crusader's usage of the title has obviously two intentionalities: one, to adapt to the local usage, and two, to manipulate in benefit of Western Latins the Roman tradition of Greece.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2005 at 17:53

Originally posted by Maju

...the Church provided the ideological legitimacy for political structures and also provided the bureaucracy. This is not a matter that affects the Eastern Empire but an inner affair of the former Western Empire, where the moral authority of the Papacy had become overwhelming due mostly to its claim of representing God on Earth (nothing less!). So the coronation of Charlemagne by the Pope can be dubbed of technically ilegal but it was obviously very legitimate in the sociological sense of the term. On the other hand, Charles had the Roman legality of military power... I don't think that Octavius or Constantine would have thought the claim of Charles lacking legitimacy, whatever their consideration on Papal intervention.

I will maintain the coronation of Charlemagne was almost exclusively a reactionary move against the Byzantines.  The Papacy resented Byzantium, partly because the Empire tried with little success to control the exarchate of Italy (including Papal lands), and this made the Popes angry.  After the fall of the Western principate, there was a political vacuum and the Popes wanted to fill that vacuum, with the Papacy becoming the central authority, both spiritually and physically (through temporal authorities, i.e. Charlemagne) in Western Europe.  Also, the Popes resented the Byzantines because they could not provide the military assistance to keep the Lombards and other barbarians off Papal territory.  That is why it turned to the most powerful group in Western Europe at the time, the Franks.  So in effect, the Papacy wanted it both ways and thumbed its nose at Byzantium when its demands remained unfulfilled.

I think at this point the imperium of Byzantium was still respected in theory if not in action in the West.  The idea of the Roman Empire was still around but fading more and more.  The papacy, on the other hand, was a viable force in Christendom at this time, but not yet one the level that it was during the Crusades and the Renaissance.  Along with the barbarians, it was trying to assert itself in the power vacuum in Western Europe.  Since Constantine fused Christianity with Roman imperium, the position of Roman emperor was already considered to be blessed by God.  The pope crowning someone did not neccessarily at this time confer legitimacy upon that person.


In any case, it's obvious that the Eastern Empire wasn't seen as legitimate heir of the Western Empire by Westerners, after all they spoke Greek and called their Emperors with such a meaningless name for Latins as Basileus (king)!

Yes, but the Byzantines equated that word with the Latin imperator or princeps.  Even though it seems snobbish, I am sure the Byzantines did not care what the West thought about its legitimacy.  It all has to do with an idea that was cemented into the Byzantine mindset.  Byzantium is the Roman Empire and the basileus is the ruler of all Christendom - this mindset remained all the way down to 1453, if not 1461. 

See this source for more information:

George Ostrogorsky. "The Byzantine Emperor and the Hierarchical World Order." Slavic and Eastern European Review 35 (1956-1957): 1-14.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2005 at 18:11
Maju, the West may not have always liked Byzantium, but that is not the same as saying that they did not see it as legitimately Roman. For one thing, the Basileus was recognized as "Emperor" by the West throuhout most of its history and this alone justifies perceived continuity of Old Rome.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2005 at 18:15
You insist in ignoring my diferentiaton between Western Roman and simply Roman. Eastern Romans (Greeks) could well be Romans but they could never be Western Romans (Latins). 

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2005 at 18:23
Another important fact is the national one: it's obvious that the Pope and Charles could have decided to crown the latter as Emperor of the Franks but that would have detracted legitimacy to that title, as Charles didn't rule just over the Franks but also over many other peoples: Galo-Romans, Alamani, Bavarians, Saxons, Aquitanians, Basques, Burgundians, Provenzals, Italians and Spaniards... what could unite all or most of these peoples in a single identity: Romanity, represented by the Church of Rome and the concept of Western Roman Empire, at that point restored. I'm sure that Byzantines saw it as an anti-Byzantine move and maybe even that was in the intention of the Pope... but also there were more important issues that affected only to Charles' Empire and Western Europe. 

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2005 at 18:29
Well there is also the issue of Charles' Empire being a rather short-lived affair. It was an abberation that a state like that exist in Western Europe and a nation that powerful was a temporary phenomenon. By contrast Byzantium remained a dominating force for many centuries. The Roman Empire lasted nearly a thousand years and Byzantium even longer, yet Charles' state managed to eek out comparable glory for only a few generations. That short-lived state hardly deserves credit for being Roma Nova.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2005 at 19:04
Sorry about that. I think this discussion is getting a little confusing now. The original post asked which side, Charlemagne or the East, should be considered legitimate. From a modern standpoint, I guess its ultimately up to the reader to decide. Byzantium has gotten to a bad start in modern history thanks to historians like Gibbons who've belittled it, but it's been making gains now. Personally, I think both emperors could be seen as legitimate. It was brought up that the Pope had no right to crown an Emperor. However, it was also brought up that many Roman Emperors didn't have a "legitimate" rise to power, with which I agree. I also don't see what's wrong with having two Emperors, since that had been the case since the 360s AD. If the question is which side was more legitimate, that would be pretty hard to answer. lol. I think it's reasonable to consider both Emperors to be legitimate, but I'm not sure if you can consider the Holy Empire to be an actual "Empire."

Regarding who was considered legitimate back then, I agree with Byzantine Emperor's post. Byzantium slowly lost its hype in the west throuhout its history, after the loss of Justinian's conquest. Afterwards, relations between the two staled. I guess after Charles the Great, the two sides slowly split in to two camps.

One of Otto's ambassadors to Byzantium wrote:

"He [The Byzantine Emperor] called you not emperor, which is Basileus in his tongue, but insultingly Rex, which is king in ours. I told him that the thing meant was the same though the word was different, and he then said that I had come not to make peace but to stir up strife. Finally he got up in a rage, and really wishing to insult us received your letter not in his own hand but through an interpreter. He is a man commanding enough in person but feigning humility: whereon if a man lean it will pierce his hand."

(source: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/liudprand-em bassy-exce rpts.html). BTW, that also shows that "Basileus" was indeed percieved as Emperor, upgraded from the meaning of King.

Similarly, the ambassador also wrote comments to "de-legitimize" the Emperor of Byzantium:

To him I made this reply: "My master did not invade the city of Rome by force nor as a tyrant; he freed her from a tyrant's yoke, or rather from the yoke of many tyrants. Was she not ruled by effeminate debauchers, and what is even worse and more shameful, by harlots? Your power, methinks, was fast asleep then; and the power of your predecessors, who in name alone are called emperors of the Romans, while the reality is far different. If they were powerful, if they were emperors of the Romans, why did they allow Rome to be in the hands of harlots?


Edited by Imperator Invictus
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2005 at 19:22

Originally posted by Imperator Invictus

One of Otto's ambassadors to Byzantium wrote:

"He [The Byzantine Emperor] called you not emperor, which is Basileus in his tongue, but insultingly Rex, which is king in ours. I told him that the thing meant was the same though the word was different, and he then said that I had come not to make peace but to stir up strife. Finally he got up in a rage, and really wishing to insult us received your letter not in his own hand but through an interpreter. He is a man commanding enough in person but feigning humility: whereon if a man lean it will pierce his hand."


(source: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/liudprand-em bassy-exce rpts.html). BTW, that also shows that "Basileus" was indeed percieved as Emperor, upgraded from the meaning of King.

Similarly, the ambassador also wrote comments to "de-legitimize" the Emperor of Byzantium:

To him I made this reply: "My master did not invade the city of Rome by force nor as a tyrant; he freed her from a tyrant's yoke, or rather from the yoke of many tyrants. Was she not ruled by effeminate debauchers, and what is even worse and more shameful, by harlots? Your power, methinks, was fast asleep then; and the power of your predecessors, who in name alone are called emperors of the Romans, while the reality is far different. If they were powerful, if they were emperors of the Romans, why did they allow Rome to be in the hands of harlots? 
 
If I remember correctly, isn't this the writings of Liutprand of Cremona?  He was notoriously anti-Byantine and embellished his diplomatic "reports" with all sorts of hateful remarks about Greeks.  I think his hatred stemmed mostly from his theological differences with the Orthodox Church, but in his writings he just manages to criticize almost everything about the Byzantines.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2005 at 20:33
Originally posted by Byzantine Emperor

Originally posted by Imperator Invictus

One of Otto's ambassadors to Byzantium wrote:

"He [The Byzantine Emperor] called you not emperor, which is Basileus in his tongue, but insultingly Rex, which is king in ours. I told him that the thing meant was the same though the word was different, and he then said that I had come not to make peace but to stir up strife. Finally he got up in a rage, and really wishing to insult us received your letter not in his own hand but through an interpreter. He is a man commanding enough in person but feigning humility: whereon if a man lean it will pierce his hand."


(source: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/liudprand-em bassy-exce rpts.html). BTW, that also shows that "Basileus" was indeed percieved as Emperor, upgraded from the meaning of King.

Similarly, the ambassador also wrote comments to "de-legitimize" the Emperor of Byzantium:

To him I made this reply: "My master did not invade the city of Rome by force nor as a tyrant; he freed her from a tyrant's yoke, or rather from the yoke of many tyrants. Was she not ruled by effeminate debauchers, and what is even worse and more shameful, by harlots? Your power, methinks, was fast asleep then; and the power of your predecessors, who in name alone are called emperors of the Romans, while the reality is far different. If they were powerful, if they were emperors of the Romans, why did they allow Rome to be in the hands of harlots? 
 
If I remember correctly, isn't this the writings of Liutprand of Cremona?  He was notoriously anti-Byantine and embellished his diplomatic "reports" with all sorts of hateful remarks about Greeks.  I think his hatred stemmed mostly from his theological differences with the Orthodox Church, but in his writings he just manages to criticize almost everything about the Byzantines.

Gosh, if Luitprand lived in our time he might be French 

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2005 at 21:33
Yep, Liutprand of Cremona is the one who wrote those quotes.  
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-Aug-2005 at 22:50

We should perhaps not take Liutprand too seriously. A very clever writer, he had a personal axe to grind because of his treatment by Nicephorus Phocas, the Emperor. On top of this he was a diplomatic agent working for Nicephorus' rival, the Western Emperor.

Nicephorus was able to answer Liutprand's charge of weakness saying the whole German army (aka Holy Roman Empire) was not able to take just two small cities the Byzantines had kept control of. He was quite right, Liutprand was in Constantinople to try and find a diplomatic way of gaining those cities by way of marriage with a Byzantine princess, thereby gaining them in the dowry. The fact that Nicephorus was not bothering with Italy was quite simple: he was making much more profitable progress conquering land in the Mediterannean and the East. At that time Nicephorus II had 120,000 men under arms, triple the number which the German Emperor possessed. Had the Byzantines chosen to make Italy and Rome a priority at that time as the Germans did then I don't see why they could not have reasserted authority there.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Sep-2005 at 03:59
Originally posted by Constantine XI

Had the Byzantines chosen to make Italy and Rome a priority at that time as the Germans did then I don't see why they could not have reasserted authority there.



You mean their authority, don't you? Rome wasn't anymore in chaos but under realtively strong government, that of the Western Emperor. The fact that Liutprando is an Italian himself adds weight to his comments.

Also, the fact that Nicephorus ignored Italy and Rome means that he had no interest in the Western Empire anymore. Instead the Ottos chose to priorize Italy and Rome in their power scheme even if to some it seems odd.

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