11 September 2013

Ceremonies, Part Two

Court attendants waiting.

As I read the 10th C  Book of Ceremonies, the main emphases are dress and waiting. And interior decorating, which is dress for the buildings. The palace had great stores of formal dress.  Special outfits were brought out for people to wear when they were being invested in an office, and then were put back in storage.  It may be unfair of me to mention that Liutprand of Cremona and  Ibn Hauqal, both of the 10th century, thought they were seeing a lot of hand-me-downs.
The emperor hands [the new rector] a tunic which is called a rector's tunic.  Note that the praipositos hands the emperor the tunic.  This is of white damask with a fine phialion woven with gold, with an extension about four fingers wide extending a little over the shoulders, along with fine cuffs woven with gold, and a border woven with gold.  . . .  and the emperor hands him the gold-bordered cloak . . . Then the emperor hands him a reddish-purple maphorion with roses embroidered in pure gold all over it like lupins. Note that the praipositos hands the emperor both the cloak and the maphorion.  This maphorion is worn once, and only once at the appointment.
At banquets, guests and the poor and foreign visitors (except for Bulgarians)  were handed robes to wear, and when the banquet was over, the robes were taken away. Here is a fairly extensive description of the clothing and the interior decorating for a "reception" given by Constantine Porphyrogennetos in 946 AD. For these major events, things were brought from monasteries all over the city, or moved from other rooms in the palace. 

More court attendants waiting.

. . . polished bronze chans from the Monastery of Sts Servios and Bakchos were hung in the great Hall of the Magnaura . . . on these chains were hung the great silver polykandela from the New hurch . . . on the right-hand side between the great columns, stood the gold organ, outside the curtains, and beyond it as one faces east the silver organ of the Blue faction and likewise on the left-hand side the silver organ of the Green. . .           Note that the decorators made the whole pergola like an arcade with sendals and to either side of the columns . . . were hung great skaramangia which had been issued by the palace.           Note that when the Spaniards came a reception was held in all respects like this one, except that the pergola was not decorated with sendals but entirely with great Skaramangia, and the Phylax's enamelled objects were also hung in it. . . .          Note that the eparch fitted out the area outside the Stable of the Mules, and the First Schole, on either side, with silks and cloths and sendals and with the chased silver objects stored in the hospices and old-people's homes and the churches . . . the eparch fitted out the Tribunal with silks and cloths and sendals and with objects of gold and enamel and chased silver -- that is to say, the silver-dealer supplied these. . .          Note that the hall where the baldachin stands . . . and what is called the Onopodion were fitted out by the sakellarios with silks and curtains from the Chrysotriklinos.          Note that the portico of the Hall of the Augousteus . . . was fitted out with the reddish-purple curtains from the Chrysotriklinos.          Note that the passageways from the Hall of the Augousteus . . . were fitted out with various embroidered curtains.          Note that, as usual for processions, the passageways were trimmed with laurel in the forms of little crosses and wreaths . . . They were also trimmed with the rest of the flowers which the season provided then.  Their pavements were liberally strewn with ivy and laurel, and the more special ones with myrtle and rosemary.  

 It goes on for pages and pages with the lists of officials and what they are to be wearing and where they are to stand -- "the archons' sons wearing their skaramangia and swords, the valets dark-coloured chlamyses, and the stewards of the table short-sleeved tunics of sham reddish-purple." "Sailors stood to either side at the Hall of the Scholai, carrying leather shields and wearing their swords."  Meanwhile, in the Crysotriklinos there were the most extraordinary embroideries hanging about:
. . . the chlamyses of the emperor and the augousta, from the Chapel of St. Peter . . . entirely of gold with a plane-tree in pearls; from the Chapel of St Theodore the chorosanchorion with the griffin and lion; from the dining-room, the plane-tree chlamys of silk of three hues; from the Pantheon, the horseman chlamys; from the vault of the dining-room, the peacock chlamys, the mantle of the augousta; . . . the horseman chlamys . . . from the silver doors to the west, the little peacock chlamys, and the eagle chlamys . . .   Note that the imperial crowns and enamelled objects were hung alternately . . . three imperial crowns . . . the green crown from the Church of the glorious Holy Apostles . . . the blue crown . . .
I have not got to the silver plates suspended between the columns, or the great white crown the emperor was wearing, or how to manage if a winter storm was blowing, and there is no mention of what they were actually eating at these dinners and receptions.
 Note the emperor's little gold table.
After the emperor stood up from the banquet there was dessert in the dining room.  The small gold table stood there . . . and the dessert was placed on it on enamelled plates decorated with precious stones. The emperor was seated, and Romanos the purple-born emperor and their purple-born children, and the daughter-in-law and the archontissa [of Russia].  500 miliaresia were given to the archontissa [of Russia]  on a gold plate decorated with precious stones, and 20 miliaresia each to her six female relatives, and 8 miliaresia each to her eighteen female attendants.
  have miliaresea.  They are very large coins, but I have no idea of their purchasing power, or if the archontissa of Russia was able to keep the gold plate decorated with precious stones.But is is nice to see an overwhemingly female delegation to an overwhelmingly male court.

Theophilos visiting the Blachernai.  Notice his trouser suit covered with pearls.

A great many entries in the Book of Ceremonies begin "if the emperor wishes" but underlying that is the sense that what the emperor wishes maywell be irrelevant.  He is going to have to perform that ceremony whether he wishes or not, and some may not have liked the ceremonial business nearly as much as did Constantine Porphyrogennetos.
If the emperor wishes to go away and keep the vigil at Blachernai, he goes one day before and observes the vigil. On the following day, that is, the day of the feast, they all go along in ceremonial dress while it is still dark, the magistroi and praipositoi, patricians and holders of high office. the eunuch protospatharioi are in their ceremonial dress and carry sword-tipped batons, and the household protospatharioi are in spekia, and all the rest, except for the officials of the bureaux, are in skaramangia.  They all go along to the hall which is called the Hall of The Danube and sit there.

The emperor in his dromon.  Notice the wind-blown hair.

If it is not a fine day, he goes on horseback and goes in his skaramangion, but if it is a fine day he goes by boat. All the senate sit in skaramangia outside . . . waiting on the shore for the emperor.   . . . The magistroi and patricians and all the senate sit in the Hall of the Danube, and they change into their ceremonial dress and sit there waiting for the time to come.
They also had baths at Blachernai. This was a ceremonial event --  they had their regular baths at the palace, as witnesses this image of the murder of Romanos III:

Romanos III (d. 1034)was either murdered in his bath,
or poisoned, on the orders of his wife. Note the worried bathers
waiting outside in their towels.
 A murder at the Blachernae baths would have had to involve a huge crowd of conspirators, beginning with the Senate.
Early on Friday morning the whole senate goes along in skaramangia to Blachernai . . . The rulers, in their skaramangia, go onto the dromon with their personal staff and the logothete of the post and the chief imperial secretary and the officer in charge of petitions and the hetaireiarches and the droungarios of the Watch . . .
There is a change of clothes for the rulers, a visit to more than one altar, activities with candles and peacock feathers and more robes, and if the rulers wish they put on their crowns.  Then they go up a spiral staircase to the dressing rooms while the hetaireia pray. [I am shortening this extremely. The hetaireia are not women.]
The rulers go away to the dressing-rooms and, after undressing, put on their gold linen  garments and go in to the holy bath. [After an involved process with candles, icons, and incense] the rulers with their own hands make the sigh of the cross over themselves and go out and bathe.  After the bathing they go out into the small outer tholos and take off their linen garments and put on other woven with gold.  The protembatarios stands in front of the bath and says the prayer.   Note that while the prayer is being said the bath attendants lead in the twelve water-bearers from the left-hand side of the bath, and they go through in front of the eastern conch down there and stand to the right-hand side of the bath.  Entering, the rulers stand and the senior emperor hands each of the water-bearers one nomisma each.  It is necessary that the praipositos prepare in advance the hand of the water-bearer for the reception of the imperial gift. . . . If the rulers wish to go on horseback and go away either to the spring or elsewhere, they do so; but if not, they go onto the dromon and go to the Palace, or indeed they go away wherever else they wish.

1 comment:

  1. If you have no idea of the purchasing power of a miliaresion, a good start would be here: http://www.doaks.org/resources/publications/doaks-online-publications/byzantine-studies/the-economic-history-of-byzantium , especially
    and http://www.doaks.org/resources/publications/doaks-online-publications/byzantine-studies/the-economic-history-of-byzantium/ehb42-byzantine-money
    also http://www.doaks.org/resources/publications/doaks-online-publications/byzantine-studies/byzantine-coinage/byzcoins.pdf


I will not publish Anonymous comments.