GEN-MEDIEVAL-L ArchivesArchiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2003-02 > 1045420333
From: "Pierre Aronax" <>
Subject: Re: Byzantine succession
Date: Sun, 16 Feb 2003 19:32:13 +0100
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"Igor Sklar" <> a crit dans le message de news:
> "Pierre Aronax" <> wrote in message
> > Now the eagle is gold on red and so is indeed the Byzantine eagle, but
> > imperial eagle was dark on gold, and so was also, and perhaps most,
> > by the German imperial eagle.
> The double-headed eagle came to Russia on the shoulder of Zoe
Perhaps, but it seems the Russians chose a version of this eagle closer of
the one used by German Emperor (dark on gold) rather than the one used by
the Byzantine emperors (gold on red), and that was my point.
> I always thought that East Roman (as well as Holy Roman)
> Emperors regarded themselves as rightful heirs to imperial Rome and so
> used the emblem of Roman legions. But who was the first? If I'm not
> greatly mistaken, the eagle was employed as symbol of military power
> by Constantine the Great, or even by predecessors of Augustus.
Again, perhaps, but the double-headed eagle is not attested as an imperial
symbol in Byzantium before the 13th century at the best, and not in the West
before the 15th century with Emperor Sigismund (even if someone pointed here
to my attention an example of the 13th century, but in a miniature made in
England and not in a territory subject to the Western Emperor himself).
> > > Emperor Paul, aka Grand Master of the Order of St. John, brought up
> > > his son Konstantin as the heir of Byzantium. He was dreaming that
> > > someday Suvorov would throw open the gates of Istanbul, and Konstantin
> > > would be crowned new Emperor at the Hagia Sofia. It was the Eastern
> > > War that cut short these imperial dreams.
> > Nevertheless, Paul had no genealogical claim to be heir of Byzantium.
> Michael VIII also had no genealogical claim to be heir of Komnenoi.
What? Sorry, but he had a very strong one, stronger than his predecessor
had, and Michael didn't refrained to claim it! See:
Alexios III [Anglos] Komnnos, Emperor
Eirn [Anglina] Komnn, heiress of the Empire = Alexios Komnnos
Thodra Komnn [Palaiologina] = Andronikos Palaiologos, megas domestikos
Michael VIII Doukas Anglos Komnnos Palaiologos, Emperor
Has he not died in 1203 (and the events of 1204 haven't happen of course),
Alexios Palaiologos would have been Alexios III successor. On the contrary,
the Laskarids were only descendants of a younger daughter of Alexios III.
> seems like they didn't pay much attention to such things in Byzantium.
> The historical continuity was considered much more important.
No, they did. The reverse is commonly believed, but it is a
misinterpretation based on the political mentality of earlier periods of
Byzantine history. Heredity was not the only factor to access to the power
in late Byzantium, but it was a very important and in fact an indispensable
factor. The facts are clear: all emperors from 1261 to 1453 belonged to a
same family except one (who did not try to depose the legitimate dynasty and
who anyway was himself closely related to this dynasty in female line): not
many European kingdoms can show such a dynastical continuity during the same
period (for example, certainly not England, and for what I know nobody says
for that that the English crown was not hereditary). And all emperors since
the 12th century (except perhaps Alexios V who usurped the throne briefly
and in apocalyptical circumstances) were descendants of Alexios I: it was
necessary to have Komnnos blood to hope to access to the crown. All the
anthroponomical practices of the Byzantine aristocracy proves that
genealogical prestige was of a vital political importance.
Anyway, it was of genealogical claims that we were speaking, not of
political claims in general.