Battle Speeches and Byzantine Chosenness. The 44th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies. April 2011 - April 2011

International Meeting or Conference

Throughout his reign, Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos strove to legitimize his position as emperor. In order to reinforce his own authority, Constantine VII wrote (or commissioned) two recorded military orations, probably delivered in 950 and 958, which chronologically girdle three triumphal ceremonies. This brief communication will analyse these two speeches in light of the problem of competing Byzantine and Muslim claims to exclusive divine blessing as the people of God. Of particular interest is the use of biblical quotations and allusions, which, together with the liturgical elements of the ceremonial victory parades, indicate how Byzantines experienced their faith. While thus overtly ideological, they also reveal the Byzantine worldview that claims the status of ‘chosenness’ and idealises divine moral standards as defined by contemporary exegesis and religion as it was experienced. In particular, their use of the Judaeo-Christian scriptures reveals to what extent the Constantinian legacy of victoria augusti had changed to a deliberately ideological concept of victoria Christi.

Service Performed By


  • April 2011

Service or Event Name

  • The 44th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies

Location or Venue

  • Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK