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Byzance et le monde extérieur

 | 
Michel Balard
, 
Élisabeth Malamut
, 
Jean-Michel Spieser
, 
et al.

La lettre diplomatique

Past and future in Middle Byzantine diplomacy: some preliminary observations

Jonathan Shepard

Texte intégral

1Before considering how ‘the past’, whether constructed as written ‘history’ or handed down by word of mouth and custom, was invoked by the practitioners of Middle Byzantine diplomacy, one must glance at their use of a rather different concept, ‘the future’. It is not flippant to suggest that official Byzantine allusions to, or manipulation of, future developments were at least as important as invocations of the past. The ability to predict natural phenomena and to draw upon forewarnings and prophetic writings about both past and supposedly forthcoming events was of direct assistance to the workings of Byzantine diplomacy in two practical respects. Moreover grand notions - whether vaguely assumed or precisely delineated - concerning the empire’s destiny and privileged place in the divinely ordered future were relevant to imperial dealings with outsiders and to those outsiders’ conceptions of Byzantium. These practical and ideological perspectives on the future may briefly be summarized.

  • 1 G. Kolias, Léon Choerosphactès magistre, proconsul et patrice, Athens 1939, p. 76-77; Anna Comnena(...)
  • 2 On Byzantine use of this term, see E. Fenster, Laudes Constantinopolitanae, Munich 1968 (Miscellan (...)
  • 3 Liudprand of Cremona, Legatio, 40, in Opera Omnia, ed. P. Chiesa, Turnhout 1998 (Corpus Christiano (...)
  • 4 Ibid., p. 204. On ‘Hippolytus’ see W. Brandes, Liudprand von Cremona (Legatio cap. 39-41), BZ 93, (...)
  • 5 P. Magdalino, The History of the Future and its Uses: Prophecy, Policy and Propaganda, The Making (...)

2Firstly, Byzantine expertise in astronomy enabled the emperor and his agents precisely to predict celestial occurrences for the benefit of barbarians. The latter might simply interpret this as a mark of Byzantine technical superiority, or they might take it for confirmation of the Byzantines’ claims as to their emperor’s unique relationship with Heavenly Powers. It is not entirely an accident of source survival that the two clearest instances of predictions of eclipses come from times of high tension or military confrontation. Symeon of Bulgaria was the recipient of one such prediction in the early 890s, while Alexius I Comnenus tried to impress upon the Pechenegs his foreknowledge of a full solar eclipse in 1086.1 This kind of forecasting reinforced imperial warnings to external powers that attacks on Constantinople itself, ‘the God-protected City’,2 would not merely fail, but would merit punishment from heaven. A second practical way in which the Byzantines could claim to foretell the future was through drawing on supposedly longstanding predictions; these could be held to forecast and also to validate forthcoming imperial initiatives, particularly military ones. Judging by Liudprand of Cremona, texts and sayings were brought to the attention of foreign visitors in Constantinople, and the interpretation proffered was presumably in accord with official intentions. A prophecy of ‘Hippolytus’ concerning the joint-action of ‘the lion’ and ‘the whelp’ against the ‘wild ass’ was interpreted as meaning that Nicephorus II Phocas would soon, in collaboration with Otto I, destroy the ruler of the North African Muslims.3 The aim of this interpretation was patently to dangle before the envoy and his Saxon patrons an authoritative-seeming prophecy of victory as allies of the Byzantines; the prospect might at least discourage further Ottonian attacks on Byzantine possessions in Southern Italy. The Byzantines’ predictions could be bolstered by vouching for the accuracy of the statements of a known written text. Liudprand himself attests to this practice: ‘[Hippolytus’] other prophecies have all been fulfilled, as I have heard from those who know his books.’4 In this way the past and allegedly forthcoming events were joined together in a continuum, offering the shape of things to come with the aid of works of ‘prophecy’ written ex post facto, ‘the history of the future’.5

  • 6 M. McCormick, Eternal Victory, Cambridge 1990, p. 1-5, 120-133.
  • 7 Life of Constantine 10, Kliment Okhridski. S’brani s’chineniia III, ed. B. S. Angelov, K. Kodov, S (...)
  • 8 See Magdalino, History of the Future (as in n. 5), p. 23; Id., The Year 1000 in Byzantium, Byzanti (...)
  • 9 Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, Le livre des ceremonies, I, ed. A. Vogt, Paris 1935, p. 2 (prefac (...)
  • 10 Magdalino, The Year 1000 (as in n. 8), p. 249-254. Professor Magdalino is investigating further as (...)
  • 11 Basil of Neopatras, cited and translated by Magdalino, The Year 1000, p. 252.

3Underpinning the prophecies concerning initiatives such as military expeditions was a much broader theme - that the empire represented the winning side and that, ultimately and transcendentally, ‘the Future’ lay with the empire. At the level of feats of warfare and military propaganda, this was conveyed by the oft-repeated refrain that the emperor was ‘ever victorious’,6 but it also pervaded assumptions and formal court acclamations concerning the raison d’être of the empire and its role in God’s plan for the salvation of mankind. There was widespread currency and also Establishment support for the view that the Christian Roman empire was identifiable with the fourth and last of the empires foretold in the Book of Daniel; that this empire would not be succeeded by any further empire; and that its fall would prompt upheavals culminating in the Second Coming. An allusion to the Vision of Daniel was apparently made by Constantine-Cyril while propounding orthodox Christianity to the Khazar khagan around 861,7 a time when the end of the world, as foretold by a number of Byzantine texts, was approaching.8 Conceptions of the special relationship between the ‘New Rome’ of the Christian emperors and God’s plan for the cosmos received striking visual and ceremonial expression at the emperor’s court, and indeed in the City as a whole. This locus of God-given authority, frequented by the saints, presided over by the holy emperors and moving liturgically to the rhythms of Christ and the Creator,9 could easily have drawn inspiration from St John’s vision of the saints who reign together with Christ (Revelations, 20.1-7). In fact, in the eyes of imperially minded Early and Middle Byzantines, the thousand-year realm of the saints in conjunction with right-thinking emperors may well have appeared to be already underway: the out-of-this-world court on the Bosphorus represented its enactment.10 As Metropolitan Basil of Neopatras saw it, the Roman empire would be Christ’s, ‘unmoved until the consummation of the world’.11

  • 12 Magdalino, ibid., p. 242.
  • 13 Hugh Capet sought a ‘daughter of the holy empire’, the sister of Basil II and Constantine VIII, fo (...)

4Such conceptions and ritual did not, admittedly, dispel uncertainty and Angst as to how exactly the Roman rulers and people would fare during the Last Days. Scriptural, apocryphal and other writings of supposedly great antiquity were searched for clues as to the date of the world’s end and Christ’s Second Coming, and many attempts were made to calculate that date. It has been shown that these efforts redoubled after the terminus of 6384/6388 A.M. (876/880 A.D.) passed without cosmic incident, and senior churchmen were among those who ‘put their names to statements to the effect that the world would end around the year 1000 A.D.’12 But suggestive of ambivalence as are the successive revisions of the End, they were compatible with the belief that the Byzantine empire had a uniquely privileged position in God’s scheme. Provided that the orthodox faith and worship were maintained, the Romans’ winning formulae might yet secure eternal salvation for them and their faithful associates. It is possible that such considerations enhanced the readiness of outsiders, whether leaders of peoples or lesser-ranking potentates, to seek a form of association with the ‘holy empire’ and ‘the holy kings’ towards the millennial year of 1000 and, on occasion, to offer tangible support.13 Equally, it may not be wholly fortuitous that imperially sponsored missionary work enjoyed prominence in the course of two eras when oft-discussed termini were looming large, the 860s-70s and the second half of the tenth century. During these eras teleological conceptions about the empire’s future could well have come to outsiders’ notice. Through forming an affinity with the ‘reigning city’ and its overlord, external potentates could aspire to durability and high status for their own regimes and also to something of the good fortune, if not assured salvation, of the Romans.

  • 14 On Early and Middle Byzantine world chronicles’ attention to Jewish history and to other monarchie (...)
  • 15 Külzer, Anfange der Geschichte (as in n. 14), p. 146, 155-156. On world chronicles in general, see (...)

5This does not in any way imply that ‘the past’ as a concept was redundant to imperial statesmen. Their insistence on their polity’s unique legitimacy and overriding hegemony presupposed unbroken continuity from the original empire of the Romans. And the fore-mentioned prognoses about the future drew validation from the supposition that they rested on texts composed in the distant past, when not directly on prophecies made in incontestably sacred writings. In fact ‘the past’, comprising events and allegorical imagery of the Bible and a select number of other occurrences such as the conversion of Constantine and the foundation of the New Rome, was interwoven with imperial destiny more intimately in Byzantine ideology than it was in most other empires’ foundation myths. It is not surprising that the Byzantines, believing themselves the ‘people of God’, should have been concerned with the history of His first Chosen People, the Jews. Equally their ‘world chronicles" close attention to the rise and fall of other mighty realms may simply be attributed to curiosity about precursors to their own empire.14 But it may well be that world chronicles providing full coverage of these topics owed their popularity among the Byzantines partly to their potential as quarries of information, direct or indirect, about the Last Days and, in particular, about the future of the Last Empire. It should be noted that these chronicles drew heavily on the apocryphal, highly apocalyptic, Book of Enoch, as well as on the Third and Fourth Books of Maccabees.15

  • 16 This is not, of course, to deny the existence of such works in the Middle Byzantine period or that (...)
  • 17 Magdalino, History of the Future, p. 28; Külzer, Anfänge der Geschichte, p. 141.

6Conversely there is little evidence suggestive of a robust Byzantine appetite for ‘history’ in the sense of largely secular, chronologically ordered, narratives of the res gestae of their emperors and statesmen, appraising success and failure in earthly terms and offering some sort of evaluation of their conduct of affairs of state.16 This type of historical work was grounded in classical conceptions of the cyclical rhythm of human affairs. The likelihood of patterns of development made it instructive and interesting to study cause and effect in detail. In contrast, a literary culture on the alert for the end of earthly things might well order its priorities differently, having no expectation that the rise and fall of dynasties and realms would continue to recur indefinitely.17 Such a mentalité is compatible with the dearth of Middle Byzantine literary compositions devoted to what could be termed ‘early modern’ history, the period between the formative stages of the Christian empire and the current events of a writer’s own day, which might - or might not - be portending the Last Things.

  • 18 See Mango, Byzantine chronography (as in n. 15), p. 363. See also Markopoulos, Byzantine History W (...)
  • 19 The principles were set out in the T’ang liu-tien, translated by D. Twitchett, The Writing of Offi (...)
  • 20 I. Ševčenko, The search for the past in Byzantium around the year 800, DOP 46, 1992, p. 279-293 at (...)
  • 21 Mango, Byzantine chronography, p. 365-366; Ševčenko, Search (as in n. 20), p. 284-287; Markopoulos(...)
  • 22 I. Ševčenko, Re-reading Constantine Porphyrogenitus, Byzantine Diplomacy, ed. J. Shepard, S. Frank (...)
  • 23 Theophanes Continuatus, I, 22, ed. I. Bekker, Bonn 1838 (CSHB), p. 36; Brandes, Liudprand (as in n (...)

7The limited quantity of extant Middle Byzantine historical compositions, in the sense of detailed accounts of imperial reigns or dynasties and overall assessments of their achievements, is probably linked with the lack of evidence for assiduous maintenance of court annals or chronicles.18 Middle Byzantine historiography offers little to match the historical record of public affairs kept by the contemporaneous T’ang dynasty in China. Soon after gaining power the T’ang rulers of China set up a Historiographical Office to which all government departments and agencies had to make regular returns. Among these was the Court for Diplomatic Receptions, which supplied information about the visits of all foreign embassies. Key data was eventually incorporated into a Veritable Record for each emperor’s reign, and its historiographers were charged with ‘setting this out in chronological form and incorporating the principles of praise and blame’.19 This stands in contrast with the situation in Byzantium where, in the first part of the ninth century, at least, ‘it was difficult to reconstruct Byzantium’s [own] recent past’ and even basic information about the reigns of the emperors since Heraclius was wanting.20 This is, admittedly, an extreme example and there can be no doubt that the ninth century saw an upswing in various forms of recording, notably the short chronicles or chronologies, while portrayals of past reigns reminiscent of classical encomia came into vogue in the tenth century.21 Yet judging by Constantine VII’s De administrando imperio (henceforth, DAI) the emperors themselves had limited knowledge of major events from the fairly recent past and lacked memorandums on the empire’s relations with particular peoples. In his attempt to fill the gap, Constantine resorted to the Chronicle of Theophanes, and his enterprise seems to have been unusual.22 At least as much imperial attention seems to have been paid to texts purportedly pointing to the future of one’s own regime. For example, Leo V was greatly exercised by the intimations about his fate in a Sibylline book in ‘the imperial library’.23 Such preoccupations and genres of writing about the future have left few obvious marks on the formal written communications of emperors to foreign potentates. Were it not for Liudprand’s Legatio, we would have no inkling of his hosts’ invocation of ‘Hippolytus’.

  • 24 Michael Psellus, Chronographia, ed. E. Renauld, I, Paris 1926, p. 152-153.
  • 25 See, e.g. Hunger, Profane Literatur, I, p. 331-441; E. Jeffreys, The attitudes of Byzantine chroni (...)
  • 26 Such was the technique used by an envoy on Prince Sviatoslav, albeit in this case for self-serving (...)
  • 27 See M. de Waha, La lettre d’Alexis I Comnène a Robert I le Frison, Byz. 47, 1977, p. 113-125 at p. (...)
  • 28 Constantine VII, De cerimoniis aulae byzantinae, 11.48, ed. J. J. Reiske, I, Bonn 1829, (CSHB), p. (...)

8At this point it might be appropriate to discuss the evaluation of detailed ‘histories’ as against succinct ‘chronographies’ made by such savants as Psellus,24 or the norms observed in official letters issued in the emperor’s name. Fuller discussion of Byzantine assumptions and pronouncements about ‘history’ cannot, however, be attempted here,25 while the conventions of imperial written communications with outsiders receive attention elsewhere in this volume. What should be noted is the likelihood of a contrast between, on the one hand, the oral statements of envoys and, on the other, the contents of the ‘diplomatic letters’ that they delivered. It was probably not uncommon for higher-grade envoys to expatiate upon the letters by word of mouth. Envoys were required to exercise oikonomia, catering for the sensibilities of the addressee, and it was envisaged that a ruler might be ‘captivated with enchanting words’.26 It would not be surprising if these words sometimes diverged from, albeit without directly contradicting, the ideology expressed in the splendid, enduring form of the letter. This would perhaps have been the more apt to happen when an envoy’s homeland and mother tongue were akin to those of their addressees.27 One must also allow for distortion inherent in the fact that the extant texts of missives are addressed to the heads of relatively well-organized, literate, societies, and that all surviving summaries of letters and other exchanges have passed through the filter of literate, often Byzantine, writers. We do not know what was stated in missives directed to unlettered peoples such as the Pechenegs or the Hungarians,28 and there are very few indications as to how their bearers elaborated upon the contents. So our source-base is detailed and trustworthy in respect of quite a narrow cultural band of addressee. Bearing in mind the foresaid filter, it seems worthwhile to include in our survey such unwritten forms of communication and exchange between the imperial authorities and outsiders as feature in sources such as Liudprand’s Legatio. Judging by Liudprand’s account of his exchanges with imperial officials, Byzantine diplomats were prone to invoke the past, as well as the future.

9Our survey, then, encompasses the variety of allusions to the past made by emperors and their agents, in letters or by word of mouth, while dealing with outsiders. They may be grouped into three chronological perspectives, comprising allusions to events newly occurred or falling well within living memory; to events or agreements of a generation or more earlier, whose details were more likely to be recorded in written works than remembered in full by individuals; or to personages, anecdotes and vague traditions harking back to antiquity if not to Biblical times and as apt to be evoked orally as by the written word. Our prime concern will be with the way in which Byzantine diplomacy managed to operate in default of analytical surveys or an equivalent of the T’ang Historiographical Office. Neither the underlying objectives of Byzantine diplomacy nor the manner in which they may have altered through the Middle Byzantine period can be considered here. It will be suggested that on the whole the stock of data - whether accurate, inaccurate or fictitious - about the past was sufficient for the Byzantines’ purposes. They probably took for granted that powerful outsiders would be less informed about the historical past than were the emperor and his agents. However, those outsiders sufficiently well briefed about precedents and the empire’s own internal history to challenge its version of things, chapter and verse, were not fobbed off so easily.

  • 29 MGH, Legum Sectio III, Concilia, II. 1, Hanover-Leipzig 1906, p. 476-478.
  • 30 E. Chrysos, Byzantine Diplomacy, A.D. 300-800: Means and Ends, Byzantine Diplomacy (as in n. 22), (...)
  • 31 Chronicon Paschale, tr. M. and M. Whitby, Liverpool 1989, p. 182-188; McCormick, Eternal Victory ( (...)
  • 32 Annales regni Francorum, ed. F. Kurze, Hanover 1895, p. 136,139; V. Beševliev, Die Botschaften der (...)
  • 33 Annales de Saint-Bertin, ed. F. Grat, J. Vielliard, S. Clémencet, Paris 1964, p. 30; J. Shepard, T (...)
  • 34 Matthew of Edessa, Chronicle, I, 19 = Armenia and the Crusades, Tenth to Twelfth Centuries: the Ch (...)
  • 35 William of Poiters, Gesta Guillelmi, ed. and tr. R. H. C. Davis, M. Chibnall, Oxford 1998, p. 96-9 (...)
  • 36 Roger of Hoveden, Chronica, ed. W. Stubbs, II, London 1869, p. 102-104; P. Magdalino, The Empire o (...)

10Turning to the first of the three chronological perspectives, ongoing or very recent events, one may note that many self-serving ‘news’ reports seem to have been despatched to external potentates. These could recount events newly occurred within the empire. The amount of detail proffered is likely to have been a measure of the addressee’s status: Louis the Pious was treated to a full written account of the revolt of Thomas the Slav.29 The accession of new emperors and the birth of children ‘in the purple’ most probably continued to be announced by embassies in the Middle Byzantine period, as earlier,30 while the proclamation of victories and other purported imperial successes seems to have been a common function of embassies. For example, generally positive bulletins were issued by Heraclius in the course of his campaigns against the Persians.31 Reports in the Frankish Annals of Nicephorus I’s death in battle with the Bulgars ‘after many famous victories in the province of Moesia’, as well as of the serious wound inflicted on Khan Krum by Emperor Leo V, probably emanate from bulletins employing classical place-names delivered by Byzantine embassies.32 The Annals of St-Bertin indicate that in 839 an embassy bore a letter to Louis the Pious, reporting victories and inviting him and his subjects to join in thanksgiving to ‘the Giver of all victories’. These claims were made just after the humiliation of the Muslims’ sack of Amorium.33 There was no less a tendency towards hyperbole when the emperor had actual victories to his credit. Thus John Tzimiskes sent his famous letter to Ashot III, king of kings of Armenia, purporting to recount his incursion into Southern Syria and claiming to have reached the Sea of Galilee, and even to have climbed Mount Tabor.34 Almost a century later an embassy to Duke William of Normandy intimated spirited campaigning against the Turks while requesting aid from him ‘as a neighbour and friend’ against ‘the formidable power of Babylon’.35 And in 1176 an embassy bore Henry II Plantagenet a fairly positive report on Myriokephalon, written a few weeks after the battle.36

  • 37 P. E. Walker, The ‘Crusade’ of John Tzimiskes in the light of new Arabic evidence, Byz. 47, 1977, (...)
  • 38 McCormick, Eternal Victory, p. 190-194, 234-235.
  • 39 N.-C. Koutrakou, La propagande impériale byzantine. Persuasion et réaction (viiie-xe siècles), Ath (...)
  • 40 Treitinger, Oströmische Kaiser- und Reichsidee (as in n. 9), p. 79-80, 158-167; A. Kazhdan, Certai (...)
  • 41 I. Dujčev, On the treaty of 927 with the Bulgarians, DOP 32, 1978, p. 217-295 at p. 220-222, 236-2 (...)
  • 42 Magdalino, Manuel Komnenos (as in n. 36), p. 459.
  • 43 Ibid., p. 457-459.
  • 44 Grigoriadis, Prooimion of Zonaras’ Chronicle (as in n. 25), p. 329-330; Markopoulos, Byzantine His (...)

11Obviously emperors had no difficulty in obtaining ‘information’ about the feats or rather, alleged feats, of their own armies. This form of manipulation of the recent past is comparable to modern forms of propaganda. Thus in the case of Tzimiskes, he almost certainly headed due westwards after gaining the submission of Damascus, without setting foot in Palestine.37 Such written reports to foreign potentates were an offshoot of internal propaganda, presenting battles, campaigns and other imperial doings in a favourable light.38 Not only letters disseminated to the provinces but also court orations usually accentuated ‘the imperial positive’.39 The speeches’ veiled allusions presupposed quite a high degree of familiarity with current affairs among the listeners at court. Their purpose, at the time of delivery, was to put a dignified face on whatever the emperor had, or had not, achieved and to connect current affairs with those of antiquity or the Scriptures. The rhetoric could thus re-affirm, like acclamations, that the privileged ‘Roman’ participants in the ceremonies and their emperor were jointly enacting grand, God-guided, measures.40 Thus the oration celebrating the treaty with Bulgaria in 927 compares the recent strife with that of Judah and Ephraim after the death of King Solomon, portraying the events and leading figures of the past twenty or so years in classical antique or Scriptural guise. The oration depicts the state of Byzantino-Bulgar relations of earlier generations in rosy tints, and the obscurity of its allusions to recent episodes in Symeon’s confrontation with Byzantium caused a later copyist to provide a ‘key’ to the persons mentioned.41 With the passage of time there can have been few clear accounts with which to counteract the version of past events propagated by court rhetoric. Even with reference to contemporary affairs it was not always easy to draw a clear line between facts and imperial ‘spin’. As Magdalino observes of the diverse reports about the debacle at Myriokephalon, ‘it seems that even Manuel himself did not produce a single, consistent account of what happened’.42 The profusion of rhetorical and propagandistic texts issued during the twelfth century did not fit smoothly into the mould of a ‘historical’ composition, as Niketas Choniates sometimes seems to demonstrate.43 The difficulty of reconstructing from such material an accurate, full, narrative and at the same time imposing value judgements upon it may well underlie the musings of other Middle Byzantine writers about the relationship of ‘history’ and ‘rhetoric’.44 This may also have a bearing upon the limitations of Byzantine historical composition already noted as well as on a related issue, the lack of surveys compiled for the imperial officials’ own use.

  • 45 E. Lévi-Provençal, Un échange d’ambassades entre Cordoue et Byzance au ixe siècle, Byz. 12, 1937, (...)
  • 46 DAI 8, p. 56-57.

12Despite these limitations Byzantine diplomats were, on occasion, able to cite events and agreements belonging to the second of the fore-mentioned perspectives - the ‘early modern’ period of a generation or more ago but postdating the era of the classicising histories of the sixth and earlier seventh centuries. It is likely that a close watch was kept on the succession of rulers of Muslim powers, and some record of their internal history may have been maintained. This is suggested by the attempt of Theophilus to forge an alliance with the Spanish Muslims in 839-40. He sent an embassy to the Umayyad amir, Abd al-Rahman II, asking for help against the raiders of Andalusian origin who had seized control of Crete. Theophilus pointed out that they had fled from Spain during the reign of Abd al-Rahman’s father and now recognized the Abbasids’ dominion instead. Casting still further back, Theophilus deplored the fact that Abd al-Rahman’s ancestor, Marvan II, had been put to death at the hands of the Abbasids and urged him to send an expedition ‘to take vengeance upon them’ and restore Umayyad sway in the east. Thus in the wake of the sack of Amorium, and at the same time as sending ‘victory bulletins’ to Louis the Pious, Theophilus invoked ‘history’ so as to incite the Abbasids’ longstanding enemies, the Umayyads against them.45 This was not the only attempt to stir up one power against another by playing on former injuries. An attempt was made to induce the Hungarians to attack the Pechenegs and regain their former pastures some time after their expulsion from the Black Sea steppes in the late ninth century, and the Byzantine emissary, Gabriel, apparently reminded them of the expulsion.46 Seizures of lands and overturns of regimes were of more than passing interest to the imperial authorities, in that the victims might be stirred into vengeance without needing substantial material incentives. Sizable portions of Constantine VII’s DAI are devoted to what might be termed ‘useful losers’.

  • 47 S. M. Stern, An embassy of the Byzantine emperor to the Fatimid Caliph al-Mu’izz, Byz. 20, 1950, p (...)
  • 48 Nicholas I, Patriarch of Constantinople, Letters, ed. and tr. R. J. H. Jenkins, L. G. Westerink, W (...)
  • 49 Ibid., p. 4-7.
  • 50 Povesf Vremennykh Let, ed. V. P. Adrianova-Peretts, D. S. Likhachev, Moscow 1996, rev. ed., p. 30.
  • 51 Anna Comnena, Alexiad, XIII, 12, 1-2, ed. and trad. B. Leib, III, Paris 1945, p. 125-126.
  • 52 Nicholas I, Letters (as in n. 48), p. 372-373, 376-377.
  • 53 Ibid., p. 374-375. On the mosque, see S. W. Reinert, The Muslim Presence in Constantinople, 9th-15 (...)

13More common in the workings of Byzantine diplomacy are references to specific exchanges of embassies, peace-treaties and other de facto arrangements between Byzantium and a given power or potentate, in other words to past bilateral relations. For example, tenth-century letters to eastern and western Muslim rulers show quite detailed, presumably accurate, knowledge of the frequency of embassies. A Byzantine envoy visiting the Fatimid leader al-Mu’izz in 957-8 recalled that Byzantine envoys had regularly been sent to al-Mu’izz and his predecessors, but ‘that no ambassador had ever been sent by him or by his fathers (to the emperor)’.47 References in Byzantine letters to bilateral treaties likewise suggest that the treaties’ details were readily available to those in authority. Nicholas Mysticus, in his capacity as Regent in 913, complained that Symeon of Bulgaria was violating ‘the second agreement’, contracted after the break-down of the original peace treaty negotiated at the time of the Bulgars’ conversion nearly half a century earlier.48 In a letter to Caliph al-Muqtadir, Nicholas complained about a breach of ‘the peace treaty’ governing the status of Cyprus. His invocation of sworn agreements allegedly written by al-Muqtadir’s forefathers ‘with their own hands’ is highly rhetorical, but it implies that texts of some antiquity were at his disposal.49 Among other Byzantine invocations of agreements, one may note Constantine VII’s reminder to the Rus princess Olga of her undertaking to send him ‘many gifts’ - in effect, commercial goods - and military aid, upon returning home from Constantinople.50 And in 1108 Bohemond’s sworn undertaking began by recalling his breach of the ‘agreement’ made with Alexius I Comnenus ten years earlier, noting that all but one of its clauses had been nullified.51 Clearly Alexius had brought the text of the agreement with him on campaign, foreseeing the moral advantage that might be gained from this. Besides mentioning written treaties and sworn undertakings, the Byzantines were also apt to allude to de facto arrangements that had governed relations between their empire and the addressee. For example, in a letter to Caliph al-Muqtadir of c.922, Nicholas Mysticus deplores the news that the caliph has decreed the destruction of the Christian churches under his sway. Nicholas insists that the emperors have ‘from the beginning’ ordained humane treatment for Muslim prisoners in Constantinople, allowing them freedom to worship in their own mosque and comfortable living conditions.52 Nicholas’ style is sweeping, and his invocation of ‘all tongues and all history’ as testifying to the emperors’ humaneness need not be taken for a reference to specific written texts. Rather, oral tradition and the general high repute of ‘the Roman power’ are held to give the lie to reports of recent maltreatment of the Muslim prisoners at Constantinople.53

  • 54 See, for example, Kolias, Leon Choerosphactes (as in n. 1), p. 112-113; Nicholas 1, Letters, p. 34 (...)
  • 55 H. F. Amedroz, An embassy from Baghdad to the emperor Basil II, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Socie (...)
  • 56 Amedroz, Embassy (as in n. 55), p. 922 ; Amedroz, Margoliouth, Eclipse (as in n. 55), p. 26.
  • 57 Amedroz, Embassy, p. 921, 922; Amedroz, Margoliouth, Eclipse, p. 25, 26. That rights over fortress (...)
  • 58 Amedroz, Embassy, p. 922-924; Amedroz, Margoliouth, Eclipse, p. 26-28; Canard, Deux documents (as (...)

14Blithe assertions about past custom such as those in some of Patriarch Nicholas’ letters do not, however, detract from the mastery of detail shown in certain forms of communication with external authorities. Borders, strongholds and populations-centres in their vicinity, and rights of overlordship ranked high in the imperial order of priorities. That forts and fortified settlements were often the subject of diplomatic correspondence might be inferred from the stray references to them in extant letter collections and also from the sections of the DAI devoted to imperial expansion.54 But the clearest instance of imperial concern with kastra and of intensive correspondence prior to ratification of a border agreement comes from Arabic sources. There survives Abu Ishak ibn Shahram’s extensive account of his mission to Constantinople on behalf of the Buyid master of Baghdad, ‘Adud al-Daula, in 982-3. Basil the Chamberlain reportedly told him: ‘we are acquainted with the correspondence which bears on your message...’55 Drawing on these archival materials, Basil proceeded to compare the document brought by ibn Shahram with the text agreed by his predecessor and taken back to Baghdad so as ‘to procure the sovereign’s hand and seal thereto’.56 Basil maintained that this text due for ratification had included a section on the fortresses in the Diyar Bakr and ‘your master [‘Adud al-Daula] accepted this agreement’.57 There followed arguments as to the juridical status of the document, or documents, taken back to Baghdad by ibn Shahram’s predecessor, and as to what had been agreed concerning the fortresses. Ibn Shahram’s account together with a related Arabic text corroborates what extant Byzantine sources imply but seldom spell out: that imperial rights to kastra and details of their former occupants and affiliations were a stock subject of functional diplomatic correspondence. In that sense ‘history’ and title to legitimate overlordship were close-allied.58

  • 59 Michael Psellus, Istorikoi logoi, epistolai kai alla anekdota (= K. N. Sathas, Mesaionike Biblioth (...)
  • 60 Nicholas I, Letters, p. 34-35, 136-139.
  • 61 Ibid., p. 136-137.
  • 62 Liudprand, Legatio (as in n. 3), ch. 51, p. 209.
  • 63 MGH Epp. VI, Berlin 1925, p. 605.
  • 64 Life of Constantine 14 (as in n. 7), p. 105.

15A third chronological perspective is supplied by Byzantine references to the distant past, whether to particular episodes or more generally to celebrated figures or traditions. These could bolster the emperor’s specifically ‘Roman’ credentials or claims to possessions, underlining the sheer continuity of the imperial order, or they could provide moralizing exempla drawn from the Scriptures or classical antiquity. The very vagueness of this past could be harnessed to the exigencies of a crisis, as when in the early 1070s the letter proposing a marriage tie with Robert Guiscard alluded to the ‘single origin and foundation to our [respective] hegemonies’.59 Anecdotes from the early Christian empire are cited in Patriarch Nicholas’ letters to Symeon of Bulgaria. He recalls the forbearance and clemency towards the emperor and his lands shown by, respectively, the ‘fire-worshipper’ Chosroes I of Persia and the Gothic-born commander Gai’nas. Symeon is warned that his conduct will be compared unfavourably with theirs.60 Such relatively recherche allusions to the ‘study of ancient history’61 are fairly unusual in surviving Byzantine diplomatic correspondence. They reflect awareness of Symeon’s erudition and of his ambition to be deemed a Christian rather than ‘barbarous’ ruler. Far more frequent in communications emanating from the Byzantine authorities are references to Constantine the Great. This figure from the past could serve multiple purposes, more or less simultaneously. Besides furthering the salvation of mankind through adoption of Christianity for the empire (above, p. 172-174), the ‘sacred Constantine’ had transferred his ‘sceptre’ to Constantinople and made it the centre of the Roman order, according to Liudprand’s imperial interlocutors in 968.62 The shift of the imperial residence could even be taken to justify the primacy of the patriarch of Constantinople.63 In the same decade as the claim to ecclesiastical primacy was being made, the 860s, Michael III held up Constantine as a model for rulers intent on imposing Christian political order upon their subjects. When a small religious mission was despatched to the Moravian prince Rastislav, the emperor reportedly held out to him the prospect of being likened to ‘the great emperor Constantine’ in bringing his people to true understanding of God.64 If the precise connotations of such comparisons with Constantine the Great were left vague, the epithet was clearly meant as a compliment to the addressee, even while reserving his ‘sceptre’ for Constantinople itself.

  • 65 P. Magdalino, The distance of the past in early medieval Byzantium (vii-x centuries), Ideologie e (...)
  • 66 Gregory of Tours, Libri Historiarum Decern, MGH SS rerum Merovingicarum I, Hanover 1951, p. 77; M. (...)
  • 67 Codex Carolinus, MGH Epp. III, Berlin 1892, p. 587; J. L. Nelson, Translating Images of Authority: (...)
  • 68 Cynewulf, Elene, tr. in R. K. Gordon, Anglo-Saxon Poetry, London 1970, p. 211-234, at p. 213, 226- (...)
  • 69 The Old English Orosius, ed. J. Bately, Oxford 1980, p. 149.
  • 70 A. M. Shcherbak, Znaki na keramike i kirpichakh iz Sarkela-Beloi Vezhi, Trudy Volgo-Donskoi Arkheo (...)
  • 71 DAI 13, p. 66-67.
  • 72 Historia de expeditione Frederici imperatoris, ed. A. Chroust, Quellen zur Geschichte des Kreuzzug (...)
  • 73 Adam Usk, Chronicle 1377-1421, ed. and tr. C. Given-Wilson, Oxford 1997, p. 198-199 and n. 2, 4.
  • 74 DAI 13, p. 66-67.

16There may be echoes in these Byzantine communications with outsiders of the redoubled interest in Constantine the Great on the imperial Establishment’s part from the Iconoclast Era onwards.65 But it is no less likely that Byzantine diplomats and senior churchmen were, with their constant invocation of Constantine, simply responding to the fact that he was so widely known. His name was probably more familiar to the Christian west than any other Christian emperor’s, and already in the sixth century Clovis was dubbed a ‘new Constantine’ by western churchmen.66 Subsequently Pope Hadrian I acclaimed Charlemagne as a ‘new Constantine’, and the figure of Constantine as man of action on behalf of God was familiar to Carolingian rulers.67 Tales about Constantine, albeit heavily embroidered, were known to ruling elites in the outer reaches of north-west Europe. A Northumbrian poem of the late eighth or early ninth century, written in Anglo-Saxon, tells of the conversion of the ‘ring-giver of men, war-chief of armies’, and of his mother’s finding of the True Cross.68 The victory at the Milvian Bridge and the foundation of the borg of Constantinople feature in the Anglo-Saxon version of Orosius composed under the aegis of King Alfred.69 The name of Constantine, and with it something of his mystique, was also familiar to northern nomads. Such, at least, is the inference that may be drawn from the incidence of abbreviated forms of the name among the Pechenegs.70 It matches the DAI’s recommendation that the authority of Constantine the Great be invoked in dealings with non-Christian ‘northern peoples’. Those seeking imperial crowns or marriage-alliances were to be fobbed off with tales of divine instructions conveyed to Constantine by way of an angel, as ‘we find... written in secret stories of old history’.71 The motifs of Constantine’s conversion, move to the Bosphorus and God-given success were still in play during the later years of the empire. Isaac II Angelus styled himself ‘heir of the great Constantine’s crown’ during one exchange with Frederick Barbarossa.72 And the ‘solemn’ ambassadors who encountered Adam Usk in Rome in 1405 are said to have told him that ‘the entire nobility of Greece is descended from... Constantine [and] his three uncles’. According to the envoys, the axe-bearers of their own day – the Varangians - stemmed from those Britons who had accompanied Constantine to the east.73 Thus there was a tendency merely to invoke motifs associated with ‘the late great Constantine’,74 without need of extensive narrative. Written details of ‘old history’ were, on the whole, better left ‘secret’.

  • 75 For other such orations, see Arethas, Scripta minora, II, ed. L. G. Westerink, Leipzig 1972, p. 9, (...)
  • 76 DAI 13, p. 70-71; J. Shepard, Marriages towards the Millennium, Byzantium in the Year 1000, p. 1-3 (...)

17One may now glance, in light of these three chronological perspectives, at the question of how Byzantine diplomacy managed to do without full analytical surveys or a counterpart to the T’ang Historiographical Office. Few extensive narratives or analyses of causation were needed for constructing the very recent or the distant past in imperial communications with outsiders. ‘Narratives’ of newly reported victories, receptions of tribute and other imperial achievements could readily be concocted with the aid of similar techniques to those used for court orations.75 And the mystique of ‘the great Constantine’ could as easily be enlisted to serve contemporary needs. For example, the claim that he had placed a solemn ban on foreign marriage-ties probably reflects Constantine VII’s personal ‘doctrine’ and a reaction against a spate of recent marriage proposals from northern potentates.76 Moreover Constantine’s role in the salvation of mankind had potentially eschatological overtones, in that the conversion of his empire made a signal contribution to the ‘realm of the saints’. As already noted (above, p. 174), the foundation myth of the Christian Roman empire was tightly bound up with the ‘history of the future’.

  • 77 Magdalino, Distance, p. 121-125, 130-131, 135.
  • 78 Liudprand, Legatio 25, p. 198.
  • 79 Povest’ (as in n. 50), p. 23; Leo the Deacon, Historiae Libri Decem 6, 10 (as in n. 26), p. 106.

18This, in turn, placed less onus on the intermediate period since the sixth and seventh centuries, a caesura of whose magnitude Middle Byzantine rulers were aware.77 If this ‘early modern’ period inspired few full-blown historical compositions and a written review of foreign affairs was seldom available to imperial officials, this was of no great consequence. For the era preceding their own time, they did not need myth or victory bulletins so much as reliable data about exchanges, agreements and borders with a given power. Such details could elucidate precedents and provide a legal basis for specific claims that the empire might lodge over a kastron or to ‘services’ due. For these purposes, the texts of treaties, records of embassies and correspondence relating to them probably seemed sufficient. The account left by ibn Shahram of his stay at Constantinople in 981-2 shows that Byzantine officials took care to have to hand copies of ‘correspondence’. So, too, does Liudprand’s account of his visit in 968. Nicephorus II reportedly invoked an undertaking made by Liudprand’s predecessor in the previous year, saying, ‘and the wording of the oath is extant!’78 These allusions are to current affairs, but we have already noted Byzantine invocations of embassies or agreements from the more distant past (above, p. 180-181) and other cases are known. Thus the 944 Russo-Byzantine treaty purports to be renewing ‘the former peace’ contracted a generation earlier and breached by recent hostilities, and John Tzimiskes mentioned that same treaty while trying to deter Prince Sviatoslav from further aggression.79

  • 80 Amedroz, Embassy, p. 921-923; Amedroz, Margoliouth, Eclipse, p. 25-27. Besides such records specif (...)
  • 81 J. Malingoudi, Die Russisch-Byzantinischen Verträge des 10. Jhds. aus diplomatischer Sicht, Thessa (...)
  • 82 Constantine VII, De cerimoniis, 11.44 (as in n. 28), I, p. 662.
  • 83 Kresten, Auslandsschreiben der Kaiser (as in n. 80), p. 30-32; Id., Zur Chrysographie in den Ausla (...)
  • 84 Dindorf. Historici graeci minores, I (as in n. 26), p. lxxix; Lee. Shepard, Placing the Peri presb (...)
  • 85 Anna Comnena, Alexiad, I, 16, 3, ed. and trad. B. Leib, I, Paris 1937, p. 58; P. Stephenson, Byzan (...)

19It is overwhelmingly probable that the texts of formally ratified treaties were kept in some sort of file, and copies of relevant correspondence may well have been included in it. The account of ibn Shahram suggests that this was necessary: variant drafts of agreements emerged in the course of his negotiations and retention of them would have been indispensable for determining and comprehending the final form of a treaty.80 The texts of treaties may well have been supplemented by explanatory notes, describing the relevant foreign parties and outlining the context of negotiations. It has reasonably been suggested that copies of such notes together with transcripts of the tenth-century Russo-Byzantine treaties were sent to Rus at some later date, to be used by the compilers of the Rus Primary Chronicle81 The notes would have given later generations of Byzantine diplomats a sense of the situation at the time when a treaty was concluded, supplementing points of fact in the text itself. Their details could help refute counter-claims or the special pleading of present-day potentates who challenged the status quo. It is likely that other sources of information were available to officials trying to fathom the texts of treaties concluded well beyond living memory. Records were probably kept of the dates of despatch and return of embassies, their personnel and financial accounts. This is suggested by the De cerimoniis’ meticulous list of the gifts supplied and actually dispensed during Epiphanius’ expedition to Italy in 935.82 Lists of gifts also featured in or supplemented diplomatic letters, and counterfoils are most likely to have been kept at Constantinople.83 One might suppose that besides these bare essentials, some note on senior envoys’ negotiations and reports would have been taken upon their return, drafted by the envoys themselves or by clerks. Such a debriefing would have been the corollary to the questioning which they apparently underwent before the outward journey.84 Such notes would have complemented the stream of written messages that arrived from officials stationed on the empire’s approaches, and governors assigned to key strong points were themselves forearmed with written instructions about their command.85

  • 86 Nicholas I, Letters, p. 58-59; J. Shepard, Information, disinformation and delay in Byzantine dipl (...)
  • 87 Examples in J. Shepard, Byzantine Diplomacy, A. D. 800-1204: Means and Ends, Byzantine Diplomacy, (...)
  • 88 DAI 40, 26, p. 176-179, 108-113. The likely sources of this information have long been recognized: (...)
  • 89 Sinoutes, Theodore ‘the interpreter of the Armenians’ and Krinites were seemingly of Armenian stoc (...)
  • 90 Georgius Monachus Continuatus in Theophanes Continuatus, ed. I. Bekker, Bonn 1838 (CSHB), p. 868; (...)
  • 91 Kresten, Zur Chrysographie (as in n. 83), p. 159, n. 63. Imperial interpreters, too, may have been (...)
  • 92 Holmes, Byzantium’s Eastern Frontier (as in n. 58), p. 94-96, 102-103.

20It is, however, questionable whether the notes on embassies or the debrief-ings of envoys were of very much value to persons not involved in affairs of state at the time. The same goes for the numerous missives sent in from the empire’s borderlands and beyond. The very fact that constantly updated news flowed in - ‘daily’, from the governors of Macedonia, Thrace and Cherson during the confrontation with Symeon86 - suggests that the reports were highly specific, and in part speculative as to enemy movements and plans. In any case, their sheer profusion will not have made them easy for later generations to retrieve, collate or comprehend. Besides, as with imperial letters to foreign potentates, the most ‘sensitive’ information may well have been conveyed to central officials by word of mouth. The fore-mentioned letters from the governors of Macedonia, Thrace and Cherson were accompanied by oral messages. This, too, will have made the ‘raw material’ extant in the archives the harder for non-contemporaries to evaluate. At the same time, comprehensive yet comprehensible data about the internal affairs and history of foreign peoples or dynasties was readily available from oral sources, in the form of the many fugitives, exiles and invited guests whom the emperor harboured in his city.87 Belonging for the most part to local elites, they could provide wide-ranging and informative, if self-serving, reminiscences of their homelands. This in turn will have rendered syntheses or surveys written from the vantage-point of imperial officialdom more or less superfluous. Here, too, the DAI seems to be the exception proving the rule, in that its ample details about, for example, the location and leadership of the Hungarians in the mid-tenth century or the family of Hugh of Aries probably derive from expatriates, whether or not now permanently lodged at court.88 Besides his guests and philoi, the emperor had counsellors and clerks well-positioned to tell him of foreign powers and customs. Families of Armenian descent entered the highest imperial circles, and officials of Armenian stock could be sent on missions to Armenia.89 As chamberlain to Leo VI, the Arab-born Samonas overtly kept in contact with his father, a prominent Muslim figure.90 At a lowlier level, the clerks responsible for furnishing formal imperial letters with Arabic translations presumably owed their linguistic skills to education in an Arabic-speaking environment: they, too, may have retained ties with the Islamic world, judging by spasmodic avowals of esteem for the caliph.91 Information from such persons will have been all the fuller once local notables began to receive administrative posts in newly submitted territories.92 Thus imperial statesmen had ample opportunities to put flesh and blood on the bare bones presented by records of correspondence and the drafts and ratified texts of treaties.

  • 93 Muslim powers maintained administrative records, and their diplomatic exchanges with Byzantium wer (...)
  • 94 Malingoudi, Russisch-Byzantinischen Verträge (as in n. 81), p. 85-92, 105.
  • 95 Annales Regni Francorum, ed. F. Kurze, Hanover 1895, p. 48, 50, 58, 60, 96, 100, 102, 104, 106, 10 (...)
  • 96 On the role of written texts in the workings of Carolingian governance, see R. D. McKitterick, The (...)
  • 97 Collections of capitularies were made by individual churchmen enjoying access to palace archives, (...)
  • 98 Liudprand’s Legatio, though couched in the form of a report for his masters, presupposes a wider a (...)
  • 99 H. Appelt, Die Reichsarchiv in den frühstaufischen Burgunderdiplömen, Festschrift Hans Lenze zum 6 (...)
  • 100 Some acquaintance with events in Constantinople is shown by writers linked with these towns, such (...)

21Such constant interplay between the written word and empirical experience was available to very few of Byzantium’s more powerful neighbours. They generally lacked the capacity for continuous record-storage and -retrieval, let alone for composing detailed ‘historical’ narratives of their relations with Byzantium.93 Seemingly, not even the relatively well-organized Rus managed to preserve the texts of treaties made with Byzantium during the tenth century.94 A partial exception is provided by the Carolingian Franks whose annals, maintained at court and elsewhere, give generous coverage to the comings and goings of foreign embassies, including those of the Greeks. These works might have been available to Frankish border commanders and others who dealt with outsiders.95 Moreover the counsellors of Charlemagne in his later, sedentary, years and of Louis the Pious could probably consult palace exemplars of the more important outgoing missives of past years.96 Nonetheless, the locus of western imperial power did not remain fixed, and access to diplomatic correspondence can scarcely have been easy, even if collected copies of texts survived somewhere in the sundry Carolingian realms.97 Conditions in later major western polities were no more propitious for interaction between literary compositions, archival materials and oral information. If Liudprand’s account of his 968 embassy to Byzantium only survived the middle ages in a single manuscript, reports intended to be strictly confidential were yet more exposed to misplacement or destruction.98 There does not seem to have been an ‘imperial archive’ at the disposal of the Saxon or Salian rulers.99 Their itinerant lifestyle did not preclude effective record-keeping and -retrieval, but files of diplomatic correspondence and treaty texts can seldom have accompanied them while campaigning or staying as guests of secular or ecclesiastical magnates. For its dealings with such neighbours, the Byzantine government was not under heavy pressure to produce a full, accurate, narrative of past relations or its own affairs: few regimes were capable of challenging its version of things. Better-informed churchmen and members of elites on the empire’s periphery in, for example, Bari, Naples or Venice, mostly lacked the political weight or will to exploit their knowledge of Byzantine affairs.100

  • 101 J. Gay, L’Italie méridionale et l’empire byzantin depuis l’avènement de Basile Ier jusqu’à la pris (...)
  • 102 Preface to Chronographia tripertita, Theophanes, Chronographia, II, ed. C. de Boor, Leipzig 1885, (...)
  • 103 Louis II, Epistola ad Basilium, MGH Epp. VII, Berlin 1928, p. 386-394 at p. 388; Gay, L’Italie mér (...)
  • 104 Louis II, Epistola ad Basilium (as in n. 103), p. 387; Arnaldi, ‘Giovanni Immonide’, p. 173.

22A telling exception to this pattern is provided by Anastasius Bibliothecarius. He was singularly well-placed to gather historical information on Byzantium, being, from 867, ‘librarian of the Roman Church’ and secretary to Popes Nicholas I and Hadrian II. Greek-reading and, most probably, -speaking, he visited Constantinople at the time of the Church council of 869-70 and, on Emperor Louis II’s behalf, conducted negotiations for the marriage of his daughter to the son of Basil I.101 As an habitué of the Holy See and trusted agent of Louis, he possessed the ideology, motivation and political support to challenge Byzantine claims to Roman imperium. And he had the ‘know-how’ to base this on historical figures and events. He translated the Chronographia tripertita, avowedly to provide materials on the Eastern Church for the Church History planned by John the Deacon.102 But this work contains a complete translation of Theophanes’ Chronicle and so recounts the secular doings of emperors as well as Church affairs. Anastasius almost certainly also composed the sardonic letter sent in the name of Louis II to Basil I in response to his complaint about Louis’ use of the title imperator Romanorum. It is no accident that the letter makes a devastating critique of eastern imperial claims, or that it draws extensively on recent Byzantine history to this end. The Byzantine claim that ‘the imperial name’ was neither Louis’ inheritance nor becoming for the Franks is met with the observation that ‘there have been Roman emperors who by gens were... Isaurians and Khazars’, a clear reference to Leo III and to his son’s marriage to a Khazar, who gave birth to Leo IV; nor is Basil’s own recent usurpation spared an allusion.103 Anastasius could have learnt from Theophanes’ Chronicle about Leo IV’s Khazar heritage. On the kindred topic of who could rightfully entitle himself basileus, Anastasius suggests that ‘if you open newly produced Greek books, you will certainly find that very many rulers have been called by this name and not merely those of... the Greeks’!104

  • 105 J.N. Sutherland, Liudprand of Cremona, Bishop, Diplomat, Historian, Spoleto 1988, p. 71. The possi (...)
  • 106 Liudprand, Legano, 16, p. 194. That Liudprand knew of Maria’s antecedents is shown by his Antapodo (...)

23It was perhaps fortunate for the Byzantines that very few churchmen on their periphery were as acute, knowledgeable or purposeful as Anastasius Bibliothecarius. More characteristic of critical outsiders was, I suggest, Liudprand of Cremona. He was very curious about Byzantium’s recent past, but his knowledge seems mainly to have derived from embassies to Constantinople, from ‘court gossip and legend circulating in the streets’.105 He was not ill-informed, but he lacked a firm chronological grasp and could be thrown off-balance. Thus in pressing for a Porphyrogenitan bride for Otto II he mentioned Peter of Bulgaria’s marriage to Maria Lecapena, only to be reminded that her father was not born in the purple.106 Liudprand’s œuvre registers the shortcomings of the data on Byzantium’s recent past available to westerners, and his exchanges with imperial officials illustrate how difficult it was for foreigners to contradict the imperial version of events (See also above, p. 185-186). The episodes involving Anastasius and Liudprand also show, in their different ways, how seldom the Byzantine authorities had need of full accounts or appraisals of their recent past for the purpose of conducting foreign relations. The stimulus to maintain a detailed continuous record of imperial res gestae was lacking. In fact the use which Anastasius made of his knowledge of recent Byzantine history could even have served as a disincentive to attempts at historical writing in Byzantium, at least so far as dissemination of narrative compositions was concerned. In diplomatic dealings with barbarians, to broadcast ‘eternal victory’, invoke the distant past and depict ‘the history of the future’ was probably more congenial, and more prudent.

Notes

1 G. Kolias, Léon Choerosphactès magistre, proconsul et patrice, Athens 1939, p. 76-77; Anna Comnena, Alexiad, VII, 2, 8, ed. and trad. B. Leib, II, Paris 1943, p. 92-93. Cogent grounds for identifying the eclipse with that of February 16, 1086 were presented by P. Doimi de Frankopan Subic, The Foreign Policy of the Emperor Alexios I Komnenos (1081-c.1100) (unpublished Oxford D. Phil, thesis, 1998), p. 209-213.

2 On Byzantine use of this term, see E. Fenster, Laudes Constantinopolitanae, Munich 1968 (Miscellanea Byzantina Monacensia 9), p. 103-104 and n. 2 on 104, 108-116, 130-131.

3 Liudprand of Cremona, Legatio, 40, in Opera Omnia, ed. P. Chiesa, Turnhout 1998 (Corpus Christianorum. Continuatio Mediaevalis 156), p. 204.

4 Ibid., p. 204. On ‘Hippolytus’ see W. Brandes, Liudprand von Cremona (Legatio cap. 39-41), BZ 93, 2000, p. 435-463 at p. 450-451.

5 P. Magdalino, The History of the Future and its Uses: Prophecy, Policy and Propaganda, The Making of Byzantine History. Studies dedicated to Donald M. Nicol, ed. R. Beaton, C. Roueché, Aldershot 1993, p. 3-34.

6 M. McCormick, Eternal Victory, Cambridge 1990, p. 1-5, 120-133.

7 Life of Constantine 10, Kliment Okhridski. S’brani s’chineniia III, ed. B. S. Angelov, K. Kodov, Sofia 1973, p. 99.

8 See Magdalino, History of the Future (as in n. 5), p. 23; Id., The Year 1000 in Byzantium, Byzantium in the Year 1000, ed. P. Magdalino (The medieval Mediterranean 45), Leiden 2003, p. 233-270 at p. 247-248.

9 Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, Le livre des ceremonies, I, ed. A. Vogt, Paris 1935, p. 2 (preface); O. Treitinger, Die oströmische Kaiser- und Reichsidee vom oströmischen Staats- und Reichsgedanken, Munich 1938, p. 49-79, 158-160.

10 Magdalino, The Year 1000 (as in n. 8), p. 249-254. Professor Magdalino is investigating further aspects of this subject for publication.

11 Basil of Neopatras, cited and translated by Magdalino, The Year 1000, p. 252.

12 Magdalino, ibid., p. 242.

13 Hugh Capet sought a ‘daughter of the holy empire’, the sister of Basil II and Constantine VIII, for his son Robert: Gerbert d’Aurillac, Correspondance, ed. and tr. P. Riché, J. P. Callu, Paris 1993, I, p. 268-271; David of Tao was credited by Caucasian contemporaries with sending military aid to ‘the holy kings’: Actes d’Iviron, I. Des origines au milieu du xie siècle, ed. J. Lefort et al., Paris 1985 (Archives de l’Athos 14), p. 23, n. 4; B. Martin-Hisard, La vie de Jean et Euthyme et le statut des Ibères sur l’Athos, RÉB 49, 1991, p. 67-142 at p. 89-91. It is noteworthy that the year 1000 ‘of the Incarnation of Our Lord’ constitutes the effective terminus of Stephen of Taron’s ‘Universal History’: Histoire universelle, tr. E. Dulaurier, F. Macler, II, Paris 1917, p. 169-172.1 owe this observation to Dr Timothy Greenwood, whose English translation of this work is forthcomming (Oxford, 2006).

14 On Early and Middle Byzantine world chronicles’ attention to Jewish history and to other monarchies, see A. Külzer, Die Anfange der Geschichte: zur Darstellung des ‘Biblischen Zeitalters’ in der byzantinischen Chronistik, BZ 93, 2000, p. 138-156 at p. 144-149.

15 Külzer, Anfange der Geschichte (as in n. 14), p. 146, 155-156. On world chronicles in general, see H. Hunger, Die hochsprachliche profane Literatur der Byzantiner, Munich 1978,1, p. 251-263, 331-339, 347-351, 393; C. Mango, The tradition of Byzantine chronography, Harvard Ukrainian Studies 12-13, 1988-1989, p. 360-372; J. N. Ljubarsku, New trends in the study of Byzantine historiography, DOP 47, 1993, p. 131-138 at p. 135-136.

16 This is not, of course, to deny the existence of such works in the Middle Byzantine period or that some may have been lost to us. See Hunger, Profane Literatur (as in n. 15), I, p. 332-334, 341-343, 367-371, 382-392; A. Markopoulos, Byzantine History Writing at the End of the First Millennium, Byzantium in the Year 1000 (as in n. 8), p. 183-197 at p. 183-186, 196-197.

17 Magdalino, History of the Future, p. 28; Külzer, Anfänge der Geschichte, p. 141.

18 See Mango, Byzantine chronography (as in n. 15), p. 363. See also Markopoulos, Byzantine History Writing (as in n. 16), p. 184.

19 The principles were set out in the T’ang liu-tien, translated by D. Twitchett, The Writing of Official History under the T’ang, Cambridge 1992, p. 14. See also ibid., p. 12-13, 27, 33-34.

20 I. Ševčenko, The search for the past in Byzantium around the year 800, DOP 46, 1992, p. 279-293 at p. 287, 288.

21 Mango, Byzantine chronography, p. 365-366; Ševčenko, Search (as in n. 20), p. 284-287; Markopoulos, Byzantine History Writing, p. 186-192.

22 I. Ševčenko, Re-reading Constantine Porphyrogenitus, Byzantine Diplomacy, ed. J. Shepard, S. Franklin, Aldershot 1992, p. 167-195 at p. 190-191; J. Shepard, Imperial information and ignorance: a discrepancy, BSl. 56, 1995, p. 107-116. Constantine notes ‘our historians" failure to recount the Muslim conquest of North Africa and Spain: Constantine Vil, De administrando imperio (henceforth: DAI), 21, ed. and tr. G. Moravcsik, R. J. H. Jenkins, Washington 1967 (CFHB 1), p. 86-87.

23 Theophanes Continuatus, I, 22, ed. I. Bekker, Bonn 1838 (CSHB), p. 36; Brandes, Liudprand (as in n. 4), p. 444.

24 Michael Psellus, Chronographia, ed. E. Renauld, I, Paris 1926, p. 152-153.

25 See, e.g. Hunger, Profane Literatur, I, p. 331-441; E. Jeffreys, The attitudes of Byzantine chroniclers towards Ancient History, Byz. 49, 1979, p. 199-238; Ljubarskij, Byzantine historiography (as in n. 15), p. 134-137; S. Runciman, Historiography, Originality in Byzantine Literature, Art and Music, ed. A. R. Littlewood, Exeter 1995. p. 59-66; I. Grigoriadis, A study of the prooimion of Zonaras’ Chronicle in relation to other 12th-century historical prooimia, BZ 91, 1998, p. 327-344.

26 Such was the technique used by an envoy on Prince Sviatoslav, albeit in this case for self-serving purposes: Leo the Deacon, Historiae Libri Decern 5, 2, ed. C. B. Hase, Bonn 1828 (CSHB), p. 77. Reference to the oral messages delivered by envoys is made in, for example, Alexius I Comnenus’ first letter to Abbot Oderisius of Monte Cassino: H. Hagenmeyer, Die Kreuzzugsbriefe aus den Jahren 1088-1100, Innsbruck 1901, p. 141. For the expectation of oikonomia, see the text known as the Πῶς δεῖ πρεσβεύεσθαι: L. Dindorf, Historici graeci minores, I, Leipzig 1870, p. lxxviii-lxxix; D. Lee, J. Shepard, A double life: placing the Peri presbeon, BSl. 52, 1991, p. 15-39 at p. 30-31, 35-38. That an envoy needed debating skills and powers of oral persuasion was noted by N.-C. Koutrakou, Logos and pathos between peace and war: rhetoric as a tool of diplomacy in the Middle Byzantine period, Thesaurismata 25, 1995, p. 7-20 at p. 10-12.

27 See M. de Waha, La lettre d’Alexis I Comnène a Robert I le Frison, Byz. 47, 1977, p. 113-125 at p. 119-123. Many later Byzantine envoys to the West were competent Latin-speakers, if not of western origin: S. Mergiali-Sahas, A Byzantine ambassador to the West and his office during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries: a profile, BZ 94, 2001, p. 588-604 at p. 594, 599-604.

28 Constantine VII, De cerimoniis aulae byzantinae, 11.48, ed. J. J. Reiske, I, Bonn 1829, (CSHB), p. 691.

29 MGH, Legum Sectio III, Concilia, II. 1, Hanover-Leipzig 1906, p. 476-478.

30 E. Chrysos, Byzantine Diplomacy, A.D. 300-800: Means and Ends, Byzantine Diplomacy (as in n. 22), p. 25-39 at p. 32.

31 Chronicon Paschale, tr. M. and M. Whitby, Liverpool 1989, p. 182-188; McCormick, Eternal Victory (as in n. 6), p. 71, 193-194; J. Howard-Johnston, Heraclius’ Persian campaigns and the revival of the East Roman Empire, 622-630, War in History 6, 1999, p. 1-44 at p. 8, 26, 36-38.

32 Annales regni Francorum, ed. F. Kurze, Hanover 1895, p. 136,139; V. Beševliev, Die Botschaften der byzantinischen Kaiser aus dem Schlachtfeld, Byzantina 6, 1974, p. 73-83 at p. 75 (= Bulgarisch-Byzantinische Aufsätze, London 1978, XIX).

33 Annales de Saint-Bertin, ed. F. Grat, J. Vielliard, S. Clémencet, Paris 1964, p. 30; J. Shepard, The Rhos guests of Louis the Pious: whence and wherefore?, Early Medieval History 4, 1995, p. 41-60 at p. 41-43.

34 Matthew of Edessa, Chronicle, I, 19 = Armenia and the Crusades, Tenth to Twelfth Centuries: the Chronicle..., tr. A. E. Dostourian, Lanham 1993, p. 30.

35 William of Poiters, Gesta Guillelmi, ed. and tr. R. H. C. Davis, M. Chibnall, Oxford 1998, p. 96-97. See also ibid., p. 156-157.

36 Roger of Hoveden, Chronica, ed. W. Stubbs, II, London 1869, p. 102-104; P. Magdalino, The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos, 1143-1180, Cambridge 1993, p. 458.

37 P. E. Walker, The ‘Crusade’ of John Tzimiskes in the light of new Arabic evidence, Byz. 47, 1977, p. 301-327 at p. 320-321, 327.

38 McCormick, Eternal Victory, p. 190-194, 234-235.

39 N.-C. Koutrakou, La propagande impériale byzantine. Persuasion et réaction (viiie-xe siècles), Athens 1994, p. 175-179.

40 Treitinger, Oströmische Kaiser- und Reichsidee (as in n. 9), p. 79-80, 158-167; A. Kazhdan, Certain Traits of Imperial Propaganda in the Byzantine Empire from the Eighth to the Fifteenth Centuries, Prédication et propagande au Moyen Âge, ed. A. Maksidi, Paris 1983, p. 13-28 at p. 18; Koutrakou, Propagande impériale (as in n. 39), p. 175, 348-349; G. T. Dennis, Imperial Panegyric: Rhetoric and Reality, Byzantine Court Culture from 829 to 1204, ed. H. Maguire, Washington 1997, p. 131-140 at p. 135-140.

41 I. Dujčev, On the treaty of 927 with the Bulgarians, DOP 32, 1978, p. 217-295 at p. 220-222, 236-237, 258-259, 272-273.

42 Magdalino, Manuel Komnenos (as in n. 36), p. 459.

43 Ibid., p. 457-459.

44 Grigoriadis, Prooimion of Zonaras’ Chronicle (as in n. 25), p. 329-330; Markopoulos, Byzantine History Writing, p. 196.

45 E. Lévi-Provençal, Un échange d’ambassades entre Cordoue et Byzance au ixe siècle, Byz. 12, 1937, p. 1-24 at p. 20-21 (tr.); E. Manzano Moreno, Byzantium and al-Andalus in the ninth century, Byzantium in the Ninth Century: Dead or Alive?, ed. L. Brubaker, Aldershot 1998, p. 215-227 at p. 220-221.

46 DAI 8, p. 56-57.

47 S. M. Stern, An embassy of the Byzantine emperor to the Fatimid Caliph al-Mu’izz, Byz. 20, 1950, p. 239-258 at p. 247 (= History and Culture in the Medieval Muslim World, London 1984, IX); A. A. Vasiliev, Byzance et les Arabes, II.1 (ed. M. Canard), Brussels 1968, p. 422-423.

48 Nicholas I, Patriarch of Constantinople, Letters, ed. and tr. R. J. H. Jenkins, L. G. Westerink, Washington 1973 (CFHB 6), p. 26-29. Nicholas also refers to ‘treaties and oaths which your fathers made and swore long, long ago’: ibid., p. 52-53.

49 Ibid., p. 4-7.

50 Povesf Vremennykh Let, ed. V. P. Adrianova-Peretts, D. S. Likhachev, Moscow 1996, rev. ed., p. 30.

51 Anna Comnena, Alexiad, XIII, 12, 1-2, ed. and trad. B. Leib, III, Paris 1945, p. 125-126.

52 Nicholas I, Letters (as in n. 48), p. 372-373, 376-377.

53 Ibid., p. 374-375. On the mosque, see S. W. Reinert, The Muslim Presence in Constantinople, 9th-15th Centuries: some Preliminary Observations, Studies on the Internal Diaspora of the Byzantine Empire, ed. H. Ahrweiler, A. E. Laiou, Washington 1998, p. 125-150 at p. 127-129.

54 See, for example, Kolias, Leon Choerosphactes (as in n. 1), p. 112-113; Nicholas 1, Letters, p. 340-341; DAI 44-46, p. 198-223.

55 H. F. Amedroz, An embassy from Baghdad to the emperor Basil II, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 1914, p. 915-942 at p. 921. Also tr. in H. F. Amedroz, D. S. Margoliouth, The Eclipse of the Abbasid Caliphate, VI, Oxford 1921, p. 25.

56 Amedroz, Embassy (as in n. 55), p. 922 ; Amedroz, Margoliouth, Eclipse (as in n. 55), p. 26.

57 Amedroz, Embassy, p. 921, 922; Amedroz, Margoliouth, Eclipse, p. 25, 26. That rights over fortresses were pivotal to the negotiations was noted by M. Canard, Deux documents arabes sur Bardas Skleros, Atti del V congresso internazionale di studi byzantini, I, Roma 1939 (= RSBN 5), p. 55-69 at p. 57.

58 Amedroz, Embassy, p. 922-924; Amedroz, Margoliouth, Eclipse, p. 26-28; Canard, Deux documents (as in n. 57), p. 60-62, 65-67. See also J. Shepard, Constantine VII, Caucasian Openings and the Road to Aleppo, Eastern Approaches to Byzantium, ed. A. Eastmond, Aldershot 2001, p. 19-40 at p. 24-27; C. Holmes, Byzantium’s Eastern Frontier in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries, Medieval Frontiers: Concepts and Practice, ed. D. Abulafia, N. Berend, Aldershot 2002, p. 83-104 at p. 100-103.

59 Michael Psellus, Istorikoi logoi, epistolai kai alla anekdota (= K. N. Sathas, Mesaionike Bibliotheke V), Venice-Paris 1876, p. 389.

60 Nicholas I, Letters, p. 34-35, 136-139.

61 Ibid., p. 136-137.

62 Liudprand, Legatio (as in n. 3), ch. 51, p. 209.

63 MGH Epp. VI, Berlin 1925, p. 605.

64 Life of Constantine 14 (as in n. 7), p. 105.

65 P. Magdalino, The distance of the past in early medieval Byzantium (vii-x centuries), Ideologie e pratiche del reimpiego nell’alto Medioevo, Spoleto 1999 (Settimane di Studio del Centro Italiano di Studi sull’Alto Medioevo 46), p. 115-146 at p. 139-145.

66 Gregory of Tours, Libri Historiarum Decern, MGH SS rerum Merovingicarum I, Hanover 1951, p. 77; M. Rouche, Clovis, Paris 1996, p. 279-280.

67 Codex Carolinus, MGH Epp. III, Berlin 1892, p. 587; J. L. Nelson, Translating Images of Authority: the Christian Roman Emperors in the Carolingian World, in Ead., The Prankish World, 750-900, London 1996, p. 89-98 at p. 89-91; Magdalino, Distance (as in n. 65), p. 145.

68 Cynewulf, Elene, tr. in R. K. Gordon, Anglo-Saxon Poetry, London 1970, p. 211-234, at p. 213, 226-228.

69 The Old English Orosius, ed. J. Bately, Oxford 1980, p. 149.

70 A. M. Shcherbak, Znaki na keramike i kirpichakh iz Sarkela-Beloi Vezhi, Trudy Volgo-Donskoi Arkheologicheskoi Ekspeditsii, 2, Materialy i Issledovaniia po arkheologii S.S.S.R. 75, 1959, p. 379.

71 DAI 13, p. 66-67.

72 Historia de expeditione Frederici imperatoris, ed. A. Chroust, Quellen zur Geschichte des Kreuzzuges Kaiser Friedrichs I. (MGH SS, nov. ser. 5), Berlin 1928, p. 51; Historia peregrinorum, ibid., p. 140; O. Kresten, Zur Rekonstruktion der Protokolle kaiserlichbyzantinischer Auslandsschreiben des 12. Jahrhunderts aus lateinischen Quellen, Polypleuros Nous. Miscellanea für Peter Schreiner zu seinem 60. Geburtstag, ed. C. Scholz, G. Makris, Munich-Leipzig 2000, p. 125-163 at p. 139, 146, 151-154 and n. 125.

73 Adam Usk, Chronicle 1377-1421, ed. and tr. C. Given-Wilson, Oxford 1997, p. 198-199 and n. 2, 4.

74 DAI 13, p. 66-67.

75 For other such orations, see Arethas, Scripta minora, II, ed. L. G. Westerink, Leipzig 1972, p. 9, 16, 23-35; Koutrakou, Propagande imperiale, p. 177; above, p. 177-179.

76 DAI 13, p. 70-71; J. Shepard, Marriages towards the Millennium, Byzantium in the Year 1000, p. 1-33 at p. 1 and n. 2.

77 Magdalino, Distance, p. 121-125, 130-131, 135.

78 Liudprand, Legatio 25, p. 198.

79 Povest’ (as in n. 50), p. 23; Leo the Deacon, Historiae Libri Decem 6, 10 (as in n. 26), p. 106.

80 Amedroz, Embassy, p. 921-923; Amedroz, Margoliouth, Eclipse, p. 25-27. Besides such records specific to treaty-making, it is most probable that a kind of register of higher-level outgoing imperial communications was kept. O. Kresten (Die Auslandsschreiben der byzantinischen Kaiser der Komnenenzeit, RHM 39, 1997, p. 21-59 at p. 31-37 and n. 78, p. 43, 53) has deduced this for the Comnenian era from passages in the Alexiad, and this may well have been earlier practice, too. The questions of which types of communication were copied in full and the form in which the copies were collected are not our prime concern, but it would seem that cartularies only became common practice in the thirteenth century: I. P. Medvedev, Ocherki vizantiiskoi diplomatii, Leningrad 1988, p. 34-37.

81 J. Malingoudi, Die Russisch-Byzantinischen Verträge des 10. Jhds. aus diplomatischer Sicht, Thessaloniki 1994, p. 82-91.

82 Constantine VII, De cerimoniis, 11.44 (as in n. 28), I, p. 662.

83 Kresten, Auslandsschreiben der Kaiser (as in n. 80), p. 30-32; Id., Zur Chrysographie in den Auslandsschreiben der byzantinischen Kaiser, RHM 40, 1998, p. 139-186 at p. 159, n. 60, 63, p. 165-166 and n. 82.

84 Dindorf. Historici graeci minores, I (as in n. 26), p. lxxix; Lee. Shepard, Placing the Peri presbeon (as in n. 26), p. 31. Although the ‘main points’ put to envoys are not expressly said to have been written down, it is hard to see how the quizzing could have been conducted thoroughly without recourse to writing.

85 Anna Comnena, Alexiad, I, 16, 3, ed. and trad. B. Leib, I, Paris 1937, p. 58; P. Stephenson, Byzantium’s Balkan Frontier. A Political Study of the Northern Balkans. 900-1204, Cambridge 2000, p. 145-146.

86 Nicholas I, Letters, p. 58-59; J. Shepard, Information, disinformation and delay in Byzantine diplomacy, Byz. Forsch. 10, 1985, p. 233-293 at p. 276-277, 279.

87 Examples in J. Shepard, Byzantine Diplomacy, A. D. 800-1204: Means and Ends, Byzantine Diplomacy, p. 41-71 at p. 61 and n. 81, 82.

88 DAI 40, 26, p. 176-179, 108-113. The likely sources of this information have long been recognized: De administrando imperio, II, Commentary, ed. R. J. H. Jenkins, London 1962, p. 5, 83, 85, 146.

89 Sinoutes, Theodore ‘the interpreter of the Armenians’ and Krinites were seemingly of Armenian stock: DAI 43, p. 190-191, 194-195; II, Commentary (as in n. 88), p. 162, 165; I. Brousselle, L’intégration des Armeniens dans l’aristocratie byzantine au ixe siecle, L’Arménie et Byzance, Paris 1996 (Byzantina Sorbonensia 12), p. 43-54 at p. 44-51 and n. 15.

90 Georgius Monachus Continuatus in Theophanes Continuatus, ed. I. Bekker, Bonn 1838 (CSHB), p. 868; S. Tougher, The Reign of Leo VI (886-912). Politics and People, Leiden 1997, p. 197-198, 215.

91 Kresten, Zur Chrysographie (as in n. 83), p. 159, n. 63. Imperial interpreters, too, may have been native-speakers: V. Laurent, Le Corpus des sceaux de I ‘empire byzantin, II, L’administration centrale, Paris 1981, p. 230-233.

92 Holmes, Byzantium’s Eastern Frontier (as in n. 58), p. 94-96, 102-103.

93 Muslim powers maintained administrative records, and their diplomatic exchanges with Byzantium were quite intensive. But these exchanges were sui generis due to the jihad. Moreover, the ostensibly annalistic style of the early Islamic chronicles seemingly masks propagandistic and religious themes, rather than being a straightforward register of contemporary political events: F. Donner, Narratives of Islamic Origins. The Beginnings of Islamic Historical Writing, Princeton 1998, p. 98-122; T. El-Hibri, Reinterpreting Islamic Historiography. Harun al-Rashid and the Narrative of the Abbasid Caliphs, Cambridge 1999, p. 216-219.

94 Malingoudi, Russisch-Byzantinischen Verträge (as in n. 81), p. 85-92, 105.

95 Annales Regni Francorum, ed. F. Kurze, Hanover 1895, p. 48, 50, 58, 60, 96, 100, 102, 104, 106, 108, 110, 112, 114, 116-124, 128, 130-138; J. Shepard, The Uses of ‘History’ in Byzantine Diplomacy: Observations and comparisons, Porphyrogenita: Essays on the History and Literature of Byzantium and the Latin East in Honour of Julian Chrysostomides, ed. C. Dendrinos et al, Aldershot 2003, p. 91-115 at p. 105-107.

96 On the role of written texts in the workings of Carolingian governance, see R. D. McKitterick, The Carolingians and the Written Word, Cambridge 1989, p. 25-37; J. L. Nelson, Literacy in Carolingian Government, The Frankish World 750-900 (as in n. 67), p. 1-36 at p. 27-29.

97 Collections of capitularies were made by individual churchmen enjoying access to palace archives, but these texts served primarily religious and ethical ends: G. Schmitz, The Capitulary Legislation of Louis the Pious, Charlemagne’s Heir. New Perspectives on the Reign of Louis the Pious, ed. R. Collins, P. Godman, Oxford 1990, p. 425-436 at p. 425.

98 Liudprand’s Legatio, though couched in the form of a report for his masters, presupposes a wider audience: K. Leyser, Ends and Means in Liudprand of Cremona, Byzantium and the West c.800-c.1204,ed. J. Howard-Johnston, Amsterdam 1988, p. 119-143 at p. 124, 135-137, 142. See also J. Koder, Die Sicht des ‘Anderen’ in Gesandtenberichten, Die Begegnung des Westens mit dem Osten, ed. O. Engels, P. Schreiner, Sigmaringen 1993, p. 113-129 at p. 115, 118-120; H. Mayr-Harting, Liudprand of Cremona’s account of his legation to Constantinople (968) and Ottonian imperial strategy, English Historical Review 116, 2001, p. 539-556 at p. 546-553. On the (now lost) manuscript, see Liudprand, Opera Omnia, p. lxxxvii-xc (introduction).

99 H. Appelt, Die Reichsarchiv in den frühstaufischen Burgunderdiplömen, Festschrift Hans Lenze zum 60. Geburtstage, ed. N. Grass, W. Ogris, Innsbruck-Munich 1969, p. 1-11 at p. 1, 10.

100 Some acquaintance with events in Constantinople is shown by writers linked with these towns, such as the contributors to the annals of Bari, John of Naples and the Venetian John the Deacon: Repertorium Fontium Historiae Medii Aevi II, Rome 1967, p. 251-252; ibid., III, Rome 1970, p. 392; ibid., VI, Rome 1990, p. 312; ODB, I, p. 104; ibid., II, p. 1065-1066; T. S. Brown, History as Myth: Medieval Perceptions of Venice’s Roman and Byzantine Past, The Making of Byzantine History (as in n. 5), p. 145-157 at p. 151-152.

101 J. Gay, L’Italie méridionale et l’empire byzantin depuis l’avènement de Basile Ier jusqu’à la prise de Bari par les Normands, Paris ¡904, p. 90, 98; ODB, I, p. 88-89; P. Riché, Le christianisme dans l’Occident carolingien (milieu viiie-fin ixe siècle), Evêques, moines et empereurs (610-1054), ed. G. Dagron, P. Riché, A. Vauchez (= Histoire du christianisme des origines à nos jours, dir. J.-M. Mayeur et ai, IV), Paris 1993, p. 683-765 at p. 713-715; Scripta Saeculi vii Vitam Maximi Confessoris Illustrantia, ed. P. Allen, B. Neil, Turnhout 1999 (Corpus Christianorum. Series Graeca 39), p. xxvi-xxx (introduction).

102 Preface to Chronographia tripertita, Theophanes, Chronographia, II, ed. C. de Boor, Leipzig 1885, p. 33-35; C. Leonardi, Anastasio Bibliotecario e le traduzioni dal Greco nella Roma altomedievale, The Sacred Nectar of the Greeks, ed. M. W. Herren, S. A. Brown, London 1988, p. 277-296 at p. 285-286; G. Arnaldi, ‘Giovanni Immonide e la cultura a Roma al tempo di Giovanni VIII: una retractatio. Europa Medievale e Mondo Bizantino. Contatti effettivi e Possibilità di Studi Comparati, ed. G. Arnaldi, G. Cavallo, Rome 1997 (Nuovi studi storici 40), p. 163-177 at p. 166-169; Scripta Saeculi vii (as in n. 101), p. xxxvi.

103 Louis II, Epistola ad Basilium, MGH Epp. VII, Berlin 1928, p. 386-394 at p. 388; Gay, L’Italie méridionale (as in n. 101), p. 84-88; S. Fanning, Imperial Diplomacy between Francia and Byzantium, Cithara 34, 1994, p. 3-17 at p. 4, 7-10; Arnaldi, ‘Giovanni Immonide’ (as in n. 102), p. 171, 173; C. Wickham, Byzantium through Western Eyes, Byzantium in the Ninth Century (as in n. 45), p. 245-256 at p. 247, 253-254.

104 Louis II, Epistola ad Basilium (as in n. 103), p. 387; Arnaldi, ‘Giovanni Immonide’, p. 173.

105 J.N. Sutherland, Liudprand of Cremona, Bishop, Diplomat, Historian, Spoleto 1988, p. 71. The possibility that Liudprand had access to some sort of writings on Basil I and Leo VI cannot be wholly excluded: J. Koder, T. Weber, Liutprand von Cremona in Konstantinopel, Vienna 1980 (Byzantina Vindobonensia 13), p. 61.

106 Liudprand, Legano, 16, p. 194. That Liudprand knew of Maria’s antecedents is shown by his Antapodosis (III, 37-38, Opera Omnia, p. 86). Judging by his own account of exchanges with imperial officials in 968, he failed to put his knowledge to fullest effect.

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