Advertisement

Imperial Dress

  • Jennifer L. Ball
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

The portrait of the Empress Eudokia, wife of Basil I (r. 867–86), with her sons, Leo and Alexander, in the Homilies of Gregory Nazianzus (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France MS Gr. 510, fol. Br) (see plate 1), presents two interesting problems of interpreting the imperial dress in which all three are shown.1 Each figure wears a loros that crosses down over the shoulders and chest, while the back panel winds around the hip, to the front of the body, and hangs over the arm. Under this jewel-studded loros each wears a divetesion, a long, silk, ceremonial tunic. An identical semi-spherical stemma sits on each of their heads and each wears pointed, silk slippers studded with pearls called tzangia. This portrait, and many others like it, would have us believe that this garb was standard dress for the Middle Byzantine emperor. However, contemporary literary sources, such as The Book of Ceremonies, tell us that this outfit was worn only on Easter and that, despite surviving portraits, official dress usually consisted of a chlamys in place of the loros. When and where the loros was worn has much to do with interpreting its meaning. A second important issue raised by this exemplary image is that the empress is depicted in the same dress as the two young emperors, despite gender differences. This is unusual because Byzantine courtiers and noblemen and women typically display gender differentiation in their dress. Indeed no other royal couple in the Middle Ages assumed a unisex manner of dress.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    For more information on the Homilies see: George Galvaris, The Illustrations of the Liturgical Homilies of Gregory Nazianzenus (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969)Google Scholar
  2. and Helen Evans and William D. Wixom, eds., The Glory of Byzantium (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997), cat. no. 63, Kurt Weitzmann and George Galvaris, The Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai: The Illuminated Manuscripts, Volume 1, From the Ninth to the Twelfth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990),Google Scholar
  3. and Jeffrey C. Anderson, “The Illustration of Cod. Sinai Gr. 339,” Art Bulletin 61 (1979): 167–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 2.
    Mary Houston, Ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine Costume and Decoration (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1959), pp. 91–93.Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, Revised ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1867–1939). The earliest Byzantine authors to use the word are Procopius and Lydus.Google Scholar
  6. 4.
    Michael F. Hendy, Coinage and Money in the Byzantine Empire, 1081–1204 (Washington, DC: 1969). dates this to Basil I’s coinage, pp. 867–86.Google Scholar
  7. 5.
    Maria Parani, Reconstructing the Reality of Images: Byzantine Material Culture and Religious Iconography (11th-15th Centuries) (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2003), p. 20.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Catherine Jolivet-Lévy, “La Glorification de l’Empereur à l’Eglise du Grand Pigeonnier,” in Histoire et Archéologie 63 (1982): 73–77.Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    R.R.R. Smith, Hellenistic Royal Portraits (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), pp. 34–38. Smith discusses the argument of whether or not Alexander took the diadem from Persian kings.Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    Constantine VII, Le Livre Des Ceremonies, BK. 1, trans. A. Vogt (Paris: Societe d’ Edition, 1935), p. 175–77Google Scholar
  11. and Michael McCormick, “Crowns,” The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991).Google Scholar
  12. 14.
    Anna Comnena, The Alexiad, trans. E.R.A. Sewter (New York: Penguin, 1979), p. 113.Google Scholar
  13. 15.
    Bernard Leib trans., Anna Comnene Alexiade (Paris: Société d’Édition “Les Belles Lettres,” 1967), vol. 3: 4–5, pp. 114–15.Google Scholar
  14. 18.
    Bayerisches National Museum, Sakrale Gewander des Mittelhalters (Munich: Bayerisches National Museum, 1955), pp. 27–28.Google Scholar
  15. 19.
    For more information see: C.L. Dimitrescu, “Quelques Remarques en marge du Coislin 79: Les Trois Eunuques,” Byzantion 57 (1987): 32–45. Evans and Wixom, The Glory of Byzantium, cat. no. 143.Google Scholar
  16. 20.
    P.A. Drossoyianni, “A Pair of Byzantine Crowns,” Jahrbuch der Osterreichischen Byzantinistik 32: 3 (1982): 529–39, Byzantine Museum accession numbers B.M. 7663a and b.Google Scholar
  17. 23.
    J.M. Duffy, Michael Pselli Philosophica Minora: Concerning the Power of Stones, Vol. 1 (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1992). Typescript translation by T. Mathews, D. Katsarelias, V. Kalas, and S. Brooks 1994.Google Scholar
  18. 24.
    D. Jacoby, “Silk in Western Byzantium before the Fourth Crusade,” Byzantine Zeitschrift 84–85 (1992–92): 475.Google Scholar
  19. 25.
    A.T. Croom, Roman Clothing and Fashion (Charleston, SC: Tempus Publishing Inc., 2001) p. 26.Google Scholar
  20. 26.
    Constantine VII., Des Ceremonies mentions the emperor wearing the chlamys frequently, e.g., bk. 1, pp. 138, 160, 176; bk. 2, p. 86 to name a few. Michael McCormick, Eternal Victory: Triumphal Rulership in Late Antiquity, Byzantium, and the Early Medieval West (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986) notes this throughout his work.Google Scholar
  21. 27.
    Thomas J. Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year (New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1986), p. 5.Google Scholar
  22. 28.
    Gabriel Bertoniere, The Historical Development of the Easter Vigil and Related Services in the Greek Church (Rome: Pontifical Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 1972), pp. 124–35.Google Scholar
  23. 30.
    Nicolas Oikonomidès, Les Listes de Préséance Byzantines du IXe et Xe Siécle (Paris: Editions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1972), p. 200.Google Scholar
  24. 32.
    Eric Addis Ivison, Mortuary Practices in Byzantium (c. 950–1453) An Archaeological Contribution (Doctoral Thesis, Centre for Byzantine and Modem Greek Studies, University of Birmingham, England, Birmingham, 1993), pp. 174–76.Google Scholar
  25. 34.
    Kurt Weitzmannm, ed., The Age of Spirituality (New York: Princeton University Press, 1977).Google Scholar
  26. 35.
    Michael McCormick, “Analyzing Imperial Ceremonies,” Jahrbuch der Osterreichischen Byzantinistik 35 (1985): 12.Google Scholar
  27. 36.
    Natalia Teteriatnikov, “Hagia Sophia: The Two Portraits of the Emperors with Moneybags as a Functional Setting,” Arte Medievale II:1 (1987): 47–66. While she does not explore the issue of the loros as a garment worn for donation, her article does link Easter with this portrait and the act of donation.Google Scholar
  28. 37.
    Paul Magdalino, “Observations on the Nea Ekklesia of Basil I,” Jahrbuch der Osterreichischen Byzantinistik 37 (1987): 55.Google Scholar
  29. 39.
    Henry Maguire, “A Murderer Among Angels: The Frontispiece Miniatures of Paris Gr. 510 and the Iconography of the Archangels in Byzantine Art,” in The Sacred Image East and West ed. R. Ousterhout and L. Brubaker (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995).Google Scholar
  30. 41.
    A.A. Vasiliev, “Harun Ibn Yahya and his Description of Constantinople,” Seminarium Kondakovianum 5 (1932): 158–59.Google Scholar
  31. 42.
    Henry Shaw, Dresses and Decorations of the Middle Ages from the Seventh to the Seventeenth Centuries (London: William Pickering, 1843) n.p.Google Scholar
  32. 43.
    Francoise Piponnier and Perrine Mane, Dress in the Middle Ages, trans. C. Beamish, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), pp. 77–81.Google Scholar
  33. 45.
    Oleg Grabar, The Formation of Islamic Art (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987), p. 94.Google Scholar
  34. 46.
    Dominique Sourdel, “Robes of Honor in Abbasid Baghdad during the Eighth to Eleventh Centuries,” in Robes and Honor: The World of Medieval Investiture, ed. S. Gordon (New York: Palgrave, 2001), p. 137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 52.
    Androgyny, as defined by Marjorie Garber, is a style confined to women’s dress and in effect refers to women dressing like men rather than men and women dressing in a manner that does not connote any gender. Marjorie Garber, Vice Versa (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995).Google Scholar
  36. 53.
    James Breckenridge, The Age of Spirituality, Kurt Weitzmann ed. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1979), pp. 35–36.Google Scholar
  37. 58.
    Michael Psellus, 14 Byzantine Rulers, trans. E.R.A. Sewter (London: Penguin Classics, 1996) p. 329.Google Scholar
  38. 64.
    A.P. Kazhdan and Ann Wharton Epstein, Change in Byzantine Culture in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), p. 77 quoting Niketas Chomates 273.85–89.Google Scholar
  39. 66.
    John Lowden, Early Christian and Byzantine Art (London: Phaidon, 1997), Figure 94.Google Scholar
  40. 69.
    For more information on this church, see: Ewald Hein, Andrija Jakovljevic, and Brigitte Kleidt, Zypern Byzantinische Kirchen und Kloster: Cyprus (Rotingen: Melina-Verlag, 1996), pp. 55–60,Google Scholar
  41. and Andreas Stylianou and Judith A. Stylianou, “Asinou,” in The Painted Churches of Cyprus (London: Trigraph for the A.G. Leventis Foundation, 1985).Google Scholar
  42. 72.
    Helmut Puff, “The Sodomite’s Clothes: Gift-Giving and Sexual Excess in Early Modern Germany and Switzerland,” in The Material Cuture of Sex, Procreation and Marriage in Premodern Europe, ed. Anne L. McClanan and Karen Rosoff (New York: Palgrave, 2002), p. 255.Google Scholar
  43. 73.
    Valentin Groebner, “Describing the Person, Reading the Signs in Late Medieval and Renaissance Europe: Identity Papers, Vested Figures, and the Limits of Identification, 1400–1600,” in Documenting Individual Identity: The Development of State Practices in the Modern World, ed. Jane Caplan and John Torpey (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), pp. 15–27.Google Scholar
  44. 74.
    Jannic Durand et al., eds., Byzance: L’art byzantin dans les collections publiques françaises (Paris: Bibliotheque Nationale, 1992), cat. no. 356.Google Scholar
  45. 77.
    Judith Herrin, “The Imperial Feminine in Byzantium,” Past and Present, 169 (2000): 20–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 80.
    Barbara Hill, “Imperial Women and the Ideology of Womanhood in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries,” in Women, Men and Eunuchs: Gender in Byzantium, ed. L. James (London and New York: Routledge, 1997), p. 80.Google Scholar
  47. 81.
    Hugh Kennedy, “Byzanatine-Arab Diplomacy in the Near East from the Islamic Conquests to the Mid Eleventh Century,” in Byzantine Diplomacy. Papers from the Twenty-Fourth Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, Cambridge, March 1990 ed. Jonathan Shepard and Simon Franklin (Brookfield, VT: Ashgate, 1992).Google Scholar
  48. 83.
    Michael Angold, The Byzantine Empire 1025–1204 (London and New York: Longman, 1984), p. 2.Google Scholar
  49. 84.
    Ruth Macrides, “Dynastic Marriages and Political Kinship,” in Byzantine Diplomacy, ed. J. Shepard and S. Franklin (Brookfield, VT: Variorum, 1992), pp. 270–79.Google Scholar
  50. 85.
    D.C. Smythe, “Why do Barbarians stand round the emperor at diplomatic receptions?” in Byzantine Diplomacy, ed. J. Shepard and S. Franklin (Brookfield, VT: Variorum, 1992), pp. 305–312.Google Scholar
  51. 87.
    John Lowden, “The Luxury Book as Diplomatic Gift,” in Byzantine Diplomacy, ed. J. Shepard and S. Franklin (Brookfield, VT: Variorum, 1992).Google Scholar
  52. 88.
    A.T. Croom, Roman Clothing and Fashion (Charleston, SC: Tempus Publishing Inc., 2001), p. 51.Google Scholar
  53. 94.
    Robin Cormack, “Interpreting the Mosaics of S. Sophia at Istanbul,” in Art History, 4:2 (1981): 131–149, discusses the theory that this is a penitent emperor, possibly Leo VI.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 98.
    Antony Eastmond and Lynn Jones, “Robing, Power, and Legitimacy in Armenia and Georgia,” in Robes and Honor, ed. S. Gordon (New York: Palgrave, 2001), pp. 173–75.Google Scholar
  55. 102.
    M. Hendy, Byzantine Coins: Alexius I to Michael VIII, p. 151 and Elisabeth Piltz, Middle Byzantine Court Costume, ed. H. Maguire (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 1997), p. 42.Google Scholar
  56. 104.
    Mark Whittow, The Making of Byzantium, 600–1025 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), pp. 106–113 for a full discussion of this idea.Google Scholar
  57. 106.
    Alexander Kazhdan and Giles Constable, People and Power in Byzantium (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 1982), p. 144.Google Scholar
  58. 110.
    Nikephoros Byrennios, Nicephore Byrennios, Histoire, trans. P. Gautier (Brussels: Byzantion, 1975), pp. 130–31.Google Scholar
  59. 112.
    For more information on this manuscript see: A. Cutler and J.-M. Spieser, Byzance Médiévale (Paris: Gallimard, 1996), pp. 323–36.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jennifer L. Ball 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer L. Ball

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations