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kind of seminary for senior churchmen in Serbia.30 He took care to have these grants confirmed by imperial chrysobulls. On occasion, Andronikos II showed and sought goodwill through his own gifts and privileges. For example, in 1313 to mark the victory of a joint Byzantine-Serbian force over a marauding band of Turks Andronikos provided Milutin, 'my dearest son and son-in-law', with a village with tax-exempt lands on the Strymon, so that he could donate it to Chilandar.31 Milutin also obtained imperial chrysobulls to confirm the title of monastic possessions within his dominions, for example for the house of St Niketas near Skopje.32

Byzantium offered Milutin the richest arsenal for devising a political culture consonant with his aspirations. Direct association with the basileus and evocations of his court ceremonial served to legitimise Milutin's gains and to consolidate his monarchical regime. The donor-portrait in Milutin's monastery-church and putative mausoleum at Gracanica shows two angels presenting him and his wife with royal crowns, crowning them on behalf of Christ.33 Milutin's court decked out with gold and silken trappings was like a stage set, striving for 'imperial and, so far as was possible, even Roman excellence', in the words of a visiting Byzantine ambassador.34 If he went further than his predecessors in portraying himself and his wife as God-crowned, his audacity owed much to the fact that Simonis was the emperor's daughter, possessing divinely conferred authority in her own right: reportedly, he had dismounted before receiving her 'as a sovereign, not a wife'.35 He received from the Byzantine empress a crown almost as splendid as the emperor's own.36 In return for his displays of deference Milutin acquired plausibly quasi-imperial attributes, setting him head and shoulders above his malcontent brother and other members of his family. Not that ancestors were disregarded: near Milutin's donor-portrait in Gracanica, a wall painting depicts his descent from Stefan Nemanja by means of a variant on the Tree of Jesse.

Like his grandfather Milutin, Stefan Dusan was willing to war with the empire when opportunities presented themselves. Exploiting the minority of John V Palaiologos he seized the lands of south-east Macedonia and extended

30 Danilo was its abbot before eventually becoming, in 1324, archbishop of Serbia.

33 Walter, 'Iconographical sources', 183-5,199-200 and fig. 1.

34 Theodore Metochites, npecrfieuTiKÔs, in K. N. Sathas, MeaaicviKi) Bi^AiodrjKT) (Venice: Chronos, 1872), 1,173.

35 George Pachymeres, Relations historiques, ed. and trans. A. Failler [CFHB 24/4], iv (Paris: Institut francais d'études byzantines, 1999), x.4; 314-15.

36 Nikephoros Gregoras, Byzantina historia, ed. L. Schopen and I. Bekker (Bonn: Ed. Weber, 1829), vii.5: 1,242.

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