churchmen were hoping for material repayment of the debt, as witness the letter sent by Patriarch Matthew I in 1400 to Kiprian and other senior churchmen in Rus. Matthew represents the raising of funds to aid the city of Constantinople as a supreme act of piety: donors will earn more merit with God for this than by performing the liturgy, almsgiving or freeing prisoners, 'for this holy city is the pride, the bulwark, the benediction and the glory of Christians everywhere in the inhabited world'.68
It was, in fact, to the Franks in the west and not to the Balkan Slavs or the Rus that Manuel II journeyed in quest of military support, as Matthew's letter acknowledges. The Orthodox potentates' reputed veneration for the 'holy city' did not materialise in a relief force. But this is a reflection of their own military and administrative limitations: it would be rash to underestimate how useful they found the aura of affinity to higher earthly and celestial powers69 - an aura which still clung to Byzantium. For leaders such as the northern Rus princes, still obliged to render tribute to Tatar khans, the notion of belonging to an alternative order capped by a sacred emperor probably grew more attractive, not less, as the Golden Horde began to fragment and could no longer maintain security against steppe marauders. The prince of Moscow's right to obedience, service and revenues from his subjects relied on a combination of fear, belief and custom. In these circumstances, the imperial Byzantine order brought the prince's stance a certain external validation, best understood through visual renderings of the hierarchy of rulership.
The interrelationship of the Moscow prince and the emperor was solemnised on the sakkos, which Metropolitan Photios wore during liturgies, besides being implied in Photios's testament.70 On the sakkos were depicted, between emperor and prince, the three Lithuanian martyrs whose cult the Byzantines were now furthering: the haloed emperor's mission to spread the faith goes on, but the Rus prince has a place in this scheme of things. The imagery conveys something of what Patriarch Anthony asserted in his letter to Vasilii: that the emperor and the patriarch care for all Christians, irrespective of little local difficulties, and should not be despised because of the empire's material frailties.
The sumptuousness of the vestment carrying the images and the fact that it was a gift from the Byzantine authorities to the head of the church in Rus
68 Miklosich and Mtiller, ii, 361; Reg. no. 3112.
69 See V A. Kivelson, 'Merciful father, impersonal state: Russian autocracy in comparative perspective', Modern Asian Studies 31 (1997), 648-51.
70 A.-E. N. Tachiaos, 'The testament of Photius Monembasiotes, metropolitan of Russia (1408-31): Byzantine ideology in XVth-century Muscovy', Cyrillomethodianum 8-9 (198485), 87-8,106. See also Obolensky, 'Byzantine portrait ofJohn VIII Palaeologus', 141-6.
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