The issue of the succession to Metropolitan Aleksii reveals the diverse forms of influence still available to Byzantium north of the steppes. The patriarchate showed finesse in choosing Kiprian. Besides being of marked scholastic and administrative ability, he was Bulgarian by birth and so could be expected to communicate easily with the Orthodox Slavonic-speaking inhabitants of Lithuanian-ruled lands and, eventually, throughout Rus. Kiprian, a Bulgarian yet also 'a Roman-friendly man',65 embodied the talents, upon which the Constantinopolitan patriarchate could still draw, together with the willingness of individuals from peripheral polities to align themselves with the ancient, divinely sanctioned, centre.
The Constantinopolitan patriarch's skilful use of human resources extended to human remains. Olgerd found himself cast as, in effect, a villain in sacred time when the three Lithuanians executed at his behest c. 1347 were recognised as martyrs by the ecumenical patriarchate; their relics were brought to the Bosporus by Kiprian upon his return from a mission to Olgerd's court on behalf of Patriarch Philotheos in 1374. There quickly followed an encomium of the martyrs, composed in the milieu of the Great Church, a Passio and other liturgical texts honouring them. Their canonisation was an affirmation of moral superiority that hard-bitten potentates ignored at their peril and called to mind events from the earliest era of evangelisation.66
The notion of a moral lead set by eastern churchmen involved the emperor as well as the patriarch, given that formal responsibility for instituting external metropolitan sees rested with the former. Moreover the emperor's role as superintendent of the church, static yet salutary, had support from senior churchmen in the patriarchate. They saw in him a kind of unifying focus of allegiance, proof against all alternative church organisations or creeds. Patriarch Anthony IV wrote to Dmitrii of Moscow's son and successor, Vasilii, urging him to let the emperor's 'sacred name' be commemorated in the liturgical dip-tychs and to show respect: 'it is not possible to have a church and not to have an emperor, for the empire and the church have a great unity and commonality, and it is impossible to separate them'.67 This was one of a series of attempts by the patriarchate to impress upon external rulers and churchmen their common origins in, and lasting debt to, the 'Roman' imperial order. Byzantine
65 Miklosich and Muller, 11, 361; Reg. no. 3112.
66 The encomium is editedinM. N. Speransky Serbskoe zhitielitovskikhmuchenikov (Moscow, 1909), 35-47; D. Baronas, Trys Vilniaus kankiniai: Gyvenimas iristorija [Fontes ecclesiastici historiae lithuaniae 2] (Vilnius: Aidai, 2000), 200-43. See also Meyendorff, Byzantium, 187-8; D. Baronas, 'The three martyrs of Vilnius: a fourteenth-century martyrdom and its documentary sources', AnalectaBollandiana 122 (2004), 85-7, 90-2.
67 Miklosich and Muller, 11,191; Reg. no. 2931.
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