symbolism may have been interpreted with varying degrees of subtlety by the courtiers and churchmen who viewed these pictures, but their message was inescapable.
Recourse to Byzantine ideology for this purpose was, in a sense, faute de mieux, in default of alternative formulations of imperial dominance consistent with Orthodox doctrine. For justification and demonstration of Moscow's preeminent power and piety, the churchmen appropriated Byzantine ideas and motifs about the imperial centre and made express allusions to the old hub of Christian leadership. The sense that Moscow was actually superseding it was conveyed by dubbing the city the 'Third Rome', in succession to the 'Second Rome' on the Bosporus. Describing a new centre of political and religious authority as a 'new Rome', a 'new Tsargrad', had long been a claim made for polities aspiring to create their own self-sufficient centres, especially if adjoining Byzantine territory. From the later thirteenth century, Bulgarian writers were hailing Veliko T'rnovo as a 'new Tsargrad'. More striking is the delay in elaborating upon this claim for Moscow, after somewhat halting experimentation with the epithet in the late fifteenth century. In couching claims for a new centre within the conceptual framework of the old, claiming for their own prince the divine sanction long attributed to the basileus in Tsargrad, Muscovite writers could not casually flout his longstanding pre-eminence. They were, for the most part, churchmen themselves and therefore belonged to an organisation whose headquarters remained in his city. There were additional reasons for Moscow's self-restraint from overtly imperial posturing. Tatar khans of the Great Horde, who were, as descendants of Genghis Khan, termed tsars, still collected tribute from north-east Rus until the late fifteenth century and Muscovite princes remained vulnerable to the Crimean Tatars and other Tatar groupings, to whom they paid heavy tribute throughout the sixteenth century.
But a standing caveat to the aspirations of Rus and other rulers was the ecumenical patriarchate's commitment to the idea that Christendom's unity was underpinned by the persistence of a 'Roman' empire in Constantinople. This was given currency by, for example, images woven on the sakkos (ceremonial tunic) belonging to Photios, the Moscow-based metropolitan of Kiev and all Rus in the early fifteenth century. Prince Vasilii of Moscow and his wife are depicted facing Emperor John VIII Palaiologos and his bride, who was Vasilii's own daughter. Emperor and Rus-born empress are haloed, unlike the prince of Moscow. The locus of holy rulership and primary authority could scarcely be made plainer.16 At church services conducted by his head churchman wearing
16 D. Obolensky 'Some notes concerning a Byzantine portrait ofJohn VIII Palaeologus', Eastern Churches Review 4 (1972), 141-6.
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