long-established cults, religious rites and forms of devotion made maintenance of contacts with church authorities in Constantinople a matter of practical prudence, rather than just piety or habit.
The supra-regional entity, which emerges from these considerations, may appear politically passive or negative, a source of inhibitions rather than a focus of active allegiance. We have observed episodes when Serb, Bulgarian and Lithuanian rulers sought to shake off ecclesiastical dependency on Constantinople through creating their own patriarchates or looking elsewhere for consecration of their head churchmen. But we have also seen the tendency of churchmen in even the longest-established Christian polity, Bulgaria, to look back to the Constantinopolitan patriarchate, Athonite spirituality and the Greeklanguage as templates ofpiety and correct doctrine. And the potency of imperial inauguration-rituals and authority-symbols seems to have become more valued by leaders of Orthodox polities when they were extending their own hegemony over surrounding populations and seeking moral superiority from the artefacts, regalia and imagery emanating from Constantinople, irrespective of its current state, as was the case with the supposed 'crown of Monomachos' with which Ivan IV was crowned in 1547. The dynamics of these polities did not conform to a single set of laws or principles and they operated for the purpose of creating new centres. But access to supernatural powers, religious faith and legitimate hegemonial authority were interwoven in the Byzantine imperial order in an indissoluble and, even after 1204, visually striking, quasi-liturgical web. So long as an emperor worthy of this ancient centre reigned in Constantinople, a particular cosmic order still obtained. It was a matter of political self-interest for leaders of other Orthodox polities not to be seen to flout it. In fact, there was much to be said for abiding by the rites of worship, religious doctrines and ideals of supremely pious conduct that were supposed to prevail in the centre-out-there - Constantinople. In so far as these rites and values commanded general assent, adherence to them was not a matter for the leaders alone to decide. The 'force field', once entered, could be manipulated, but it could not be abandoned or radically reprogrammed to the unequivocal advantage of individual rulers while emperor, patriarch and City still presided on the Bosporus.
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