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What would the Pope call the Byzantine Emperor?

Discussion in 'Research' started by Telcontar, Jan 4, 2014.

  1. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

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    Okay, maybe this isn't technically fantasy but I'm hoping someone on here knows something about the applicable history.

    Say the Byzantine Emperor traveled to Rome to meet the Pope (back when there was a Byzantine Emperor). What word would the Pope use to greet him?

    I know the Byzantine Emperor's referred to themselves as the Emperors of Rome. I'm not asking for the actual title the Pope might bestow, but rather the slightly less formal style he might use, such as "Your majesty!" or "Your Eminence!" or something, used at first greeting - after which they might just use the given or regnal name.

    Thanks for any help!
     
  2. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    It depends on what time period you're looking for, really.

    List of Byzantine emperors - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I know it's wiki, but the top bit before it gets into the list runs down the variations and the exceptions. It does mention that the Pope refused to acknowledge the Empress Irene (because she was a woman, one presumes), so that could be something interesting to play around with.

    I might go for "Basileus" personally, since that would probably cover the most time periods and be the largest piece of the official titles. Much like "Augustus" for Roman emperors after Augustus. I imagine there would be some kind of formal announcement of both parties (a herald in public or a secretary in private) and then you could go straight into having them address each other less formally.
     
  3. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Vala

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    Didn't the Popes claim temporal and spiritual supremacy for much of this time?
    If so then it might be something like "My son" [or "My daughter" to include Empress Irene] to reinforce that supremacy.
    It would seem to be a small act but with a large political implication.
     
  4. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

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    This is definitely a possibility. In the story I'm writing, the Orthodox Church has reintegrated with the Catholic church and accepted the supremacy of the Pope, which makes this sort of address both more likely and more pointed. Might go with it for that reason.
     
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Historically, the pope would have addressed the emperor by his title (Augustos, or maybe basileus) along with suitable honorifics. The choosing and ordering of these would sent a message as to how friendly the pope wanted to be at that moment. If it's a more intimate setting--say during negotiations, four or five hours in--we don't know. By his name? By a formula (e.g., Your Highness)? Dunno.

    This uncertainty applies to western rulers as well. We know how the pope addressed the western emperors and kings, but only in letters. Even in the letters of Pope Innocent III to Frederick (who was Innocent's ward until he reached maturity) are formal in their form of address.

    In other words, I think you are free to choose. Isn't that always the advice around here? :) But you might get some ideas here:
    Royal and noble styles - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Do take a look at the links in the references section for still more.
     
  6. The Pope of Rome did not recognize the Byzantine Emperor as the Roman Emperor, following the Schism between the orthodox and catholic church. As the ruler of Rome, the Pope was the head of the Roman Administration, which meant he had the authority to crown Emperors. As far as the Pope was concerned, the Holy Roman Emperor was the only Roman Emperor. That was part of concordat of Worms, the end of the Investiture Controversy. The Holy Roman Emperor was recognized as the rightful successor of the Roman Emperors and the Emperor recognised the Pope's right of Investiture. The Holy Roman Emperor claimed the title as successor of Charlemagne who was - of course - crowned by the Pope.

    The Pope most likely wouldn't address the Byzantine Emperor as Emperor. He might use the term "Basileus" which means King in Greek but was used by the Byzantine Emperors. The Pope, as head of the church and the highest spiritual power on Earth, didn't need to show much respect to the Byzantine Emperor. Byzantium was pretty weak at that point. That's why they asked Pope Urban for help against the Islamic Caliphates. Which resulted in the crusades. And during the 4th Crusade the Crusaders sacked Constantinople and the Latin Frankish Realms were formed (Duchy of Athens etc.). I doubt the Pope and the Byzantine Emperor were on speaking terms after that.
     
  7. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Actually, the pope and the restored emperors (after 1254) were indeed on speaking terms. We even get a failed resolution of the schism in 1453. It was a complicated relationship. Downright Byzantine, some say. :)

    But honestly, I don't know how to address an emperor. I can address an envelope, though.
     
  8. I wouldn't attribute the failed resolution of the Schism to any feelings of amity. I'd say it was a shotgun wedding forced by the Ottoman expansionism. Several Latin Kingdoms were threatened and so both Catholic and Orthodox lands were at stake.

    I do agree that the relationship was more complicated than I described it as, but I'd say that for most of history, the Byzantines and the Pope did nothing more than suffer each other's presence. I do not have a degree in History and most of my knowledge stems from my own research so these theories are open for discussion. Even in the academic world, I'm certain you could find conflicting views on this subject.
     
  9. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    >Even in the academic world, I'm certain you could find conflicting views on this subject.

    Boy howdy, you sure can. But your summary is right on. I only wanted to say that they still dealt with each other, not that they were chums.

    To get back to the OP, the exact state of affairs at any given time did get reflected in forms of address. So if the OP wants to show one party or the other being friendly, then heap on the honorifics. Lots of adjectives, name all the titles, that sort of thing. If he wants to be insulting, then mock the same: the former king of X, the so-called bishop, the false lord, etc.

    There's plenty of room there for subtleties, though they may be lost on that most difficult of military officers, the General Public.
     
  10. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

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    Fortunately, this story is alternate history so I have some wiggle room. I've decided to have him address the emperor simply as "my son" in order to avoid the snag as much as possible.

    As to the title "Basileus," a couple of my readings suggest that title had fallen out of use by the 1400's or so, and the emperors had taken to styling themselves Autokrator.
     
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