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Byzantine Empire—or Republic?


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Byzantine Empire—or Republic?

 

The Byzantine Republic: People and Power in New Rome,

 

Anthony Kaldellis, Harvard University Press, 312 pages

By BRIAN PATRICK MITCHELLAugust 7, 2015

 

The textbooks say the Byzantine Empire was a theocratic autocracy uniting church and state under an all-powerful emperor believed by the Byzantines to be God’s viceroy and vicar. Nonsense, says Anthony Kaldellis, professor of classics at Ohio State University. The Byzantine Empire was a continuation of the Roman Empire and even of the Roman Republic. Its political ideology was fundamentally secular and grounded in the ancient Roman republican belief that government exists to serve the common good. Its people no longer had a legal role in the election of leaders or legislators, but they often played an extralegal role in the making and unmaking of emperors, whose legitimacy depended on popularity and not on a claim of divine right or constitutional correctness. Emperors therefore ruled pragmatically and not fanatically, often disappointing the Church to please the people.

 

This is fresh air for Orthodox Christians, who have had to bear the accusation of Byzantine theocracy longer than Scissors-32x32.pnghttp://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/byzantine-empire-or-republic/

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For Those who want to know more

 

 

The World of Byzantium
Professor Kenneth W. Harl Ph.D.
Tulane University

 

About This Course

24 lectures | 30 minutes per lecture

Try this thought experiment: Mentally chart the main phases of European history to 1500. If you're like most of us, you probably hopscotched from classical Greece through Alexander the Great, from the Rome of the Caesars to the Renaissance, with a detour into the long post-Roman hiatus known as the Dark and Middle Ages.

But this storyline is woefully incomplete, even misleading.

Why? It leaves out Byzantium.

And you're not alone. The mental charts drawn by most educated people would show the same gap.

As Professor Kenneth Harl notes:

"Far from being merely the eastern rump of the old Roman Empire, Byzantium was without a doubt the greatest state in Christendom through much of the Middle Ages.

"This story is far more important than any number of tales of palace intrigue, and is not as well known as it deserves to be.

"These lectures are a small attempt to help redress the balance."

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