The Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus: biography, political activity


2018-03-19 11:06:00




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The Emperor Constantine VII was born in 905. He was the son of Leo VI, a native of the Macedonian dynasty. His figure was of special interest to historians. The fact that this Governor during his stay on the throne not so much involved in politics, how many have devoted their time to science and the study of books. He was a writer and left behind a rich literary heritage.

The heir to the throne

The Only son of Leo VI the Philosopher Constantine VII was born from his marriage to fourth wife. Because of this, he according to Christian rules could not take the throne. However, Leo wanted to see the son of an Emperor and therefore even when life has made him her co-ruler. With his death in 912 began a dynastic crisis. In the end, came to power, the younger brother of the deceased Alexander. He removed the infant Constantine from the administration, and was deprived of the influence of all of the supporters of the nephew. It seemed that the new Emperor firmly took power into their own hands. However, in 913're not old Alexander died of a long illness.

Constantine Porphyrogenitus

The real Loss of power

Now Constantine finally became the Emperor. However, he was only 8 years old. This was established Regency Council headed by Patriarch Nicholas the Mystic. Byzantine history has always been unstable government, which were passed from hand to hand through conspiracies and military coups. The precarious position of the Regency Council allowed the naval commander Roman Lakapin to stand at the head of the state.

In the year 920, he declared himself Emperor. While at first the new monarch declared himself as the legitimate defender of a minor Emperor. However Lacopino managed easily paralyze the will of Constantine, which was not at all interested in power and treated her like a burden.


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Constantine Porphyrogenitus about the Slavs

Roman Lakapin

The New king did not belong to the first reign of the dynasty, so he decided to legitimatise by marrying Constantine to his daughter Elena. The young man was removed from real power. He devoted his youth to the science and reading books. At this time Constantinople was one of the world centers of education. Here were stored the thousands of unique tomes dedicated to different disciplines and cultures. They for life fascinated the young man.

At this time the Roman Lakapin has surrounded Constantine himself faithful people who followed the rightful monarch. Because the real ruler is increasingly usurped the power among the aristocracy began to appear a conspiracy against him. Almost every year, revealed a new traitors, with whom I dealt without much ADO. In the course were any methods of intimidation, confiscation of property, the tonsure, and, of course, execution.

Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus

The Return of the Imperial title

Constantine Porphyrogenitus got his nickname after the name of the hall in the Imperial Palace, where he was born. This epithet emphasized its secondgreatest that was so like his father Leo VI.

Constantine Porphyrogenitus most of his life satisfied with what only attended the formal ceremonies. He was not trained to control the army, so military career he was not interested. Instead, Constantine was a scientist. Because of his work, modern historians can compile the most complete picture of the life of Byzantium in the X century.

In the year 944 the usurper Roman Lakapin has been overthrown by his own sons. In the capital, riots broke out. The simple people did not like the chaos in the government. Everyone wanted to see the head of state is the legitimate heir of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, not children of the usurper. Finally, the son of Leo VI became Emperor. He remained so until 959, when he suddenly died. Some historians are supporters of the theory that the ruler was poisoned by his son, Roman.

Byzantine Emperor

Literary works of Constantine

The Main book, which left the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus, was the treatise "On the management of Empire”. This document was written by the ruler for their predecessors. The Byzantine Emperor hoped that his advice on management of the state help to future autocrats to avoid conflicts within the country. The book was not intended for the General public. It was printed after the fall of Byzantium, when multiple copies of the miracle came to Europe. The name also was given to a German publisher (Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus did not give the title of the secret Treaty).

In his book, the author discussed the life and the foundations of the state. It 53 Chapter. Many of them are dedicated to peoples who inhabited the Empire or its neighboring. Foreign culture has always been an area which was interested in Constantine Porphyrogenitus. About the Slavs, he left a unique essays that more are not found in any source of the era. It is curious that the Emperor had even described the visit of the Kiev Princess Olga in Constantinople. As you know, in Constantinople, the Slavic ruler accepted the Christian baptism, when her people still practiced the pagan religion.

In addition, the author examined the administrative and economic structure of Ancient Russia. In various chapters there are descriptions of the Slavic cities of Novgorod, Smolensk, Vyshgorod, Chernigov, and Kiev. The Emperor had paid attention to other neighbouring Nations: Bulgarians, Hungarians, Arabs, Khazars, etc. the Original treatise was written in the Greek language. Later the book was translated into Latin, and then to other European languages. In this work mixed a variety of genres of narrative, which skillfully used Constantine Porphyrogenitus. “controlling the Empire” is a unique example of medieval literature.

Constantine Porphyrogenitus on the administration of the Empire

“On ceremonies”

Another important book written by the Emperor, was the collection of "ceremonies". In it the autocrat described all the rituals adopted in the Byzantine court. The collection also includes an interesting Appendix on military tactics. According to the plan of Constantine, these notes were to become a textbook for future rulers of the vast state.

Philanthropist and educator

Constantine not only wrote books, but was patronized by different authors and institutions. Growing up, he was primarily engaged in the processing of a huge array of literature that has accumulated Orthodox Byzantium. It was different the lives of the saints, which were kept in the libraries of monasteries. Many of them existed in a single copy, and rare books were damaged from old and poor storage conditions.

In this enterprise the Emperor was helped by the Logothete and master Simeon Metaphrast. It is in his treatment to our times has reached a number of Christian literary artifacts. The master received from the Emperor the money that he bought rare books, and kept office with a large staff of clerks, librarians, etc.

Constantine vii Porphyrogenitus

Encyclopedia of Constantine

The Emperor was the mastermind and sponsor other such educational events. Thanks to him in Constantinople encyclopedia was published, consisting of more than fifty volumes. This meeting included knowledge from different fields like Humanities and the natural Sciences. The main merit of the encyclopedia of the age of Constantine was to codify and organize the vast array of dispersed information.

A lot of knowledge was necessary for practical purposes. For example, Constantine sponsored the compilation of articles devoted to agriculture. The knowledge contained in these documents helped for several generations to achieve the greatest harvest in the vast Byzantine Empire.


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Alin Trodden - author of the article, editor
"Hi, I'm Alin Trodden. I write texts, read books, and look for impressions. And I'm not bad at telling you about it. I am always happy to participate in interesting projects."

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