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Johannes Koder, Ioannis Stouraitis (HRSG.


Concept and Christian Religion
Akten des Internationalen Symposiums
(Wien, 19.21. Mai 2011)
Denkschriften, 452. BAND



Denkschriften, 452. BAND




Roman Imperial Concept and Christian

Akten des Internationalen Symposiums

(Wien, 19.21. Mai 2011)

Edited by / Herausgegeben von

Johannes Koder und Ioannis Stouraitis
Vorgelegt von w. M. Johannes Koder in der Sitzung am 15. Juni 2012

Gedruckt mit Untersttzung des Fonds zur Frderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung

Mit Beschluss der philosophisch-historischen Klasse in der Sitzung vom 23. Mrz 2006
wurde die Reihe Verffentlichungen der Kommission fr Byzantinistik in
Verffentlichungen zur Byzanzforschung umbenannt;
die bisherige Zhlung wird dabei fortgefhrt.

Thomas the Slav negotiates with the Saracens
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Table of Contents
Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Johannes Koder Ioannis Stouraitis, Byzantine Approaches to Warfare (6th 12th centuries).
An Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Walter E. Kaegi, The Heraclians and Holy War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Panagiotis Antonopoulos, Emperor Constans IIs Intervention in Italy and its Ideological
Significance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Warren Treadgold, Opposition to Iconoclasm as Grounds for Civil War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Olof Heilo, The Holiness of the Warrior: Physical and Spiritual Power in the Borderland
between Byzantium and Islam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Athanasios Markopoulos, The Ideology of War in the Military Harangues
of Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
Stergios Laitsos, War and Nation-building in Widukind of Corveys Deeds of the Saxons . . . . . . . . . 57
Ioannis Stouraitis, Conceptions of War and Peace in Anna Comnenas Alexiad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
Evangelos Chrysos, 1176 A Byzantine Crusade? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
Theodora Papadopoulou, Niketas Choniates and the Image of the Enemy after the Latin Capture
of Constantinople . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
Efstratia Synkellou, Reflections on Byzantine War Ideology in Late Byzantium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99
Christos G. Makrypoulias, Civilians as Combatants in Byzantium: Ideological versus
Practical Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
Athina Kolia-Dermitzaki, Holy War In Byzantium Twenty Years Later: A Question
of Term Definition and Interpretation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121
Selected Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135

Verzeichnis der Autoren . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139

Johannes Koder Ioannis Stouraitis

Byzantine Approaches to Warfare (6th 12th centuries):

An Introduction

The title of this collective volume, Byzantine war ideology between Roman imperial concept and Christian
religion, we believe to be well-chosen. There is no doubt that the Byzantines socio-political approach to
war and peace was extensively influenced by Christian ethics and the Roman imperial tradition. The interac-
tion of these two factors during the geopolitical transformation of the Roman world in the period from the
decline of the western part of the Roman Empire up to the late seventh century contributed decisively to the
configuration of the Eastern Roman (i.e. Byzantine) Empires political and cultural identity. Nevertheless,
second thoughts about the word between could be uttered, since it seems to express something like a chasm
between religious and political disposition towards warfare, which by no means though should be taken for
granted. Christian attitudes towards war inclined already before Constantine the Great to conform to a certain
degree to the positions of the Roman state1. After all, the statements of Jesus Christ in the Gospels2, which
refer to the sword and to peace, seem not to have been intended to promote an unreserved pacificism, where-
as some of them also carry an eschatological overtone. Moreover, the authors of the Gospels lived within the
political and cultural framework of the Roman Empire so that their versions of Jesus words can be certainly
regarded to reflect to a certain extent this political and cultural background.
Within the context of our topic, the most political amongst the statements of the Gospels comes from
Luke: What king will march to battle against another king without first taking time to consider whether
with ten thousand men he can face an enemy coming to meet him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then,
while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for peace3. This is a pragmatic and clear
position, which in principle recognized the possibility for any Christian king (political leader) to decide in
favour of or against war as a means of politics. And it remained true all the more for the emperor of Con-
stantinople as the exclusive rightful ruler of the whole Roman world, chosen by God and therefore justified
to wage war in order to maintain or recover power over certain parts of the Roman Oecumene, which were
not under his authority at any given time4; in other words, to protect and restore Roman world supremacy.

C. M. Odahl, Constantine and the Militarization of Christianity: A Contribution to the Study of Christian Attitudes toward War
and Military Service. Michigan 1976, 959; J. Helgeland, Christians and the Roman Army from Marcus Aurelius to Constantine,
in: Aufstieg und Niedergang der rmischen Welt 23, 1. Berlin New York 1979, 724834; L. J. Swift, War and the Christian
Conscience I: the early years, in: Aufstieg und Niedergang der rmischen Welt 23, 1. Berlin New York 1979, 835868; J. F.
Shean, Soldiering for God: Christianity and the Roman Army (History of Warfare 61). Leiden Boston 2010.
Examples: ... if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you (Matt.
10:13). Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matt. 10:34).
Put your sword back in its place, ... for all who draw the sword will die by the sword (Matt. 26:52). But now if you have
a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you dont have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one (Luke 22:36). Peace I leave with
you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid
(John 14:27).
Luke 14:3132:
; ,
On the ideology of Roman world supremacy (with the key-word ecumenism) in Byzantium see O. Treitinger, Die ostrmische
Kaiser- und Reichsidee nach ihrer Gestaltung im hfischen Zeremoniell. Vom ostrmischen Staats u. Reichsgedanken. Darmstadt
1956, 158167; H. Ahrweiler, Lidologie de lempire byzantin. Paris 1975, 924, ; J. Koder, Die rumlichen Vorstellungen der
Byzantiner von der kumene (4. bis 12. Jahrhundert), in: Anzeiger d. philos.-hist. Klasse der sterr. Akad. d. Wiss. 137/2.
Vienna 2002, 2531; G. Schmalzbauer, berlegungen zur Idee der kumene in Byzanz, in: Wiener Byzantinistik und Neogrzis-
tik: Beitrge zum Symposion Vierzig Jahre Institut fr Byzantinistik und Neogrzistik der Universitt Wien im Gedenken an
Herbert Hunger, ed. W. Hrandner (Wien, 4.7. Dezember 2002). Vienna 2004, 408419; I. Stouraitis, Krieg und Frieden in der
10 Johannes Koder Ioannis Stouraitis

Thus, imperial Christianitys potential to wage war was not really constrained by clerical Christianitys adher-
ence to the idea that war was a great evil and peace reflected Gods will, since the controversial statements
of the Old Testament about swords and plowshares5, which have been used not only by medieval Church
Fathers6 but also by present-day peace movements7, left the door open for the waging of offensive warfare
as long as this was legitimized in the name of peace. The three phases of systematic wars of expansion in the
period from the mid-sixth to the late twelfth century provide the best evidence of this argument.
It has been often pointed out quite rightly so that the Byzantine Empire was a state permanently at
war due both to its geopolitical position and political heritage. The greater part of Byzantine wars was fought
for the defense of the territories that were at any time under the rule of the emperor of Constantinople.
Within this context, the Byzantines developed diplomatic policies in order to avoid or stop attacks by their
numerous enemies8. It has been plausibly pointed out though, that these diplomatic policies, which were in
accordance with the Christian peace-loving rhetoric of Byzantine authors, were not the product of ideological
mechanisms that configured policies for the avoidance of war at any cost; instead, they mainly reflect a so-
phisticated political pragmatism which sought to avoid the waging of defensive warfare due to the obvious
economic and political cost9. Warfare in Byzantium was primarily a matter of political aims, concerns and
strategic interaction and had little or nothing to do with a peaceful disposition which produced ideological
and ethical restrictions regarding the role of warfare as a means of politics. The Byzantine societys, i.e. the
ruling lites, approach to warfare was fairly sophisticated due both to the high level of socio-political or-
ganization of the state by medieval standards as well as to the post-seventh century economic, and military
conditions in its geopolitical sphere10. The Byzantine imperial state did not seek to avoid all warfare out of
conviction, but waged wars of territorial expansion whenever the equilibrium of power was in its favour.
The justification of offensive warfare within the framework of a Christian mentality, which eagerly
propagated its love of peace and therefore notionally allowed only for defensive, that is, unavoidable wars to
be waged, was made possible through an ideological disposition which remained rigidly adherent to the Ro-
man ideal of territorial ecumenical rule and therefore enabled, when necessary, a flexible approach to the
perception of the actual territorial limits of imperial authority. Thus, when the military potential was there the
Byzantine state lite was ethically and ideologically always in position to legitimize its claim on territories,
which in many cases had already been for many generations or even centuries under foreign rule. The impe-
rial states ideological mechanisms were able to propagate differentiated conceptions of peace, upon which

politischen und ideologischen Wahrnehmung in Byzanz (Byzantinische Geschichtsschreiber, Ergnzungsband 5). Vienna 2009,
201204; E. Pitz, Die griechisch-rmische kumene und die drei Kulturen des Mittelalters. Geschichte des mediterranen Weltteils
zwischen Atlantik und Indischem Ozean, 270812 (Europa im Mittelalter, Abhandlungen und Beitrge zur historischen Kom-
paratistik 3). Berlin 2001, 3; for a different approach see T. Lounghis, Die byzantinische Ideologie der begrenzten kumene
und die rmische Frage im ausgehenden 10. Jahrhundert. BSl 56 (1995) 117128.
Micha 4:3: ... and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks (
) Joel 4:10: Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruninghooks into
spears ( ).
Cyril of Alexandreia, Commentarius in xii prophetas minores (ed. P. E. Pusey, Sancti patris nostri Cyrilli archiepiscopi Alexandrini
in xii prophetas, I, Oxford 1868, 353f.); Idem, Epistulae paschales sive Homiliae paschales PG 77.731f., Idem, Homiliae paschales,
15.1.5981 (ed. W. H. Burns [SC 434], Paris 1998), Theodore of Mopsuestia, Commentarius in xii prophetas minores, Joel
3:911 (ed. H. N. Sprenger, Wiesbaden 1977).
And even for the Soviets, who, in 1959, donated the remarkable statue Beating a Sword into a Plowshare from E. Vuchetich
to the United Nations see in New York.
On Byzantine diplomacy see S. Lampakis M. Leontsini T. Lounghis V. Vlysidou, Byzantine Diplomacy: A Seminar (transl.
by N. Russell). Athens 2007; Byzantine Diplomacy, Papers from the Twenty-fourth Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies.
Cambridge, March 1990, ed. J. Shepard S. Franklin. Aldershot 1992.
On the ideological parameters of diplomatic policies see J. F. Haldon, Blood and Ink: Some observations on byzantine attitudes
towards warfare and diplomacy, in: Byzantine Diplomacy, Papers from the Twenty-fourth Spring Symposium of Byzantine Stud-
ies. Cambridge, March 1990, ed. J. Shepard S. Franklin. Aldershot 1992, 281295; Stouraitis, Krieg und Frieden 219231. On
the economic reasons that dictated the avoidance of defensive warfare see N. Oikonomides, , in:
(912 .) (NHRF/IBR, International Symposia 4). Athens 1997, 261268 ; E. Chrysos, ,
in: . . Athens 2003, 545563.
On a general overview of Byzantine attitudes towards warfare see J. Haldon, Warfare, State and Society in the Byzantine World
5651204. London 1999, 1333
Byzantine Approaches to Warfare (6th 12th centuries): An Introduction 11

the justification of defensive or offensive warfare was made dependent. For instance, peace could be equally
highlighted as the justifying cause both for a war, or for that matter for a diplomatic mission, which aimed
to retain the imperial states current borders, as well as for a war which aimed to expand these borders, backed
up by the ideal that granted the restoration of Roman political order over former Roman territories an irenical
content11. The coexistence of two principally different conceptions of peace, which were in the end ethically
contradictory, determined the Byzantine approach to dikaios polemos (just war) as an unavoidable evil, i.e. a
necessary political means to protect or restore peace as this was defined through the at any time given po-
litical and economic interests of the Byzantine ruling lite12.
All efforts that were undertaken by the emperors of Constantinople after the fall of the Western Roman
Empire (476) until the late twelfth century to expand the borders of their rule through the reconquest of former
Roman territories were legitimized within the aforementioned ideological framework13. Thus, the sophisti-
cated offensive character of the Byzantine war ideology was inherent in the actual content of the principal
Byzantine conception of political peace, which was based on the idea that the restoration of the one Roman
emperor of Constantinoples rule over lost Roman territories was peace-making. This idea made peace de-
pendent upon, and identifiable with, the Roman political order as represented by the imperial power of Con-
stantinople. As a result, it abrogated on an ideological level the reality of the socio-political changes which
had occurred in former Roman territories and which had erased the political and cultural ties between the
indigenous population and the Roman political order, creating new conceptions of peace and order. From a
Byzantine point of view, both the rights of the new rulers of former Roman territories as well as the rights
of the inhabitant population were a priori subordinate to the archetypal right of the Roman emperors sover-
eignty over former Roman lands.
For instance, the Byzantine reconquista of the tenth century took place almost three centuries after the
territorial contraction of Byzantine imperial rule to the main parts of Asia Minor, the southern part of the
Balkan Peninsula and Southern Italy that had formed the so-called Hellenized Eastern Roman Empire, the
cultural and administrative structure of which differed greatly from that of the Late Roman Empire. Conse-
quently, from a social and cultural point of view the justification of offensive wars for the reintegration of
Roman lands into the Roman politeia, the Byzantine emperors imperial state, could hardly align with, or
stem from, the need of the indigenous population for liberation, but reflected primarily the need of the Byz-
antine ruling lite to gain more territories and their revenues. Apart from that, the Muslim Caliphate in the
East, as well as the regenerated Roman Empire (800) in the West, had consolidated their rule over greater
parts of those territories through ideological and political means for centuries. Thus, the political ideology
that justified Constantinoples claim on former Roman territories was not only weakened due to given social
and cultural facts, but was also confronted with a new geopolitical status quo that contradicted the Byzantine
ideological approach.
Within this political framework of war of defense and reconquest on behalf of the political entity of the
Roman Empire, religion played a central role in the ethical legitimization of imperial policies. Admittedly,
the policies of reconquest seemed to be antithetical to the core of eastern Christian ethics, which was defined
by the religious axiom that war was an evil deed which should be avoided. This antithesis was, however,
overcome at the time on a socio-political level through an ecclesiastical pragmatism which practically legiti-
mated a priori every war for the protection of the Christian Roman Empire. This pragmatism is evident in
the statements of the Church Fathers. According to the Christian theorist of warfare, Saint Augustine of
Hippo, war was a sin but could also be seen as the means to give the sin an end14. Saint Athanasius of Alex-
andria highlighted the idea of ecclesiastical oikonomia by declaring that the killing of the enemy in a war on

On the interaction between conceptions of peace and legitimizing mechanisms, see Stouraitis, Krieg und Frieden 208259.
On Just War in Byzantium see G. Michailides-Nuaros,
[Symmikta Seferiadou], Athens 1961, 422; A. Laiou, On Just War in Byzantium, in: To Hellenikon. Studies in Honor of Speros
Vryonis Jr.. New Rochelle 1993, 1678; Stouraitis, Krieg und Frieden 276280.
For the ideology of the Justinianic reconquista see D. Brodka, Prokopios von Kaisareia und Justinians Idee der Reconquista.
Eos 86 (1999) 243255.
Sancti Aureli Augustini De civitate Dei (Corpus Christianorum, ser. Lat. 4748, pars 14, 12). Turnhout 1955, XIX 15.
12 Johannes Koder Ioannis Stouraitis

behalf of the Roman Empire was not a sin to be forgiven through penitential chastisement, but a socially
praiseworthy task15.
The integration of this ecclesiastical pragmatism into the political conception of just war in Byzantium is
made evident in the tenth-century military treatise of the Emperor Leo VI, the Taktika , in which the author
declares that the only just war is war for the defense of the empires territorial integrity and that, when this
just cause is given, then God assists the armies of the empire and leads them to victory16. This instrumen-
talization of religion based on the political idea that war was a necessity in this world, was further facilitated
due to the fact that concrete eschatological hopes or expectations regarding the end of the world and the
Second Coming of Jesus Christ in the beginning of the sixth century17 and again in the beginning of the
eleventh century18 had not been fulfilled. Consequently, the view that emperors were entitled to wage just
war against the enemies of the empire was widespread even in monastic circles19.
Thus, the religious discourse in Byzantine warfare was defined by an ideological mitigation. The Byzantine
conception of just war based on the natural-law of defense allowed the reconciliation of the political image of
warfare as an indispensable means with its religious image as an evil thing. As a result of that, the imperial
state was in a position to fully employ religious exhortations and symbols to motivate its armies in wars against
all enemies of the empire, Christian and non-Christian, while the Byzantine church was able to accede to the
perception of warfare as the main political means for the protection of the states political interests without
having to recognize or legitimize warfare as an instrument of religion and a remission of sins. Byzantine just
war could be fought on behalf of the states institutionalized religion and Byzantine soldiers were in fact ex-
empted from penitential chastisements for killing in war20. Moreover, they were promised that participation in
warfare against the enemies of the empire could not exclude a pious Christian from heaven. However, warfare
was neither propagated nor regarded broadly as a means for the salvation of the soul. The perception of a just
cause for resorting to military action was not defined by religious difference per se, but by the notion of Ro-
man statecraft. In Byzantine mentality, warfare even when it was defensive and just, remained from a religious
point of view a sinful situation and could not be understood as a means to salvation21.

Athanasii archiepiscopi Alexandriae epistola ad Amunem monachum, in: P.-P. Joannou, Fonti. Fasciolo ix. Discipline gnrale
antique (iiix s.). Les canons des pres grecs, vol. II. Rome 1963, 68, 414. Cf. H. G. Beck, Nomos, Kanon und Staatsraison in
Byzanz (sterr. Akad. d. Wissensch., philos.-hist. Klasse, Sitzungsberichte 384). Vienna 1981; Stouraitis, Methodologische
berlegungen zur Frage des byzantinischen heiligen Krieges. BSl 67 (2009), 283284.
On the religious element of the just war concept of the Taktika see Stouraitis, Krieg und Frieden 273276; Idem, Jihd and
Crusade: Byzantine positions towards the notions of holy war. ByzSym 21 (2011) 1923. On alternative views cf. G. Dagron,
Byzance et la modle islamique au Xe sicle. propos des Constitutions Tactiques de lEmpereur Lon VI. Comptes rendus de
sances de lAcadmie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres 127 (1983) 219243; A. KoliaDermitzaki, .
( 10). Athens 1991, 235242.
See P. Magdalino, The history of the future and its uses: prophecy, policy and propaganda, in: The Making of Byzantine His-
tory. Studies dedicated to Donald M. Nicol, ed. R. Beaton Ch. Rouech. Aldershot 1993, 334, esp. 317, and G. Podskalsky,
Byzantinische Reichseschatologie. Die Periodisierung der Weltgeschichte in den vier Groreichen (Daniel 2 und 7) und dem
tausendjhrigen Friedensreiche (Apok. 20). Eine motivgeschichtliche Untersuchung. Mnchen 1972.
See G. Podskalsky, Byzantinische Reichseschatologie, esp. 9698, and Idem, Religion und religises Leben im Byzanz des 11.
Jahrhunderts. OCP 57 (1991) 371397.
Cf., e. g., Symeon the New Theologian, Hymn 58, 3436 (ed. J. Koder, Hymnes / Symon le nouveau thologien [SC 196].
Paris 2003 [repr.]): , ,/ /
See Beck, Nomos, Kanon und Staatsraison 2728.
On the much debated issue of a Byzantine notion of holy war see Kolia-Dermitzaki, , passim with
detailed bibliographical information on older works; Laiou, Just War 153177; eadem, The Just War of Eastern Christians and the
Holy War of the Crusade, in: The Ethics of War. Shared Problems in Different Traditions, ed. R. Sorabji D. Rodin. Oxford
2006, 3043; N. Oikonomides, The concept of holy war and two tenth-century Byzantine ivories, in: Peace and War in Byzan-
tium. Essays in Honor of G. T. Dennis S. J., ed. T. S. Miller J. Nesbitt. Washington, D.C. 1995, 6286; T. M. Kolbaba, Fight-
ing for Christianity. Holy war in the Byzantine Emire. Byz 68 (1998) 194221; G. T. Dennis, Defenders of the Christian People:
Holy war in Byzantium, in: The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World, ed. A. Laiou R. P. Mot-
tahedeh. Washington, D.C. 2001, 3139; A. Carile, La guerra santa nella Romania (Impero Romano dOriente) secoli VIIXI,
in: Guerra santa, guerra e pace dal vicino oriente antico alle tradizioni ebraica, cristiana e islamica, ed. M. Perani. Bologna 2005,
251261; I. Stouraitis, Methodologische berlegungen 269290; Idem, Krieg und Frieden 327361; Idem, Jihd and Crusade;
Idem, Just War and Holy War in the Middle Ages: Rethinking Theory through the Byzantine Case-Study. JB 62 (2012);
Byzantine Approaches to Warfare (6th 12th centuries): An Introduction 13

In the period after the rise of Islam (seventh century), Byzantine society was confronted with the Muslim
war ethic, which was based on the idea of jihd, the Muslim conception of religious warfare22. The ideo-
logical dispute between the Byzantines and the Muslims was marked among other matters by their differen-
tiated approach to the matter of Gods relation to war. The Muslim perception that military action could be
solely justified as Gods will for the final triumph of the one religion and, consequently, perceived as a means
with which the believer could gain a place in heaven, was contradictory to the essence of God from a Byz-
antine point of view and to the principle Byzantine perception of war as a sin. This contradiction is high-
lighted in Niketas Byzantius dispute with a Muslim theologian in the mid-ninth century. The Byzantine intel-
lectual unfolds the rationalized core of Byzantine war ethic, when he states that in Byzantine perception war
could not be considered, and therefore justified, as an act ordained by God, because God in Byzantine percep-
tion could not wish for the destruction of human life23.
Later, by the end of the eleventh century, the movement of the Crusades, which was generated by Pope
Urban IIs idea to help the Eastern Christians and was elaborated into the idea of an armed pilgrimage for
the liberation of the Holy Land from the Muslim yoke, confronted Byzantium with a western Christian type
of holy war24 that, similarly to the Islamic jihd, was mainly based on religious difference for the justifica-
tion of resorting to military action. From the twelfth century onwards, the concept of crusade provides thus
a further point of reference with regard to religious concepts of justification of war in medieval times and a
further point of comparison for Byzantine approaches to the role of religion in the jus ad bellum25.
Hence, the efforts of the Comnenian emperors Alexius I, John II and Manuel I to reconquer lost Byzantine
territories took place within a differentiated socio-political framework than the reconquistas of the sixth and
the tenth century. This new framework was defined, on the one hand, by the fact that for the first time the
empires existence as well as its potential for expansion was equally if not predominately threatened by
Christian enemies, the Normans first and later the Crusaders, the war ideology of whom had many simi-
larities with but also important differences from Byzantine war ideology. On the other hand, it was exten-
sively affected by the new political and economic conditions which emerged from the loss of the larger part
of Asia Minor26 and from the commercial domination of the Italian maritime city-states (Pisa, Venice, Genoa)
in the Eastern Mediterranean27. During the last years of the Comnenoi and the short period of the Angeloi

P. Stephenson, Imperial Christianity and Sacred War in Byzantium, in: Belief and Bloodshed. Religion and Violence across Time
and Tradition, ed. J. K. Wellman, Jr. New York 2007, 8395; idem, Religious services for Byzantine soldiers and the possibility
of martyrdom, c. 4001000 C. E., in: Just Wars, Holy Wars, Jihads, ed. S. Hashmi. Oxford 2012; M. Nichanian, De la guerre
antique la guerre mdivale dans lempire romain dorient. Legitimit imperiale, ideologie des la guerre et revoltes militaires,
in: Guerre et Socit au Moyen ge, Byzance Occident (VIIIe XIIIe sicle) (Monographies 31), ed. D. Barthlemy J.-Cl.
Cheynet. Paris 2010, 33f.
On jihd see R. Firestone, Jihad. The Origin of Holy War in Islam. New York 1999, 43f.; P. L. Heck, Jihad Revisited. Journal
of Religious Ethics 32 (2004) 95128; D. Cook, Understanding Jihad. Berkeley Los Angeles London 2005, 3248; M. Bon-
ner, Jihad in Islamic History: Doctrines and Practice. Princeton, N. J. 2006, 1f.
Niketas von Byzanz, Schriften zum Islam I, griechisch-deutsche Textausgabe von K. Frstel, (Corpus Islamo-Christianum).
Wrzburg Altenberge 2000, 192, 334345;cf. D. Krausmller, Killing at Gods Command: Niketas Byzantios Polemic against
Islam and the Christian Tradition of Divinely Sanctioned Murder. Al Masq 16 (2004) 164167; Stouraitis, Krieg und Frieden
On the ideology of the Crusade movement see A. Becker, Papst Urban II. (10881099), Teil 2: Der Papst, die griechische
Christenheit und der Kreuzzug (Monumenta Germaniae Historica 19, II). Stuttgart 1988, 272f.; J. Riley-Smith, The First Crusa-
de and the idea of Crusading. Philadelphia 1986; E.-D. Hehl, Was ist eigentlich ein Kreuzzug? Historische Zeitschrift 259 (1994)
297336; H. E. J. Cowdrey, The Reform Papacy and the Origins of the Crusades, in: Le concile de Clermont de 1095 et lappel
la croisade (Collection de lcole franaise de Rome 236). Rome 1997, 6583; R. Hiestand, Gott will es! Will Gott es wirk-
lich? Die Kreuzzugsidee in der Kritik ihrer Zeit (Beitrge zur Friedensethik 29). Stuttgart Berlin Kln 1998, 516; J. Mller-
Jensen, War, Penance and the First Crusade. Dealing with a Tyrannical Construct, in: Medieval History Writing and Crusading
Ideology, ed. T. M. S. Lehtonen K. V. Jensen (Studia Fennica Historica 9), ed. T. M. S. Lehtonen K. V. Jensen (Studia Fen-
nica Historica). Tampere 2005, 5163.
On Byzantine attitudes towards the concept of crusade see T. M. Kolbaba, Fighting for Christianity. Holy war in the Byzantine
Emire. Byz 68 (1998) 211221; Stouraitis, Jihd and Crusade, 1762.
J. Chrysostomides, The Byzantine Empire from the eleventh to the fifteenth century, in: The Cambridge History of Turkey, vol.
I: Byzantium to Turkey, 10711453, ed. K. Fleet. New York 2009, 10f.
R.-J. Lilie, Handel und Politik zwischen dem byzantinischen Reich und den italienischen Kommunen Venedig, Pisa und Genua
in der Epoche der Komnenen und der Angeloi (10811204). Amsterdam 1984.
14 Johannes Koder Ioannis Stouraitis

dynasty (11851204), the Empire experienced new military decay as a consequence of its weak political and
economic structures. This decay ended with the fall of Constantinople to the Crusaders and was marked by
the final collapse of Eastern Roman political order, as defined through the prerogative of the monocracy of
the emperor of Constantinople.
Although the ideological framework of the Comnenian reconquista was to a certain extent defined by
ideological continuity with regard to the main patterns of Byzantine political ideology (ecumenism), the dif-
ferent political and military size of the empire indeed influenced the ruling lites approach to the notion of
pax byzantina and as a consequence refined the pragmatic objectives of its expansive war policies. Espe-
cially the loss of a great part of Asia Minor to the Seljuks was a decisive turning point from a political and
economic point of view, since Asia Minor had been the territorial core of the Empire since the seventh cen-
tury and had produced the greater part of its agricultural income. The central aim of Byzantine war policies,
which from the seventh to the eleventh centuries had been the maintenance and expansion of that territorial
core, seems to have been transformed after the late 11th century due to a reassessment of the imperial states
strategic priorities within its geopolitical sphere.

Beyond the actual thematic limits of Byzantine war ideology it may be of interest here to make short
reference to the impact of Byzantine ideas on war and peace on the political successor of Byzantium, the
Ottoman Empire. In the second half of the fifteenth century, Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror seems to have
been extensively influenced by the ideological background of the Byzantine reconquistas, especially in its
most authentic form as represented by the Justinianic reconquista28. After conquering the daughter, the
second Rome, Constantinople, as prophesized by the Prophet Muhammad29, the sultan wanted to overcome
and replace the Hellenic Roman-Christian Oecumene with an Islamic Oecumene (most certainly centered
upon his person). For that reason, he also intended to conquer the mother, the first Rome, as we are informed
by Nicola Sagundino: He (Mehmed) said that the heavens had granted him the see of Constantine, and
this was Rome, whereas Constantinople could not be seen as equal and identical as he had taken the daugh-
ter by force, so he could also take the mother30.
What Mehmed actually sought was to conquer all lands adjacent to the Mediterranean, including Europe31,
and to lord over the ancient Oecumene. According to Jacopo de Languschi he said that the world dominion
should be only one, and only one faith and one monarchy should exist32. Between 1453 and his early death
in 1481 many Europeans believed that he would succeed. Even his last enterprise, in 1480, indicated that in
his attempt to establish his world-wide empire he intended to invade Italy (including the mother Rome).

Cf. J. Koder, Romaioi and Teukroi, Hellenes and Barbaroi, Europe and Asia. Mehmed the Conqueror Kayser-i Rum and Suln
al-barrayn wa-l-bahrayn, in: The Athens Dialogues, Stories and Histories. Athens (http://athensdialogues.chs.
Sultan Mehmeds teacher Akemseddin (died 1460) encouraged him to conquer Constantinople, quoting a Hadith of the prophet
Mohammed, who according to Ahmed ibn Hanbal (8./9. c.) had prophesied: Verily you shall conquer Constantinople. What a
wonderful leader will he be, and what a wonderful army will that army be!, a Hadith (Hakim, al-Mustradak [Cairo 1997] 4.422,
also Bukhari, Tarikh as-Saghrir [Aleppo; Cairo 1975] 139; and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, al-Musnad [Cairo 1895], 4.335; see Another Hadith saying that the conqueror
of Constantinople will have the prophets name, probably did not survive, but is only mentioned in the Kitb al-uyn; see
M. Canard, Les expditions des Arabes contre Constantinople dans lhistoire et dans la lgende. Journal Asiatique 208 (1926)
61121, here 84 and 107, and R. Eisener 1987. Zwischen Faktum und Fiktion: eine Studie zum Umayyadenkalifen Sulaiman b.
Abdalmalik und seinem Bild in den Quellen. Wiesbaden 1987, 129 n. 481482.
ait sibi concedi coelitus Constantini sedem, hanc vero Romam esse, non Constantinopolim videri aequum valdeque congruere,
quasi filiam vi ceperit, hanc etiam matrem capere posse, Nicola Sagundino, oratio 25.1.1454 (ed. A. Pertusi, La caduta di Cos-
tantinopoli, III. Florenz 1976. II 128141, here 132).
For his Weltherrschaftsanspruch see P. Thorau, Konstantinopel al Qustantiniya. Das zweite Rom als Mittelpunkt und Sinnbild
des Osmanischen Imperiums in der Herrscherideologie Mehmeds des Eroberers, in: Kaiser Konstantin der Groe. Historische
Leistung und Rezeption in Europa, ed. K. M. Girardet. Bonn 2007, 149161, here 154157 and P. Thorau, Von Karl dem Groen
zum Frieden von Zsitva Torok. Zum Weltherrschaftsanspruch Sultan Mehmeds II.und dem Wiederaufleben des Zweikaiserpro-
blems nach der Eroberung Konstantinopels. Historische Zeitschrift 279 (2004) 309334.
... uno dice dover esser lo imperio del mundo, una fide, una monarchia, Jacopo de Languschi in the chronicle of Zorzo Dolfin
(K. M. Setton, The papacy and the Levant 12041571, II: The Fifteenth Century. Philadelphia 1978, II 257258 n. 23).
Byzantine Approaches to Warfare (6th 12th centuries): An Introduction 15

The sultans universal aspirations were continued in the 16th century by the rulers of the Sublime Porte
through the reign of another admirer of Alexander the Great, Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566), worthy
rival of his contemporary, the emperor Charles V (1520-1556, died 1558)33. Perhaps also in an eschatological
sense, Mehmed attached importance to being addressed with the title Kayser-i Rum (Caesar of Romans)
by Christian (European) rulers34, though as a Muslim he had assumed the title of Hakan or Suln al-barrayn
wa-l-bahrayn (Lord / Sultan of the two continents and the two seas, namely, the Asian and the European
parts of the Empire, and the White / Aegean and the Black Sea)35. Combining these titles and surpassing
them Kritoboulos addresses him in a flattering manner in the dedicatory letter of his history as supreme
emperor, king of the kings, Mehmet, the fortunate, the victor, the winner of trophies, the triumphant, the
invincible, lord of land and sea by the will of God, thus imitating the intitulations of the late antique Roman
emperors, for example: felix, victor, triumphator, invictus36.

C. Imber. The Ottoman Empire, 13001650. The Structure of Power. New York 2002, 4954.
So an anonymous Pamphlet contre Mahomet: , (ed. A. Delatte.
Anecdota Athenensia. Lige Paris 1927, 353.2021). Cf. G. Podskalsky. Byzantinische Reichseschatologie 6163. Tursun Beg
(ed. H. Inalcik and Rh. Murphey. Tursun Beg, The history of Mehmed the Conqueror, text published in facsimile with English
translation [Bibliotheca Islamica 1]. Minneapolis, MN 1978), 33, maintains that Mehmed did not accept that the last Byzantine
Emperor bore the title of Kayser-i Rum.
J. H. Kramers, Encyclopdie de lIslam, nouvelle Edition, IX. Leiden 1998, 886.
, , , , , , ,
. For the intitulations (Latin equivalents: felix, victor, triumphator, invictus), see G. Rsch, Onoma basileias. Studien
zum offiziellen Gebrauch der Kaisertitel in sptantiker und frhbyzantinischer Zeit (BV 10). Vienna 1978, 4347 and 168171.

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