8. Religious Patronage in Byzantium:
The Case of Komnenian Imperial Women

Vassiliki Dimitropoulou

[print edition page number: 163]

Throughout the history of the Byzantine empire, which flourished for more than ten centuries in the region of the eastern Mediterranean, women played an important role as patrons.* In the God-dominated society of Byzantium, the majority of patronage had God as its point of reference. The purpose of this study is to discuss the practice of gift-giving to God by the women of the Komnenian dynasty.[1] Komnenian imperial women were actively involved in religious patronage: they were not only great founders, refounders, and benefactors of monasteries and holy men but they also commissioned objects of religious art that they offered as gifts to churches. On the basis of the surviving textual and archaeological material, I will seek to establish the role played by imperial women in patronage. What sort of patterns can we identify in their activities? What did those women value in spending their money on commissions? What were the implications of those acts of imperial patronage for the relationship between Byzantine and Mediterranean women, on the one hand, and power, on the other? Additionally, by broadening the perspective on Mediterranean gender practices, I will indicate the extent to which the patronage activities of Komnenian women conformed to or differed from those of other noble women across the Mediterranean.[164]

Large-Scale Monastic Patronage

The revival of monastic building in the capital of the Byzantine empire, Constantinople, during the Komnenian period owed much to imperial women — after all, the foundation and refoundation of monasteries such as Kecharitomene, Pantokrator, Pantepoptes, Pammakaristos, and Chora are all attributed to the patronage of these women. The textual and material evidence about their activities, although limited and sometimes misleading, can reveal the patterns of Komnenian female patronage, showing us that, despite the often limited sphere in which medieval women operated, many women were devoted to the support of religious institutions by using their material wealth to express their piety in an era when spiritual and worldly matters were closely intertwined.

First, Komnenian female patrons of monasteries belonged to the top of the social hierarchy, and the activities in which they were involved were not at all representative of women of other social levels. Most of the female patrons involved in monastic foundation and refoundation projects were empresses. For instance, the empress Eirene Doukaina, wife of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, was a great religious patron involved in the highly visible work of founding monasteries. She was responsible for the founding of a double monastery located in the northern section of Constantinople in the early years of the twelfth century. Although no buildings survive today either from the convent of Kecharitomene (“full of grace”)[2] or from the adjacent male monastery of Christ Philanthropos,[3] the typikon [foundation charter][4] of the convent, dated between 1110 and 1116, does survive. This reveals that the monastic complex of Kecharitomene was of considerable size, as it included, apart from the religious buildings, two courtyards, two bath-houses, and the luxurious imperial apartments where Eirene withdrew after her husband’s death. The existence of mosaics, icons, and furnishings is documented in the typikon and in an inventory. All these suggest that Eirene’s convent was a large, richly decorated imperial foundation and a conspicuous one in every sense of the word. Apart from scale, its physical location contributed to its visibility, which, in turn, meant that Eirene’s act of patronage had not only a personal but also a public dimension.[165]

Another empress, Eirene Piroska-Xene, whose representation still exists on the mosaic on the east wall of the south gallery in Hagia Sophia, is also known as the co-founder — together with her husband, the emperor John Komnenos — of the Pantokrator Monastery in Constantinople according to contemporary sources.[5] The Pantokrator complex consists of two churches: the south church, dedicated to St. Saviour Pantokrator (Christ the Almighty), and the north church, dedicated to the Virgin Eleousa (Virgin of Tenderness), with a mausoleum chapel dedicated to the Archangel Michael between them. The three interconnected sanctuaries, which formed the focal point of the monastery, are still preserved under their Turkish name, Zeyrek Kilisse Camii, in the north central part of the modern city of Istanbul.[6] The fact that the monastery was built on the top of the hill made the whole foundation extremely conspicuous. The typikon along with the surviving three churches of the complex give us an adequate picture of what the whole foundation looked like. The monastery[166] was an extensive institution, incorporating a big monastic community of eighty monks, a hospital, a hospice for old men, an asylum for the insane, and a bath.[7] Built between 1118 and 1136, the Pantokrator monastery combined charity with traditional imperial opulence. Without doubt this was a high-class Byzantine church, a highly prestigious religious foundation built and decorated by the best artisans in the city and co-founded by an emperor and his empress. We do know that the empress Eirene endowed the monastery with a list of properties, but there is no evidence about the possible provenance of her economic resources.[8] Yet what she chose to do with her wealth is made clear in the building program, as Eirene surely expressed imperial status in material terms. Because of her sudden death, however, she missed the chance to enjoy the prestige and status that patrons normally gained from such magnificent foundations.

A certain tradition and continuity in the foundation of monasteries by imperial women is evident. Eirene Piroska’s influential and ambitious building plans surely influenced her daughter-in-law, the empress Maria of Antioch, who undertook the project of transforming Ioannitzes’ house into the convent of Pantanassa after her husband’s death.[9] Yet beyond this bare fact, there is no further evidence about Maria’s monastic building. Nevertheless, mothers, daughters-in-law, and other relatives of the imperial couple were also involved in founding and refounding richly decorated monasteries at the heart of the imperial capital.

One of the most visible female patrons was Anna Dalassene, the mother of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos. Anna Dalassene founded the monastery of Saviour Pantepoptes (Christ the All-Seeing) dedicated to Christ.[10] The Pantepoptes, built before 1087, was a conspicuous building located on the fourth hill of Constantinople and overlooking the Golden Horn.[11] Shortly before her death, Anna retired to the apartments she had prepared within the monastery.[12] What survives today from that religious foundation is the church of the monastery, now the mosque Eski Imaret Camii.[13] It is the most carefully built of the later churches of Constantinople, and both the exterior and interior of the church point to the fact that Pantepoptes must have been a rich foundation.

The list of imperial female founders of monasteries goes on. Maria Doukaina, the empress Eirene Doukaina’s mother, was responsible for refounding and reconstructing the ancient monastery of St. Saviour in Chora (now known as Kariye Camii)[167] at the end of the eleventh century.[14] Some fragments of Maria’s church, dated between 1077 and 1081, still remain in the surviving church.[15] Other more distant members of the imperial family also undertook building projects. Anna Doukaina co-founded with her husband John the monastery of Pammakaristos (now known as Fethiye Camii) in Constantinople during the second half of the twelfth century.[16] The evidence for their patronage is provided by an inscription that was once visible on the cornice of the bema in the church.[17] The original church, which commanded a fine view of the Golden Horn, was intended to serve as a family mausoleum. The founders’ children and grandchildren together with their spouses were buried in tombs arranged along the north and south aisles. Although today only some remains from the original foundation survive, evidence suggests that the Komnenian church must have been richly decorated with mosaics, marbles, opus sectile, and icons. This is another example of a well-built religious foundation co-founded by a female member of the imperial family and her husband.

What is more, apart from founding and refounding monastic houses, Komnenian imperial women were also involved in the benefaction of monasteries and monastic figures. Written sources indicate that these women patronized monastic houses, either directly, in the form of money or property for their maintenance, or indirectly, through the patronage of holy men who founded or refounded monasteries with their help. For example, Anna Dalassene’s daughter, the kouropalatissa Theodora Komnene, offered immovable property to the monastery of Panoiktirmon:

It should be known that the property of the Monokellion donated by the patriarch of Theoupolis, the great Antioch, which was taken by force from him, belonged to the nun Xene Komnene, the most noble kouropalatissa, and was later given by her to the monastery of the All-Merciful, with the[168] approval of her holy mother, lady Anna; and they should be commemorated both during their lifetime and after their death, together with Constantine, the late husband of the nun, lady Xene, and their memorial rites should be celebrated in perpetuity in accordance with the text of their donation.[18]

Another imperial female figure, Eudokia Komnene, niece of the emperor Alexios Komnenos, also made offerings to the monastery of St. John Prodromos of Phoberos. In the typikon of the monastery, Eudokia, who became a nun under the popular monastic name Xene, is hailed as the monastery’s beloved “second founder” out of consideration for her many gifts to the foundation, including a very large sum of money for the purchase of landed property:

But then a second founder after God appeared for us, lady Eudokia Komnene, sebaste among sebastai and nun among nuns, the daughter of the glorious sebastokrator lord Isaakios, who changed her name to Xene and often bestowed many gifts and acts of kindness on us and our monastery.[19]

Also, Anna Dalassene was patron of the holy man John the Faster, who refounded the monastery of the St. John the Baptist in Petra. She was recorded as a benefactor of this monastery in the unpublished testament of the monastery’s founder preserved in the Codex Ambrosianus E 9 Sup.[20] Thanks to imperial benefaction, this monastery was flourishing throughout the Komnenian period.[21]

And it was Anna who interceded with Emperor Alexios I on St. Christodoulos’ behalf, so that Christodoulos — an important monastic figure of the eleventh century — would be granted the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea, where he founded the still-surviving Monastery of St. John the Theologian.[22] In his diataxis of 1091, Christodoulos clearly states that the donations to Patmos were due to the benevolence of Anna Dalassene and that she was instrumental in getting her son to accede to his request:[23]

When it became clear, even to the emperor, that these monks were completely unacceptable for my purpose, I again begged and beseeched his imperial majesty to accede to my wish concerning Patmos. This time, with the empress of blessed memory, the emperor’s mother, also interceding[169] for me and urging this course, the most powerful emperor granted the request of our miserable self.[24]

Without these women’s imperial grants and privileges, it would have been impossible for monasteries to survive for more than a short period of time.

What is interesting is that imperial women tended to engage in founding and refounding mostly after their husbands’ death. Widowhood appears to have motivated them to take this step in order to provide themselves with a monastic refuge and spiritual comfort after they had taken the veil.[25] Anna Dalassene, Maria Doukaina, and Maria of Antioch were all widows when they were engaged in monastic patronage. The empress Bertha-Eirene, who did not appear as a monastic patron at all, died before her husband Manuel Komnenos, so she missed the opportunity to develop her own building program according with the practices of other imperial widows.

The fact that most Komnenian female founders were widows suggests that they were financially empowered by widowhood. Widows who retained the right of ownership and administration of family property had more chance to operate in economic life without much hindrance.[26] As long as they did not remarry, widows had full control of the whole property as opposed to nominal ownership, and they were closely involved in managing their property as transmitters of money. This is why many women took full advantage of the widow’s status. As Barbara Hill has suggested in the context of literary patronage, “the patronage of imperial women seems to corroborate what one might suspect about the place of women in Byzantium. It was an excellent thing to be a widow and a bad thing to be a wife.”[27]

Also, few married women appear to have been involved in monastery patronage without the assistance of their husbands, which suggests that they rarely had the large resources required for founding a monastery. Such commissions were attributed to both parties, as is the case with Anna Doukaina and her husband, but sometimes they were attributed to the husband alone, even though as a co-founder[170] the wife was the driving force behind them, as is the case with Eirene-Piroska-Xene and the monastery of Pantokrator.[28]

Moreover, the evidence suggests that almost all Komnenian imperial women tended to found, rather than refound, monastic houses, even though both founding and refounding required new endowments and resources and carried the same ideological weight. By restoring a holy site from destruction, by dedicating it to God, and by making it ready to offer once again its services to the community, the refounder acted in a similar way as the founder of a monastery. Both the construction of a new monastery and the restoration of an old one resulted in something equally praiseworthy.

Almost all women built or rebuilt within the walls of the city of Constantinople. There was no better place to display the patron’s God-like philanthropic nature. Constantinople was considered to be a safe and secure site for a monastery.[29] In many ways, Constantinople was the only socially and ideologically acceptable place for women patrons to locate their monasteries. The location of the monasteries sponsored by imperial women indicates that almost all the monasteries were situated in the northern part of the city of Constantinople, the area of Blachernai, which had become the new imperial center.

The significant role of female agency in the founding and refounding of monasteries means that such public activities were open to imperial women and most probably indicates that they saw monastic investments as an opportunity to expand their influence and personal agenda through patronage. Spending time and money on building monasteries was expected not only of imperial women but also of emperors, aristocrats, military commanders, diplomats, and ecclesiastics. In the male-dominated society of Byzantium, women could not become military commanders or occupy positions in the Church or the bureaucracy, owing to restrictive patterns of behavior imposed on them; as a result, they had no access to those particular areas of public life and influence.[30] Yet the building of monasteries appears to have been an open area in which imperial women could freely operate. Such actions conformed to the cultural norms of Byzantine society, so they were considered to be appropriate for women and were even expected of them. As Anthony Cutler maintains, the “great” are those who can least afford to take liberties with the official norms.[31] The ability of aristocratic women to negotiate alternative spaces for influence was at least as circumscribed by the power of the men around them as that of peasants and women involved in retail trade. However, the economic function of an aristocratic woman[171] was fundamentally different from that of other classes. Building in glorification of religion offered them the possibility of personal expression through patronage.

Monastic patronage gave Byzantine women the chance to create and claim a geo-cultural space for exerting their influence. The monastic spaces of Byzantium afforded imperial women alternative ways of constructing their public image, which was the case in the wider Mediterranean too, but they were exceptional because they were so numerous. The monastery comes to represent not only religious piety and zeal but also a space that itself represents alternative gender practices.

The Motivation behind Patronage

Let us now examine more closely what prompted women to dedicate so much of their time and resources to such extensive projects. A consideration of their motives provides significant insights into the religious and secular lives of Komnenian imperial women, insights that appear to be applicable to female patronage across the Mediterranean.[32] The best place to look at is the typika of the monasteries.[33] Eirene Doukaina’s typikon of the Kecharitomene convent, for instance, is a valuable source written for an empress founder, bearing her signature and shedding light on the practices and motivations shared by most of the founders.[34] To begin with, religious feeling provided a significant motive for founders. Monastery and church building was associated with the patrons’ concerns about the salvation of their soul after death. The metaphysical anxieties of the Byzantines were concentrated on the question of salvation and the inheritance of the eternal Kingdom of God. By building a religious foundation, and by dedicating it to a divine being, donors manifested their piety and love towards God so that the deity in His turn would be better disposed towards the founder on the Day of Judgment.[35] Founders hoped that, after their death, heavenly beings — such as the Virgin or Christ, to whom the monastery was dedicated — would appear before God on their behalf. This form of intercession appears to be the ultimate hope of the patron. Evidence for such hopes is provided by the typikon of Kecharitomene, in which Eirene Doukaina invokes the help of the Virgin. A monastery was the donor’s investment in eternal life:[172]

Since it is impossible for human beings who still live and move in this world to show the ardour of their faith in you in a human way by more divine and immaterial offerings, imitating and copying the condescension and humility of the Word, I myself have built for you, the mother of the Word, a holy temple . . . Since you have gently tasted the faith of my heart, receive my offering with favour and do not thrust away my oblation, nor “turn away your face from” your child but add a happy ending to an auspicious beginning.[36]

Imperial women founders expressed not only their piety but also their philanthropy in material terms, for, as Demetrios Constantelos points out, the classical virtue of philanthropy was seen as a mark of proper imperial behavior.[37] Philanthropy was not only a policy through which the empress endeared herself to her people but also a means that was expected to have a positive impact on her soul after death: forgiveness of her sins and salvation of her soul. The philanthropist would not be left without satisfaction from God, for the monasteries were centers of hospitality, almsgiving, and care for the sick, the poor, the orphans, the pilgrims, and the wayfarers. One of the provisions of monasteries was that distribution of food should be made not only on certain holidays but also on every single day at the gate of the monastery. For example, the various mnemosyna (memorial services) held for the benefit of the souls of the relatives of the founder Eirene Doukaina — as they are described in the typikon — were also to be accompanied by the distribution to the poor of bread, wine, and money.[38] With such provisions, the founder must have believed that she pleased God and that God in turn would favor and reward her in paradise.

In that context, monastic foundation exemplified the common Byzantine belief that the salvation of the soul would be better achieved through the efficacious prayers of nuns or monks, who were spiritual people. Therefore, their prayers for the founder’s soul would be more effective and the sins of the founder would be more successfully erased. In the typikon of the Kecharitomene convent, Eirene Doukaina asked the Virgin to protect and keep safe the foundation on her behalf so that the nuns of the convent could achieve purity and their supplications for Eirene’s salvation might reach the ears of the Lord more easily.[39] The fact that the longest chapter in the Kecharitomene typikon is the one including directions for the commemorative services suggests how significant this was. Eirene laid down precise directions for prayers for the salvation of her own and her family’s souls. Their names were not only to be commemorated while they were alive but also to be written in the diptychs and commemorated after death.[173] This chapter even contains details about the frequency of the commemorative services to be held, the lighting, the liturgy, and even the diet to be followed on the day of each commemoration service.[40] This type of motivation behind monastic foundation apparently characterizes female piety in the western Mediterranean too. It seems that noble women across the Mediterranean world used very similar strategies to secure the salvation of their souls.[41]

Alongside the founders’ expression of religious feeling, kinship, and allegiance to the family was another motivating factor for the foundation. The monastery served as a material and eternal bond between the founder and her kin, as provisions make explicit in the typikon of Kecharitomene. Eirene provided for the emotional needs of her relatives by offering a home, a place for retirement to be used not only for religious comfort but also in times of old age, misfortune, and political danger. She provided for members of the immediate family who may have wanted to join the monastery during their lifetime.[42] She made it clear that her relatives who chose to enter the monastic life would not have to lead the life of an ordinary monk or nun. Any descendant of hers was to be admitted freely and to be given extensive privileges. Eirene ensured that her family would retain the privileges they had before entering the monastic life.[43] The patron was also concerned with providing for her relatives’ financial needs by tying up huge amounts of property and by ensuring, through specific provisions in the typikon, that members of her family would be financially provided for, for life.[44] Maria Doukaina’s refoundation also demonstrated family concern. Her grandson Isaac Komnenos appears to have inherited proprietary rights to the monastery of St. Saviour in Chora after Maria’s death, since it was he who restored Maria’s church a few years later.

In addition, the founder provided not only a home for her kin while alive but also an eternal home in the form of burial ground. The emotional desire of members of the same family to be buried together is illustrated in the Kecharitomene typikon’s provisions for the burial of Eirene’s children and descendants.[45] The common burial ground offers the possibility to maintain the bond not only among the dead but also between the dead and the living members of the family. Anna Doukaina also provides a burial ground for her family within the church of Pammakaristos.[174]

Economic reasons must have played a role in the founding of monasteries, as the evidence reveals. The patrons put their money in trust for all future generations, and the monasteries were endowed with large amounts of property.[46] The inventories of Kecharitomene and Pantokrator give us an idea by revealing the founders’ financial contribution to the monastic complexes. Founders were aware of the fact that the huge amounts of money and property that they swept under the monastic habit would be by law inalienable and would enjoy tax and judicial immunities.[47] This was achieved by the appointment of an ephoros, a curator, who was a layperson, not surprisingly a member of the family of the founder, and in whom the use and possession of the monastery was legally vested.[48] In the Kecharitomene typikon, there are provisions so that the curatorship would be passed on to other family members in perpetuity.[49] The property with which the monastery was endowed would be vested in the monastery only if the entire family died out, something which reveals that the women’s considerations were not only spiritual but also in the best economic interests of their families.

Other considerations, such as the desire to express gratitude for a successful period in office, might well have been motives for founding or refounding, as we see in Kecharitomene’s typikon, which begins with an invocation to the Mother of God. Eirene refers to her good fortune during her earthly life, praising her pious family. Her foundation was to be a thanks-offering to God for having good, pious parents, for the educational opportunities that she had, and for the material comforts of a successful career. Throughout her life she saw signs of supernatural protection at the hand of the Mother of God.[50] The preface of her typikon serves as a “panegyric to its dedicatee,” who was a guardian not only of Eirene but also of the city of Constantinople and its people.[51] Eirene underlines the fact that, with the help of the Theotokos and through her family and her husband, she was led to the summit of human good fortune, to the position of an empress.[52]

However, these public acts of patronage had a political dimension as well. At first sight, founding or refounding monasteries may seem a pious act practiced under the influence of Christian ideals. Yet serious and determined political goals sometimes accompanied and complicated the apparently religious promotion of monastic establishments. By founding or refounding a monastery, the patron imitated God in beneficent works, and it is particularly through this imitation that the founders demonstrated their special relationship with God and[175] God’s favor to them.[53] It was a good thing for an individual and, particularly, for a member of the ruling elite to have God on their side. The monasteries that were built or rebuilt were public witnesses of the women’s offering to God and, consequently, of their piety and virtue. By founding a monastery, women gained a reputation for piety and holiness, which was instrumental in the enhancement of their power, prestige, and social standing. Anna Dalassene and Eirene Doukaina were much praised for their piety in the Alexiad.[54] It is claimed that when the latter died, myrrh (µύρον) flowed out of her coffin.[55] Eirene-Piroska-Xene became the only Byzantine female saint in the twelfth century. The relationship between the founder and God is such that it indicates power and promotes the patron’s significance in society. Thus in Byzantium, “any individual in making an offering to God was making a claim for his or her status in relation to God, an indication of accession to God.”[56] Such a reputation constituted a form of symbolic capital that could consolidate the patron’s prestige and standing.

The size and location of the foundations constitute two significant factors that contributed to the public and political character of a monastic house. Building was a large-scale activity, and its products thereby were highly visible; the size of the monasteries, for example, was an explicit object of admiration for the Russian pilgrims.[57] Equally important was the location. Many of these female-sponsored religious establishments were built within the very heart of the Byzantine capital, the urban and political center of the empire. Most of the monasteries were situated in the northern side of the city, where the new urban settlement had been developed. No one could have missed such a magnificent and wealthy foundation as the Pantokrator, which dominated the city skyline. Even today its buildings can be seen from everywhere within the modern city of Istanbul. Similarly, Pantepoptes was situated on a conspicuous location, which justified its name Pant-epoptes (the All-Seeing). The central location of these monasteries on the hills of Constantinople meant that they occupied a “panopticon,”[58] which reflected the hierarchies of the Komnenian society, as it symbolically enabled the monasteries and, consequently, their founders to have a full view of their subjects and the city. Such a location simultaneously ensured that their subjects continuously gazed upwardly to the founders, thereby reinforcing the latter’s power over their people, and made a statement about the ruling class and its authority. The patrons of Constantinopolitan foundations used space to reinforce this hierarchy and to assert their power. Thanks to their size and location, those religious foundations were public monuments deliberately designed to provoke memories and to serve as the sites of commemorative rituals.[59] Instead of referring the spectator to a past historical or political event, which is usually the case with public monuments, religious buildings constitute stable public spaces that serve to remind one of the ubiquity of God, of one’s duty to glorify Him, of the founders’ piety and philanthropy, and, finally, of the founder’s public status and prestige.

The monasteries built by imperial women ensured that the Komnenian family became part of the spiritual scenery of Constantinople, reifying these imperial women as both spiritually important and politically essential.[60] The founders made not only a statement about themselves but also a dynastic statement about their family and lineage. The provision of burial places for themselves and members of their families would remind everybody, viewers and relatives alike, of the elements of their lineage, family structure, and power. Through a strengthened and empowered family, the patron’s reputation and prestige would benefit as well. In glorifying their family, Komnenian women made a political statement about themselves. These statements about power were addressed to the community, which would have been aware of the patron because the founders took steps so that their monasteries would provide specific community services to the city of Constantinople. The frequent readings of the typikon and especially the elaborate commemoration services carried out weekly for the founder and her family would also have contributed to making the patron known to the community.[61]

Furthermore, the act of founding can be regarded as compliant with the significant maternal role of women in Komnenian society. The woman founder can be seen as symbolizing the mother not only of the foundation but also of the nuns or monks, because she is the one who provides for them emotionally, financially, and socially. The nuclear family was at the center of the Komnenian society and also the locus of sanctity for women who unquestionably played an important part in the maintenance of family life.[62] The mother’s role was openly acknowledged as significant during that period. Thus women patrons, by working[177] within this ideological framework and by conforming to the gender roles into which they were expected to fit, gained prestige and power.[63]

What is more, the foundation of monasteries indicates that imperial women had the financial means required to be involved in such expensive activities. Even though the question of the origin of their economic resources cannot be answered satisfactorily, we can draw interesting conclusions by studying the ways in which they chose to spend their money.[64] The monastic typika show patterns of property management by female founders and indicate that there was certainly property in the hands of women. Some of the imperial women who belonged to the upper echelon had their own property, while others used and acquired full ownership of their husband’s property upon widowhood. Anna Dalassene must have invested a lot of money in her foundation of Pantepoptes. Similarly, Maria Doukaina’s Monastery of St. Saviour in Chora required money in order to be rebuilt. Eirene Doukaina and Eirene-Piroska-Xene endowed Kecharitomene and Pantokrator respectively with a list of properties. The source of Komnenian imperial patrons’ economic power was landed property, which was a corollary of their higher class. As the aristocracy was becoming more solid and dominant after the end of the eleventh century, aristocratic women were financially more active and had more important economic functions.[65]

This issue of wealth is crucial in the context of patronage. A woman with economic resources and control over them for religious reasons would have been in a stronger position than a woman who depended on someone else. Access to and control over financial sources could certainly be translated into power, because wealth could be used to generate ideological power in order to say how great and pious an individual was.[66] Insofar as control over resources was one meaning and measure of power,[67] Komnenian imperial women held it in differing degrees. Anna Dalassene, for instance, had great resources: she was the head of the Komnenoi family, she possessed power as the mother of the emperor Alexios, and she also had imperial authority invested in her by her son.[68]

In addition, founding monasteries highlights one way in which these women were able to take decisions, to act, and to pursue their will. According to Pauline Stafford’s definition of power as the ability to act, to take part in events, to have a strategy and to pursue it, without necessarily succeeding, to be in a position to[178] influence others, and to use one’s labors for one’s own prestige, the female patron had power because she had the authority to act and to pursue her strategies; she was in a position to command others too.[69] This was a type of power that operated and manifested differently from that of men, who could lead an army to war, for instance.[70] The founder of monasteries was already in a somewhat powerful position before embarking on patronage activities, and this power offered
him/her the chance to get involved in patronage. Throughout the typikon of Kecharitomene, Eirene Doukaina refers to herself as “my majesty,” and she very often uses the verb want (βούλοµαι) as well as emphatic phrases such as “this is what I want and I want it very much” (ὅ γάρ βούλοµαι, σφόδρα βούλοµαι). Phrases such as these stress the empress’s high social status. Eirene was aware of her unique position, and she emphasized that in the typikon of her convent. She was able to command and demand that her orders be fulfilled.

At the same time, their patronage contributed to the enhancement of their visibility and social status. In the first place, the social system of patronage plays a strategic role in the maintenance and reproduction of power relations in society.[71] One of the properties of patronage is the dominance of vertical over horizontal relations of solidarity.[72] The term patron itself necessarily implies a notion of social subservience insofar as it presupposes an exchange between a superior and an employee rewarded or protected for his efforts, artistic or otherwise.[73] As Gellner has maintained, patronage involves inequality of power, for there is always an element of submission on the part of the client.[74] In the second place, patronage confers status and prestige on the patron, both of which values are associated with power. Patronage contributes to one’s social prestige and is also governed by it.[75] The public character of the products of patronage studied above increased the prestige that female patrons gained. Patronage not only reflects power but also can be used to cultivate and consolidate power. Thus Komnenian women patrons were in a powerful position to commission monastic foundations, which, in turn, made them visible in society and enhanced their status and prestige.

The involvement of aristocratic women in religious patronage appears to be a common strategy in the Mediterranean world. The patronage activities of noble women across the Mediterranean, including North Africa, did not differ[179] substantially from those of Byzantine aristocratic women.[76] However, the latter are arguably exceptional by virtue of the significant financial resources they could access and spend with a view to expressing their devotion and philanthropy. In addition, the number of projects in which Komnenian women were involved and the large scale of these projects meant that they set a very high standard that women from other Mediterranean cultures strove to emulate. Some historians point out the competitive spirit in which Fatimid court women tried to match their Byzantine counterparts.[77] A study investigating the phenomenon of female religious patronage from a trans-religious perspective would throw new light onto women’s history in the medieval Mediterranean.[78]

Small-Scale Patronage

In addition to large-scale commissions, Komnenian imperial women were involved in patronage of objects smaller in scale. A range of religious objects such as richly woven altar cloths, icon coverings of silk set with gold or gems, decorated crosses with fragments of the True Cross, and icons were commissioned by Komnenian women and offered as gifts to churches. The patronage of such items, most of which no longer exist, is well documented in the surviving epigrams. Insofar as these gifts were accompanied by epigrams, the donor was involved in a “double” commission. Some of the epigrams are inscribed upon commissioned items that still survive, while others, which are likely to have been written on works of art that are now lost, have reached us through Byzantine poetry collections. The epigrams were usually composed by well-known court poets such as Theodoros Prodromos, Nikolaos Kallikles, and Manuel Straboromanos, but sometimes they were written by anonymous poets, as is the case with the verses that survive in Venice, Biblioteca Marciana, Codex Gr. 524. Despite their limitations, the epigrams constitute a valuable source of information that can shed light on the patronage of Komnenian female donors and on the relationship between gift-giving and their personal expectations.

The study of the epigrams allows us to discern some recurring patterns of patronage. The basic pattern observed in monastery patronage is evident in smaller-scale patronage too. There is a tradition and a continuity in this kind of patronage for the wives of the emperors, their daughters, daughters-in-law, and other female members of the imperial family engaged in similar activities.[180] A mother who had offered gifts to the holy provided a strong motivation for the daughter to do the same. However, the same tradition could be passed on from mother to son or from wife to husband. It was as common for imperial women as it was for imperial men to offer sumptuous items as gifts to the Church. Anthony Cutler has suggested that such offerings were cognate expressions of a culturally sanctioned norm. He maintains that the conversion of wealth into “symbolic capital,” which Pierre Bourdieu identified as a phenomenon of Kabyle society, can be shown to be a habit of aristocracies wherever and whenever they existed.[79] Offering gifts to God was a truly appropriate act for the Byzantine aristocracy and something socially acceptable for women.

Moreover, it becomes evident from the epigrams that Komnenian women tended to deploy titles that identified them as wives or daughters of high-ranking court officials. For instance, on a surviving Latin cross that contained a piece of the True Cross and was commissioned by Maria Komnene to be offered to the Virgin Mary,[80] one cannot miss the relationship of the female donor to the emperor: the dedicatory inscription identifies her as the one who was born in the porphyra,[81] as the daughter of the emperor. The Komnenian system of titles, as set up by Alexios I Komnenos, was based on male privilege; therefore, the rank of women was a consequence of the rank of their male relations. The same form of identification can be found in those women’s seals, where the titles used identified them through their family connections. Maria Komnene’s identification on her seal as “the daughter of Andronikos Sevastokrator” is reproduced in an epigram accompanying a gift of hers, an encheirion to the Virgin Mary.[82] By identifying herself as the daughter of a Sevastokrator, she showed off her imperial family connections, by virtue of which her social status and prestige was enhanced. Female donors became visible through their titles in epigrams and seals, but this visibility was to a great extent due to their relationship to their husbands and fathers. This phenomenon, documented both in textual and visual material, suggests that family was indeed of great importance in the Komnenian era and that imperial women could become publicly visible by promoting their roles as wives, daughters, or mothers.

Also, several epigrams celebrated the same event or requested the same favor, most probably due to the belief that the more one offered, the more effectively one’s request would be heard. Eirene Sevastokratorissa, the sister-in-law of the Manuel I Komnenos, donated two encheiria[83] to two different churches[181] dedicated to the Virgin, the Theotokos of Pege and the Theotokos at ta Kyrou, asking for the same favors.[84] Eirene’s daughter-in-law dedicated a peplon[85] to Christ as a thanks-offering on behalf of her husband, Alexios Komnenos, who was claimed to have been cured of a terrible illness by touching a veil of the icon of Christ at the church in the Chalke.[86] This gift is paralleled by a similar ex-voto offering, on behalf of the same Alexios, by his mother Eirene Sevastokratorissa to the Virgin Hodegetria.[87]

The epigrams explain why Komnenian women used their resources in order to offer gifts to churches, echoing, to a certain extent, the motivating factors of monastic foundation already discussed. The gift was inscribed within a pattern of exchange whereby either it was hoped that God would reciprocate with a future favor, or the donor intended to offer thanks for a favor already granted according to the evidence presented below.

In the first place, the donors, far from disguising the fact that they were looking forward to receiving something from God, specified in the epigrams what they were after in return for their gifts. Piety and concerns about the salvation of their soul motivated the offering of those small but expensive gifts to churches. The eternal joy that the donor could secure on the Day of Judgment was their ultimate hope. They specifically asked for forgiveness of their sins, entry into heaven, and everlasting life. In the case of an encheirion donated to be hung on an icon of the Virgin Hagiosoritissa during the feast of the Holy of the Holies, the supplication of the female donor is clear: Eirene Sevastokratorissa donated this encheirion in exchange for the salvation of her soul on the Day of Judgment.[88] In addition, donors sought to ensure, through generosity to God, not only their own salvation but also that of their beloved ones. The salvation of her late husband’s soul was requested in return for an icon of St. Stephen commissioned by Anna Komnene and offered to the eponymous church.[89]

Gifts were also offered with the aim of receiving other personal and familial favors: the patrons wished themselves or their family to be cured or recover from health problems, they requested the protection of their husbands in battle, they desired to become mothers and give birth successfully, and they hoped for the well-being of their children. There are examples illustrating these motives: Eirene Doukaina offered an icon of St. Demetrios asking for the protection of her husband Alexios in battle;[90] Eirene Sevastokratorissa donated an encheirion[182] to the Virgin Hodegetria asking for the healing of her ill child;[91] Theodora Komnene offered an icon to the Virgin asking for help in order to become a mother and give birth.[92] Each object is given in explicit expectation of something in return. The same seems to have been the case in the twelfth century. In her writings about early Byzantium, Marlia Mango has suggested that

the gift offered was a “ticket” bought in advance to receive the desired favour, even if the favour was not delivered until later . . . if so, such a practice directed towards the Almighty and his Saints in a sense paralleled the widespread contemporary bribery of state officials in order to obtain favours.[93]

In the second place, many gifts were offered as thanks-offerings for a successful life, a happy marriage, or for having been healed of sickness; in other words, the donors sought to return a favor that God was believed to have already granted them. This is apparent in an epigram written on behalf of Eirene Sevastokratorissa which accompanied an encheirion offered to the Virgin at Pege as a thanks-giving token for a miraculous cure. Eirene thanks the Virgin, who is described as a source of favors, for being her companion and defender and for keeping misfortune at bay, as was the case when the Virgin healed her son of an eye injury. The donor also emphasized that she was very fortunate with respect to her marriage to the noble Andronikos.[94] Similarly, Eudokia Komnene offered an encheirion to the Virgin Hodegetria, whereby she addressed a prayer to the Virgin thanking her for the favors she enjoyed under her protection, and especially for her son’s protection from a near-death experience.[95]

Interestingly, the majority of these gifts were small but sumptuous and costly, as their descriptions in the epigrams indicate. The verses accompanying pepla and encheiria often describe deluxe creations of heavy purple twill, embroidered with gold and silver thread and sprinkled with pearls. They were luxury and expensive items, beyond the reach of ordinary people, made of fine fabric, most probably silk, and intended to enhance the icon’s mystery by obscuring its presence. Some female patrons even commissioned more than one gift. Wealth and class appear to have been the essential prerequisites for the patronage of such sumptuous religious objects. Many imperial women patrons involved in this type of patronage also undertook, thanks to their financial resources, projects[183] of monastic foundation. Therefore, they were active in more than one type of patronage.

By putting resources and effort into dedicating small but costly gifts to churches, imperial women patrons gained visibility and prestige. Once dedicated, the offerings were no longer in the donor’s possession but became public property. Those gifts were placed in the public space of a church and were inscribed with dedication verses. The details about the donor’s identity included in the epigrams, together with the luxurious items that contributed to the splendor of the church, underscored their patron’s wealth and, insofar as they would remind all of the piety and patronage of their donors, enhanced the respectability and public image of the donors. Female donors must have become highly visible through their offerings to the holy.

Compared to the number of imperial women involved in the foundation and refoundation of monasteries, more women are visible as patrons of religious art objects. Although these gifts were expensive, they were certainly more affordable than founding a monastery. It is empresses who were involved in large-scale patronage, whereas it is other imperial women, not necessarily empresses, who were engaged in small-scale patronage of religious art objects. This suggests a hierarchy in patronage, which might simply reflect the financial resources of the patrons. Still, small-scale patronage could not express the same power as large-scale patronage. Small religious gifts offered to the Church were not as visible as monastery buildings. Different sorts of patronage had different effects on viewers and, in some cases, different audiences. The bigger and more expensive the medium, the more visible its patron.

In the Byzantine world, aristocratic women played an important and distinctive role as religious patrons. High social standing and economic resources made it possible for them to be involved in patronage. Religious patronage was an area that offered more opportunities and less constraint for women, who were able to manipulate the limitations of their gendered roles in order to sponsor large- and small-scale projects, thereby consolidating their standing and wielding influence. Offering gifts to God was an appropriate act for the Byzantine aristocracy and a socially acceptable gesture as far as women were concerned. Although the scale of their projects and the degree of their involvement was exceptionally high, their patronage pursuits conformed to a strategy shared with other aristocratic women across the Mediterranean who deployed their resources to negotiate power and enhance their status.[184]


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* I would like to express my gratitude to Professor Liz James for her invaluable help with bibliographical material I have used in this essay.

  1. The period under study will cover the years from the accession of Alexios I Komnenos in 1081 to 1185, which marks the end of the Komnenian dynasty.
  2. Janin, La géographie ecclésiastique de l’empire byzantin, 3:188–91; Gautier, “Le typikon de la Théotokos Kécharitoméné.” 
  3. Janin, La géographie ecclésiastique, 3:525–27; Janin, “Les monastères du Christ Philanthrope à Constantinople.” 
  4. A typikon is a prescriptive rather than a narrative text that includes various provisions and rules according to which the convent should be governed. For typika, see Byzantine Monastic Foundation Documents; Galatariotou, “Byzantine Women’s Monastic Communities”; Thomas, Private Religious Foundations in the Byzantine Empire; and Barber, “The Monastic Typikon for Art Historians.” 
  5. What Eirene’s role exactly was is not clear in the sources. The historian John Kinnamos wrote that “she established a monastery in the name of the Pantokrator, which is among the most outstanding in beauty and size”; see Kinnamos, Epitomi ton katorthomaton, 10. The Synaxarium of Constantinople also emphasizes Eirene’s exclusive contribution to Pantokrator’s foundation, and a fourteenth-century ekphrasis of the monastery repeats this; see Synaxarium ecclesiae Constantinopolitane, 887–90. See also Kampouroglou, Μνηµεῖα τῆς Ἱστορίας τῶν Ἀθηναίων, 127. In contrast to these accounts acknowledging Eirene Piroska’s foundation, her contribution to the building of Pantokrator is an act of female patronage that remains unacknowledged by the historical account of Niketas Choniates and of another anonymous historian who relies on Choniates; see Choniates, Χρονικὴ ιήγησις, 49; and Sathas, Mεσαιωνική ΒιΒλιοθήκη, 7:216. Both claim that it was John who founded Pantokrator. The typikon says that Eirene, who was John’s helper in its planning and construction, left this world before the completion of the task; see Gautier, “Le typikon du Christ Sauveur Pantocrator.” It is quite possible that Eirene may have played a significant part in the foundation of the monastery if we take into consideration that she did not die until 1134 and that Pantokrator was fully operational in 1136. The fourteenth-century ekphrasis of the Pantokrator claims that it was Eirene who supervised the building of the monastery, advising the architect Nikephoros Beseleil, while John was preoccupied with military campaigning and foreign affairs most of the time and was away from the capital; see Kampouroglou, Μνηµεῖα τῆς Ἱστορίας τῶν Ἀθηναίων, 127. In this source, Eirene was glorified because she glorified God by co-founding Pantokrator. Moreover, Eirene was the only Byzantine woman of the twelfth century to become a saint, and her memory was celebrated on 13 August in the Pantokrator; see Dimitropoulou, “Imperial Women Founders and Refounders in Komnenian Constantinople.” Her reputation for holiness and piety is plausibly related to her contribution to the foundation of the monastery; see Synaxarium ecclesiae Constantinopolitane, 887–90. 
  6. Megaw, “Notes on the Recent Work of the Byzantine Institute in Istanbul”; Magdalino, The Empire of Manuel Komnenos: 1143–1180, 117; Ousterhout, “Architecture, Art and Komnenian Ideology at the Pantokrator Monastery”; Congdon, “Imperial Commemoration and Ritual.” 
  7. Gautier, “Le typikon du Christ Sauveur Pantocrator.” 
  8. Gautier, “Le typikon du Christ Sauveur Pantocrator,” lines 1559–1573, p. 123–25. 
  9. Choniates, Χρονικὴ ιήγησις, 419. 
  10. Zonaras, Epitomae Historiarum, 3:XVIII, 24. 
  11. Miklosich and Müller, Acta, 6:26–27, 32–33. 
  12. Zonaras, Epitomae Historiarum, 3:XVIII, 24. 
  13. Mango, “Where at Constantinople Was the Monastery of Christos Pantepoptes?” 
  14. Gregoras, Byzantina Historia IX.13, 1:458–59; Migne, Patrologiae cursus completes, Series graeca 148, 653 C. 
  15. Van Millingen, Byzantine Churches in Constantinople, 288–331; Oates, “A Summary Report on the Excavations of the Byzantine Institute in the Kariye Camii: 1957 and 1958”; Underwood, The Kariye Djami, 1:8–10; Janin, La géographie ecclésiastique, 531–38; Mathews, The Byzantine Churches of Istanbul, 40–58; Ousterhout, The Architecture of the Kariye Camii in Istanbul
  16. Van Millingen, Byzantine Churches, 138; Ebersolt and Thiers, Les églises de Constantinople, 225–47; Underwood, “Notes on the Work of the Byzantine Institute in Istanbul: 1954”; Underwood, “Notes on the Work of the Byzantine Institute in Istanbul: 1957–59,” 215–19; Mango and Hawkins, “Report on Field Work in Istanbul and Cyprus, 1962–1963”; Janin, La géographie ecclésiastique, 208–13; Mathews, The Byzantine Churches, 346–65; Belting, Mango, and Mouriki, The Mosaics and Frescoes of St. Mary Pammakaristos
  17. Belting, Mango and Mouriki, The Mosaics
  18. Translation taken from Byzantine Monastic Foundation Documents, 360. 
  19. Translation taken from Byzantine Monastic Foundation Documents, 927–28. 
  20. See Darrouzès, “Le mouvement des foundations monastiques,” 161, footnote 2; Magdalino, “The Byzantine Holy Man,” 52. 
  21. Darrouzès, “Le mouvement des foundations monastiques,” 161, footnote 2; Magdalino, “The Byzantine Holy Man in the Twelfth Century,” 52; Angold, Church and Society in Byzantium, 275; Majeska, Russian Travellers to Constantinople, 339–45. 
  22. Miklosich and Müller, Acta, 6:44–53, 55–59, 65; Hill, Imperial Women in Byzantium 1025–1204, 161–65. 
  23. Miklosich and Müller, Acta, 6:65. 
  24. Translation taken from Byzantine Monastic Foundation Documents, 583. 
  25. On widowhood, see Runciman, “The Widow Danelis”; Kazhdan, “Widows Lost and Regained,” 509; McNamara, “Wives and Widows in Early Christian Thought”; Verdon, “Virgins and Widows”; Thurston, The Widows; Bremmer, “Pauper or Patroness”; McGinn, “Widows, Orphans, and Social History”; Grubbs, “Virgins and Widows, Show-Girls and Whores”; and Grubbs, Women and the Law in the Roman Empire
  26. Aristocratic widows were transmitters of not only money but also lineage. They could ensure the proper ancestry to the offspring of aristocratic families. There were strong family links between the members of the dominant families in the Komnenian period, and much of politics was run by these closely related families. See Laiou, “The Role of Women in Byzantine Society,” 251. 
  27. Hill, Imperial Women, 179. 
  28. Dimitropoulou, “Imperial Women Founders.” 
  29. Talbot, “A Comparison of the Monastic Experiences of Byzantine Men and Women,” 3. 
  30. James and Hill, “Women and Politics in the Byzantine Empire,” 158. 
  31. Cutler, “Uses of Luxury,” 302. 
  32. Schaus, Women and Gender in Medieval Europe; McCash, The Cultural Patronage of Medieval Women; Ward, English Noblewomen in the Later Middle Ages; Ward, Women in Medieval Europe 1200–1500; Bennett and Karras, The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe; Wood, Studying Late Medieval History
  33. Galatariotou, “Byzantine Ktetorika Typika.” 
  34. Gautier, “Le typikon de la Théotokos.” 
  35. Morris, Monks and Laymen in Byzantium, 843–1118, chap. 5; Galatariotou, “Byzantine Ktetorika,” 91–95. 
  36. Translation taken from Byzantine Monastic Foundation Documents, 665–66. 
  37. Constantelos, Byzantine Philanthropy and Social Welfare
  38. Gautier, “Le typikon de la Théotokos,” lines 1760–1877, p. 119–25. 
  39. Gautier, “Le typikon de la Théotokos,” lines 713–715, p.59. 
  40. Gautier, “Le typikon de la Théotokos,”lines 289–290, p. 35, lines 1165–1186, p. 83–85, lines 1759–1877, p. 119–25, lines 1984–2000, p. 131–33. 
  41. Ward, Women in Medieval Europe 1200–1500; Bennett and Karras, The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender; Wood, Studying Late Medieval History
  42. Gautier, “Le typikon de la Théotokos,” lines 299–358, p. 37–39. 
  43. Gautier, “Le typikon de la Théotokos,” lines 299–339. p. 37–39, lines 2088–2226, p. 137–43. 
  44. Gautier, “Le typikon de la Théotokos,” lines 460–484, p. 47. 
  45. Gautier, “Le typikon de la Théotokos,” lines 1984–2006, p. 131–33. 
  46. Galatariotou, “Uses of Religion in Byzantium,” 34. 
  47. Galatariotou, “Uses of Religion in Byzantium,” 35. 
  48. Galatariotou, “Byzantine Ktetorika Typika,” 101. 
  49. Gautier, “Le typikon de la Théotokos,” lines 2243–2247, p. 145. 
  50. Gautier, “Le typikon de la Théotokos,” 19–29. 
  51. Morris, Monks and Laymen, 126. 
  52. Gautier, “ Le typikon de la Théotokos,” 19–29. 
  53. James, Empresses and Power in Early Byzantium, 156–59. 
  54. Anna Comnena Alexiade, 3.8.3 (Leib 1. 126), 3.6.2 (Leib 1. 119–20), 12.6.4 (Leib 3. 72), 12.3.9 (Leib 3. 63). 
  55. “µύρου σαφῶς ὑποβλυστάνοντος ἐν τῷ τάφῳ τῆς γεννητρίας µου”; see Papazoglou, Τυπικόν Ισαακίου Αλεξίου Κοµνηνού της µονής Θεοτόκου της Κοσµοσώτειρας, 130.1779. The same information is reported by the twelfth-century historian Konstantinos Manasses in a monody: Kurtz, “Die Monodien des Eustathios von Thessalonike,” 306. 
  56. James’ remarks (Empresses and Power, 157) on the founders’ claim for their relationship with God refer to the period the fourth century to the eighth; however, they continue to be valid for the twelfth century as well, as the evidence suggests, because Byzantine society was a God-dominated society both in early Byzantium and in the Komnenian era. 
  57. Majeska, Russian Travellers to Constantinople.
  58. [176] See Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 202. 
  59. See Alcock, “The Recollection of Memory in the Eastern Roman Empire,” 327. 
  60. Morris, “The Byzantine Aristocracy and the Monasteries,” 121–23. 
  61. Kecharitomene’s typikon was read on the first day of each month by the members of the monastic house; see Gautier, “Le typikon de la Théotokos,” lines 1645–1655, p. 113. 
  62. Kazhdan and Constable, People and Power in Byzantium, 33. 
  63. Hill, Imperial Women, 78–83; Hill, “Imperial Women and the Ideology of Womanhood,” 93–94. 
  64. However, the fact of spending money by women patrons is not necessarily evidence for their economic independence; see Cormack, “Patronage and New Programs of Byzantine Iconography”; Van Bremen, “Women and Wealth.” 
  65. Laiou, “The Role of Women,” 241–49. 
  66. James, Empresses and Power, 159; Hill, Imperial Women, 178. 
  67. Weingrod, “Patronage and Power,” 43. 
  68. Hill, Imperial Women, 178. 
  69. Stafford, “Emma,” 11. 
  70. James, Empresses and Power, 157. 
  71. Weingrod, “Patronage and Power,” 41–52. 
  72. Johnson and Dandeker, “Patronage: Relation and System.” 
  73. Hanna, “Some Norfolk Women and Their Books,” 289. 
  74. Gellner, “Patrons and Clients,” 4. 
  75. See Campbell, Honour, Family and Patronage, 263–316. 
  76. Cortese and Calderini, Women and the Fatimids in the World of Islam; Al-Harithy, “Female Patronage of Mamluk Architecture in Cairo 1260–1517”; Ward, Women in Medieval Europe 1200–1500; Bennett and Karras, The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender; Wood, Studying Late Medieval History
  77. Cortese and Calderini, Women and the Fatimids, 179. 
  78. Sperling and Wray, Across the Religious Divide
  79. Cutler, “Uses of Luxury,” 295. 
  80. Frolow, La relique de la vraie croix, 283–84. 
  81. Porphyra is the purple chamber of the imperial palace in Constantinople that was reserved for the wife of the emperor. 
  82. Miller, “Poésies inédites de Théodore Prodrome,” 38–40. 
  83. Encheirion is a woven cloth embroidered with gold thread used for the covering of icons. 
  84. Miller, “Poésies inédites,” 36–37. 
  85. Peplon is a woven cloth embroidered with gold thread used for the covering of icons. 
  86. Marcianus Codex 524, 123–92, 35–36, no. 70. 
  87. Recueil des historiens des croisades, Historiens grecs, 2:692. 
  88. Miller, “Poésies inédites,” 33–34. 
  89. Prodromos, Theodoros Prodromos: Historische Gedichte, LI. 
  90. Gautier, “Le dossier d’un haut fonctionnaire,” 201. 
  91. Recueil des historiens des croisades, Historiens grecs, 2:692. 
  92. Marcianus Codex 524, 177, no. 334. 
  93. Mundell Mango, Silver from Early Byzantium, 5. On the gift economy in Byzantium, see also Hilsdale, “The Social Life of the Byzantine Gift”; Hilsdale, “Gift”; and Hilsdale, Byzantine Art and Diplomacy in an Age of Decline
  94. Miller, “Poésies inédites,” 36–37. 
  95. Theodoros Prodromos: Historische Gedichte, LXXIII. 

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