Graham Speake, Kallistos Ware
AVERIL CAMERON. Mount Athos and the Byzantine World
If we try to position the monasteries of Mount Athos and their influence in the context of the Byzantine world, our first problem is to define what that world actually consisted of. It is notoriously difficult to grasp the geographical limits of Byzantium at any one period – Byzantium was an empire, or perhaps we should rather say a state (for at some periods in its existence it did not in the strict sense exercise imperial rule over foreign populations), which itself increased and decreased dramatically in extent over time. This was so even if we leave out of account the powerful influence it exerted on neighbouring states (which of course themselves also expanded and contracted). Thus anyone who looks at a handbook or atlas of Byzantium will find a whole series of maps representing the extent of Byzantine rule at various periods with lines of various sorts – heavy, dotted, with shading, etc. – to mark changing boundaries and borders.4
In fact of course ancient and medieval states generally did not have clear borders or ethnicities, any more than their citizens had passports. As one of my colleagues used to say, over its long history the Byzantine empire was like a concertina – it frequently changed its shape as a result of warfare, conquest, and the rise of new states around it, and its borders went in and out almost on a regular basis.5 Byzantium in the tenth century, when the first of the great Athos foundations took shape and the empire of Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos seemed both large and impressive, was very different from Byzantium in the fourteenth, when Mount Athos’s prestige in the extended Byzantine world was extremely high but the Palaiologan state based on Constantinople itself was tiny and its world fragmented. This change is something of a paradox, and I will explore it further in what follows.
If the Byzantine empire itself rose and fell, and therefore changed its territorial extent and its actual power, what of the ‘world’ beyond its borders? The monastic world of Mount Athos was by no means all Greek, even before the fall of Constantinople, and its relations with the Byzantine empire were merely one part, even if the most significant part in the eyes of many, of a complicated network of influence and interests. One aspect of my topic is the question of how the peoples and states beyond the borders of Byzantium themselves perceived the Holy Mountain, and how and why they associated themselves with it; the other is the nature of their involvement with Byzantium through the medium of the monastic communities of Mount Athos, and what this amounts to in relation to Byzantine authority and political and religious influence. Why and how was Mount Athos so important for Byzantium itself? Was this influence purely religious, a matter of Orthodoxy, or did it really also mean, in Dimitri Obolensky’s famous formulation, that Mount Athos was the key to something that can properly be called a Byzantine ‘commonwealth’?6
Let us start with Byzantium in the tenth century, the century not only of St Athanasios the Athonite and the Great Lavra, but also, in an amazing rush, of Iviron, Xeropotamou, Xenophontos, Esphigmenou, the original St Panteleimon, Hilandar, Vatopedi, and perhaps also Zographou. By the beginning of the next century the number of Athonite houses was very large, and the peninsula welcomed new foundations, whatever their background. In the tenth century, in the age of the Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos, Byzantium recovered territory in the east which had been lost since the Arab invasions of the seventh century; that was how the great Mandylion, or Image of Edessa, was brought to Constantinople in 944 from its home in the east after three centuries under Islamic rule, to be greeted with full imperial pomp and veneration. The territorial gains and restoration of Byzantine influence also extended to Greece, Thrace, and Italy, a development which was to be particularly important for the later prosperity of the great monasteries on Mount Athos.
By the next century, after the conquests of Basil II (958–1025), the empire was at its greatest size. But this was still a period of fluidity or early state-formation for its neighbours, including the states such as Serbia which were to be prominent in the later history of Mount Athos. Constantine Porphyrogennetos’s treatise On the Administration of the Empire laid down guidance for dealing with some of these emerging peoples, with diplomacy as the key, but the detailed information the text seems to contain about their location and development is very variable in its reliability for a historian today.7 Yet this was the great period for Byzantine court life and the diplomatic system, and if there was the idea of a commonwealth we can say that this period was when it found first expression, when Byzantium had recovered from the struggles of iconoclasm, when it began to experience military success, and when the life of the court was rich, well regulated, and immensely impressive to foreigners.8 According to Garth Fowden, Justinian’s sense of the interconnection of politics and mission in the sixth century in the Caucasus and round the eastern arc of the Mediterranean all the way to Nubia had constituted a ‘first Byzantine commonwealth’.9 But since then the Arab conquests had intervened and Byzantium’s influence had been cut off; even Constantinople was not safe in the face of Arab sieges of the city itself in the seventh and eighth centuries. But now in the tenth century confidence had returned, and outsiders knew it.
To be sure, the Holy Mountain was not the only monastic centre. Alongside the monasteries on Mount Athos there were also other holy mountains and centres of monasticism – in Asia Minor Mount Galesion near Ephesus, Mount Latros near ancient Miletus, Mount Auxentios near Chalcedon, and Bithynian Olympos – as well as many individual major monasteries, which often developed around an original holy man, as the monastery of Hosios Loukas did around St Luke of Stiris. But mountains offered a symbolic nearness to God, as well as the advantage of inaccessibility. Paradoxically, and for these very reasons, they also attracted large numbers of monks. From the point of view of inaccessibility the Athos peninsula could hardly be bettered, as St Athanasios explained in his typikon for the Great Lavra:
The mountain resembles a peninsula which extends towards the sea in the shape of a cross. The islands in the sea, Lemnos, Imbros, Thasos, and the rest, are a great distance away. Because of this, when winter comes, a ship is unable to sail from the mountain to the mainland to procure necessary provisions or to sail back from there to the mountain. It cannot find any sort of anchorage because the seashore on both sides provides no shelter. On the other hand, there is absolutely no way for a person to transport his own provisions by dry land, partly because the road is so long, and partly because the mountain is practically impassable for pack animals.10
Perhaps this is one of the main reasons why the monastic houses on Mount Athos grew and developed as they did. Not only were the monks protected from the influences of the outside world; the peninsula itself was self-contained and comparatively cushioned from the political and military incursions suffered elsewhere. This was certainly the case in the last phase of the Byzantine empire when Constantinople itself was under constant pressure from the Ottomans, and had even become, in the words of one scholar, ‘an island in the middle of Ottoman territories’.11
The shock of the Fourth Crusade in 1204, with the violent sack of Constantinople, led to the establishment of Latin rule in the capital and the fragmentation of the Byzantine ruling elite. Nevertheless the ‘empire’ set up at Nicaea in Asia Minor regarded itself as the natural successor state, and from here Michael VIII Palaiologos took advantage of Latin weakness to return to Constantinople in 1261 and reinstall Byzantine rule. But other Byzantine enclaves also came into existence – Epiros, Trebizond, Mistra. Thessaloniki was the scene of an early challenge to the emperor at Nicaea, and relations between these lordships or princedoms were complex, not to mention their exposure to external pressures from elsewhere – from Italians, from Anjou, from the Catalans, and from the Serbs, to name only a few. Despite some attempts to unite the various separate Byzantine enclaves, Epiros and Thessaly both fell to Stefan Dušan in the mid-fourteenth century, who styled himself ‘emperor of Romania’, and Mount Athos itself came for a time under Serb authority, remaining so for sixteen years after Stefan Dušan died in 1355.
In this confusing and fragmented situation, the Holy Mountain could symbolize stability and seemed to embody not only the cause of Orthodoxy, but also the essence of Byzantium. However it was not so clear what that meant in political or practical terms, when the reach of Palaiologan Constantinople was so limited in comparison with its earlier great days, and when it now had so many rivals for power. From the perspective of the Holy Mountain, the Palaiologan emperors must also have seemed to be locked into their desperate attempts to gain support from the west at the cost of union with the papacy. Michael VIII followed his perhaps unexpected restoration of Byzantine rule to Constantinople almost at once with an attempt to achieve union, culminating in the Union of Lyons in 1274, which divided both the Church and the lay elite down the middle. Serb, Tatar, and Turkish incursions, civil war, and plague were further negative factors for Byzantium in the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. But the divisions over union were to undermine the emperor’s relation with the Church, from which the patriarch was to gain, and this too was a factor in the longer-term fortunes of the Holy Mountain.
One of the amazing aspects of this late period in Byzantium’s history is the flowering in this small circle of Palaiologan art and intellectual culture, with its complex connections with Italian intellectual trends and its vigorous internal disputes and literary production.12 But in other respects, after a period when the Byzantines had been driven from their own city, Constantinople and its court could hardly recapture the reputation it had had during the tenth century and before 1204, when it had undoubtedly been the greatest and most splendid city in the known world and a source of admiration and envy. Palaiologan Constantinople still attracted admiring travellers, like the English and Russian pilgrims who marvelled at its religious processions and its great icon of the Hodegetria. But Thessaloniki was a rival city, and both cities were riven by political, and especially religious, conflict. This was a very different Byzantine world from the empire in which St Athanasios had established the Great Lavra.
The changed world of late Byzantium and its increased number of players brought economic opportunities to the Holy Mountain. The aristocracy of late Byzantium, especially after the middle of the fourteenth century, engaged in trade as well as holding land, and had close and complex economic relationships with Mount Athos.13 Thus great Athonite monasteries also owned land, with villages and paroikoi (dependent peasants), and even ships; they had metochia and employed agents and intermediaries to conduct their trade. Their records, somewhat paradoxically, are our best evidence for the economic life of late Byzantium, so little having survived to show the economic organization of the secular state. Some of their lands and villages had suffered or even been abandoned during the period of Latin rule; Iviron, for example, set about trying to restore them, while Koutloumousiou was one monastery which gained by the transfer of land from elsewhere.14 Turkish incursions were a serious threat in the early fourteenth century, which led to Gregory Palamas leaving the Holy Mountain, but Mount Athos adopted a realistic policy towards the Ottomans which helped it to survive and even prosper, while in turn it seems that the Ottomans extended some protection to the Holy Mountain.15 The number of donations increased for a range of reasons, partly indeed because Athos was felt to be more secure, and were also encouraged by the scheme whereby donors gained annuities (adelphata) in return. In the early fifteenth century the Emperor John VII handed over land to several of the Athos monasteries, which were evidently regarded as being able to work it and make it productive.16 Nikolas Oikonomides points out that a number of major monasteries were in fact founded or renovated in the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, all of which are among the governing monasteries on Mount Athos today.17
Sometimes the revenues of villages were granted to monasteries, and cereals, fruit trees, and timber were all products well attested in Macedonia. The landlord would receive tax directly from the peasants, as well as from the common land cultivated with peasant labour, and could also rent out further land.18 The documents sometimes give firm numbers. Thus, to draw on the excellent survey by Angeliki Laiou, the annual fiscal revenues of the monastery of Iviron in the year 1320 are estimated at 1,250 gold coins, that of Esphigmenou at 500 gold coins, and that of Lavra, the largest and richest Athos monastery, at 4,000 gold coins.19 In managing their estates, which might also include vineyards, the monasteries were in competition with the great landowning families such as the Kantakouzenoi. They were also exposed to the same problems, and in some instances, such as for the lands on Lemnos belonging to Lavra, Iviron, Pantokrator, Dionysiou, and others, depopulation in the early fifteenth century had led to a shortage of paroikoi and to abandoned villages,20 which the monastery might try to deal with by distributing land direct to the paroikoi. Products also had to be marketed, and the Athos monasteries were helped by imperial favours: in 1408 Emperor Manuel II allowed special conditions to the monks in which to market their products. They were relieved of the obligation to provide wheat for the biscuit of the seamen, thus retaining more of their surplus than did other landlords. They were relieved of the payment of taxes on flocks, which means that the products of animal husbandry came cheaper to them than to others. They did not have to pay tax on their wine sold in taverns. They were allowed to sell their wine in Thessaloniki freely, overriding the usual privileges of the governor of the city.21
These few examples show not only the importance of their landholdings and economic activities to the Athos monasteries themselves, but also the fact that they were regarded by the state as a key element in the economy of Byzantium and its efforts to improve prosperity. This is one aspect, and an important one, of the wider alliance of the Byzantine state, as well as of individual members of the Palaiologan upper class, with the monasteries of Athos.
The connection of Byzantine emperors with the Holy Mountain is well known. On the most obvious level, emperors founded or regulated monasteries on Mount Athos, beginning with the Great Lavra, and the foundation documents of several still survive. Imperial chrysobulls, signed in the imperial hand, organized or regulated the lives of the monks. Other documents assigned or renewed privileges in relation to taxes and landholding. Rosemary Morris has provided a useful table of instances of imperial privileges to monasteries in the tenth to early twelfth centuries,22 from which it is interesting to see how widely spread these instances were in the tenth century and how much Athos later comes to dominate. But the question why the emperors so often gave the monasteries of Mount Athos their patronage, and what this meant in practice, is less often asked. One rather prosaic reason for imperial monastic foundations is provided by the prestige they offered and the pressure of past custom; emperors had for centuries, indeed since the early days of the empire, founded monastic and other religious institutions and this continued in the case of Mount Athos. It was equally to be expected that foreign rulers would follow suit: modelling their clothes, their insignia, and their style of rule on that of Byzantium, the best model they could find, they also followed Byzantine precedent in founding and endowing monasteries. Perhaps the best examples here are the Serbian rulers, but as the typikon of Dionysiou, supported by Alexios III of Trebizond in 1374, stated, ‘All emperors, kings or rulers of some fame have built monasteries on Mount Athos for their eternal memory’.23 Stefan Dušan also supported the Rus monastery of St Panteleimon and others, though he received a rebuff when told that Athonite prayers would go first and foremost to the ‘emperor of the Romans’ in Constantinople.24
Besides the wish for prayers and personal spiritual gain, more practical calculations also entered in, such as the recognition that the great houses could play a useful role in politics, diplomacy, and economic life. Whatever the motives, and they were certainly multiple, Athonite monasteries benefited greatly at all periods from imperial favours. Iviron, for example, increased its landholding on a major scale as a result of a chrysobull of Basil II;25 it acquired yet more later in the eleventh century, even if only at the expense of a tight imperial control. As Alan Harvey has argued, emperors could also bestow tax privileges and protection, and this could be worth as much as a direct grant. The Great Lavra, for example, consistently benefited in this way through the eleventh century, as its chrysobulls show.26
Thus the monasteries did not stay the same over time, and the lucky ones were those with imperial or royal patronage. New ones were founded, and then too it helped to enlist imperial support. But the process might not be so high-minded: for instance, an abandoned monastery could be bought and refounded to suit the purchaser. Fundraising by impoverished monasteries could then as now entail accepting the donor’s wishes.27 The donor was encouraged in a very clear-sighted and thoroughly recognizable manner to act like many other rulers before him, Serbs, Bulgarians, Russians, and Georgians, and obtain the right to be commemorated and honoured.28 Everyone knew what was expected. Nikolas Oikonomides succinctly notes three reasons for such patronage in the fourteenth century: prestige; competition between states – a new factor in this period – and the desire for material security, the monasteries providing a good insurance policy.29 Led as they were by the example of the Byzantine emperors themselves, Athonite patrons formed an exclusive club, and the donors, as he notes, ‘belonged to the top ranks of society’.30 The monks for their part looked in more than one direction, and by the fourteenth century even their acceptance of the ultimate authority of Constantinople might lead them either in the direction of emphasizing the Patriarchate or of appealing to the emperor.
As we have seen, the status of Mount Athos as a kind of symbol of Byzantium and of Orthodoxy in the minds of Byzantium’s satellite and neighbouring powers was at its height in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries when the Byzantine state itself was fragmented and weak. It also naturally gained in prestige and importance through the loss of the great monastic centres of Asia Minor to the Turks, and it proved a magnet for Byzantium’s Balkan neighbours. Here we find ourselves returning to Dimitri Obolensky’s well-known conception of a Byzantine ‘commonwealth’, with Athos playing a key role in the way this commonwealth worked. Recently Jonathan Shepard has returned to this in several papers and book chapters, most fully in his contribution to the volume on Eastern Christianity in the Cambridge History of Christianity. In a book which is dedicated to the memory of Steven Runciman, Dimitri Obolensky, and Sergei Hackel, it is hardly surprising that he, or possibly his editor, Michael Angold, even chose to call the chapter ‘The Byzantine Commonwealth, 1000–1550’.31 The vision inherent in Obolensky’s book saw Byzantium as being at the centre of a group of states and peoples who in their different ways looked to it as their natural leader or senior partner; the medium and conduit of this relationship was Orthodoxy and the role played by Mount Athos was at its heart.
This is an idea that has had an extraordinarily powerful influence and appeal. Paschalis Kitromilides, for example, has gone on to explore how it might still apply in later periods as the basis of an ‘Orthodox culture’ in the Balkans; one of his papers, dealing with Greco-Russian connections in the Ottoman period, makes the connection explicit by using the title ‘From Orthodox Commonwealth to National Communities’.32 To quote from the concluding paragraph of this paper: ‘The last figure to give expression to the idea of the Orthodox Commonwealth, Joachim III, Patriarch of Constantinople, died in the year of the outbreak of the Balkan wars.’ As Kitromilides argues, the end of the nineteenth century, with its rising national states, ‘seemed to symbolize the end or the forgetting of a thousand years of shared past for the peoples of East and South-East Europe’.
The shared past he had in mind was the Orthodox world of Obolensky’s Byzantine commonwealth. It is a matter for reflection that now we have seen a resurgence of Orthodoxy in states where the Church was at best barely tolerated or at worst persecuted or forbidden, while at the same time we have also seen a resurgence of a different kind of nationalism. But the notion of an earlier Orthodox culture in which Athos played a central and benign role derives directly from the powerful image of a Byzantine commonwealth, which in Obolensky’s original book of that title ended in 1453, but which in further essays, including his equally classic Raleigh Lecture for the British Academy on ‘Italy, Mount Athos and Muscovy: The Three Worlds of Maximos the Greek’, given in 1981, he himself carried forward into the Ottoman and especially the Russian worlds.
It is also a conception which has had its critics. ‘Commonwealth’ is a British idea, after all;33 perhaps the concept lays too much stress on whether the spread of Orthodoxy really was a deliberate policy of the Byzantine state itself; ‘commonwealth’ being a political term, how can it be applied in a religious context? Jonathan Shepard has restated it in our case as a ‘force field’, with Byzantium as the centre of concentric circles of influence, and with ‘horizontal’ as well as hierarchical strands of connection.34 In some ways this influence resembles what is nowadays sometimes called ‘soft power’. Shepard’s formulation of the reason for this influence is that the prestige and influence of Byzantium in the wider world derives from ‘its credible show of majesty and piety’. That is, the way that Byzantium itself was perceived by the wider group of neighbouring peoples was deeply connected both with the concept of the emperor and court and with its Orthodox religion.
This is not to suggest that late Byzantium exercised a straightforward political or formal connection with the Orthodox states around it. Rather, while the Byzantine state may well have hoped for such influence, the relationship came from its neighbours themselves, for whom Byzantium, symbolized by the imperial city of Constantinople, embodied the prestige of centuries of history. So the conversion of Serbian or Rus leaders might be seen as an outward sign of protection and advantage, like the conversion of Caucasian and other rulers centuries before. In the eyes of western visitors before 1204 Byzantium was a source of envy and amazement for its luxury, its exotic ways, and its continuous imperial tradition. Though it was much reduced in the fourteenth century, travellers from England and Russia still marvelled at it, and its religious processions were translated to other centres including Muscovy. Athos played an important part in the process of cultural transfer from Byzantium to newer states. The process was encouraged by the amount of travel and other contacts back and forth between the monasteries and the outside world. It is hardly surprising if other rulers found their models for imitation here, or wanted to associate themselves with this glittering symbol of imperial and court life and of the Orthodox faith. But the transfer was also between monks and monastic houses themselves, resulting in spiritual and personal contacts between Athos and the wider geographical area which included Bulgaria and Rus, and which expressed itself in the production and copying of Slavonic manuscripts and the translation of Greek texts, as well as through the use of Athonite monks to undertake missions directed by the Patriarchate.35 Just in the same way provincial elites in the Roman empire had adopted Roman dress, Roman architecture, and Roman culture, or in our own day people all over the world have rushed to adopt the outward signs of American culture, be they McDonald’s, Starbucks, or Google. This is the source of the concept of ‘soft power’, derived from the influential work of the Harvard professor Joseph Nye, who has written a great deal on interdependence and complex relations between states.36
It is clear enough why other emerging states and their rulers should find Byzantium a key model to emulate, but the level of Byzantium’s own initiative in promoting such relationships is not quite so clear. Furthermore, this changed over time with the fortunes of the Byzantine state itself.
One of the historical themes in the later Byzantine period that I would say most needs to be addressed is precisely this interconnection of external and internal factors, or as Nye would put it, their complex interdependence. The Byzantine world before 1453 was not just a matter of the heroic, moving, and stirring narrative that we still find expressed in so many books which has a tiny, brave Constantinople trying desperately to defy the Ottomans and put off the inevitable. Byzantium in this broader sense was a widely spread and varied complex with multiple centres, each with its own set of relationships and connections.
This is I think the explanation for what Jonathan Shepard has emphasized, namely that the ties that make Byzantium and its neighbours look most like a commonwealth become stronger as the Palaiologan state in Constantinople gets weaker while its surrounding political framework is developing fast.37 We can distinguish two key elements, both already emphasized by Obolensky: these are first, increasing claims to authority and to a worldwide Orthodox role by the Patriarchate itself, and second, the authority and increasing autonomy of the Holy Mountain, with its important but oblique relation to the Byzantine government. In a real sense each of these developments was possible only because of the changed and diminished role of the Byzantine state itself. One might well argue that, the weaker the actual situation, the grander the claims. In the fourteenth century it was possible for a patriarch to claim that he had been given the care of all the world, or, as Paschalis Kitromilides has written, to call the ruler of Muscovy to order for impiety towards the Byzantine emperor: ‘even if, by the permission of God, the nations [i.e. the Turks] now encircle the government and the residence of the emperor’, he is still the anointed ruler of the empire, the champion and defender of all Christians, that is, all Orthodox Christians everywhere.38 This claim to seniority becomes more urgent as real power declines. But that does not mean that the sense of connection through Orthodoxy was any less. It was, as Kitromilides also puts it, a sense of common values and common inheritance, which transcended linguistic, cultural, and geographical barriers.
One might still argue however that the increased emphasis on universal authority on the part of the patriarch happened not just irrespective of, or despite, the weakness of the empire, but rather because of it.39 The authority of the emperor and his role as champion of all Christians was still a useful trope, but it was used in different ways. This coincided, moreover, with an increased emphasis in other ways on the role of the patriarch, both within Constantinople in relation to the imperial office and outside it, and on the need to deal diplomatically and in other ways with a complex variety of external groups.
This extended, as the patriarchal registers show, to active involvement in the creation of new sees and the merging or reorganization of others. Athos was involved directly when Vladislav refounded Koutloumousiou with monks from Wallachia, calling himself its ‘proprietor and founder’, after a guarantee to Constantinople from his father that the authority of the Great Church would be acknowledged, and also after large donations.40 Athonite monks were also used by the patriarch to carry forward this policy of strengthening ties in other areas. For very good reasons, the fourteenth- and fifteenth-century patriarchs still centred their rhetoric on the role of the emperor, but when there was no longer an emperor in Constantinople it was the ecumenical patriarch who still represented that shared consciousness, or, in the words of Kitromilides, who ‘donned the ecumenical mantle of the Christian empire’. In these circumstances, as Constantinople itself became weaker and eventually fell, Athos was a gainer, as a connected but alternative source and symbol of divinely ordained religious authority. Again the relationship with the Byzantine centre was complex, and hard to disentangle; it was indeed interconnected.
Four of the fourteenth-century patriarchs of Constantinople had themselves spent time on the Holy Mountain. Athonite monks were also involved in political and doctrinal conflicts. The great St Gregory Palamas was a monk on the Holy Mountain before and during the controversy about hesychasm, and against the background of the civil war which brought John VI Kantakouzenos to victory in 1347 and his own appointment as archbishop of Thessaloniki in the same year. Although the excommunication laid on him earlier was lifted, it took another synod in 1351 to settle the matter finally. Thessaloniki, the city so near to Mount Athos, was the victim of civil conflict in the same period, and Palamas himself had been imprisoned in Constantinople. But the final vindication of his theology immensely increased the prestige not only of himself but also of Mount Athos. This was another factor that released the Holy Mountain to stay an Orthodox powerhouse when the emperors in Constantinople were no more. In fact the hesychast ‘movement’,41 which involved many of the Athonite monks, and which sometimes involved opposition to the emperors in Byzantium, was itself a contributor to the sense of universal Orthodox consciousness over and above attachment to Byzantium as a political entity. Mount Athos was already international, and when monks travelled, as they often did, their strong attachments of master and disciple carried this consciousness beyond geographical or political boundaries.
In the crucial fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, therefore, the Holy Mountain was able to position itself in order to make the transition into the world after Byzantium; its history in that difficult period is one of resilience. As the Patriarchate found itself excluded from the Great Church and gradually confined to an enclave within the captured city, the Athonite monasteries themselves could now be a symbol of the continuity of Orthodox culture. The transnational community of Orthodoxy would be defined by common religion and common religious consciousness, a way that had already been well prepared in the Byzantine period by the internationalism of Mount Athos itself.
Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De Administrando Imperio, ed. and trans. G. Moravscik and R. J. H. Jenkins, rev. edn. (Washington, DC, 1967, repr. 2009).
Fowden, Garth, Empire to Commonwealth: Consequences of Monotheism in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, 1993).
Haldon, John F., The Palgrave Atlas of Byzantine History (Basingstoke, 2005).
––, ‘The Byzantine Empire’, in Ian Morris and Walter Scheidel (eds), The Dynamics of Ancient Empires. State Power from Assyria to Byzantium (Oxford, 2009), pp. 205–54.
Harvey, Alan, ‘The Monastic Economy and Imperial Patronage from the Tenth to the Twelfth Century’, in Anthony Bryer and Mary Cunningham (eds), Mount Athos and Byzantine Monasticism (Aldershot, 1996), pp. 91–7.
Karamanolis, George, ‘Plethon and Scholarios on Aristotle’, in K. Ierodiakonou (ed.) Byzantine Philosophy and its Ancient Sources (Oxford, 2002), pp. 253–82.
Kitromilides, Paschalis M., An Orthodox Commonwealth. Symbolic Legacies and Cultural Encounters in Southeastern Europe (Aldershot, 2007).
Krausmüller, Dirk, ‘The Rise of Hesychasm’, in Angold (ed.), Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 5 (Cambridge, 2006), pp. 101–26.
Laiou, Angeliki E., ‘Agrarian History, Thirteenth to Fifteenth Centuries’, in Angeliki E. Laiou (ed.), Economic History of Byzantium: From the Seventh through the Fifteenth Century, 3 vols (Washington, DC, 2002), vol. 1, pp. 311–75.
McGeer, E., Land Legislation of the Macedonian Emperors (Toronto, 2000).
Maguire, Henry (ed.), Byzantine Court Culture from 829 to 1204 (Washington, DC, 1997).
Morris, Rosemary, Monks and Laymen in Byzantium, 843–1118 (Cambridge, 1995). Nye, Joseph S., Soft Power. The Means to Success in World Politics (New York, 2004).
Obolensky, Dimitri, The Byzantine Commonwealth. Eastern Europe 500 to 1453 (London, 1971).
Oikonomides, N., ‘Patronage in Palaiologan Mount Athos’, in Bryer and Cunningham (eds), Mount Athos and Byzantine Monasticism, pp. 99–111.
Patlagean, Evelyne, Un Moyen Âge grec. Byzance IXe–XVe siècle (Paris, 2007).
Raffensperger, C., ‘Revisiting the Idea of the Byzantine Commonwealth’, Byzantinische Forschungen, 28 (2004), 159–74.
Sevcenko, I., ‘Palaiologan Learning’, in Cyril Mango (ed.), The Oxford History of Byzantium (Oxford, 2002), pp. 284–93.
Shepard, Jonathan, ‘The Byzantine Commonwealth, 1000–1550’, in Angold (ed.), Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 5, pp. 3–52.
Stathakopoulos, Dionysios, ‘The Dialectics of Expansion and Retraction: Recent Scholarship on the Palaiologan Aristocracy’, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 33.1 (2009), 92–101.
Talbot, Alice-Mary, ‘A Monastic World’, in John F. Haldon (ed.), A Social History of Byzantium (Oxford, 2009), pp. 256–78.
Thomas, John and Hero, Angela Constantinides (eds), Byzantine Monastic Foundation Documents: A Complete Translation of the Surviving Founders’ Typika and Testaments, 5 vols (Washington, DC, 2000).
Zachariadou, Elizabeth A., ‘The Great Church in Captivity 1453–1586’, in Angold (ed.), Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 5, pp. 169–86.
––, ‘Mount Athos and the Ottomans, c. 1350–1550’, in Angold (ed.), Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 5, pp. 154–68.
––, ‘“A Safe and Holy Mountain”: Early Ottoman Athos’, in Bryer and Cunningham (eds), Mount Athos and Byzantine Monasticism, pp. 127–32.
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See the very useful maps for different historical periods in John F. Haldon, The Palgrave Atlas of Byzantine History (Basingstoke, 2005).
For Byzantium’s changing size and the validity of its claims to be an empire see John F. Haldon, ‘The Byzantine Empire’, in Ian Morris and Walter Scheidel (eds), The Dynamics of Ancient Empires. State Power from Assyria to Byzantium (Oxford, 2009), pp. 205–54.
Dimitri Obolensky, The Byzantine Commonwealth. Eastern Europe 500 to 1453 (London, 1971); see recently the important chapter by Jonathan Shepard, ‘The Byzantine Commonwealth, 1000–1550’, in M. Angold (ed.), Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 5 (Cambridge, 2006), pp. 3–52, in which Athos is discussed in some detail (and see map 2, p. 13), and further below.
Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De Administrando Imperio, ed. and trans. G. Moravscik and R. J. H. Jenkins, rev. edn. (Washington, DC, 1967, repr. 2009).
For this important side of Byzantine life see the essays in Henry Maguire (ed.), Byzantine Court Culture from 829 to 1204 (Washington, DC, 1997).
Garth Fowden, Empire to Commonwealth: Consequences of Monotheism in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, 1993), p. 8.
Trans. George Dennis, in John Thomas and Angela Constantinides Hero (eds), Byzantine Monastic Foundation Documents: A Complete Translation of the Surviving Founders’ Typika and Testaments, 5 vols (Washington, DC, 2000), vol. 1, p. 253.
Elizabeth A. Zachariadou, ‘The Great Church in Captivity 1453–1586’, in Angold (ed.), Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 5, pp. 169–86, p. 169.
I. Sevcenko, ‘Palaiologan Learning’, in Cyril Mango (ed.), The Oxford History of Byzantium (Oxford, 2002), pp. 284–93, p. 285, counts about 150 literati, spread over the various Byzantine centres of the period; this does not sound very many, but such examples as the very learned emperor Manuel II (1391–1425) or the members of the entourage of John V at the Council of Ferrara-Florence, which included Gemistos Plethon, Isidore of Kiev, and Bessarion, are enough to demonstrate the depth and vigour of their intellectual activity. The Byzantine encounter with western scholasticism was part of the background to the hesychast controversy of the fourteenth century and the intense debates in late Byzantium about the respective merits of Plato and Aristotle which went side by side with the debates about union: George Karamanolis, ‘Plethon and Scholarios on Aristotle’, in K. Ierodiakonou (ed.), Byzantine Philosophy and its Ancient Sources (Oxford, 2002), pp. 253–82.
For a very good recent survey of the bibliography on this topic see Dionysios Stathakopoulos, ‘The Dialectics of Expansion and Retraction: Recent Scholarship on the Palaiologan Aristocracy’, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 33.1 (2009), 92–101.
For the importance of the Athonite archives for the history of this period see the excellent survey of Byzantine monastic life by Alice-Mary Talbot, ‘A Monastic World’, in John F. Haldon (ed.), A Social History of Byzantium (Oxford, 2009), pp. 256–78, pp. 269–73, with references; for the Macedonian period see E. McGeer, Land Legislation of the Macedonian Emperors (Toronto, 2000). Iviron and Koutloumousiou: Angeliki E. Laiou, ‘Agrarian History, Thirteenth to Fifteenth Centuries’, in Angeliki E. Laiou (ed.), Economic History of Byzantium: From the Seventh through the Fifteenth Century, 3 vols (Washington, DC, 2002), vol. 1, pp. 311–75, p. 313.
N. Oikonomides, ‘Patronage in Palaiologan Mount Athos’, in Anthony Bryer and Mary Cunningham (eds), Mount Athos and Byzantine Monasticism (Aldershot, 1996), pp. 99–111, p. 99; see also Elizabeth A. Zachariadou, ‘“A Safe and Holy Mountain”: Early Ottoman Athos’, ibid., pp. 127–32, eadem, ‘Mount Athos and the Ottomans, c. 1350–1550’, in Angold (ed.), Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 5, pp. 154–68, especially pp. 156–8.
Laiou, art. cit., p. 315.
Oikonomides, art. cit., p. 100.
Laiou, art. cit., p. 331.
Ibid., p. 349.
Ibid., p. 366.
Ibid., p. 369.
Rosemary Morris, Monks and Laymen in Byzantium, 843–1118 (Cambridge, 1995), Appendix.
Oikonomides, ‘Patronage in Palaiologan Mount Athos’, p. 101.
See Shepard, ‘The Byzantine Commonwealth, 1000–1550’, p. 20.
Alan Harvey, ‘The Monastic Economy and Imperial Patronage from the Tenth to the Twelfth Century’, in Bryer and Cunningham (eds), Mount Athos and Byzantine Monasticism, pp. 91–7, p. 91.
Ibid., pp. 96 f.
Oikonomides, ‘Patronage in Palaiologan Mount Athos’, p. 101.
Ibid., p. 102.
Ibid., p. 111.
See Shepard, ‘The Byzantine Commonwealth, 1000–1550’ (n. 3).
Paschalis M. Kitromilides, An Orthodox Commonwealth. Symbolic Legacies and Cultural Encounters in Southeastern Europe (Aldershot, 2007), ch. 6, p. 18. The subtitle of the paper is ‘Greek-Russian Intellectual and Ecclesiastical Ties in the Ottoman Era’.
Evelyne Patlagean, Un Moyen Âge grec. Byzance IXe–XVe siècle (Paris, 2007), p. 387; see also C. Raffensperger, ‘Revisiting the Idea of the Byzantine Commonwealth’, Byzantinische Forschungen, 28 (2004), 159–74.
Shepard, ‘The Byzantine Commonwealth, 1000–1550’, p. 46.
Shepard, ‘The Byzantine Commonwealth, 1000–1550’, pp. 36–41.
See Joseph S. Nye, Soft Power. The Means to Success in World Politics (New York, 2004).
Shepard, ‘The Byzantine Commonwealth, 1000–1550’, p. 12.
Kitromilides, ‘From Orthodox Commonwealth to National Communities’, in An Orthodox Commonwealth, ch. 6, p. 5.
Ibid., p. 6; see also Shepard, art. cit., p. 21.
Shepard, art. cit., pp. 26–7.
See Shepard, art. cit., p. 39; Dirk Krausmüller, ‘The Rise of Hesychasm’, in Angold (ed.), Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 5, pp. 101–26.