World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

De Ceremoniis

Article Id: WHEBN0003620047
Reproduction Date:

Title: De Ceremoniis  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Constantine VII, Palace of Blachernae, Porphyrogennetos, Actuarius, Kletorologion
Collection: 10Th Century in the Byzantine Empire, 10Th-Century Books, Byzantine Literature
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

De Ceremoniis

Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus in a 945 carved ivory.

The De Ceremoniis (fully De cerimoniis aulae Byzantinae) is the conventional Latin name for a book of ceremonial protocol at the court of the Byzantine emperors in Constantinople. Its Greek title is often cited as "Εκθεσις της βασιλείου τάξεως ("Explanation of the Order of the Palace"), taken from the work's preface, or Περί τῆς Βασιλείου Τάξεως ("On the Order of the Palace"). In non-specialist English sources, it tends to be called the Book of Ceremonies of Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos (variably spelt), a formula used by writers including David Talbot Rice and the modern English translation.


  • History and Sources 1
  • Composition 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Edition and Translation 5
  • External links 6

History and Sources

It was written or at least commissioned by Emperor Constantine VII (reigned 913-959), probably around 956-959. The compilation of Rep. I 17 (Leipzig, Universitätsbibliothek) was partially revised later under Nikephoros II (963-969), perhaps under the supervision of Basil Lekapenos, the imperial parakoimomenos, and it also contains earlier descriptions of the 6th century.[1]

One of the book's appendices are the Three Treatises on Imperial Military Expeditions, a war manual written by Constantine VII for his son and successor, Romanos II.


Map of the Great Palace situated between the Hippodrome and the Hagia Sophia. The structures of the Great Palace are shown in their approximate position as derived from literary sources. Surviving structures are in black.

In its incomplete form chapters 1-37 of book I describe processions and ceremonies on religious festivals (many lesser ones, but especially great feasts like the Elevation of the Cross, Christmas, Epiphany, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter and Ascension Day and saint's days like St Demetrius, St Basil etc. often extended over many days), while chapters 38-83 describe secular ceremonies or rites of passage like coronations (38-40), weddings (39,41), births (42), funerals (60), or the celebration of war triumphs during feasts at the Hippodrome like Lupercalia (73).[2]

These protocols gave rules for imperial progresses to and from certain churches at Constantinople and the imperial palace,[3] with fixed stations and rules for ritual actions and acclamations from specified participants (the text of acclamations and processional troparia or kontakia, but also heirmoi and stichera are mentioned), among them also ministers, senate members, leaders of the "Blues" and the "Greens" during the hippodrome's horse races who had an important role during court ceremonies.[4] The following chapters (84-95) are taken from a 6th-century manual by Peter the Patrician. They rather describe administrative ceremonies like the appointment of certain functionaries (ch. 84,85), investitures of certain offices (86), the reception of ambassadors and the proclamation of the Western Emperor (87,88), the reception of Persian ambassadors (89,90), Anagorevseis of certain Emperors (91-96), the appointment of the senate's proedros (97). The "palace order" did not only prescribe the way of movements (symbolic or real) like on foot, mounted, by boat, but also the costumes of the celebrants and who has to perform certain acclamations. The emperor often plays the role of Christ and the imperial palace is chosen for religious rituals, so that the ceremonial book brings the sacred and the profane together. Book II seems to be less normative, it rather describes particular ceremonies as they had been celebrated during particular imperial receptions of the past.

The second book follows a very similar composition: (1) religious feasts and the more or less mythological description of certain palace buildings according to the Macedonian Renaissance,[5] (2) secular ceremonies and imperial ordonations,[6] (3) imperial receptions and war festivities at the hippodrome. But its descriptions remember later customs of the Porphyrogennetos dynasty, including those of Constantine and his son Romanos. It seems that book I was compiled during the time, when Constantine commissioned the ceremonial book, but the project was continued by later chronists after his lifetime.

See also


  1. ^ "De Ceremoniis" in  
  2. ^ For a discussion of the ceremonial book's composition, but also on details of certain ceremonies, see: Bury, John Bagnell (1907). "The Ceremonial Book of Constantine Porphyrogennetos". The English Historical Review 22: 209–227;426–448. 
  3. ^ See also the reconstruction of "Constantinople about 1200". Byzantium 1200. 2009.  a three-dimensional model of the quarter, and the presentation of a reconstruction by Jan Kostenec.
  4. ^ The hippodrome was as important for court ceremonies as the Hagia Sophia for imperial religious ceremonies and rites of passage. It was not only used during horse races, but also for receptions and its banquets and the yearly celebration of Constantinople's inauguration on 11 May. The "Golden Hippodrome" was an own ceremony to inaugurate a new season and to fix the calendar of the ceremonial located in the hippodrome. Occasionally also votive horse races were given, like on 22 July for the feast of Saint Elias. Woodrow, Zoe Antonia (2001). "'"Imperial Ideology in Middle Byzantine Court Culture: The Evidence of Constantine Porphyrogenitus's 'De ceremoniis. Durham University. 
  5. ^ Featherstone, Jeffrey Michael (2013). "Der Grosse Palast von Konstantinopel: Tradition oder Erfindung?". Byzantinische Zeitschrift 106: 19–38.  
  6. ^ Featherstone, Jeffrey Michael (2008). "Δι’ Ἔνδειξιν : Display in Court Ceremonial (De Cerimoniis II,15)". In Anthony Cutler, Arietta Papaconstantinou (eds.). The Material and the Ideal: Essays in Mediaeval Art and Archaeology in Honour of Jean-Michel Spieser. Leiden: Brill. pp. 75–112.  

Edition and Translation

  • Ann Moffatt tr., eds. (2012). Konstantinos Porphyrogennetos: The book of ceremonies in 2 volumes. Byzantina Australiensia (Reiske ed.). Canberra: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies.  

External links

  • Partial translation of Book 1 and 2 by P. Stephenson
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.