Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae
The Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae referred to as the CSHB or Bonn Corpus, is a monumental fifty-volume series of primary sources for the study of Byzantine history, published in the German city of Bonn between 1828 and 1897. Each volume contains a critical edition of a Byzantine Greek historical text, accompanied by a parallel Latin translation; the project, conceived by the historian Barthold Georg Niebuhr, sought to revise and expand the original twenty-four volume Corpus Byzantinae Historiae, published in Paris between 1648 and 1711 under the initial direction of the Jesuit scholar Philippe Labbe. The series was first based at the University of Bonn. While the first volume of the series was praised for its "minute care and attention" to textual details volumes produced under Bekker became infamous for their frequent misprints, careless execution, general unreliability. Given these shortcomings, the International Association of Byzantine Studies established in 1966 the Corpus Fontium Historiae Byzantinae to re-edit many of the texts included in the Bonn edition of the CSHB.
Byzantine Literature Corpus Fontium Historiae Byzantinae Irmscher, Johannes. "Das Bonner Corpus und die Berliner Akademie", Kretika Chronika 7, pp. 360–383. Reinsch, Dietrich R. "The History of Editing Byzantine Historiographical Texts", pp. 435–445. In The Byzantine World. Ed. Paul Stephenson. New York: Routledge, 2010. Digitized CSHB on the Documenta Omnia Catholica Fordham Guide to Byzantine Sources in Translation
Peter the Patrician
Peter the Patrician was a senior East Roman or Byzantine official and historian. A well-educated and successful lawyer, he was sent as envoy to Ostrogothic Italy in the prelude to the Gothic War of 535–554. Despite his diplomatic skill, he was not able to avert war, was imprisoned by the Goths in Ravenna for a few years. Upon his release, he was appointed to the post of magister officiorum, head of the imperial secretariat, which he held for an unparalleled 26 years. In this capacity, he was one of the leading ministers of Emperor Justinian I, playing an important role in the Byzantine emperor's religious policies and the relations with Sassanid Persia, his historical writings survive only in fragments, but provide unique source material on early Byzantine ceremonies and diplomatic issues between Byzantium and the Sassanids. Peter was born in Thessalonica about the year 500, was of Illyrian origin according to Procopius. After studying law, he embarked on a successful career as a lawyer in Constantinople, which brought him to the attention of Empress Theodora.
In 534, on account of his rhetorical skills, he was employed as an imperial envoy to the Ostrogothic court at Ravenna. At the time, a power struggle was developing there between Queen Amalasuntha, regent to the young king Athalaric, her cousin Theodahad. Following the death of Athalaric, Theodahad usurped the throne, imprisoned Amalasuntha, sent messages to Emperor Justinian hoping for recognition. Peter met the envoys at Aulon, on his way to Italy, notified Constantinople, seeking new instructions. Emperor Justinian ordered him to convey the message to Theodahad that Amalasuntha was under the Emperor's protection and not to be harmed. At the time Peter arrived in Italy, Amalasuntha had been killed. Whatever assurances might have been given by Theodora to Theodahad, in public, Peter condemned the act, declared that there would be "war without truce between the emperor and themselves" as a result. Peter returned to Constantinople with letters from Theodahad and the Roman Senate to the imperial couple, bearing pleas for a peaceful solution, but by the time he reached the imperial capital, Emperor Justinian had resolved on war and was preparing his forces.
Peter returned to Italy in the summer of 535 conveying an ultimatum: only if Theodahad abdicated and returned Italy to imperial rule, could war be averted. A two-pronged Byzantine offensive followed soon thereafter, attacking the outlying possessions of the Ostrogothic kingdom: Belisarius took Sicily, while Mundus invaded Dalmatia. Upon hearing these news, Theodahad despaired, Peter was able to secure wide-ranging concessions from him: Sicily was to be ceded to the Byzantine Empire. Theodahad, fearing that his first offer would be rejected instructed Peter, under oath, to offer the cession of all Italy, but only if the original concessions were rejected by Justinian. In the event, Justinian rejected the first proposal, was delighted to learn of the second one. Peter was sent back to Italy with Athanasius, bearing letters to Theodahad and the Gothic nobles, for a time it seemed as if the cradle of the Roman Empire would return peacefully to the fold, it was not to be: upon their arrival in Ravenna, the Byzantine envoys found Theodahad in a changed disposition.
Supported by the Gothic nobility and buoyed up by a success against Mundus in Dalmatia, he resolved to resist, imprisoned the ambassadors. Peter remained imprisoned in Ravenna for three years, until released in June/July 539 by the new Gothic king, Witigis, in exchange for Gothic envoys sent to Persia, captured by the Byzantines; as a reward for his services, Emperor Justinian appointed Peter to the post of magister officiorum, one of the highest positions in the state, heading the palace secretariat, the imperial guards, the Public Post with the dreaded agentes in rebus. He would hold this post for 26 consecutive years, longer by a wide margin than any other before or after. At about the same time or shortly thereafter, he was raised to the supreme title of patrician and the supreme senatorial rank of gloriosissimus, he was awarded an honorary consulship. As magister, he took part in the discussions with Western bishops in 548 on the Three-Chapter Controversy, was sent as an envoy in 551–553 to Pope Vigilius, who opposed the emperor on the issue.
Peter is recorded as attending the Second Council of Constantinople in May 553. In 550, he was sent as envoy by Justinian to negotiate a peace treaty with Persia, a role he reprised in 561, when he met the Persian envoy Izedh Gushnap at Dara, to end the Lazic War. Reaching an agreement over the Persian evacuation of Lazica and the delineation of the border in Armenia, the two envoys concluded a fifty-year peace between the two empires and their respective allies; the annual Roman subsidies to Persia would resume, but the amount was lowered from 500 to 420 pounds of gold. Further clause
Siege of Constantinople (626)
The Siege of Constantinople in 626 by the Sassanid Persians and Avars, aided by large numbers of allied Slavs, ended in a strategic victory for the Byzantines. The failure of the siege saved the Empire from collapse, combined with other victories achieved by Emperor Heraclius the previous year and in 627, enabled Byzantium to regain its territories and end the destructive Roman–Persian Wars by enforcing a treaty with borders status quo c. 590. In 602, Phocas overthrew Maurice, the incumbent Byzantine emperor, commenced a reign marked by atrocities and administrative incompetence; the new emperor's mismanagement left the Byzantine Empire vulnerable and unstable when the Sassanid king Khosrau II invaded, using the coup as a pretext for war. The Sassanid invasion was successful, with the Byzantines being driven into the Anatolian heartland. Phocas was overthrown by the son of the Exarch of Carthage, Heraclius. A general of astounding energy yet limited experience, Heraclius began undoing much of Phocas's damaging work.
Despite several counter-offensives into Mesopotamia, Heraclius was unable to stop his Persian enemies from laying siege to his capital where from Chalcedon they were able to launch their attack. From 14–15 May 626, riots in Constantinople against John Seismos occurred because he wanted to cancel the bread rations of the scholae or imperial guards and raise the cost of bread from 3 to 8 follis, he did this to conserve government resources. However, there were further disturbances in the city. Khosrau, seeing that a decisive counterattack was needed to defeat the Byzantines, recruited two new armies from all the able men, including foreigners. Shahin was entrusted with 50,000 men and stayed in Mesopotamia and Armenia to prevent Heraclius from invading Persia. Khosrau coordinated with the Khagan of the Avars so as to launch a coordinated attack on Constantinople from both European and Asiatic sides; the Persian army stationed themselves at Chalcedon, while the Avars placed themselves on the European side of Constantinople and destroyed the Aqueduct of Valens.
Because of the Byzantine navy's control of the Bosphorus strait, the Persians could not send troops to the European side to aid their ally. This reduced the effectiveness of the siege. Furthermore, the Persians and Avars had difficulties communicating across the guarded Bosphorus—though undoubtedly, there was some communication between the two forces; the defense of Constantinople was under the command of the patrician Bonus. Upon hearing the news, Heraclius split his army into three parts. Another part of the army was under the command of his brother Theodore and was sent to deal with Shahin, while the third and smallest part would remain under his own control, intending to raid the Persian heartland. On 29 June 626, a coordinated assault on the walls began. Inside the walls, some 12,000 well-trained Byzantine cavalry troops defended the city against the forces of some 80,000 Avars and Sclaveni, who were determined to remove all Roman imperial rule over Europe; the Persians had arrived in Chalcedon.
However, it was only when the Avars began moving forward heavy siege equipment towards the Theodosian Walls that a siege became clear. Despite continuous bombardment for a month, morale was high inside the walls of Constantinople because of Patriarch Sergius' religious fervor and his processions along the wall with the icon of the Virgin Mary, inspiring the belief that the Byzantines were under divine protection. Furthermore, the patriarch's cries for religious zeal among the peasantry around Constantinople was made more effective by the fact that they were facing heathens; every assault became a doomed effort. When the Avar-Slavic fleet and the Persian fleet were sunk in two different naval engagements, the attackers panicked and fled, abandoning the siege under the belief that divine intervention had won the day for Byzantium. On 7 August, a fleet of Persian rafts ferrying troops across the Bosphorus were surrounded and destroyed by Byzantine ships; the Slavs under the Avars attempted to attack the sea walls from across the Golden Horn, while the main Avar host attacked the land walls.
Patrician Bonus' galleys destroyed the Slavic boats. With the news that Theodore had decisively triumphed over Shahin, the Avars retreated to the Balkan hinterland within two days, never to threaten Constantinople again. Though the army of Shahrbaraz was still encamped at Chalcedon, the threat to Constantinople was over. In thanks for the lifting of the siege and the supposed divine protection of the Virgin Mary, the celebrated Akathist Hymn was written by an unknown author Patriarch Sergius or George of Pisidia; the loss in the siege came just after news had reached them of yet another Byzantine victory, where Heraclius's brother Theodore scored well against the Persian general Shahin. Furthermore, after the emperor showed Shahrbaraz intercepted letters from Khosrau ordering the Persian general's death, the latter switched to Heraclius' side. Shahrbaraz moved his army to northern Syria, where he could decide to support either Khosrau or Heraclius at a moment's notice. Still, with the neut
John of Epiphania
John of Epiphania was a late sixth century Byzantine historian. John was born in Epiphania, he served as a legal counselor to the Patriarch of Antioch, Gregory. John was a cousin of the church historian Evagrius Scholasticus. John received good training. In his role as legal adviser, he was a witness to the Persian king, Khosrau Parvez's retreat into Roman territory, may have met the king. Khosrau was restored to the Persian throne by the Roman emperor Maurice. John may have visited Persia John wrote a history of the Byzantine-Persian wars; the work is lost. The history was used by Theophylact Simocatta; as with many other Byzantine works, it is written in an archaic form of Greek, meant to imitate the classical style. Carl Müller: Fragmenta historicorum graecorum. Bd. 4. Paris 1851, pp. 272–276. Translation of the fragment
Nikephoros I of Constantinople
St. Nikephoros I or Nicephorus I was a Christian Byzantine writer and Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from April 12, 806, to March 13, 815, he was born in Constantinople as the son of Theodore and Eudokia, of a orthodox family, which had suffered from the earlier Iconoclasm. His father Theodore, one of the secretaries of Emperor Constantine V, had been scourged and banished to Nicaea for his zealous support of Iconodules, the son inherited the religious convictions of the father, he entered the service of the Empire, became cabinet secretary, under Irene took part in the synod of 787 as imperial commissioner. He withdrew to one of the cloisters that he had founded on the eastern shore of the Bosporus, until he was appointed director of the largest home for the destitute in Constantinople c. 802. After the death of the Patriarch Tarasios of Constantinople, although still a layman, he was chosen patriarch by the wish of the emperor; the uncanonical choice met with opposition from the clerical party of the Stoudites, this opposition intensified into an open break when Nikephoros, in other respects a rigid moralist, showed himself compliant to the will of the emperor by reinstating the excommunicated priest Joseph.
After vain theological disputes, in December 814, there followed personal insults. Nikephoros at first replied to his removal from his office by excommunication, but was at last obliged to yield to force, was taken to one of the cloisters he had founded, Tou Agathou, to that called Tou Hagiou Theodorou. From there he carried on a literary polemic for the cause of the iconodules against the synod of 815. On the occasion of the change of emperors, in 820, he was put forward as a candidate for the patriarchate and at least obtained the promise of toleration, he died at the monastery of Saint Theodore, revered as a confessor. His remains were solemnly brought back to Constantinople by Methodios I of Constantinople on March 13, 847, interred in the Church of the Holy Apostles, where they were annually the object of imperial devotion, his feast is celebrated on this day both in Roman Churches. Compared with Theodore of Stoudios, Nikephoros appears as a friend of conciliation, learned in patristics, more inclined to take the defensive than the offensive, possessed of a comparatively chaste, simple style.
He was mild in his ecclesiastical and monastical rules and non-partisan in his historical treatment of the period from 602 to 769. He used the chronicle of Trajan the Patrician, his tables of universal history, in passages extended and continued, were in great favor with the Byzantines, were circulated outside the Empire in the Latin version of Anastasius Bibliothecarius, in Slavonic translation. The Chronography offered a universal history from the time of Eve to his own time. To it he appended a canon catalog; the catalog of the accepted books of the Old and New Testaments is followed by the antilegomena and the apocrypha. Next to each book is the count of its lines, his stichometry, to which we can compare our accepted texts and judge how much has been added or omitted; this is useful for apocrypha for which only fragmentary texts have survived. The principal works of Nikephorus are three writings referring to iconoclasm: Apologeticus minor composed before 814, an explanatory work for laymen concerning the tradition and the first phase of the iconoclastic movement.
Nikephoros follows in the path of John of Damascus. His merit is the thoroughness with which he traced the literary and traditional proofs, his detailed refutations are serviceable for the knowledge they afford of important texts adduced by his opponents and in part drawn from the older church literature. List of Catholic saints Development of the Canon of the New Testament: the Stichometry of Nicephorus St. Nicephorus
First Bulgarian Empire
The First Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state that existed in Southeastern Europe between the 7th and 11th centuries AD. It was founded in 681. There they secured Byzantine recognition of their right to settle south of the Danube by defeating – with the help of local South Slavic tribes – the Byzantine army led by Constantine IV. At the height of its power, Bulgaria spread from the Danube Bend to the Black Sea and from the Dnieper River to the Adriatic Sea; as the state solidified its position in the Balkans, it entered into a centuries-long interaction, sometimes friendly and sometimes hostile, with the Byzantine Empire. Bulgaria emerged as Byzantium's chief antagonist to its north; the two powers enjoyed periods of peace and alliance, most notably during the Second Arab siege of Constantinople, where the Bulgarian army broke the siege and destroyed the Arab army, thus preventing an Arab invasion of Southeastern Europe. Byzantium had a strong cultural influence on Bulgaria, which led to the eventual adoption of Christianity in 864.
After the disintegration of the Avar Khaganate, the country expanded its territory northwest to the Pannonian Plain. The Bulgarians confronted the advance of the Pechenegs and Cumans, achieved a decisive victory over the Magyars, forcing them to establish themselves permanently in Pannonia. During the late 9th and early 10th centuries, Simeon I achieved a string of victories over the Byzantines. Thereafter, he was recognized with the title of Emperor, proceeded to expand the state to its greatest extent. After the annihilation of the Byzantine army in the battle of Anchialus in 917, the Bulgarians laid siege to Constantinople in 923 and 924; the Byzantines, however recovered, in 1014, under Basil II, inflicted a crushing defeat on the Bulgarians at the Battle of Kleidion. By 1018, the last Bulgarian strongholds had surrendered to the Byzantine Empire, the First Bulgarian Empire had ceased to exist, it was succeeded by the Second Bulgarian Empire in 1185. After the adoption of Christianity, Bulgaria became the cultural center of Slavic Europe.
Its leading cultural position was further consolidated with the invention of the Glagolitic and Early Cyrillic alphabets shortly after in the capital Preslav, literature produced in Old Bulgarian soon began spreading north. Old Bulgarian became the lingua franca of much of Eastern Europe and it came to be known as Old Church Slavonic. In 927, the independent Bulgarian Patriarchate was recognized; the ruling Bulgars and other non-Slavic tribes in the empire mixed and adopted the prevailing Slavic language, thus forming the Bulgarian nation from the 7th century to the 9th century. Since the late 9th century, the names Bulgarians and Bulgarian gained prevalence and became permanent designations for the local population, both in literature and in common parlance; the development of Old Church Slavonic literacy had the effect of preventing the assimilation of the South Slavs into neighbouring cultures, while stimulating the formation of a distinct Bulgarian identity. The First Bulgarian Empire became known as Bulgaria since its recognition by the Byzantine Empire in 681.
Some historians use the terms First Bulgarian State, or First Bulgarian Tsardom. Between 681 and 864 the country was known as the Bulgarian Khanate, Danube Bulgarian Khanate, or Danube Bulgar Khanate in order to differentiate it from Volga Bulgaria, which emerged from another Bulgar group. During its early existence, the country was called the Bulgar state or Bulgar Khaghanate. Between 864 and 917/927, the country was known as the Principality of Bulgaria or Knyazhestvo Bulgaria. In English language sources, the country is known as the Bulgarian Empire. Parts of the eastern Balkan Peninsula were in antiquity inhabited by the Thracians who were a group of Indo-European tribes; the whole region as far north as the Danube River was incorporated into the Roman Empire by the 1st century AD. The decline of the Roman Empire after the 3rd century AD and the continuous invasions of Goths and Huns left much of the region devastated, depopulated and in economic decline by the 5th century; the surviving eastern half of the Roman Empire, called by historians the Byzantine Empire, could not exercise effective control in these territories other than in the coastal areas and certain cities in the interior.
Nonetheless, it never relinquished the claim to the whole region up to the Danube. A series of administrative, legislative and economic reforms somewhat improved the situation but despite these reforms disorder continued in much of the Balkans; the reign of Emperor Justinian I saw temporary recovery of control and reconstruction of a number of fortresses but after his death the empire was unable to face the threat of the Slavs due to the significant reduction of revenue and manpower. The Slavs, of Indo-European origin, were first mentioned in written sources to inhabit the territories to the north of the Danube in the 5th century AD but most historians agree that they had arrived earlier; the group of Slavs that came to be known as the South Slavs was divided into Antes and Sclaveni who spoke the same language. The Slavic incursions in the Balkans increased during the second half of Justinian I's reign and while these were pillaging raids, large-scale settlement began in the 570s and 580s; this migration is associated with the arrival of the Avars who settled in the plains of Pannonia between the rivers Danube and Tisza in the 560s subjugating various Bulgar and Slavic tribes in the process.
Consumed in bitter wars with th
The Byzantine Empire referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic and military force in Europe. Both the terms "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms created after the end of the realm. Several signal events from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the period of transition during which the Roman Empire's Greek East and Latin West diverged. Constantine I reorganised the empire, made Constantinople the new capital, legalised Christianity. Under Theodosius I, Christianity became the Empire's official state religion and other religious practices were proscribed.
Under the reign of Heraclius, the Empire's military and administration were restructured and adopted Greek for official use in place of Latin. Thus, although the Roman state continued and its traditions were maintained, modern historians distinguish Byzantium from ancient Rome insofar as it was centred on Constantinople, oriented towards Greek rather than Latin culture, characterised by Eastern Orthodox Christianity; the borders of the empire evolved over its existence, as it went through several cycles of decline and recovery. During the reign of Justinian I, the empire reached its greatest extent after reconquering much of the Roman western Mediterranean coast, including North Africa and Rome itself, which it held for two more centuries; the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628 exhausted the empire's resources and contributed to major territorial losses during the Early Muslim conquests of the 7th century, when it lost its richest provinces and Syria, to the Arab caliphate. During the Macedonian dynasty, the empire expanded again and experienced the two-century long Macedonian Renaissance, which came to an end with the loss of much of Asia Minor to the Seljuk Turks after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071.
This battle opened the way for the Turks to settle in Anatolia. The empire recovered during the Komnenian restoration, by the 12th century Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest European city. However, it was delivered a mortal blow during the Fourth Crusade, when Constantinople was sacked in 1204 and the territories that the empire governed were divided into competing Byzantine Greek and Latin realms. Despite the eventual recovery of Constantinople in 1261, the Byzantine Empire remained only one of several small rival states in the area for the final two centuries of its existence, its remaining territories were progressively annexed by the Ottomans over the 15th century. The Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 ended the Byzantine Empire; the last of the imperial Byzantine successor states, the Empire of Trebizond, would be conquered by the Ottomans eight years in the 1461 Siege of Trebizond. The first use of the term "Byzantine" to label the years of the Roman Empire was in 1557, when the German historian Hieronymus Wolf published his work Corpus Historiæ Byzantinæ, a collection of historical sources.
The term comes from "Byzantium", the name of the city of Constantinople before it became Constantine's capital. This older name of the city would be used from this point onward except in historical or poetic contexts; the publication in 1648 of the Byzantine du Louvre, in 1680 of Du Cange's Historia Byzantina further popularised the use of "Byzantine" among French authors, such as Montesquieu. However, it was not until the mid-19th century that the term came into general use in the Western world; the Byzantine Empire was known to its inhabitants as the "Roman Empire", the "Empire of the Romans", "Romania", the "Roman Republic", as "Rhōmais". The inhabitants called themselves Romaioi and as late as the 19th century Greeks referred to Modern Greek as Romaiika "Romaic." After 1204 when the Byzantine Empire was confined to its purely Greek provinces the term'Hellenes' was used instead. While the Byzantine Empire had a multi-ethnic character during most of its history and preserved Romano-Hellenistic traditions, it became identified by its western and northern contemporaries with its predominant Greek element.
The occasional use of the term "Empire of the Greeks" in the West to refer to the Eastern Roman Empire and of the Byzantine Emperor as Imperator Graecorum were used to separate it from the prestige of the Roman Empire within the new kingdoms of the West. No such distinction existed in the Islamic and Slavic worlds, where the Empire was more straightforwardly seen as the continuation of the Roman Empire. In the Islamic world, the Roman Empire was known as Rûm; the name millet-i Rûm, or "Roman nation," was used by the Ottomans through the 20th century to refer to the former subjects of the Byzantine Empire