Christopher James Sprecher

Emperor and God

Passion Relics and the Divinisation of Byzantine Rulers, 944–1204


Emperor and God

This study explores how the understanding of the Byzantine emperor as a sacred or divine figure changed in the Middle Byzantine period. It is based on close readings and studies of three medieval Passion relics held in Constantinople: the Mandylion, the relic-reliquary ensemble of the Limburg Staurotheke; and the Holy Stone. Accompanied by English-language translations of medieval Greek source texts pertaining to these relics, Sprecher demonstrates that the Passion relics in this period served to focus and narrow an understanding of the emperor not only as divinely appointed and anointed ruler, but also in surprising ways as being somehow divine himself.