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By Ian Heath

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Probably the most famous example of this phenomenon of Byzantine artistic influence in western Europe is that shown by Monte Cassino in Italy in the eleventh century. ” The problem was that the necessary skills had been lost in Italy, and Desiderius, as others before him, acknowledged that Byzantium was the continuation of Roman majesty and turned to Constantinople for the preserved wisdom.  Such bronze doors became symbols of Byzantine artistic influence at Monte Cassino and throughout northern Italy, as they spread in the later eleventh century to Venice, Rome, and elsewhere.

The Anglo-Saxon rulers, like their contemporaries on the continent, looked to the glory of Rome preserved in Byzantium and wanted some of that glory for themselves. The appropriation of Byzantine titulature did not end along with the Anglo-Saxon rule of England in 1066.  This was not the only appropriation of Byzantine style that William engaged in.  It seems likely that William was not acting blindly in these instances, but had set out to methodically appropriate Byzantine imagery to enhance his own rule.

Later in Scandinavia the same held true. ” This visit was recorded in Scandinavian sources, if not in Byzantine, because while the visit was routine for the Byzantine emperor, it was not for the Scandinavian rulers.  Recognition of a ruler’s ascension or his accomplishments by the emperor of 26 The Byzantine Ideal Byzantium did not mean he was subject to the emperor (despite what the emperor may have thought), but it did enhance his prestige and his legitimacy in the medieval European mindset.

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Armies of the Middle Ages by Ian Heath


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