Stephen Hagiochristophorites

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Killing of Hagiochristophorites, miniature by Jean Colombe in Les Passages d'outremer [fr
] (c. 1473), BNF. Francais 5594, fol. 193v haut, Mort d'Etienne Hagiochristophorites.jpeg
Killing of Hagiochristophorites, miniature by Jean Colombe in Les Passages d'outremer  [ fr ] (c. 1473), BNF.

Stephen Hagiochristophorites (Greek : Στέφανος Ἁγιοχριστοφορίτης, Stephanos Hagiochristophorites; ca. 1130 – 11 September 1185) was the most powerful member of the court of Byzantine emperor Andronikos I Komnenos (ruled 1182–85), and was killed by Isaac II Angelos, who the next day deposed and replaced Andronikos, while trying to arrest him.

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Andronikos I Komnenos Byzantine emperor

Andronikos I Komnenos, usually Latinized as Andronicus I Comnenus, was Byzantine Emperor from 1183 to 1185. He was the son of Isaac Komnenos and the grandson of the emperor Alexios I.

Isaac II Angelos Byzantine emperor

Isaac II Angelos was Byzantine Emperor from 1185 to 1195, and again from 1203 to 1204.

Contents

Life

Stephen Hagiochristophorites was of humble origin. The archbishop Eustathius of Thessalonica records that his father was a tax-collector. [1] [2] In the second half of the reign of Manuel I Komnenos (r. 1143–1180), Hagiochristophorites tried to attach himself to the imperial court, but was confronted by the ridicule and hostility of the aristocracy. Indeed, according to Eustathius, when he attempted to seduce an aristocratic lady and take her to wife to advance his own position, he was publicly flogged and had his nose cut off. [1] [2] Nevertheless, his determination was rewarded, and he was able to climb the administrative hierarchy, finally culminating in the office of administrator of the army, which he apparently received by Manuel I himself and held during the short reign of his son, Alexios II Komnenos (r. 1180–1182). [3]

Eustathius of Thessalonica Byzantine historian and writer

Eustathius of Thessalonica was a Byzantine Greek scholar and Archbishop of Thessalonica. He is most noted for his contemporary account of the sack of Thessalonica by the Normans in 1185, for his orations and for his commentaries on Homer, which incorporate many remarks by much earlier researchers.

Manuel I Komnenos Byzantine Emperor

Manuel I Komnenos was a Byzantine Emperor of the 12th century who reigned over a crucial turning point in the history of Byzantium and the Mediterranean. His reign saw the last flowering of the Komnenian restoration, during which the Byzantine Empire had seen a resurgence of its military and economic power, and had enjoyed a cultural revival.

Political mutilation in Byzantine culture

Mutilation in the Byzantine Empire was a common method of punishment for criminals of the era but it also had a role in the empire's political life. Some disfigurements practised bore a secondary practical rationale as well. By blinding a rival, one would not only restrict their mobility but make it almost impossible for them to lead an army into battle, then an important part of taking control of the empire. Castration was also used to eliminate potential opponents. In the Byzantine Empire, for a man to be castrated meant that he was no longer a man—half-dead, "life that was half death". Castration also eliminated any chance of heirs being born to threaten either the emperor or the emperor's children's place at the throne. Other mutilations were the severing of the nose (rhinotomy) or the amputating of limbs.

Hagiochristophorites continued in this post when the rebellion of Andronikos I Komnenos brought him to the throne, an event that marked a radical change in his fortunes. Within a very short time, Hagiochristophorites established himself as the new emperor's most trusted and powerful minister. [3] Along with Constantine Tripsychos and Theodore Dadibrenos, Hagiochristophorites strangled Alexios II Komnenos with a bowstring in September/October 1183, leaving Andronikos as the sole emperor, a feat for which he was rewarded with the rank of pansebastos sebastos and the post of logothetes tou dromou . [1] [4]

Alexios II Komnenos Byzantine emperor

Alexios II Komnenos or Alexius II Comnenus was Byzantine emperor from 1180 to 1183. He was the son of Emperor Manuel I Komnenos and Maria, daughter of Raymond of Poitiers, prince of Antioch. He was the long-awaited male heir and was named Alexius as a fulfilment of the AIMA prophecy.

The logothetēs tou dromou, in English usually rendered as Logothete of the Course/Drome/Dromos or Postal Logothete, was the head of the department of the Public Post, and one of the most senior fiscal ministers (logothetes) of the Byzantine Empire.

By September 1185, discontent in Constantinople was seething against Andronikos' regime: popular rumour said that a celebrated image of Saint Paul was shedding tears, and even a court soothsayer, Skleros Seth, had foretold that the name of Andronikos' successor would start with an "I". [5] Andronikos and his followers took this to mean the young aristocrat Isaac Angelos, and on 11 September, they struck: while the emperor retired to a palace on the Asian suburbs of the city, Hagiochristophorites and his attendants went to Isaac Angelos' house near the Peribleptos Monastery. Isaac at first panicked but then resolved to go down fighting, and, wielding a sword and riding his horse, charged his assailants. Faced with this unexpected attack, Hagiochristophorites turned to flee, but Isaac struck him on the head and left him dead. After wounding the attendants and forcing them to flee, Isaac galloped down the Mese thoroughfare on horseback to the Hagia Sophia, shouting to the populace of his deed. [6] [7] Thus driven to an act of open sedition, and with the populace rallying behind him, on the next day Isaac was crowned emperor by the Patriarch Basil Kamateros, while Andronikos fled and was captured and executed a few days later. [8]

Constantinople capital city of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, the Latin and the Ottoman Empire

Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire (1204–1261) and of the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923). In 1923 the capital of Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, was moved to Ankara and the name Constantinople was officially changed to Istanbul. The city is located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul. The city is still referred to as Constantinople in Greek-speaking sources.

Church of St. George of Samatya Church in Istanbul, Turkey

Saint George of Samatya or Surp Kevork is an Armenian church in Istanbul.

Mese (Constantinople)

The Mese was the main thoroughfare of ancient Constantinople. The street was the main scene of Byzantine imperial processions. Its ancient course is largely followed by the modern Divanyolu Avenue.

Reputation

The rise of this "most celebrated of the parvenues" (Charles Brand) to such power, his haughtiness and ruthlessness, and his complicity in the murder of Alexios II and in Andronikos' increasingly tyrannical rule, with its bloody purges of the aristocracy, combined to make Hagiochristophorites an object of hatred for the traditional elites, as attested in the writings of contemporaries and subsequent historians. [1] [9] Choniates describes Stephen's role in the proscriptions as the "ringleader and chief" of Andronikos' partisans, "whose thunderous voice crashed through the palace, sweeping away [...] all who were deemed suspect by Andronikos." [10] Indeed, Choniates records that his surname, literally meaning "Holy Bearer of Christ"—although originally probably reflecting a place of origin dedicated to Saint Christopher [11] —was popularly changed to Ἀντιχριστοφορίτης, Antichristophorites, literally meaning "bearer of the Antichrist", for, in the words of Choniates, "he was the most shameless of Andronikos' attendants, filled with every wickedness". [9] [12] Likewise, Niketas' brother, the Archbishop of Athens Michael Choniates called him "the iron nerve of tyranny", while a "dialogue of the dead" written after Andronikos' overthrow depicts him, head still cloven in two, trying to tax the dead in Hades in order to pay for his passage on Charon's boat. [13]

A parvenu is a person who is a relative newcomer to a socioeconomic class. The word is borrowed from the French language; it is the past participle of the verb parvenir.

Antichrist prophesised opposition to Christ

In Christian eschatology, the Antichrist or anti-Christ is someone recognized as fulfilling the Biblical prophecies about one who will oppose Christ and substitute himself in Christ's place before the Second Coming.

Michael Choniates Greek bishop

Michael Choniates, Byzantine writer and ecclesiastic, was born at Chonae. At an early age he studied at Constantinople and was the pupil of Eustathius of Thessalonica. Around 1175 he was appointed archbishop of Athens, a position which he retained until 1204. In 1204, he defended the Acropolis of Athens from attack by Leo Sgouros, holding out until the arrival of the Crusaders in 1205, to whom he surrendered the city. After the establishment of Latin control, he retired to the island of Ceos. Around 1217 he moved again to the monastery of Vodonitsa near Thermopylae, where he died.

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Alexios Komnenos (protosebastos)

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 Kazhdan 1991, p. 895.
  2. 1 2 Savvides 1994, p. 348.
  3. 1 2 Savvides 1994, p. 349.
  4. Savvides 1994, pp. 349–350.
  5. Savvides 1994, pp. 350–351.
  6. Savvides 1994, pp. 351–352.
  7. Magoulias 1984, pp. 188–189.
  8. Magoulias 1984, pp. 189–193.
  9. 1 2 Savvides 1994, p. 350.
  10. Magoulias 1984, p. 185.
  11. Savvides 1994, p. 347.
  12. Magoulias 1984, pp. 162–163.
  13. Savvides 1994, pp. 352–53.

Sources

Alexander Kazhdan Soviet historian and Byzantine Empire specialist

Alexander Petrovich Kazhdan was a Soviet-American Byzantinist.

<i>Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium</i> book

The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium is a three-volume historical dictionary published by the English Oxford University Press. With more than 5,000 entries, it contains comprehensive information in English on topics relating to the Byzantine Empire. It was edited by Alexander Kazhdan, and was first published in 1991. Kazhdan was a professor at Princeton University who became a Senior Research Associate at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC before his death. He contributed to many of the articles in the Dictionary and always signed his initials A.K. at the end of the article to indicate his contribution.

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.