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7. Comnenian Imperial Succession and the Ritual World of Niketas Choniates’s Chronike Diegesis

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Chapter Summary

This chapter constitutes a case study on one of the most influential texts of twelfth-century Byzantium, Niketas Choniates' Chronike diegesis, and its narrative presentation of succession procedures at the court of the Comnenian and Angeloi emperors. His narrative reflects an extraordinary sensibility in observing political rituals and perceiving their role within the innermost sphere of Constantinopolitan imperial power. In addition, unlike most historians of the same period, who are mainly concerned with certain outstanding personalities, such as Alexios I, Manuel Komnenos, or Andronikos I, Choniates depicts long-term developments of the Byzantine state over a period of almost ninety years. The author's retrospective interpretation of ritual acts thus decisively contributes to a revision and transformation of the past according to his own viewpoint and constitutes a crucial feature in the formation of historical memory.

Keywords: Andronikos I; Angeloi emperors; Byzantine state; Comnenian Imperial Succession; historical memory; Niketas Choniates' Chronike diegesis; ritual acts



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