Research Project


„Die Macht der Zeichen am byzantinischen Kaiserhof“ / Political divination at the Byzantine court

Prof. Dr. Michael Grünbart

- In my project I will investigate signs, prodigies and omina that influenced political (or military) decisions of the Byzantine emperor. Beside a steady state of emergency concerning decisions emperors had to cope with various challenges that could affect his authority. Signs – connected to the supernatural and divine – and their interpretation formed an important part of imperial rulership and its self-image, as many historiographers record from the 6th to the 15th centuries. The importance of the interpretation of signs underline the references to manuals that were available at the imperial court. Even on campaigns special literature as e.g. brontologies were used alongside military writings, seismologies and dream books taken along. The interpretation of signs influenced both the emperor and his subjects. The result of my project should lead to a book on political divination including a typology of its scripts after antiquity in a new Christian context.

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