Between Old and New Rome : Armenian and Bulgarian Contacts with the Papacy around 1204
Abstract: The aim of this thesis is to examine the use of symbolic power at the establishment of the Second Bulgarian Empire and the Cilician kingdom of Armenia, and to further explore and discuss problems of language, translation, ethnography, legitimacy, culture and distinctions between “East” and “West” through these cases. Despite their geographical distance and diverse histories, these regions are united through a past of Byzantine domination and by their entering into unions with the Roman Papacy at this time. The central source of the study is the correspondence between the pope and the rulers of Bulgaria and Armenia. Numerous other sources from and about them are used as well, including historical, theological and eschatological works. Employing the sociological concepts of category and groupness and cultural semiotic concept of repertoire, this dissertation analyses the establishment of these two powers as well as the eastbound ambitions of the Papacy. The study demonstrates that the cultural repertoire of Cilician Armenia was gearing westwards in this age, both through importing foreign items such as Latin titles and through stressing historical and legendary connections with the Roman Empire as a source of symbolic power. The repertoire of the Second Bulgarian Empire was very closely aligned with Byzantine ideas but went through changes too during this time, stressing the importance of Bulgarian history as a source of symbolic power as well as investing that history with connections to the Papacy in Rome. Many and sometimes contradictory ideas of Rome were at play. They could refer back to the ancient Roman Empire, to Byzantium or to the Holy Roman Empire, as well as to the city of Rome and its Papacy. Pope Innocentius III propagated a Rome that was Christian rather than imperial through the eastward expansion of the Roman Church and his engagement with temporal rulers. Armenia and Bulgaria played key roles not only as eastern bastions and possible helpers in crusades but also in showcasing the expansion of papal influence and an order in which the Holy Roman Empire was not exalted but one power among others. The Armenian king Lewon did not acknowledge Byzantium as Roman but showcased his relationship with the Holy Roman Empire as well as the Papacy, having use both for an imperial Rome with associations back to ancient legends and for the Papacy that put him in a better position to deal with Latin neighbours. The Bulgarian emperor Caloiohannes, by contrast, acknowledged Byzantium as Roman and would indeed emulate many Byzantine practices and hierarchies. While he turned away from Byzantium, he did not turn away from Byzantine ideas, bonding with the pope that he knew as the patriarch of Rome in order to be properly crowned emperor. The thesis also shows that there was no contradiction between the Vlach and Bulgarian elements in the foundation of the Bulgarian Empire, arguing that Vlachs and Bulgarians were not reified groups but categories employed for different political purposes. Vlach was a word used to brand someone as barbaric and illegitimate while Bulgarian could be connected with a glorious past and invested with groupness and symbolic power. Similar if not as striking processes can be observed in Armenia, where Lewon made sure to become part of the category of Roman Christian which he had in common with his Latin neighbours, using that to achieve goals that the more exclusive category of Armenian could not.
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