Κυριακή, 5 Αυγούστου 2018

Liutprand of Cremona and the view of Byzantine Greeks by West

The Diocese of Cremona (Latin: Dioecesis Cremonensis) is a Roman Catholic ecclesiastical territory in northern Italy, a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Milan. Its see is the Cremona Cathedral. Cremona is in Lombardy, Italy, on the left bank of the River Po. It was built by the Cenomanni Gauls, but later became a Roman colony and a frontier fortress. About 600 AD Cremona, until then a part of the Byzantine Emperor, was captured by the Lombard king, Agilulf. Under the Emperor Otto I and his successors, its bishops acquired temporal sovereignty, but in 900 AD the people expelled Bishop Olderico and adopted a republican form of government. Liutprand, (c. 920 – 972), was a historian, diplomat, and Bishop of Cremona born in what is now northern Italy, whose works are an important source for the politics of the 10th century Byzantine court. Liutprand was born into a prominent family from Pavia, of Lombard origins, around 920. In 931 he entered service as page to Hugh of Arles, who kept court at Pavia as King of Italy and who married the notorious and powerful Marozia of Rome. Liutprand was educated at the court and became a Deacon at the Cathedral of Pavia. After Hugh died in 947, leaving his son and co-ruler Lothair on the throne as King of Italy, Liutprand became confidential secretary to the actual ruler of Italy, Berengar II, marchese d'Ivrea, for whom he became chancellor. In 949, Berengar II sent him on a goodwill mission as an apprentice diplomat to the Byzantine court of Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus with whom he became friendly. Liutprand went partly to learn Greek and may have provided material for chapter 26 of Constantine VII's De Administrando Imperio. Both Liutprand's father and his stepfather had been sent as ambassadors to Constantinople (927 and 942). Liutprand included in his later Antapodosis(950s), a glowing account of the hospitality he enjoyed there, including being carried into the audience hall on the shoulders of eunuchs, and Constantine's delight in receiving a gift of four de luxe eunuchs. On his return, however, he fell out with Berengar, for which Liutprand avenged himself in his Antapodosis ("retribution"), and attached himself to Berengar's rival, the emperor Otto I, who became King of Italy upon the death of Lothair in 950. With Otto I he returned to Italy in 961 and was invested as Bishop of Cremona the following year. At Otto's court, he met Recemund, a Córdoban ambassador, who convinced him to write a history of his days (the later Antapodosis, which was dedicated to Recemund). Liutprand was often entrusted with important diplomacy, and, in 963, he was sent to Pope John XII at the beginning of the quarrel between the Pope and the Emperor over papal allegiance to Berengar's son, Adelbert. Liutprand attended the Roman conclave of bishops that deposed John XII in 963, and wrote the only connected narrative of the events.
He was frequently employed in missions to the Pope, and in 968 he was sent again to Constantinople, this time to the court of Nicephorus Phocas, to demand for the younger Otto (afterwards Otto II) the hand of Anna Porphyrogenita, daughter of the former emperor Romanus II. The possible marriage was part of a wider negotiation between Otto and Nicephorus, the Eastern Emperor, who still claimed Benevento and Capua, which were actually in Lombard hands and whose forces had come to strife with Otto in Bari recently. His reception at Constantinople was humiliating and ultimately futile after the subject of Otto's claim to the title Emperor caused friction, triggered by a letter from Pope John XIII which offensively addressed Nicephorus as "the emperor of the Greeks". Liutprand's account of this embassy in the Relatio de Legatione Constantinopolitana is perhaps the most graphic and lively piece of writing which has come down to us from the 10th century. The detailed description of Constantinople and the Byzantine court is a document of rare value, though highly coloured by his hostility towards the Byzantine Empire. The Catholic Encyclopedia asserted "Liutprand's writings are a very important historical source for the tenth century; he is ever a strong partisan and is frequently unfair towards his adversaries." Liutprand's candid account makes clear that often he was not as diplomatic as he might have been and Constanze Schummer has questioned how good a diplomat he really was in Constantinople, despite successes in the West. On his second mission to Constantinople, for instance, after his purple purchases are confiscated, he tells the imperial party that at home whores and conjurers wear purple. Schummer and others have speculated that Otto I did not actually see the Relatio or receive an accurate account of Liutprand's performance at Constantinople. Whether he returned in 971 with the embassy to fetch Theophanu, the eventually negotiated bride, or not is uncertain, but he may well have done. Liutprand probably died before 20 July 972, certainly before 5 March 973. His successor as bishop of Cremona was installed in 973.
The West stabbed the Byzantium Empire in the back on several occasions. The Byzantines were not always very kind to the Westerners. They regarded them as Barbarians long after they had ceased being Barbarians, and they despised them. In the next centuries they had produced a most remarkable civilization of their own. But on the other side, when the Byzantines called them for help against the Islamic enemy, they launched the crusades. Which, in the first instance were useful to Byzantine foreign policy. But ultimately, they decided that we should make use of the crusades for our own purposes. In 1204 AD they broken to Constantinople, burnt the place, destroyed the Byzantium Empire and divide it into western principalities. They left Eastern Europe and central Europe wide open to the Turkish Invasions of the next few centuries. Western Christianity is regarded with suspicion and with a little envy, because it have never had to face the challenges that Orthodox Christendom has faced in every century of its existence. The Byzantines spent most of their history facing down Islam. You do not face down Islam for five or six centuries and do it successfully by accident. You do that because you have a deep belief in your own civilization and your culture and because you have the ability to organize yourself for the defense.  But, ultimately, the Orthodox Christians lost that long contest with Islam. Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Athens and all of the centers of Eastern civilization and Christianity were ultimately overrun by the Muslims. The story moves into Kiev and into Moscow. But there also was a long contest for faith: there was a Mongol invasion, the Ottoman Empire invasions and, in XX century, there was a devastating challenge of Soviet communism. Orthodoxy has survived, and in Russia it is triumphed. And that requires a certain toughness which we in the West may perhaps lack. We have never faced an existential challenge in the way that Orthodox Church has faced in century after century. Something that we must accept is that there are radical differences between Eastern and Western Christianity. These are differences of Church doctrine and these are differences of national culture. But ultimately, we are all members of the same Christian civilization. When we face challenges from outside Christendom, I think it is time to set aside some of the differences and to work together for a common survival of our civilization. In any conventional war between the Christian power and Islamic power for the past four hundred years, the Christian power has been triumphed. There is such an enormous difference in wealth and technological ability between Christendom and all other civilizations, that I do not think we need to worry.
Πηγή : https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liutprand_of_Cremona

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