from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Byzantinism is a term that is often used disparagingly in political journalism as a catchphrase for "cringing" flattery or submission to real or presumptuous authorities. In a narrower sense, the term describes the conditions in the Byzantine Empire and at the imperial court of that time.

Historical background

After the division of the Roman Empire in 395, a strong empire was established in the eastern part (Byzantium) and with it the principle that the religious order, the ius sacrum , is part of the law to be determined by the emperor. Emperor Justinian (527-565) took it as a matter of course to regulate religious issues. In connection with the newly awakened religious statism , a " Christianized , sacred absolutism" emerged, the later development of which was called Byzantinism .

The labeling a behavior as byzantine (often byzantinistisch particular from is called) of modern , Western European unacceptable view and complicated court ceremonial, of despotism and intrigue addressed that in the Byzantine Empire to the person of the Byzantine emperor had developed. These included, for example, the mechanically soaring throne , the host of white-clad eunuchs and the practice of Proskynesis , i.e. the commandment to throw oneself to the ground when approaching the holy person of the emperor , and the prohibition of any criticism of the rulers - who understood themselves as "sent by God".

The court ceremony that arose in Constantinople over the centuries and was based on earlier Caesar glory and aimed at complete submission and almost adoration was often imitated, and sometimes even outbid , at the absolutist courts of Europe and also at the court of the Ottoman Sultan . All the more, after the overcoming of absolutism through the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, every attempt by the remaining monarchs of Europe to revive the bygone period of divine right at least externally was disapproved by the bourgeois forces.

The accusation of Byzantinism was u. a. raised against Napoleon I and Wilhelm II . In the unspoken connection with Wilhelm II, Ludwig Quidde deals with the terms Byzantinism and Caesar madness in his work Caligula, a study on Caesar madness (1894, last of the numerous editions 1926).

Wilhelm Busch used the term to refer to Wilhelmine Germany in a time-related manner: “This jubilee and monument economy is positively disgusting. We are stuck in a downright disgusting Byzantinism. But it is difficult for the individual to escape this vertigo. "


  • Dirk von Pezold: Caesaromania and Byzantinism at Wilhelm II. Cologne University, dissertation 1972.
  • Karl Holl, Hans Kloft, Gerd Fesser: Caligula - Wilhelm II and the Caesar madness. Reception of antiquity and Wilhelmine politics using the example of “Caligula” by Ludwig Quidde. Edition Temmen, Bremen 2001.

Web links

Wiktionary: Byzantinism  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Single receipts

  1. [1] term Byzantinismus
  2. Historical Keyword Book [2] Keyword Byzantinismus
  3. Reinhold Zippelius , State and Church, 2nd edition, chapter 2 c
  4. academic dictionaries and encyclopedias [3] from Universal Lexikon
  5. academic dictionaries and encyclopedias [4] from Meyers Großes Konversationslexikon
  6. a b Matthias Spindler, University of Vienna: Prussianism and Byzantinism Archived copy ( Memento of the original from February 5, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. 2011 edition @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. ^ Wilhelm Busch: Complete Works, First Volume, Gütersloh 1959, p. 9, Theodor Heuss' essay in the foreword