Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 7445
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Hilsdale , Cecily J.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Bride, Book, and Visuality
  • Source: Byzantine Studies Conference. Abstracts of Papers 28, ( 2002): Pages 40 - 41.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Conference Paper Abstract
  • Subject (See Also): Brides Byzantium Diplomacy Manuscripts Marriage
  • Geographic Area: Eastern Mediterranean
  • Century: 14
  • Related Resources:
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  • Abstract: Study of Vatican Greek manuscript 1851 poses a methodological problem for art historians, philologists, and historians alike not only because of the absence of proper names on any of the surviving folia but also because the images find few parallels for comparison. It is modest in scale yet highly sumptuous, and tells the story of the arrival of a western princess to marry a Byzantine porphyrogenitos. Each page, rich in visual and textual narrative, reveals much about social values, perceptions, and expectations of brides and foreignness in the Byzantine world. Scholarly attention, however, has almost entirely concerned issues of chronological identification – an issue that certainly merits close and careful attention, but should not preclude other interpretive strategies. Regardless of chronology, it is clear that both the text itself and the accompanying miniatures were intended for a bride, and in particular a western bride, as noted by Hans Belting in 1970. My analysis of the relationship between word and image demonstrates that the message of the manuscript would be comprehensible to a newly arrived foreign bride with little to no knowledge of Greek. The pages visually and textually tell us of her long journey, of the honor accorded the various messengers, and her reception in Constantinople and integration into the imperial family. Notions of inclusion and transformation dominate the narrative and set the pace or tempo of the story. In the Vatican codex, we find a visual evocation of the ideal diplomatic marriage, not an attempt to mirror reality but a didactic projection of expectations. The narrative structure of the manuscript represents the proper or ideal social structure of incorporation. It emphasizes total inclusion, transformation and final fully-integrated display, thus stressing her transformation from western to eastern. My paper, after considering chronological issues, explores the implications of the bride and the book and the complex kinship relations set off by their exchange. I argue that the book intimately stresses the bride’s new identity, slowly leading her through a web of Byzantine expectations. [Reproduced by permission of the author.]
  • Author's Affiliation: University of Chicago
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2002.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 01473387
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