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‘And the whole city cheered’: The politics and poetics of the miraculous in the early Palaiologan period

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    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in 'Late Byzantium Reconsidered: The Arts of the Palaiologan Era in the Mediterranean' on 4 March 2019 available online: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9781351244831

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLate Byzantium Reconsidered
Subtitle of host publicationThe Arts of the Palaiologan Era in the Mediterranean
EditorsAndrea Mattiello, Maria Alessia Rossi
ISBN (Electronic)9781351244831
ISBN (Print)9780815372868
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2019


This chapter examines two instances of the miraculous preserved in late Byzantine historiography, and its impact on late Byzantine civic discourse: first, George Pachymeres’ description of a healing miracle at Magnesia in 1303 that is rich in political implications, as the deaf and dumb brother of the town’s kastrophylax saw an apparition of the emperor John III Batatzes; second, the miraculous healing of Emperor Andronikos III’s wounded foot upon his entry to Thessalonike during the first civil war in 1328 (as reported by John Kantakouzenos). I argue that its top-to-bottom structure, as compared to the far more common bottom-to-top structure of such miracles, renders the Magnesia episode somewhat suspicious and subsequently analyse to which degree Kantakouzenos’ account, with its focus on the miraculous healing, differs from Gregoras’ account of the same event. The chapter concludes that miraculous performances were, on occasion, purposely exploited to steer late Byzantine civic discourse.

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