A Look and Analysis of Liutprand's Mission to Constantinople
Submitted By jmyrick12
Emperor Otto sent Liutprand, bishop of the holy church of Cremona, to Constantinople in 968 C.E., to the court of Emperor Nicephorus Phocas, as part of a peace attempt between the two kingdoms. Liutprand’s mission was to successfully arrange the marriage between Otto’s son, Otto II and Byzantine Princess Anna Porphyrogenity. This entire mission is chronicled in one of the most important primary documents written in the 10th century titled, Relatio de legatione Constantinopolitana. This entire account is extremely detailed. Within the text, a strong theme of distain towards the Byzantine Empire emerges. Even more importantly, scholars are now able to get a strong contextual understanding of the major conflicting ideals, cultural differences, and ecclesiastic power struggles between the budding Eastern Empire and the rooted Western Empire. The document, Relatio de legatione Constantinopolitana, was written as an explanation to Otto of Liutprand’s overall failure of his mission. Scholars are able to infer this because of Liutprand’s tone in regards to Emperor Nicephorus Phocas, as well as, the bishops of the emperor’s kingdom. What was set to be a peaceful meeting in order to fasten ties between two opposing Christianized empires, turned out to be, as Liutprand described it, an “imprisonment”. The reader is able to feel the tension in the very first description of Emperor Phocas, as Liutprand describes him as a “monstrosity of a man, a pygmy, fat-headed and like a mole as to the smallness of his eyes; disgusting with his short, broad, thick, and half hoary beard; disgraced by a neck an inch long; very bristly through the length and thickness of his hair.” This extremely judgmental description of Emperor Phocas, by Liutprand, was written in a way that one could assume he was trying to marginalize the emperor, as well as, seem as if the West was somehow not only on...