The Scenography of Power in Al-Andalus and the ʿAbbasid and Byzantine Ceremonials: Christian Ambassadorial Receptions in the Court of Cordoba in a Comparative Perspective

In: Medieval Encounters
Elsa Cardoso Researcher of the Centre for History, University of Lisbon Faculty of Arts of the University of Lisbon, Alameda da Universidade 1600 Lisbon Portugal

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This essay considers ceremonial features represented during Christian diplomatic receptions held at the court of Cordoba, under the rule of Caliphs ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III (912‒961) and al-Ḥakam II (961‒976), in a comparative perspective. The declaration of the Umayyad Caliphate of the West by ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III marked the institutionalization of a carefully elaborated court ceremonial, reaching its greatest development under the rule of al-Ḥakam II. Detailed official ambassadorial ceremonies will be addressed, such as receptions of ambassadors from Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos, and King Otto I, or the reception and submission of Ordoño IV, deposed king of Leon, accounted by both Muslim and Christian sources. Such ceremonies will be compared with ʿAbbasid and Byzantine similar receptions, analyzing furthermore the origin and symbology of those rituals within the framework of diplomatic and cultural exchanges and encounters.

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