This paper explores the enigmatic legal status of Muslims and non-Orthodox (heretical) Christians in Byzantine law. Since Justinian’s sixth-century codification of Roman law enjoyed preeminent status within the Byzantine legal tradition, the legal standing of non-Orthodox subjects was constantly refracted through a Late Antique lens. Muslims, for instance, had to be grouped with other non-Orthodox and seem to have been variously classified as heretical Christians or pagans. Imperial considerations of trade (regulating commerce with foreigners) and conquest (accommodating new subjects within the existing legal regime) facilitated various pragmatic ad hoc solutions to this problem of classification.
Byzantine memorial practices up until roughly the turn of the millennium might have been regarded as different in degree rather than kind from those of other parts of the Christian world. By contrast, Byzantine and Orthodox beliefs and practices associated with death, burial, and remembrance in the late medieval and early modern period (ca. 1300–1700), though in many respects similar to those in Catholic and Protestant Europe, pursued an independent development. In order to explore the Byzantine and immediate post-Byzantine relationship with death, dying, and burial, this chapter begins with a brief sketch of the development of these practices from Late Antiquity until the Fourth Crusade. An examination of mortuary customs is then offered with a focus on the Late Byzantine period (1204–1453). Finally, the further development of these mores is followed in the first centuries of Ottoman rule (1453–1700). Over the course of this survey several important features in the Byzantine approach to death and dying can be discerned: first, the increasing importance of the commemoration of the dead through prayer and votive masses; second, the pivotal role the Byzantine rejection of purgatory played in funerary and commemorative practice; third, the centripetal tendencies of Byzantine and post-Byzantine memorial practices, which were initially centred upon Constantinople and later upon Mount Athos.
The best-attested and most important endowments of Orthodox Christians in the medieval world were created by means of foundation charters (ktetorika typika). Via a typikon, a founder or ktetor was able to regulate the present and future functioning of his (invariably monastic) endowment, often in minute and voluminous detail. Of particular interest for the topic of this special issue of ENDS are some post-Byzantine monastic foundation charters, which hitherto have received almost no scholarly scrutiny. Among these charters is the testament of the patriarch Jeremiah i for the Stauroniketa Monastery on Mount Athos. His monastic charter demonstrates the continuity of Byzantine endowment practices in the first centuries of Ottoman rule, yet also underlines new difficulties for monastic founders attempting to adapt the quintessentially medieval Christian practice of composing typika to the strictures of an Islamic legal regime.