Dancing in the Streets of Byzantine Constantinople





Processions, Hippodrome, Book of Ceremonies, Guilds, Sensory experience, Urban space


This article evaluates the significance of processions in Byzantine Constantinople and the role of dancing within them. Evidence is drawn from literary sources concerning imperial, church-sponsored, guild, hippodrome and more spontaneous urban processions, as well as from material culture. Medieval Constantinople saw a large number of processions, perhaps two a week, and they traversed all areas of the city. They were noisy affairs, accompanied by chanting, acclamations and, often, musical noise, so that even when they were not directly visible, they were audible more or less everywhere in the city. Dancing was incorporated in all but liturgical processions (though it may also have been part of these, on occasion). Processions could create a sense of urban unity, or become expressions of conflict: audience participation was normal and sometimes violent. Hence one key-though unofficial-the role played by processions in the Byzantine capital was to give voice to the urban population.


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How to Cite

Brubaker, L. . (2022). Dancing in the Streets of Byzantine Constantinople. Culture &Amp; History Digital Journal, 11(2), e014. https://doi.org/10.3989/chdj.2022.014