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Administration of the Byzantine Empire and the Civil Service


In the Byzantine state, the emperor was the sole and absolute ruler of a theocratic state, and his power was regarded as having divine origin, Unlike the Roman emperors such as Diocletian who ruled as gods, the rulers of the Eastern Empire were seen as the representative of God on earth. As the visible manifestation of God's will, emperors are often depicted with halos usually reserved for religious figures. The halos didn't prevent the emperors from ambitious rivals and often met bitter ends by being blinded, having the nose cut off or executed . Of the 88 emperors who ruled the empire, 29 met violent ends and 13 retired to monasteries .There was no fixed rule in the matter of succession, those who ended up with the throne must have God's will. Emperors had to follow the rituals built up over centuries, compiled by Constantine VII Porphyrogitus in De ceremoniis. A new emperor was raised on a shield and lifted up in the old Roman way.By 457 the patriarch of Constantinople had grown in power to place the crown on the emperor's head.

One source of strength of the Byzantine Empire was the civil service tradition inherited from Rome. Officials of high offices were recruited after passing difficult exams, most were from noble families but was open to men of talent. Officials were nominated, promoted and dismissed by the emperor.For many centuries, the chief minister was the magister officii, head of the civil service,police and court ceremonies. Officials wore uniforms and badges indicating their rank. Entering the service was called ' taking the belt' after the military style belt worn by officials By the 8th century, themes, where civil and military administration is exercised by one person, the strategos had come about. while at time rife with corruption and maintain law and order in times of anarchy as well as resist tyranny( as well as reform).

Many of the high offices were held by eunuchs, who were not seen as a threat and many high posts were reserved for them and served as a check on the power of the nobility.. Patriarchs of Constantinople were frequently eunuchs as were generals such as Narses and admirals such as Eustathius Cymineanus.




The Hippodrome