University Library of Leipzig (D-LEu)

The University reader already has a well made content bar which allows you to go through the manuscript without any further need of a detailed description (see the screenshot). The manuscript which is the main source of the book of ceremonies, was written at a Constantinopolitan scriptorium like other manuscripts with military content: Tours, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. C 980, Vatikan Library Vat. gr. 73, Ms. B 119 supp. of the Milanese Biblioteca Ambrosiana, and the manuscript Plut. 55,4 of the Florentine Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana.

Ms. Rep I 17


Beginning of 34th chapter in the first book about ceremonies on Theophany etc. (fol. 70v)

Late X • Book of Ceremonies (Περὶ τῆς Βασιλείου Τάξεως “About the imperial order”, ff.21v-256v) written and compiled during the Makedonian Renaissance. The first book was commissioned by Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos, the second book with a description of historical ceremonies was probably compiled after his death to complete the collection (it was currently used to reconstruct the different layers of the Imperial palace between the current ruins of the hippodrome and Hagia Sophia III, see for instance publications by Jeffrey Featherstone and many others).

The compilation of this manuscript (Featherstone 2002) was partially revised later under Nikephoros II (963-969): book I:93-105 and II:26-55, perhaps under the supervision of Basil Lekapenos, the imperial parakoimomenos, and it also contains earlier descriptions of the 6th century. One of the book's appendices are the three treatises “on imperial military expeditions”, a war manual written by Constantine VII for his son and successor, Romanos II (ff.1r-21r preceding the preface, προοίμιον, of the ceremonial book).

In this completed form (known from this manuscript) chapter 1–44 of book I describe processions and ceremonies on religious festivals (many lesser ones, but especially great feasts such as the Elevation of the Cross, Christmas, Theophany, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter and Ascension Day and feasts of saints including St Demetrius, St Basil etc. often extended over many days), while chapter 45–92 describe secular ceremonies like horse races or rites of passage such as coronations, weddings, births, funerals, or the celebration of war triumphs. Book II follows a very similar composition: (1) religious feasts and the more or less mythological description of certain palace buildings according to the Macedonian Renaissance, (2) secular ceremonies and imperial ordonations, (3) imperial receptions and war festivities at the hippodrome. But its descriptions remember later customs of the Porphyrogennetos dynasty, including those of Constantine and his son Romanos. It seems to be less normative, it rather describes particular ceremonies as they had been celebrated during particular imperial receptions of the past.


The manuscript was edited and translated into Latin by Johann Jakob Reiske and commented by Johannes Heinrich Leich during the 18th century, even the current edition by Ann Moffatt is still based on Reiske:

Konstaninos Porphyrogennetos. Constantini Porphyrogeniti Imperatoris De Ceremoniis Aulae Byzantinae libri duo graece et latini e recensione Io. Iac. Reiskii cum eiusdem commentariis integris. ed. Johann Jakob Reiske & Johannes Heinrich Leich. Leipzig (17511754). Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae. Bonn: Weber, 1829.
Featherstone, Jeffrey Michael. “Preliminary Remarks on the Leipzig Manuscript of De Cerimoniis.” Byzantinische Zeitschrift 95 (2002): 457–79. doi:10.1515/BYZS.2002.457.
Konstantinos Porphyrogennetos. The book of ceremonies in 2 volumes. ed. Ann Moffatt. Byzantina Australiensia. Canberra: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies, 2012.

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