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Medieval Macedonian Dynasty and Macedonian Renaissance

The term “Macedonian Renaissance” designates the artistic development in the Balkans during the period of medieval Macedonian dynasty which ruled for two centuries with the Eastern Roman Empire, also so called Byzantium.

Macedonian dynasty (867-1056 AD)
First of all, it is important to note that „Byzantium", or „Byzantine Empire" was a later term for the Eastern Roman Empire, coined and used a whole century after the fall of the Empire itself. That name is a derivative of the name of the ancient city of Byzantion, on whose place, the city of Constantinople, the second Roman capital, was built, which happened in the 4th century AD.

„Byzantine Empire" is a historiographically fabricated name from the 16th century, which was made up to differentiate that Empire from the previous Roman Empire, as two distinct and separate entities. For the first time the term „Byzantium" was mentioned in 1557, when the German historian Hieronymus Wolf published his work „Corpus Historiæ Byzantinæ“, which is actually - a collection of historical sources about Eastern Roman Empire.

On the other hand, the rulers of the Macedonian dynasty were usurpers of the Eastern Roman throne. But they all underline their Macedonian title, i.e. the Macedonian name and nomenclature, and call themselves – Macedonians.

Even the South-Slavic spiritualist St. Clement of Ohrid in his writings speaks about Tsar Basil I - the Macedonian, who requested a visit from St. Methodius, the great Slavonic spiritual father and educator. The Tsar „wished his blessing and welcomed him with great joy and with highest honors”.

The founder of the Macedonian Dynasty, Basil I was probably of Armenian origin. According to Scottish historian James Robertson although there are also unconfirmed theories that he was a descendant of a noble ancient Macedonian family, or a Slav. Basil himself preferred to be called Macedonian.

These rulers insisted on the Macedonian name, which somehow, labeled their land - Macedonian Empire. Centuries later, dozens of sources say that the „Balkan Peninsula" was called Macedonia, Macedonian region, Macedonian countries etc.

So, among the others, the rulers of the Macedonian dynasty are also responsible for the entrenching of the Macedonian name in this part of the World. It all contributed for their art, and the new artistic waves, to be called – „Macedonian Renaissance", or „Macedonian art".

Macedonian Renaissance
The term „Macedonian Renaissance" was first used in 1948 by Kurt Weitzmann in „The Joshua Roll: A Work of the Macedonian Renaissance.”

Because the word Renaissance was created in the 15th century by Italian humanists to describe their own time, its use outside of that context is problematic; however, the period in question certainly did produce ideas and works of art that reflected a reassessment of classical ideals.

The term Macedonian Renaissance was first used by Kurt Weitzmann in his The Joshua Roll: A Work of the Macedonian Renaissance. It describes the architecture of Macedonia. At the same time, the manuscripts of "Paris Psalter" (Paris, Bib. Nat. de France) were indicated as the best examples of Macedonian Renaissance by scholars.

The Leo Bible (Rome, Vatican, Bib. Apostolica) is a Byzantine illuminated manuscript dated to the mid 10th century, making it one of the earliest surviving Byzantine Bibles. Though only one volume survives, a preface and an intact contents page tell us that the Bible originally contained both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Due to its association with the Macedonian Renaissance it is often grouped along with the stylistically similar Paris Psalter and Joshua Roll.

Unfortunately, the authors of these works are not accurately and precisely identified and named.
Icons, relief art, sculptures, various portraits, mosaics can surely be included as well.

There is no doubt that the Macedonian Renaissance created new ideas and produced original artwork that marked the period of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Author: Slobodan Ivanov

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