By Krijnie N. Ciggaar
Nea Rhome Vol. 2 (2005)
Introduction: One of the attractions of studying the history and culture of Byzantium is the chance to come across texts which have gone almost unnoticed and which ask for further interpretation. New knowledge about artefacts and historical facts contribute to a better understanding of Byzantium in all its facets, including its position amidst its many neighbours.
Byzantium was part of a world that comprised the Mediterranean. In the sixth century the Eastern Roman empire had dominated the Mediterranean and the countries that bordered it. The Arab conquest had changed the situation and Western Europe had developed in its own way, eventually creating a number of merchant city states in Italy with their own networks all over the Mediterranean, including Byzantium, Egypt and, during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Crusader States in the Eastern Mediterranean. All these contacts were alternately friendly or hostile. Despite the Arab conquest of Egypt the Orthodox patriarch of Alexandria had remained in office. The city remained the place of residence of the Melkite (Orthodox) patriarchs whereas the Coptic patriarch left Alexandria at a certain moment. For certain periods information on the patriarchs of Alexandria is almost non-existent, even if they had to go to Constantinople for their consecration. The list of patriarchs, including the dates of their election and consecration, is therefore incomplete.The same goes for their contacts with the Byzantine capital. Greek and Coptic sources often remain silent about the Orthodox patriarchs of Alexandria and their flock.