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Political and legal status of the Byzantine Emperors

Перевод Е. Скоковой.

By Velichko A.M.,

                                                   Doctor of Laws

Political and legal status of the Byzantine Emperors

(historical and ideological evolution of their powers)

 

«We know what fear inspires your respectable power to the evil, and what care you provide about the world of church. That is why we are praying God to save your power for a long time, which usually protects piety, reigns peacefully over the universe, judges each citizen justly, conquers the raised hands of the enemies and makes obey your scepters «

                (From the message of the Council of Chalcedon to the Emperors Valentinian III and Marcian)

 

«As an eye belongs to the body, so the king, given by God to the work for the common welfare, is not separable from the world. He must take care of all people as his own members, so that they have time for good things and not to experience evil «(Deacon Agapit, VIth century.)

 

 

  1. Formation of the imperial power in Rome

 

On January 13, 27 BC, having won the competitors, a dictator and a commander Octavian (27 – 14 BC) resigned his extraordinary power, but he retained the overall governing of the Roman state. No position, according to the Roman law, provided with such powers, and then Octavian accepted the title of «emperor», or informally princeps («first among the equal», «outstanding man with moral qualities») who, in his opinion, should legitimize the new state of affairs. Thus the imperial power was born. On May 29, 1453 during the siege of Constantinople last monarch of the Holy Roman (Byzantine) Empire, St. Constantine XI Palaeologus (1448-1453) died. Their names are associated with the beginning and the end of a historical era of human development, one and a half thousand-year era of the Roman monarchy, under gentle and caring tutelage of which Christianity was generated and propagated all over the world.  Политико-правовой статус Византийских императоров PDF

Byzantine Empresses

Перевод выполнен Е. Скоковой

By Velichko A.M.,

Doctor of Laws

Byzantine Empresses

 

«Have you seen a male soul in a female body? Have you seen a female chastity, the memory of which remains with the victory forever? This woman is glorified before men, exalted by angels, crowned by God — wives, imitate her, and you will be honored by God »

John Chrysostom.

 

Certainly, the central figure of the Byzantine state was the emperor – it was much written about (even by this writer) and it makes no sense here to mention this topic. It is sufficient to say that, being a person whose status is sacred, a Roman (Byzantine) king had unprecedented powers in the political sphere and in the sphere of church government. Being «the Vicar of Christ on earth» ( official royal title), «whose duty, indicated God, is to take care of all people,» according to St. Justinian the Great (527-565), «for his there is nothing impossible because the emperor ought to care and express concern to save his people.» Basileus directly regulated the issues of church governing, and even dogma, including questions of dogma. He did not claim to perform the sacraments and mainly the most important of them — the Eucharist, but he actively participated in them as a clergyman, serving in his holy altar, coming into it during the Liturgy through the Holy Doors, performing duties of a religious man and receiving the sacred gifts as a priest as well. византийские императрицы_ENG

King and the Old Testament Church

Перевод выполнен Е. Скоковой

Velichko A.M.,
Doctor of Laws

King and the Old Testament Church
«Whoever would say, undoubtfully, that due to natural conditions of human life kings are the highest representatives of the nation, its color, they embody spiritual strength of people»
Y.A. Bogorodskiy   «Jewish kings»
I.
What should be the nature of the relationship of Church and State, whether they should be co-workers in the development of human or antagonists? How many spears were broken around this and other similar questions in theoretical debates! However, despite the variety of options, we are not afraid to say that, as a rule, all distinguishing theoretical versions are caused by only one circumstance —personal understanding of  the author, what the state and the Church are. Today, the state is often understood as an equal to the machinery of government, the same as the Church with hierarchy of it.  In fact, the Church is not only bishops, and all the believers in Christ. And the state is a society united by a single authority, and living under one law, not only the bureaucracy. And it is impossible to separate the Church from the State, if its members are simultaneously citizens of this political union. Earlier when society lived according to the laws of Christ, it was taken for granted. Not coincidentally, St. Gregory Palamas, who lived in the XIVth century, portrayed the civil war in Byzantium not as a political event, but as a catastrophe of the Church.

2_The King and the Old Testament church_BrE

Sacral basis of Law

Velichko A.M.,

Doctor of Law,

Fetisov Timofey

                                                                              Archpriest, Candidate of Theology

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Sacral basis of Law

 «Law is the eternal truth, its foundation is in God. There is God, therefore, there is Law as a universal and necessary definition of peace, which draws its life in God and flows from it. «

                             F. Harms

«Being created with free will, a person is truly free only when he lives and acts correctly, but not according to his will. Sudden, illegal wishes immerse man in slavery of sin and put him into the power of a hostile evil force, the law for which is lawlessness. Observing the law and following the path of the law, people do good and fair deeds; breaking it, disregarding the law, they are undergone to  punishment in life  on the  Earth, and in the future. «

                V.I. Ivanov

What is Law? For many centuries this question has been on the agenda of jurists. It is clear what legislation is. This is a set of existing legal acts (laws, decrees, orders, instructions), adopted by the authorized bodies of the state, establishing rules of conduct, prohibitions on certain actions and sanctions for their non-compliance. But what the word «law» means is not clear, because until today the conventional wisdom has not been formed. And the mockery of the great Immanuel Kant: «Lawyers are still looking for the right definition of law» is still actual now.

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Rule of a single man and the Byzantine «multipower»

                                                                                    By Velichko A.M.,

Doctor of Law

 Перевод Е. Скоковой   

 

Among the phenomena given to us by the Byzantine civilization there is one that makes a clan of lawyers greatly surprised and as is often happens, becomes the reason for a great number of  opinions- highly negative, neutral and sympathetically positive. It is an amazing form of personal power — Byzantine «multipower» which allowed simultaneous presence of two, three or more emperors who possessed from a formal legal point of view equal authority. Moreover, no matter how many kings there were in fact, the imperial power itself according to the opinion of the Byzantines was conceived in a single person – such an amazing phenomenon!

Do you agree, if we were talking about some kind of a single precedent or a phenomenon, peculiar to one particular period of Byzantine history, there was no need to talk about any phenomenon at all. But the matter is that we are facing with an ordinary political and legal practice and it is the most important institution of the Byzantine statehood. Читать далее

«The problems of building a civil society in modern Russia and its dialogue with the West «

By Velichko A.M.,

Doctor of Law

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I.

There are some absolute criteria without which no modern political society can be recognized as civilized and cultural. These criteria are the following: the role of law, citizen participation in the activities of the state (active and passive suffrage), the openness of government, the existence of institutions of «civil society» etc. Despite of the fact that these principles are axiomatic, they were widely recognized. It is obvious that their role is to provide freedom of the individual in a wide meaning of the word. It is assumed that only in this case the person is able to demonstrate his skills and his talents implement and satisfy his needs. And this is a main task of the political society. Читать далее

Velichko Alexey Mikhailovich

Velichko Alexey Mikhailovich full State Counselor II class of Justice of the Russian Federation, Doctor of Jurisprudence. Born on April, 22nd, 1963 in Taganrog Rostov region.
Served military obligations from 1981 till 1983, in law-enforcement bodies with 1984 for 1988. A.M.Velichko graduated from college of law of the Leningrad state university in 1990. In 1995 defended Candidate dissertation on “The doctrine of B.N. Chicherin of justice and state). In 1999 A.M.Velichko became full professor of St. Petersburg University of Ministry of the Interior.
In 2000 A.M.Velichko defended Doctor’s dissertation on “National ideals of Russia and Occident: correlation of legal cultures”.
From December 1993 till February 2006 A.M.Velichko worked in different positions of judicial authorities, held the position of RF Constitutional Court Judge Counselor. From February 2006 till July 2008 A.M.Velichko was employed as Counselor of plenipotentiary of RF President in Volga Federal District. By presidential edict from July 23, 2008 #994 was appointed as Deputy of Minister of Justice of Russian Federation.
By presidential edict from 22.01.2010 # 96 was appointed as Deputy of Director of Federal Penitentiary Service.
A.M.Velichko was awarded a medal “In honor of the 300th Anniversary of St. Petersburg”. In 2009 A.M.Velichko was awarded the title of “Honored Attorney of Russian Federation”.
The sphere of scientific interests of A.M.Velichko is made by problems of correlation of legal cultures of Russia and Occident, integration and opposition of which are visually shown in the solution to the problem of definition of a national-legal ideal, and that is fundamental for theory of State and Law 
 A.M.Velichko has published more than 40 scientific works, among them 8 monographs, 2 manuals. The most significant are: “the State ideals of Russia and Occident. Parallels of legal cultures” (1999); “To the basic principles of the Russian local government and methods of their scientific research” (1999); “Historical forms of the Russian statehood” (1999); “Christianity and a social ideal (philosophy, Law and sociology of industrial culture)” (2000); “Philosophy of Russian Statehood” (2001). 
 A.M. Velichko has proved a new perspective scientific research field – the theory of the political-legal forecasting which has appeared on a cross-sectoral issue of theory of State and Law, political science, sociology and legal philosophy. For the first time in research practice of domestic jurisprudence A.M.Velichko has elaborated the structure of the state-legal ideal considered as a complex socially-legal category, the objective and subjective factors influencing formation of model of the state ideology, optimum for modern Russia have been researched.
A.M.Velichko is the author of numerous works on Byzantium science and ecclesiastical law.

Reception in ecclesiastical law

Velichko A.M.

Doctor of Law

Juridical science that set its goal to describe and study the objective reality has no right to exclude phenomena connected with existence and activity such a numerous “public union” (as a modern jurist would call it) as a Church, from object of its research. We would remind you that the issue is not only a union that influenced greatly on our state’s modern political and social life. The multifaceted European culture taking the road of secular society only relatively lately, owes its formation to Christianity. The Church has its religious doctrine, history, traditions, law after all. And handling of church law, study of its peculiarities has objective legal-theoretical and legal-historical interest. All the more so because the last researches in that area for obvious reasons were ceased nearly hundred years ago except for certain rare ones that appeared in recent years.

However, there is a practical aspect in full here. The government, implementing the civic right of conscience and religious freedom, in the name of supreme political power has to know what real consequences one or another legislative act, infringing Church’s interests and sphere of activity, will have. The legislator that tries to regulate such a delicate sphere of person’s spiritual life, should, of course, proceed from principles, categories and values those church mentality operates. This is possible only in the case where they are known: you need to live up to Church’s reason and not to “analytics” of the secular man to comprehend an ecclesiastical law.

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After the Fall of Byzantium

After the  Fall of Byzantium

Commencing the last assault Sultan Mehmed II promised his troops three days of unbridled pillage of the city. Having stormed into Constantinople the Osmanli Turks used every moment to satisfy their instincts. In the rage of the battle with taking no notice of people they slaughtered everyone they met, and blood ran in torrents in the streets. The sackage broke out: the Turks rushed to the Palace of Blachernae and hastily took all the valuable assets out. Someone ran to Chora Churches and brought the precious shrine – the icon of Virgin Hodegetria, it was said to have been painted by Luke the Evangelist.  The Turks ripped the riza off and cut the icon into four pieces[1]. They dragged praying women and children by hair out of the churches and beslaved them. They raped nuns and murdered men on the spot.

At least they reached the great church of Hagia Sophia at the moment of celebrating the morning liturgy. The Turks broke into the main Orthodox Church just as the choir and the priest with the sanctified Gifts were leaving the altar. According to the legend, to prevent the shrine from desecration the priest started towards the south wall that opened before him (!), swallowed him up and immediately closed.

It is said, the priest with the Cup and the choir will appear again on the day Constantinople returns to Christian hands[2]. Even if it is a legend it becomes rather beautiful and symbolic. The Byzantine Empire was conquered physically but spiritually, by the grace of God, remained inaccessible to the invaders.

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Ecumenical councils

Ecumenical councils

Ecumenical councils – are a truly unique phenomenon in the history of the Holy Orthodox Ecumenical Church. Their decisions were and are considered till now as the final judgment of the whole Church according to the most important questions of the Orthodox beliefs and the canonical permit of the most various questions of church life. Just on the Ecumenical councils the truth, stored by the whole Catholic Church, was represented. The Church «gives a high priority to the legislative supreme authority, carries on it the whole set of its spiritual rights, as if it pours itself together with them (emphasis added– A.B.) » with interpretations, determinations and identifications «in a certain period of its life, though in a whole flow of its inexhaustible spiritual advanceit stands higher them, covers with its authority and approves of its acceptance».

At the same time, historically established, that the Cathedrals initially didn`t possess a kind of a certain competence. A range of problems, which could been resolved exceptionally at the Ecumenical council, had never been a secret and the final. How we’ll see, in quite a number of cases the Councils modified its competence. Quite often the other bodies of the ecclesiastical authorities accepted prerogatives, that earlier had been admitted to belong only tothe Councils (church dogmas, canons and disciplinary matters). There is neither a regulation of their action, nor a circle of invitees, nor a periodicity of convocation; even a procedure of their conduct hasn`t been definite.

It turned out, that the Ecumenical councils are higher than the canon law and situated beyond the sphere of the canonical regulation. And it is moreover surprising, that traditionally in the Byzantine Empirereigned a cult of privileges. It is extremely illogically: the Roman Empire, owning the highest technics of the development of the systematic, unified laws, admitted the existence of a phenomenon, incompatible with its legal traditions. No one effort of a legislative settlement of its practice was made for 400 years. But then – the period of the Law code of St. Theodosius the Younger, the Code of St. Justinian the Great, the Eclogue of Leo II and Constantine V, Isaurian Dynasty. Later, in the IX century, when nobody could still assume, that the epoch of the Ecumenical councils had been completed, The Epanagoge of the Patriarch of Constantinople St. Photios the Greatand Basil I, called the Macedonian,were elaborated, and then, a little bit later — the basilisk of the Emperor Leo IV the Wise. But these the most well-known legislative acts, by some unspoken tradition, from a legal point of view, didn`t regard the most important questions of the Council`s actions. Читать далее