New Constantine or New Judas? Academic Dean discusses Michael VIII Palaiologos

Academic Dean Dr. Ionut-Alexandru Tudorie presented his research into the legacy of Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos at the latest installment of St. Vladimir’s Seminary’s monthly academic seminars. On March 5, Dr. Tudorie delivered the lecture, “New Constantine or New Judas? The Afterlife of an Excommunicated Emperor: Michael VIII Palaiologos (1258-1282),” in the Seminary’s Gerich Boardroom.

“My research topic—in general terms, the consequences of an excommunication on the body and soul of an individual and the question of whether Michael VIII Palaiologos was a potential saint or an outcast—is one that I have been developing for years now,” said Dr. Tudorie.

Dr. Tudorie has had the opportunity to discuss his findings on several occasions, including at the Sorbonne in Paris and the Spring Symposium of the Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

“As interesting as the subject is, this topic has received surprisingly little attention from scholarly circles,” Tudorie added. “The one who took Constantinople back from the Latins ended this life as an excommunicated individual, both by the Greek and Latin Churches.”

“The legend about the repulsive appearance of his uncorrupted, swollen body erupted a century after his death and endured until the fall of Constantinople. This strong image of the so-called ‘New Constantine,’ provided and discussed by several authors, can be easily connected with a peculiar image of Judas in Hell in Byzantine and post-Byzantine iconography.”

The Seminary’s Monthly Seminar series—initiated by Dr. Tudorie himself—is meant to operate as a kind of academic laboratory for scholars, allowing each month’s presenter to share their latest findings to their peers, engage in discussion, and receive feedback.

“I got several questions, and it seems that the audience really enjoyed the topic,” Tudorie said. “Both students and faculty were engaged in the discussion.”

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