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date: 20 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The family occupied a central place in Byzantine society, as indicated by the degree to which the family served as a model for other types of relationship. For example, the language of kin was extensively used to describe non-kin. The late ninth century was a formative period for family structures in Byzantium. In a series of novels, the emperor Leo VI introduced changes to marriage and adoption that increased the Church's role in both. The most common means of creating a wider family network was baptismal sponsorship, with the ritual of baptism creating spiritual ties of kinship that united godparents and natural parents as co-parents, and the offspring of both families as spiritual brothers and sisters. This article also looks at adelphopoiia, which could provide a means of access and intimacy between a man and a woman or people of the same sex, as well as monasticism, which was patterned on familial roles.

Keywords: family, kinship, Byzantium, Leo VI, marriage, adoption, monasticism, baptism, baptismal sponsorship, adelphopoiia

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