Commandaria and the eponymous Rumney wine Retsina wine flavored with pine resin

Commandaria and the eponymous rumney wine retsina

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Commandaria and the eponymous Rumney wine). Retsina, wine flavored with pine resin, was also drunk, as it still is in Greece today, producing similar reactions from unfamiliar visitors; "To add to our calamity the Greek wine, on account of being mixed with pitch, resin, and plaster was to us undrinkable," complained Liutprand of Cremona, who was the ambassador sent to Constantinople in 968 by the German Holy Roman Emperor Otto I. [217] The garos fish sauce condiment was also not much appreciated by the unaccustomed; Liutprand of Cremona described being served food covered in an "exceedingly bad fish liquor." [217] The Byzantines also used a soy sauce like condiment, murri, a fermented barley sauce, which, like soy sauce, provided umami flavoring to their dishes. [218][219] Byzantines were avid players of tavli ( Byzantine Greek: τάβλη ), a game known in English as backgammon, which is still popular in former Byzantine realms, and still known by the name tavli in Greece. [220] Byzantine nobles were devoted to horsemanship, particularly tzykanion, now known as polo. The game came from Sassanid Persia in the early period and a Tzykanisterion (stadium for playing the game) was built by Theodosius II (r. 408–450) inside the Great Palace of Constantinople. Emperor Basil I (r. 867–886) excelled at it; Emperor Alexander (r. 912–913) died from exhaustion while playing, Emperor Alexios I Komnenos (r. 1081–1118) was injured while playing with Tatikios, and John I of Trebizond (r. 1235–1238) died from a fatal injury during a game. [221][222] Aside from Constantinople and Trebizond, other Byzantine cities also featured tzykanisteria , most notably Sparta, Ephesus, and Athens, an indication of a thriving urban aristocracy. [223] The game was introduced to the West by crusaders, who developed a taste for it particularly during the pro-Western reign of emperor Manuel I Komnenos. In the Byzantine state, the emperor was the sole and absolute ruler, and his power was regarded as having divine origin. [224] The Senate had ceased to have real political and legislative authority but remained as an honorary council with titular members. By the end of the 8th century, a civil administration focused on the court was formed as part of a large- Cuisine Recreation A game of τάβλι (tabula) played by Byzantine emperor Zeno in 480 and recorded by Agathias in c. 530 because of a very unlucky dice throw for Zeno (red), as he threw 2, 5 and 6 and was forced to leave eight pieces alone. [220] Government and bureaucracy
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scale consolidation of power in the capital (the rise to pre-eminence of the position of sakellarios is related to this change). [225] The most important administrative reform, which probably started in the mid-7th century, was the creation of themes, where civil and military administration was exercised by one person, the strategos . [226] Despite the occasionally derogatory use of the terms "Byzantine" and " Byzantinism", the Byzantine bureaucracy had a distinct ability for reconstituting itself in accordance with the Empire's situation. The elaborate system of titulature and precedence gave the court prestige and influence. Officials
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