The Libraries of the Byzantine World

byzantium libraries

The evidence for institutional libraries—those of the palace, the secular and patriarchal schools in Constantinople, and the monasteries—gives an approximate idea of the nature and extent of their holdings.

The First Arab Siege of Constantinople

Konstantinos Kaldis - View of Constantinople - 1851

The details of the siege remain, however, shrouded in mystery: its exact dates (670–7 or 674–8?) and length (4 or 7 years?) are a matter of controversy; it is disputed whether the Arabs subjected Constantinople to a regular siege or only to a naval blockade; and the overall logic of events is far from clear.

1500-year-old Byzantine grape seeds discovered in Israel

wine of negev

The charred grape seeds, over 1,500 years old, found in southern Israel excavation were used to produce the ‘Wine of the Negev’ – one of the finest and most renowned wines in the whole of the Byzantine Empire.

Roman identity in Byzantium: a critical approach

Theodosius I offers laurels of victory; we can see the water organ of Ctesibius, in the lower right-hand corner - Wikipedia

The main lines of thinking in the research on medieval Eastern Roman identity could be roughly summarized as follows: The first, extensively influenced by the retrospective Modern Greek national discourse, approaches this identity as the medieval form of the perennial Greek national identity.

Mothers of the Empire: Empresses Zoe and Theodora on a Byzantine Medallion Cycle

Khakhuli triptych

This study examines Byzantine enamel medallions of the 11th century that represent empresses in encounters with holy figures.

‘De civitatis utriusque, terrenae scilicet et caelestis’: Foundation Narratives and the Epic Portrayal of the First Crusade

Siege of Antioch - from a 15th-century miniature painting.

My summary of a paper given at the Institute of Historical research on the accounts of Antioch and Jerusalem during the First Crusade.

Medieval Warfare Magazine – Volume IV Issue 6

Medieval Warfare Magazine Issue IV 6

The Lombard-Byzantine conflict was a defining moment in Byzantine history, and especially important for the future of Italy. The wars would not only lead to the end of Byzantine hegomony in Italy, but they also helped in widening the gap between the pope and Catholic Italy on the one hand, and the Emperor and Greek Constantinople on the other, thus paving the way for the emergence of new Romano-German Christian realms in the West.

The last wonderful thing: the icon of the Heavenly Ladder on Mount Sinai

The Ladder of Divine Ascent 12th c.

Description and dating of the icon of the Heavenly Ladder Jacob ‘dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached toheaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

A Byzantine lament for a lost wife

Theodore_II_Laskaris_miniature

‘For a bond of incomparable love made us happier than all people, but the thieving and cruel hand of Hades cut the bond mercilessly. ‘

The Patriarch Alexios Stoudites and the Reinterpretation of Justinianic Legislation against Heretics

Justinian and his attendants - 526-547 AD (Byzantine) San Vitale, Ravenna

Using normative legal sources such as law codes and imperial novels to illuminate Byzantine heresy is a very difficult proposition. One of the great problems in the analysis of Byzantine law in general is that the normative legal sources rarely were adapted to subsequent economic, political, or social conditions.

Unexpected Evidence concerning Gold Mining in Early Byzantium

Roman gold mine

One of the consequences of the decline of Roman imperial might was the shortage of slaves at state-run mines. Consequently, criminals were often sentenced to damnatio ad metallum. The need for gold especially soared when the gold solidus was introduced at the beginning of the fourth century.

Classical trends in Byzantine and Western Art in the 13th and 14th centuries

Annunciation Mileševa Monastery

During the last two centuries before the Renaissance of the arts in Italy in the 15th century, different waves of classical trends marked the artistic creation of both Byzantine and western worlds.

Gendered Souls: Female Religious and Imperial Power in Early Byzantium

Empress Irene

I examine three empresses, Pulcheria (398-453 CE), Theodora (500-548 CE), and Irene (752-803 CE), in the hopes of illuminating their claims to imperial power while also placing them in the context of a larger historical tradition.

Byzantine art exhibition now open in Chicago

Heaven and Earth at the Art Institute of Chicago

A new exhibition, Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections, opened last month at the Art Institute of Chicago, and showcases more than 60 superb artworks of the Byzantine era, from the 4th to the 15th centuries.

Latin Patrons, Greek Fathers: St Bartholomew of Simeri and Byzantine Monastic Reform in Norman Italy, 11th-12th Centuries

A mosaic with Roger II receiving the crown from Christ, Martorana, Palermo. The mosaic carries an inscription 'Rogerios Rex' in Greek letters. (Wikipedia)

St Bartholomew of Simeri (ca. 1050-1130), a Greek monastic founder and reformer from Calabria, saw the effective end of Byzantine imperial power in southern Italy in 1071, the conquest of Muslim Palermo by Robert Guiscard the following year, and the rise of the Norman kingdom of Roger II at the end of his life.

Byzantine Monastery discovered in Israel

Photographic credit: Israel Antiquities Authority

Archaeologists in Israel have discovered the remains of a Byzantine-era compound near Jerusalem. They believed it is to have once been a monastery and includes an oil press, wine press and mosaics.

Robert of Courtenay (1221-1227): an idiot on the throne of Constantinople?

Robert Courtenay

Among scholars who have discussed Robert’s reign – however superficially – there appears to exist a relative consensus, with few exceptions, that the misfortunes that befell the empire of Constantinople during this period are largely to be attributed to his personal and utter incompetence. In this contribution I would like to challenge that view.

Byzantine Military Advice

Byzantine Military Advice

‘General, when the enemy acts boldly, entice him into premature, reckless action and useless maneuvers. If he is on timid side, hit him hard with constant and rapid attacks. You must know the disposition of the enemy general and employ your own stratagems accordingly.’

12th-century Byzantine manuscript returned to Greece

byzantine manuscript - image courtesy the Getty Museum

After being stolen from a monastery over fifty years ago, a 12th-century Byzantine manuscript has been returned to Greece by the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Justinian’s Reconquest: Notions of Return in Procopius’ Gothic Wars

Italy and Sardinia

Though the native Italians play a relatively minor role in the Gothic Wars, the essay will suggest, that in Procopius’ mind, the Western Romans’ ‘decision’ to forego their martial roles for less martial forms of male self-fashioning in the fifth century had led, not only to the rise of the ‘barbarian’ Vandals and the Goths, but had separated the Italians from an essential component of Romanitas—masculine martial virtues.

Slaves, Money Lenders, and Prisoner Guards: The Jews and the Trade in Slaves and Captives in the Crimean Khanate

Jewish Slave Trader being presented to Boleslav of Bohemia

Trade in slaves and captives was one of the most important (if not the most important) sources of income of the Crimean Khanate in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries.

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