Praising A City: Nicaea, Trebizond, and Thessalonike

Praising A City: Nicaea, Trebizond, and Thessalonike

Aslıhan Akışık

Journal of Turkish Studies, Vol.36 (2012)

The late Byzantine period(1204-1461) was distinguished by the existence of multiple,competing, and interconnected centers, superseding the imperial and Constantinopolitan model of the middle period. Civic identity, defined largely in opposition to the “other”,which refers to the Latins in the earlier part of this period and the Turks in the latter, wasan integral component of the late Byzantine intellectual’s self-definition. City enkomia, adefunct genre, was revived in the late period by authors such as Theodore II Laskaris,Theodore Metochites, John Eugenikos, Bessarion, and Mark Eugenikos to praise Nicaea,Trebizond, and Thessalonike among other Byzantine cities. This paper provides threecompeting visions of late Byzantine identity: Roman, Hellenic, and Christian. In spite of their differences, these three alternate solutions to the question of Byzantine identity and Byzantine self, all engaged with oppositions between inside and outside and developed the notion of freedom in the context of autonomous centers, existing in opposition to Constantinople.

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