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New Medieval Books: Rival Byzantiums

Rival Byzantiums: Empire and Identity in Southeastern Europe

By Diana Mishkova

Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 978-1-108-49990-3

A look at how the Byzantine Empire came to be viewed in five countries – Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Serbia and Turkey. At times during Middle Ages, all of these countries were part of Byzantium, and this has made an impact on their historiography.


This book explores the national interpretations of the impact of the Byzantine empire and the Byzantine legacy in the historiographies of Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania and Turkey – countries which once belonged to the Byzantine political and cultural orbit and whose modern history, it is often held, bears, to a greater or lesser extent, the hallmark of these political and cultural entanglements. Dimitri Obolensky’s famously couched the idea of Byzantine Commonwealth – a community cutting across linguistic and ethnic boundaries and united by Byzantine traditions and Orthodoxy – easily comes to mind. In the perspective of Byzantium’s ‘afterlife’ in the historiographies of southeastern Europe, however, it is this notion’s ironic retraction that stands out. Variously appropriated and instrumentalized, and subject to often conflicting interpretations, Byzantine culture and legacy subverted rather than asserted the idea of a shared past.


Who is this book for?

To understand the history of the Byzantine Empire, one needs to learn how historians and people have viewed it in the past, especially from those places that were most affected by Byzantium. Therefore, this book will be a must-read for those interested in Byzantium or the historiography of the region in general.

The author:

Diana Mishkova is Professor of History and Academic Director of the Centre for Advanced Study in Sofia, Bulgaria. Her work focuses on the Balkans and how modern historians have helped to shape views of their region. Click here to view Diana’s page.


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