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The Historiography of Byzantine City: Interpretations, Methodology, and Sources

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The Byzantine City from Heraclius to the Fourth Crusade, 610–1204

Part of the book series: New Approaches to Byzantine History and Culture ((NABHC))

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Abstract

This chapter will be divided into two parts. The first one will try to propose a more nuanced and complex approach, as paired with its archaeological penchant to the traditional historiographical juxtaposition continuity vs. discontinuity which has been the unavailable starting point in any discourse on the Byzantine city. It will propose a more Mediterranean-based approach to the trajectories of Byzantine urbanism encompassing the fragmentation of the Great Sea post-Late Antiquity and reaching out to the eleventh and twelfth-century when Byzantine cities were deeply embedded in a flourishing Mediterranean economy. The second part will move from another supposed juxtaposition (polis vs. kastron) to examine the historiographical debate concerning the fate of urbanism in the period spanning between the Late Antiquity and the Fourth Crusade. It will also present the reader with the main methodological issues concerning material and literary sources essential to analyze regional trajectories of urban city-life and cityscape.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    For a full-scanned version of the Peutingerian Table see http://www.fhaugsburg.de/~harsch/Chronologia/Lspost03/Tabula/tab_intr.html retrieved on 1 March 2021.

  2. 2.

    See for instance the events organized during the Covid-19 pandemic by TORCH-Oxford Research Center in the Humanities (https://www.torch.ox.ac.uk/new-critical-approaches-to-the-byzantine-world-network#/ retrieved on 1 March 2021) and the debate promoted by Antony Kaldellis and Leonora Neville on the opportunity of abandoning the labels Byzantium and Byzantine. The latter are thought of enabling a Eurocentric western-oriented narrative about Greece, Rome, Europe, and the Renaissance that does not want to recognize classically educated, Greek-speaking, Orthodox Romans in the east (https://byzantiumandfriends.podbean.com/e/43-is-it-time-to-abandon-the-rubric-byzantium-with-leonora-neville/ retrieved on 1 March 2021).

  3. 3.

    See above Chap. 1, pp. xx–xx.

  4. 4.

    The notable exceptions have been already mentioned in Chap. 1, p. xx.

  5. 5.

    For the Notitiae Episcopatuum see Darrouzès (1981); for the Acts see Mansi (1759–1927).

  6. 6.

    The translation from German is mine.

  7. 7.

    See also Chap. 1, ftn. 10.

  8. 8.

    See McGeer (2008) with reference to all the above mentioned military handbooks.

  9. 9.

    Curta (2006, 430) himself advocated for a synthesis of local studies of individual settlements in the region.

  10. 10.

    This although the military outlook remained unfavorable to Byzantium until well into the second half of the ninth century (Curta 2019, 310.)

  11. 11.

    Although the model of intensification-abatement was not originally applied to urban sites (Horden and Purcell 2000, 260–79) it has been effectively used to interpret their transformation in socio-political, economic and cultural terms (see for instance Avni 2011, 328–9).

  12. 12.

    See above, Chap. 1.

  13. 13.

    The Colloquium entitled “The Byzantine Neighborhood: Urban Space and Political Action” was organized by Fotini Kondili and Benjiamin Anderson https://www.doaks.org/research/byzantine/scholarly-activities/the-byzantine-neighborhood-urban-space-and-political-action-1 retrieved on 1 March 2021.

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Zavagno, L. (2021). The Historiography of Byzantine City: Interpretations, Methodology, and Sources. In: The Byzantine City from Heraclius to the Fourth Crusade, 610–1204. New Approaches to Byzantine History and Culture. Palgrave Pivot, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-84307-6_2

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