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HIST 0165 Byzantium 1204-1453

The capture of Constantinople by the forces of the Fourth Crusade in 1204 initiated one of the most fascinating periods of Byzantine history.  A Western Catholic (‘Latin’) emperor ruled in Constantinople for 57 years, while smaller Greek polities struggled and thrived in equal measure. In 1261 the Latins were driven out of the capital by Michael VIII Palaiologos, whose dynasty then reigned until Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in 1453. In some ways the Empire never recovered from the fragmentation of 1204 and it also faced new challenges from East and West. Nevertheless, the cultural, intellectual and religious pursuits of the period contradict the image of political decline, and offer extraordinary insight into the changing landscape of Byzantium society.

Sample Topics

·     The Latin Conquest of Constantinople, 1261
·     Successor states and reclamation
·     Economy – decadence and survival
·     Religion in the Palaiologan Period and the rise of hesychasm
·     Internal fragmentation
·     Byzantine Foreign Policy
·     A Cultural ‘Renaissance’?
·     The Final Collapse, 1453

Introductory Reading
·     Nicol, D.M., The Last Centuries of Byzantium, 1261-1453. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2nd edn, 1993

·     Arbel, B. et al., eds., Latins and Greeks in the eastern Mediterranean after 1204. London: Frank Cass, 1989

·     Necipoğlu, N., Byzantium between the Ottomans and the Latins: politics and society in the late empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009

·     Magoulias, H. J., ed. & trans., O City of Byzantium! Annals of Niketas Choniates, Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1984

·     T.S Miller ed. & trans., The history of John Cantacuzenus (book 4): text, translation and commentary, Catholic University of America, 1975

Thankful for every moment
I devoured the integral lectures, the seminars, the tea and biscuits, and the charming streets of Oxford. Aided by my tutors, my passion for the human...
Mike Rectenwald, Summer 2000, Geneva College