This volume explores the political, cultural, and ecclesiastical forces that linked the metropolis of Byzantium to the margins of its far-flung empire. Focusing on the provincial region of Hellas and Peloponnesos in central and southern Greece, Judith Herrin shows how the prestige of Constantinople was reflected in the military, civilian, and ecclesiastical officials sent out to govern the provinces. She evokes the ideology and culture of the center by examining different aspects of the imperial court, including diplomacy, ceremony, intellectual life, and relations with the church. Particular topics treat the transmission of mathematical manuscripts, the burning of offensive material, and the church's role in distributing philanthropy.
Herrin contrasts life in the capital with provincial life, tracing the adaptation of a largely rural population to rule by Constantinople from the early medieval period onward. The letters of Michael Choniates, archbishop of Athens from 1182 to 1205, offer a detailed account of how this highly educated cleric coped with life in an imperial backwater, and demonstrate a synthesis of ancient Greek culture and medieval Christianity that was characteristic of the Byzantine elite.
This collection of essays spans the entirety of Herrin's influential career and draws together a significant body of scholarship on problems of empire. It features a general introduction, two previously unpublished essays, and a concise introduction to each essay that describes how it came to be written and how it fits into her broader analysis of the unusual brilliance and longevity of Byzantium.
Judith Herrin is the Constantine Leventis Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Hellenic Studies at King's College London. She is the author of Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire, Women in Purple: Rulers of Medieval Byzantium, and The Formation of Christendom (all Princeton).
"Herrin is acutely aware not only of Byzantium's place in the world, but also of its idiosyncrasies, which she illuminates by bringing into play the ecclesiastical sources in a way that few other Byzantine historians have done. Her essays reveal first and foremost her breadth of vision."--Michael Angold, editor of The Cambridge History of Christianity: Eastern Christianity
"Tracing her journey across the history of Byzantium, Herrin's elegant essays display her insightful approaches, solid methodology, and vast historical knowledge."--Christine Angelidi, Institute of Historical Research, Athens
"Herrin's essays reveal a capacity given to very few historians--the power to present the big picture without ever losing sight of the vital details. Their genesis over the course of her career, and more importantly their bearing on our current intellectual and political situation, illustrate what it means to be a humane and humanistic scholar in the last half century."--Anthony Cutler, author of The Hand of the Master
"All of Herrin's essays reveal a distinguished historian with a clear intellectual consciousness."--Antonio Carile, University of Bologna
"This wide-ranging collection of studies by one of the foremost medieval historians of this generation opens up new perspectives on Byzantium. The life experience of women and men is re-created with a view from the margins. Women at the court and in private households are restored to agency and the capital of Constantinople is seen from the perspective of the provinces. As a result, Byzantium no longer appears as a monolith steeped in unchanging ritual, but as a dynamic society that developed its own responses to challenges and so ensured its extraordinary longevity."--Claudia Rapp, author of Holy Bishops in Late Antiquity
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Judith Herrin: