Portraits of Medieval Eastern Europe, 900–1400  book cover
1st Edition

Portraits of Medieval Eastern Europe, 900–1400

ISBN 9781138701205
Published September 25, 2017 by Routledge
234 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Portraits of Medieval Eastern Europe provides imagined biographies of twenty different figures from all walks of life living in Eastern Europe from 900 to 1400. Moving beyond the usual boundaries of speculative history, the book presents innovative and creative interpretations of the people, places, and events of medieval Eastern Europe and provides an insight into medieval life from Scandinavia to Byzantium.

Each chapter explores a different figure and together they present snapshots of life across a wide range of different social backgrounds. Among the figures are both imagined and historical characters, including the Byzantine Princess Anna Porphyrogenita, a Jewish traveller, a slave, the Mongol general Sübodei, a woman from Novgorod, and a Rus’ pilgrim. A range of different narrative styles are also used throughout the book, from omniscient third-person narrators to diary entries, letters, and travel accounts.

By using primary sources to construct the lives of, and give a voice to, the types of people who existed within medieval European history, Portraits of Medieval Eastern Europe provides a highly accessible introduction to the period. Accompanied by a new and interactive companion website, it is the perfect teaching aid to support and excite students of medieval Eastern Europe.

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of maps

List of contributors


PART 1: Rus’ and Northern Europe

  1. "The Widow Princess of Minsk" - Inés García de la Puente
  2. "Anna, A Woman of Novgorod" - Eve Levin
  3. "Prince Vladimir of Pskov" - Anti Selart
  4. Mother of a Tribal Häme Warrior – Kuutamo Hyväneuvo - Mari Isoaho
  5. "From Butcher to Saint: The Improbable Life and Fate of Vaišvilkas/Vojšelk/Lavryš/Elisej of Lithuania and Black Rus' (? -1267)" - David Goldfrank
  6. PART 2: Eurasian Steppe

  7. "The Rare and Excellent History of Konchak (A Polovtsian Chieftain)" - Donald Ostrowski
  8. "Sübedei Ba’atar: Portait of a Mongol General" - Timothy May
  9. PART 3: Byzantium and South Eastern Europe

  10. "Anna Komnene: Princess, Historian, & Conspirator?" - Leonora Neville
  11. "Angel on Earth and Heavenly Man—St. Sava of Serbia" - Florin Curta
  12. "Paulus de Breberio banus Croatorum dominus et Bosne" - Neven Budak
  13. “King Miliutin and His Many Marriages” - Vlada Stanković
  14. PART 4: Central Europe

  15. "Henry Zdík, Bishop of Olomouc and Premonstratensian" - Lisa Wolverton
  16. "King Béla IV of Hungary: A Monarch in a Period of Crisis and Recovery" - Balázs Nagy
  17. "Zalava, Slave in the Kingdom of Hungary" - Cameron Sutt
  18. “Jan Długosz on King Władysław Jagiełło’s Master Chef and the Invention of Bigos” - Paul Milliman
  19. PART 5: Travelers to Strange Lands

  20. "The Travels of Gorm in Eastern Europe" - Heidi Sherman-Lelis and Arnold Lelisx
  21. "Anna Porphyrogenita, Byzantine Princess and Queen of the Rus’" - Susana Torres Prieto
  22. "The Journeys of My Soul in the Land of Canaan, by Yitshak ben Sirota" - Isaiah Gruber
  23. "Agent of Change: Evpraksia Vsevolodovna between Emperor and Papacy" - Christian Raffensperger
  24. "Fotii, a Rus' Pilgrim to Constantinople" - Monica White

Conclusion - Christian Raffensperger


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Donald Ostrowski is Research Advisor in the Social Sciences and Lecturer in History at the Harvard University Extension School. His previous publications include Muscovy and the Mongols: Cross-Cultural Influences on the Steppe Frontier 1304–1589 (1998) and over 100 articles and review essays. He is also the editor of The Povest’ vremennykh let: An Interlinear Collation and Paradosis, 3 vols. (2003), and a co-editor of four collections of studies.

Christian Raffensperger is Associate Professor of History at Wittenberg University, as well as an associate of the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. He has published multiple books including Reimagining Europe: Kievan Rus’ in the Medieval World (2012) and Ties of Kinship: Genealogy and Dynastic Marriage in Kyivan Rus’ (2016). He is also the series editor for Beyond Medieval Europe, a book series published by ARC Humanities Press.


"Balancing on an intricate edge between facts and fiction, this thoughtfully edited volume offers an excellent selection of ‘real’ and ‘imaginary’ biographies of individuals, from slaves to kings, who populated the eastern half of Europe in the centuries before and after the first Millennium. The expert authors provide a refreshing and instructive read to students of history and to anyone who has roots in this region or wishes to broaden her mental horizon."

Katalin Szende, Central European University, Budapest