Power and Subversion in Byzantium: Papers from the 43rd Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, Birmingham, March 2010, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Power and Subversion in Byzantium

Papers from the 43rd Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, Birmingham, March 2010, 1st Edition

Edited by Michael Saxby, Dimiter Angelov


316 pages

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This volume addresses a theme of special significance for Byzantine studies. Byzantium has traditionally been deemed a civilisation which deferred to authority and set special store by orthodoxy, canon and proper order. Since 1982 when the distinguished Russian Byzantinist Alexander Kazhdan wrote that 'the history of Byzantine intellectual opposition has yet to be written', scholars have increasingly highlighted cases of subversion of 'correct practice' and 'correct belief' in Byzantium. This innovative scholarly effort has produced important results, although it has been hampered by the lack of dialogue across the disciplines of Byzantine studies. The 43rd Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies in 2010 drew together historians, art historians, and scholars of literature, religion and philosophy, who discussed shared and discipline-specific approaches to the theme of subversion. The present volume presents a selection of the papers delivered at the symposium enriched with specially commissioned contributions. Most papers deal with the period after the eleventh century, although early Byzantium is not ignored. Theoretical questions about the nature, articulation and limits of subversion are addressed within the frameworks of individual disciplines and in a larger context. The volume comes at a timely junction in the development of Byzantine studies, as interest in subversion and nonconformity in general has been rising steadily in the field.


'… this is a worthwhile collection and, what is not always the case, all papers are of very high quality. … each paper’s argument is presented clearly and concisely. I enjoyed reading the volume and highly recommend it to anybody who is unwilling to accept Byzantine reality at its face value.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Table of Contents

Contents: Power and subversion in Byzantium: approaches and frameworks, Dimiter Angelov; Part I The Politics of Subversion: Usurpers and rebels in Byzantium: image and message through coins, Vasiliki Penna and Cécile Morrisson; How to usurp the throne in Byzantium: the role of public opinion in sedition and rebellion, Anthony Kaldellis; The imperial council and the tradition of consultative decision-making in Byzantium (11th to 14th centuries), Demetrios Kyritses; Financial crisis and the limits of taxation under Andronikos II Palaiologos (1282-1321), Kostis Smyrlis; The political arts at the late Palaiologan court (1402-1453), Michael Angold. Part II Art and Subversion: ’The world turned upside down’: art and subversion in Byzantium, Liz James; ’It began with a picture’: imperial art, texts and subversion between East and West in the 12th century, Anthony Eastmond. Part III Philosophy: 'No prince of perfection': Byzantine anti-Aristotelianism from the patristic period to Pletho, Börje Bydén; Pletho as subversive and his reception in the Islamic world, Maria Mavroudi. Part VI Literature and Subversion: Generic subversion? The political ideology of urban myth and apocalyptic prophecy, Paul Magdalino; Harmless satire, stinging critique: notes and suggestions for reading the Timarion, Dimitris Krallis; How to criticize the laudandus, Margaret Mullett; Subversion and duplicity in the Histories of John Kantakouzenos, Athanasios Angelou; Afterword - literary subversion in Byzantium: a partial and personal perspective, Margaret Alexiou; Index.

About the Editors

Dimiter Angelov is Professor of Byzantine History at the University of Birmingham, UK and currently also Visiting Professor in Byzantine History at Harvard University, USA; Michael Saxby is a doctoral candidate at the University of Birmingham, UK.

About the Series

Publications of the Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies

This series publishes a selection of papers delivered at the annual British Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, now held under the auspices of the Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies. These meetings began fifty years ago in the University of Birmingham and have built an international reputation. Themes cover all aspects of Byzantine history and culture, with papers presented by chosen experts. Selected papers from the symposia have been published regularly since 1992 in a series of titles which have themselves become established as major contributions to the study of the Byzantine world.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Ancient / General
RELIGION / Christianity / General