The City & the cities:
From Constantinople to the frontier
The Oxford Universty Byzantine Society’s XVI International Graduate Conference
28th February – 1st March 2014, History Faculty, University of Oxford
The Classical Roman Empire has been described as an ‘empire of cities’, and both the reality and ideal of civic life remain central to its late-Antique and Medieval successor. Indeed, the term ‘Byzantine’ itself shows the importance placed by scholars on Constantine I’s refounding of Byzantion as the New Rome. Yet in 330 A.D. Constantinople was part of an urban landscape which included other, more ancient civic centres, whilst by 1453 A.D. little else remained but the City, itself a collection villages and the Theodosian walls the frontier. Across this Byzantine millennium Constantinople was inextricably linked to the other cities of the empire, from the Golden Horn to the ever-shifting frontiers. With the apparent seventh-century disappearance of city-life in the broad new Anatolian borderlands, the strength of the Greek mainland in the twelfth century, and the rise of post-Byzantine cities in the old western frontiers of southern Italy and Venice, the vicissitudes of urban life in the empire are undoubtedly linked to each moment of change. Constantinopolitan artistic and architectural forms are fleshed in the local materials of Ravenna in the sixth century, and in the eleventh and twelfth centuries provincially-born men, educated in the City, become the bright lights of the so-called Komnenian Renaissance. Yet how are we to understand this dialectic between the City, the cities, and the imperial frontier? Moreover, what are the methodologies and conceptual frameworks which we might use to approach these issues?
This conference will explore the myriad approaches towards these issues, in all fields of Late Antique and Byzantine studies, including history, archaeology, history of art, theology, literature, intellectual history, and philology. Confirmed sessions include:
- The Old Rome
- The New Rome
- Byzantion Beyond the Frontier
- Monastic Cities
- Civic Patronage and Persuasion
- Conquest and Reconquest on the Frontier
- Economics, Trade, and the Cities
Registration will be announced shortly.