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The Balkans and the Byzantine World before and after the Captures of Constantinople, 1204 and 1453

edited by: Vlada Stanković
Contributions by:  Ivan Biliarsky; Jelena Erdeljan; Katerina Kontopanagou; Nicholas Melvani; Ema Miljković; Jelena Mrgić; Radu G. Păun; Dušan Popović; Radivoj Radić; Alicia Simpson; Vlada Stanković; Christos Stavrakos and Nada Zečević
published by
: Lexington Books
pp: 248
ISBN: 978-1-4985-1325-8
price: $85.00

Book's frontpage

This book represents the first attempt to analyze historical and cultural developments in late medieval and early modern southeastern Europe as a set of mutually intertwined regional histories, burdened by the strong dichotomy between the almighty center—Constantinople—and the periphery that is rarely visible in both contemporary sources and modern scholarship. This mosaic of original studies is devoted to various regions of the Byzantine Balkans and their historical, artistic, and ideological idiosyncrasies, mirroring the complex character and composite and fragmented structure of this vast region. The focal points of the book are the two captures of Constantinople in 1204 and 1453, and the contributors analyze the significance of these catastrophic events on the political destiny of medieval Balkan societies, the mechanisms of adapting to the new political order, and the ever-present interconnectedness of a lower, regional elite across southeastern Europe that had remained strong even after the Ottoman conquest.


Table of contents

Introduction: In the Balkans “Without” Constantinople: Questions of Center and Periphery, Vlada Stanković

Part I: In a World Without a Center: Remaining Byzantine
Chapter 1: Byzantium’s Retreating Balkan Frontiers during the Reign of the Angeloi (1185–1203): A Reconsideration, Alicia Simpson
Chapter 2: Discontinuity and Continuity of Byzantine Literary Tradition After the Crusaders' Capture of Constantinople: The Case of "Original" Byzantine Novels, Dušan Popović
Chapter 3: The Divided Empire: Byzantium on the Eve of 1204, Radivoj Radić
Chapter 4: The Fate of the Palaiologan Aristocracy of Thessalonike after 1423, Nicholas Melvani
Chapter 5: Paintings of Donor Portraits in the State of Epirus: Aesthetics, Fashion and Trends in the Late Byzantine period, Katerina Kontopanagou
Chapter 6: Monastic Foundation Legends in Epirus, Christos Stavrakos

Part II: The Peripheries: In the Shadow of Constantinople and Its Influence
Chapter 7: Studenica and the Life Giving Tree, Jelena Erdeljan
Chapter 8: Rethinking the Position of Serbia within the Byzantine Oikoumene in the Thirteenth Century, Vlada Stanković
Chapter 9: The Synodicon of Orthodoxy in Manuscript BAR Sl. 307 and the Hagioriticon Gramma of the Year 1344, Ivan Biliarsky
Chapter 10: Mount Athos and the Byzantine-Slavic Tradition in Wallachia and Moldavia after the Fall of Constantinople, Radu Păun
Chapter 11: The Center of the Periphery: The Land of Bosnia in the Heart of Bosnia, Jelena Mrgić

Part III: Aftermath: Between Two Empires, Between Two Eras
Chapter 12: Before and After the Fall of the Serbian Despotate: The Differences in the Timar Organization in the Serbian Lands in the mid-15th Century, Ema Miljković
Chapter 13: Memories of Home in the Accounts of the Balkan Refugees from the Ottomans to the Apennine peninsula (15th–16th centuries), Nada Zečević


This volume, composed of contributions by an international team of established scholars as well as rising figures in Southeast European historical studies, demonstrates the value of abandoning a center-periphery view of the Byzantine world in favor of a regional investigation of southeastern Europe across the traumatic divide that was the Latin conquest of Constantinople.
— Patrick J. Geary, Institute for Advanced Study

These essays chart the ebb and flow of the gravitational pull that Byzantium exerted on the Balkans between the two conquests of Constantinople. They reveal the complex world that had always existed beneath the empire’s centralizing aspirations, a multipolar and eventually post-Byzantine world. This timely collection explores the political, religious, artistic, and social history of the fascinating microcosms that emerged in the interval between empires. Written by both new and established scholars from the regions in question, this richly documented book makes the latest developments in Balkan research available to the English-speaking world and offers new interpretations of texts, events, and controversies.
— Anthony Kaldellis, Ohio State University

This is a new and dynamic approach to the relationship between Byzantium and its Balkan neighbors. Instead of seeing the history of these medieval Orthodox Slavic states as only explainable through their relation to the Byzantine imperial center, the contributions in this book place emphasis on their own agency in the political and cultural sphere. The plurality of the questions raised in this volume will undoubtedly contribute to new readings of this turbulent period in the history of Southeastern Europe between the fragmentation of political space as a result of the Fourth Crusade in 1204 and the reinstatement of a powerful centralized state under the Ottomans by 1500. This book examines an astonishing variety of materials from frescoes to liturgical manuscripts and from land ownership to heraldry. Most is little known and will therefore be very useful to scholars who work on questions of center and periphery in the pre-modern world. This is a new approach that emphasizes the emergence of regionalism in the area, of multiple, interconnected centers whose trajectories are independent and often unpredictable despite not being entirely free of the hegemonic Byzantine discourse.
— Dionysios Stathakopoulos, King's College London


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