HIST 374: History of the Byzantine Empire


This course is broad survey of the history, religion, art and culture of Byzantine civilization from the beginning of the reign of Heraclius in 610 AD to the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453. We will use a wide variety of primary sources in our examination, from lead seals to law codes to letters, church architecture to saints’ lives to diplomatic guides, but will primarily base our study in the contemporary histories written in these periods. The scope of this course encompasses the varied fortunes of Byzantium, from the rise of Islam to the arrival of the Rus, the conquest of Constantinople by the crusaders and by the Ottomans; the religions tumult of iconoclasm and the conflicts between the Pope and the Patriarch; the revival of humanism in the ninth century and the Greek diaspora of the 13th, 14th and 15th. Topics covered in depth will include: language and identity in the eastern Mediterranean; minorities in Byzantium; the city of Constantinople; iconoclasm; the influence of Islam; Byzantine Italy, the Normans and Venice; the crusades; the Seljuk and Ottoman Turks.