Byzantium's Balkan Frontier: A Political Study of the Northern Balkans, 900-1204

Byzantium's Balkan Frontier: A Political Study of the Northern Balkans, 900-1204

Byzantium's Balkan Frontier: A Political Study of the Northern Balkans, 900-1204

Byzantium's Balkan Frontier: A Political Study of the Northern Balkans, 900-1204

Synopsis

This is a narrative political history of the northern Balkans in the period 900-1204. It treats the Balkans as the frontier of the Byzantine empire, and considers imperial relations with the peoples living in the Balkans, including the Serbs, Croats, Bulgarians and Hungarians. It also considers responses to invasions from beyond the frontier: by steppe nomads, from beyond the Danube, and by western powers through Hungary and across the Adriatic sea. The first four crusades, 1095-1204, are considered in some detail, and extensive use is made of archaeology.

Excerpt

This book began as a refinement of my doctoral dissertation which I defended at the University of Cambridge in April 1996. My thesis presents a distillation, in the form of four regional surveys, of the written and archaeological evidence pertaining to the Byzantine frontier in the northern Balkans in the period 971–1180. the refinement, I thought, should have a narrative structure, since no synthetic narrative political history of the northern Balkans exists in English for this period. I also decided to increase its chronological and geographical range to allow a cursory treatment of Bulgaria before the imposition of the 'Byzantine Yoke', and a fuller exploration of how the 'yoke' was cast off by Bulgarians, Vlachs, Serbs and others. in the end the refinement bears no resemblance whatever to the thesis. It takes as its central concern Byzantine responses, first to the migrations of nomadic peoples, and subsequently to the expansion of Latin Christendom. It also examines the changing conception of the frontier in Byzantine thought and literature through the Middle Byzantine Period.

In the course of writing the thesis and book I have enjoyed the support of a number of institutions. St John's College, Cambridge awarded me a Benefactors Scholarship and travel funds suffcient to take me around Turkey and the Balkans more than once. the British Academy funded my Ph. D. I was honoured to be appointed to a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, and privileged to hold this at Keble College, Oxford. the Warden and Fellows of Keble have provided intellectual and other sustenance.

I have benefited from the instruction, advice and criticism of many friends and scholars. My greatest debt is to Jonathan Shepard, who supervised the thesis, read drafts of papers published separately and reworked for the book, read the book in two drafts, allowed me to make use of his forthcoming works, supplied me with offprints of his published papers, provided bibliographical information and assistance with tricky . . .

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