Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Authority in Byzantium

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Authority in Byzantium

Article excerpt

Authority in Byzantium, ed. Pamela Armstrong, Centre for I Iellenic Studies King's College London Publications 14 (Farnham; Burlington, Vt: Ashgate, 2013). xxi + 366 pp. ISBN 978-1-4094-3608-9. /,75.0o. Twenty-five essays from an international conference to mark the retirement of Judith Herrin, who retired as Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies at King's College, London in 2009, deal with a multitude of different aspects of 'authority' in the Byzantine world. They are divided into nine sections, treating 'Authority of the state', 'in the marketplace', 'of the Church', 'within the family', 'of knowledge', 'of the text', and then 'Exhibiting authority in provincial societies', 'in museums', and 'in Byzantine studies'. Parts I-V are concluded with 'Responses' by scholars who comment instructively, with individual voices, on the issues raised. Is there a common denominator to, or a common thread linking, the innumerable 'authorities' of the Byzantine world, or is the choice of this word simply a courteous gesture to the author of Margins and Metropolis: Authority across the Byzantine Empire and Unrivalled Influence: Women and Authority in Byzantium (both Princeton, 2013)? The 'Responses' concentrate more on questions of the comparability of Byzantine and western sources, pointing out interestingly, for example, how unparalleled the tenthcentury Byzantine Book of the Eparch is in the West, on the comparative paucity of sources for the government of the city' of Constantinople, or on the parallelism between the formidable bureaucracies associated with Archbishop Demetrios Chomatenos and Lothar of Segni, but it does appear to emerge that there is a significant difference in 'political authority' between the complex structure of the Byzantine state that lasted for centuries, and brought together so many different ethnic groups and different spheres of life, and the hugely diverse, but less hierarchically structured world of the West. …

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