Option 4: The Byzantine Empire: Continuity and Crisis from Justinian I to Basil II (c.500-1000)
Byzantium was an empire whose rulers prided themselves on the ideological, cultural and religious continuity of the East Roman state and on Constantinoples direct legacy from the Roman Empire of antiquity.
Beneath the rhetoric of imperial continuity, however, it was also a world which underwent profound crisis in the seventh and eighth centuries caused by escalating warfare with the Sasanian empire of Persia and the nascent power of Islam.
This Option provides students with the opportunity to study how the medieval empire of Byzantium both preserved and re-cast its late antique political, cultural and religious heritage. At the same time, it aims to introduce students to the key auxiliary skills necessary for advanced work in Byzantine studies by studying the transition from late antiquity to the age of the Macedonian emperors through the specific types of evidence on which the Byzantinist must rely.
The classes will deal in turn, therefore, with processes of continuity and crisis as revealed by the evolution of Byzantine historiography, hagiography, numismatics, sigillography, epigraphy and archaeology, legal sources, and Byzantine art and architecture. In addition to studying Latin, those without Greek will be expected to attend the beginners Greek classes offered by the Faculty of Classics.