By John Haldon
With unique essays via major students, this publication explores the social heritage of the medieval japanese Roman Empire and provides illuminating new insights into our wisdom of Byzantine society.Provides interconnected essays of unique scholarship in terms of the social heritage of the Byzantine empireOffers groundbreaking theoretical and empirical examine within the research of Byzantine societyIncludes important glossaries of sociological/theoretical phrases and Byzantine/medieval phrases
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Extra resources for A Social History of Byzantium
Because it clearly changed and evolved over time, so that a single descriptive category may well not suffice), can really only be given once we have carried out the more detailed analysis of all these different facets, and many others. Yet there has been a long debate of a comparativist nature about how to characterize Byzantine society, a debate which in many ways has fallen into abeyance, but which needs perhaps to be revived if “Byzantium” is to be understood in the context of the history of European and Near Eastern societies over the period from 500 ce to 1453.
My own answer to the question is positive, for I would argue that the best way to make Byzantium comprehensible and interesting to a broader group of scholars is to situate it in a wider world and try to see what similarities and differences it displays, and at what level. By the same token, placing it in such a context compels us to look at Byzantine society as a whole and to try to make the connections between the various parts which specialist studies, essential though they are, often ignore or miss, necessarily so in many cases in view of their priorities and focus of interest.
Yet breaking through the surface presentation of social relationships to see what lies behind them is a complicated task, since it requires historians to do two things. First, they must be familiar enough with the language of the culture under examination and have some idea of the ways in which terms and vocabulary serve 10 See, for example, Magdalino 1989 and Pertusi 1971. TOWARDS A SOCIAL H I S T O R Y O F BYZ A N T I U M 9 to reference a set of cultural codes which relates the writer to their own educational and literary/cultural tradition and the cultural capital in which they are invested, but which also permits them to express ideas about their world using a vocabulary very different from our own.