Byzantine Studies

(Prof. Dr. Johannes Pahlitzsch)

War as a Source of Legitimation for the Byzantine Empire

This project proposal deals with the modes by which the Byzantine Empire created legitimacy through military action. On the basis of concrete examples from more accessible sources, it should be shown how military success and imperial participation in the field were used in discourse with armies and elites, especially in the Middle Byzantine period. An additional aspect would be the Emperor's struggle with the Empire’s internal pretenders, following specific concepts of legitimation.


Martial Masculinity: The Characterisation of Warriors and War Heroes in Byzantium

This study will explore the interpretive concepts and normative ideals of different times in Byzantium and analyse their diachronic change deriving, on the one hand, from Byzantine historiography and romances, and on the other, from guides to conduct and mirrors of chivalry. A promising approach would be an in-depth study of the Middle and Late Byzantine warrior ideas as represented in Digenes Akritas and the Chronicle of Morea, and how they can be related to warrior ideals before the 11th century.


Byzantine Fortifications and Kastroktisia: The Construction, Manning and Role of Fortifications in Warfare

The importance of defensive structures for Byzantine warfare is undisputed, but a comprehensive study is still pending. It seems certain that “communal castles” did not exist and that fortifications remained an imperial preserve until the time of the Macedonians. It is only in the Palaiologian period that non-imperial fortresses are documented. Overall, Byzantine fortifications and their literary treatment in the written sources provide an innovative field of research. In addition, the examination of the textual sources allows a fruitful collaboration with Christian Archaeology and Byzantine Art History, which deal with the concrete remains.