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Cambridge Centre for Greek Studies - Image of Byzantine Coin - courtesy

This course is offered through the Faculty of History's MPhil in Medieval History and 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.

Byzantium was an empire whose rulers prided themselves on the ideological, cultural and religious continuity of the East Roman state and on Constantinople’s 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.

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 should consult the option leader for advice about language instruction.

Currently this course is offered as part of the MPhil in Medieval History. In the near future it will also be available as an option in courses in Greek Studies offered through the Cambridge Centre for Greek Studies.



Title: The Byzantine Empire

Level: Graduate

Faculty: History

Lecturer: Prof. Peter Sarris

Term: Lent

Teaching: Weekly Seminar

Assessment: Essay (c.4,000 words)