The Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies presents “The Mediterranean City and Its Rulers: A Comparison of Byzantium, Islam, and Western Christendom in the High Middle Ages,” a conference, directed by Teresa Shawcross, Assistant Professor of History, to held on 26–27 April at 216 Aaron Burr Hall.
The High Middle Ages were a period of profound transformation for the Christian cities of the central and western Mediterranean. However, it has generally been thought that the urban centers of the Islamic and Byzantine worlds to the south and east did not share in the same economic, political, and cultural developments. Most interregional studies carried out so far have promoted this understanding of the period by considering the “classic example” of the cities of northern Italy solely in the context of the situation on the other side of the Alps. Otherwise, attention has tended to be focused on specific polities within each of the three Mediterranean macro-regions, to the neglect of the picture across macro-regions. There has been no in-depth comparison of how cities were ruled in the various lands encircling the Great Sea, despite the existence of a strong common Roman heritage, as well as evidence for extensive interaction through long-distance trade, pilgrimage, diplomacy, and warfare. This conference will begin to undertake such an analysis, highlighting similarities and differences in governmental institutions, civic identity, and revolutionary activity throughout the Mediterranean. The event is intended as a pilot establishing a network of scholars. The next meeting will be held at the University of Edinburgh in 2015 and is being organized by Dr. Gianluca Raccagni, Chancellor’s Fellow in History.