CFP: The Empire of the Palaiologoi: Ruin or Renewal? (Leeds 2015)

Call for Papers:
The Empire of the Palaiologoi: Ruin or Renewal?
Session at Leeds International Medieval Congress, 69 July 2015
Deadline: 31 August 2014

Michael_VIII_PalaiologosThe entry of Michael VIII Palaiologos into Constantinople in 1261 seemed to herald a new beginning for the Byzantine empire, consigning the shattering experience of the Fourth Crusade to the past. Initial hopes were soon dashed as the empire faced more enemies while disposing of fewer resources than ever before. Political, military, economic and ideological challenges were presented by the Latin west, the rising powers of the Muslim east and the newly independent nations of the Balkans. How successfully did Byzantines meet these challenges? Although it is easy to point to the empire’s ultimate demise, more recent scholars have shown that old narratives of decadence and decline are misguided. Astonishing feats of diplomacy and adaptation can be seen, as well as periods of intense intellectual, literary, theological and artistic energy. It was a period of new ideas, self-examination and unprecedented cultural engagement. But was the restoration doomed by unfavourable circumstances in a rapidly changing world, or were poor decisions by Byzantine elites to blame? How far were the Palaiologoi themselves, the most tenacious of all Byzantine dynasties, responsible? 

Please send proposals (abstract of 250-300 words and a 50-100 word biography) for 20 minute papers to: Brian Mc Laughlin (brian.mclaughlin.2009@live.rhul.ac.uk) or Christopher Hobbs (chris.hobbs.2010@live.rhul.ac.uk) by August 31, 2014.

Suggested topics include but are not limited to:

– Imperial policy and administration: ruin or renewal from above
– Popular political movements: ruin or renewal from below
– Orthodoxy: Union, Hesychasm, the Byzantine Commonwealth
– Artistic developments
– Byzantine historiography
– Byzantine identity
– Changes in trade and the economy
– Is the notion of Palaiologan ‘decline’ inescapable or outmoded?

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