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Frontier Politics: Veneto-Byzantine Relations, Civic Identity, and Imperial Hegemony, 697–1126

Phillip Mazero, Saint Louis University, Summer Fellow 2015–2016

At Dumbarton Oaks, I conducted research for my dissertation, which analyzes relations between Venice and the Byzantine Empire from the election of the first doge to the eruption of the first Veneto-Byzantine war. During this foundational period, Venice grew from a sparsely populated collection of island settlements into one of the most prosperous mercantile cities in the Mediterranean. This process depended in large part on maintaining amiable relations with the Byzantine imperial government, which enabled Venetian access to critical eastern markets. They were important enough for the Venetians occasionally to risk war with the Byzantine Empire. Scholarship has tended to overemphasize the centrality of trade in dictating the course of Veneto-Byzantine relations, however. My research seeks to provide a more complete picture by examining the evolution of Venice and its connections to the empire within the broader context of Byzantine frontier trends. Dumbarton Oaks’ assortment of published archeological studies in the Upper Adriatic and Venetian lagoon was especially beneficial to my efforts to fill in the voids in both the chronicle record and my previous research in Venetian and Croatian state archives. I also examined its extensive collection of seals to track administrative changes along the empire’s periphery. I was able to complete the first chapter of my dissertation and substantial sections of two others.