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A Historical Biography of Manuel II Palaiologos (1350–1425)

Siren Çelik, University of Birmingham, Junior Fellow 2015–2016

During my year at Dumbarton Oaks, I completed and submitted my doctoral dissertation to the University of Birmingham. My dissertation is a new biography of the emperor and author Manuel II Palaiologos (1350–1425). It offers a complete analysis of Manuel’s oeuvre for the first time and attempts to construct an in-depth portrait of Manuel as a ruler, writer, and personality. Manuel was a prolific writer who produced a corpus of thirty-three works consisting of letters, rhetorical exercises, orations, dialogues, poems, prayers, sermons, and ethico-political and theological treatises. Most of these works have not been studied, and some remain unedited. I analyzed Manuel’s philosophical and theological thought and discussed his literary style and innovations, his classical allusions, and his wit. Where fitting, I made comparisons between Manuel and ancient and Byzantine authors. I also showed Manuel as a private individual, discussing his relationships with intellectuals and his family. I considered his enemies, his piety, and his favorite pastimes, as well as other aspects of his everyday life, military campaigns, and travel. I also analyzed the socioeconomic and political history of Manuel’s reign, incorporating Ottoman sources with Greek and Western ones.