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The Latinophilia of Manuel I Komnenos: Cultural Exchange at the Byzantine Court

Alex Rodriguez Suarez, independent scholar, Summer Fellow 2018–2019

I studied the primary sources dealing with the reign of the so-called Latinophile emperor, Manuel I Komnenos (1143–1180). In the process, I collected and analyzed a number of references concerning the use of Western practices at the Byzantine court. Most scholars are familiar with the introduction of tournaments in the Byzantine army; however, the list of new practices—Western court ceremonies, functions, and even hairstyles—is certainly longer than usually assumed and demonstrates the appropriation of Latin rituals by the Byzantines during this period. I have also gathered information about Western individuals in the service of the Byzantine emperor. I had the opportunity to look at some of the only surviving fragments of Byzantine stained glass, discovered at the Pantokrator and Chora monasteries, housed at the Dumbarton Oaks Museum. These controversial fragments are further evidence of cultural exchange between Byzantium and the West in the 12th century. This research is a continuation of the work I carried out in my doctoral dissertation; the final goal of this process is to publish a monograph devoted to the Western presence in the Byzantine Empire and its impact on Byzantine society during the Komnenian and Angeloi dynasties (1081–1204).