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Latent Turkification of Byzantium (ca. 1071–1461)

Rustam M. Shukurov, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Fellow 2004–2005

The present research project is intended to analyze interethnic (Greek and Turkic), intercultural, and interconfessional (Christian and Muslim) relationships and influences during the Turkic conquests of Asia Minor and the Balkans. The project represents an attempt to reconstruct the actual content and evolution of the ethno-cultural interaction between Byzantine societies in Anatolia and the Balkans, and the Turkic element (the Cumans, Turkmens, Saljuqs, and Ottomans). The focus of my research is Byzantine mentality viewed from the standpoint of its reaction to its meeting with the Alien.

Several interconnected aspects of the problem posed have been studied during the academic year 2004–2005: (1) Ethnic presence of Turks in different strata of Byzantine population; (2) Oriental influences upon the medieval Greek spoken and literary languages of the Balkans and Anatolia; (3) The Byzantine view of the Turks, Muslims and the Orient; (4) Oriental influences upon Byzantine material culture.

The concrete outcomes of the study of the aforementioned aspects are as follows: (1) The Database of the Turks in Byzantium from the end of the eleventh through the fifteenth century has been composed; part one, the Turks under the Komnenoi and the Lascarids (almost completed); part two, the Turks in the empires of the Palaiologoi and the Grand Komnenoi (ready for publication); (2) The Database of Oriental lexical elements in twelfth–fifteenth-century medieval Greek (almost completed); (3) Materials from primary and secondary sources for a series of special studies dealing with the general topic “Turks, Muslims and the Orient in Byzantine everyday mentality” have been gathered and systematized.

The results of this research will soon be submitted as a monograph. The research described above should give an up-to-date and most complete picture of the reaction of Byzantine civilization to its meeting with the Turks, and should contribute to a better understanding of the causes and mechanism of success and failure in the contest between civilizations.