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“The chatter, dialogue, and squabble of the Byzantine corridors of power”: Writing History in the Aftermath of Mantzikert (1071)

Where
Zoom
When
November 18, 2020
02:00 PM to 03:30 PM
Eric McGeer honors John Nesbitt, a distinguished Byzantine historian and scholar in Byzantine sigillography, and discusses their book “Byzantium in the Time of Troubles: The Continuation of the Chronicle of John Skylitzes (1057–1079).”

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This lecture honors John Nesbitt, a distinguished Byzantine historian and scholar in Byzantine sigillography who served as a research associate at Dumbarton Oaks from 1987 to 2009. Eric McGeer, his friend and former colleague, discusses their book Byzantium in the Time of Troubles: The Continuation of the Chronicle of John Skylitzes (1057–1079), published in January 2020.

The prelude to the battle of Mantzikert and its dire consequences sat uneasily in the minds of contemporaries. Who was to blame for the defeat of the army under Romanos IV Diogenes and the irrecuperable loss of Anatolia? Did the blame lie with the preceding emperors who had neglected the defense of the east; with the local commanders who through incompetence or cowardice had failed to deal with the incursions; or with Romanos Diogenes himself, whose terrible fate haunted Byzantine memory long after his cruel deposition and death? This lecture focuses on an important account of events leading up to the battle, the Continuation of the Chronicle of John Skylitzes, composed by a court official and historian sympathetic to Romanos Diogenes yet attuned to the political interests behind the competing versions of events. 

Eric McGeer is consultant for Byzantine sigillography at Dumbarton Oaks. For many years he worked with John Nesbitt on the publication of the printed volumes of Byzantine Lead Seals, and since 2009 has worked on the corresponding online catalogue, scheduled for completion in the fall of 2021.

John Nesbitt is former research associate in Byzantine sigillography at Dumbarton Oaks. In addition to six volumes of seals catalogues he coedited with Nicolas Oikonomides, he is coauthor of The Miracles of St. Artemios (Brill, 1997) and editor of Byzantine Authors: Literary Activities and Preoccupations (Brill, 2003).

The medieval Armenian city of Ani now in Turkey as viewed from Armenia, from the cover of “Byzantium in the Time of Troubles: The Continuation of the Chronicle of John Skylitzes (1057–1079).” Image courtesy of Brill.