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Landscapes of Power

Selected Papers from the XV Oxford University Byzantine Society International Graduate Conference


Edited By Maximilian Lau, Caterina Franchi and Morgan Di Rodi

This volume contains selected papers from the XV International Graduate Conference, highlighting the latest scholarship from a new generation of Late Antique and Byzantine scholars from around the world. The theme of the conference explored the interaction between power and the natural and human environments of Byzantium, an interaction that is an essential part of the empire’s legacy. This legacy has come down to us through buildings, literature, history and more, and has proved enduring enough to intrigue and fascinate scholars centuries after the fall of Constantinople. From religion and trade at the end of Antiquity, imperial propaganda and diplomacy at the end of the first millennium, to culture and conquest under the Komnenian and Palaeologan dynasties – this volume demonstrates the length and breadth of the forays being made by young academics into the still often undiscovered country of the Late Antique and Byzantine world.
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Remapping the Socio-political Landscape on the Fringes of an Imperium: The End of Byzantine Histria



The last decades of the eighth century brought dramatic social and political changes to northern Adriatic society. Following the terms of the treaty of Aachen (812), Byzantium withdrew from most of the northern Adriatic arc and ceded the area to the new Frankish overlords. Without the basileus’ nominal protection the local ruling elites suddenly found themselves in an alien environment. Some of the elites adapted successfully, taking their places in the re-negotiated political landscape. Others, unable to cope with the changes, disappeared. The paper re-examines existing theories and evidence about the status and position of one such provincial elite – the military aristocracy of Histria, which successfully ruled this remote imperial province for more than two centuries and achieved a high degree of autonomy. However, following the Frankish takeover they lost power and disappeared from the sources.

← 111 | 112 → As in the rest of Italy, the society of the northern Adriatic arc passed through a profound transformation following the Lombard invasion of 568. The almost unchecked Lombard (and later Slavic) advance limited imperial holdings to the coastal enclaves, including Histria. To remedy the situation, the province was militarised during the seventh century, with both civil and military power gathered in the person of the exarch – the high military commander appointed personally by the emperor, with the aim of ruling the remaining Byzantine possessions (exarchate). However, from the very beginning his power was severely limited as the events on the East and in the Balkans tied imperial...

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