Imagining the Byzantine Past: The Perception of History in the Illustrated Manuscripts of Skylitzes and Manasses

Imagining the Byzantine Past: The Perception of History in the Illustrated Manuscripts of Skylitzes and Manasses

By: Elena N. Boeck (author)Hardback

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Two lavish, illustrated histories confronted and contested the Byzantine model of empire. The Madrid Skylitzes was created at the court of Roger II of Sicily in the mid-twelfth century. The Vatican Manasses was produced for Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria in the mid-fourteenth century. Through close analysis of how each chronicle was methodically manipulated, this study argues that Byzantine history was selectively re-imagined to suit the interests of outsiders. The Madrid Skylitzes foregrounds regicides, rebellions, and palace intrigue in order to subvert the divinely ordained image of order that Byzantine rulers preferred to project. The Vatican Manasses presents Byzantium as a platform for the accession of Ivan Alexander to the throne of the Third Rome, the last and final world-empire. Imagining the Byzantine Past demonstrates how distinct visions of empire generated diverging versions of Byzantium's past in the aftermath of the Crusades.

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About Author

Elena N. Boeck is Associate Professor in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at DePaul University. Her research interests broadly encompass cross-cultural exchange, contestation of established cultural narratives and the function of appropriation in medieval court culture. Her previous publications have explored topics ranging from Byzantine art to Russian engravings in the eighteenth century to the nineteenth-century representation of Byzantium on the Parisian stage.


Introduction; 1. Mystery, history and materiality; 2. Engaging Byzantium, enraging Byzantium: Sicily, Bulgaria and the contestation of Constantinopolitan pre-eminence; 3. Narrative emplotments and patterns of prioritization: analyzing visual codes and structural modes; 4. Amplification as dialogue: the link between design and patronage; 5. Iconoclasm as narrative experiment: religion, politics and memory; 6. A headstrong case for getting ahead: scrutinizing narratives of de-capitation; 7. Constantinople: story spaces or storied Imperial places; Afterword.

Product Details

  • publication date: 01/07/2015
  • ISBN13: 9781107085817
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 351
  • ID: 9781107085817
  • weight: 870
  • ISBN10: 1107085810

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