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

18 November 2020 at 2:00pm EST, via Zoom

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.

Free and open to the public. Register here.