Author: Olson, Alexander Keith
In the eleventh century several Norman mercenaries went to Byzantium where they alternately served or rebelled against the Empire. This thesis examines how Byzantine courtier’s knowledge of Roman histories affected their perception of these Normans. At first, Byzantine courtiers took little notice of the Normans, and did not use Roman histories in order to categorize or portray them. But as various Normans attained significant power within Byzantium, Byzantine courtiers began to struggle with issues of defining them. Two Byzantine courtier-historians, Michael Psellos and Michael Attaleiates, drew material and parallels from Roman histories to argue for the integration of the Normans into the Byzantine elite. These two historians made their arguments by portraying particular Normans as capable leaders, by constructing genealogies that gave the Normans and Byzantines a common ancestry, and by using ancient ethnic labels to define the Normans as a group that had a special relationship with Byzantium.
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Thesis advisor: Krallis, Dimitrios
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