This study is a diachronic examination of Byzantine Paphlagonia and the people that lived therein from the seventh to the twelfth century. I focus on several key themes that structured how history unfolded in the region, including the physical and human geography, local identity and affiliations, connections between Paphlagonians and Rhomania, relations with Constantinople, the Paphlagonian littoral's unmatched access routes to the Crimea, and the transformations that accompanied two key crises that affected the region; the Arab-Byzantine Wars spanning the seventh to the ninth centuries and the Turkmen incursions beginning in the eleventh century. Such a spatially delineated approach is useful for understanding the unique ways in which events of a systemic nature resonated in Paphlagonia. The defensive responses and adaptive mechanisms precipitated by these invasions alongside the way the social transformations of the tenth century were felt in Paphlagonia, for instance, were guided by the region's natural and human geography. While Paphlagonia's narrow defiles, treacherous waterways and latitudinal mountain chains affected these developments physically, it was the harmony of its deep-set local affiliations and the strong links embedding its inhabitants into a normative order centered in Constantinople that shaped them anthropogenically. Moreover, well-developed horizontal networks oriented the loyalties of powerful Paphlagonians increasingly towards the imperial capital, dispelling the tendency to see 'the Paphlagonian' as a centrifugal toponym. This study argues that Paphlagonia was a key component in Byzantium's economic, administrative and military structuring; something recognized by its emperors and bureaucrats alike. The Paphlagonia-Crimea connection, for instance, was critical in the state's diplomatic and economic planning and served to draw significant investment to the region's ports. This study ultimately seeks to convey the vibrancy of Medieval Paphlagonia by placing its inhabitants back under the historical spotlight and by analyzing the interrelations that guided its distinct history.
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Thesis advisor: Krallis, Dimitris
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