Heroes and Romans in Twelfth-Century Byzantium: The Material for History of Nikephoros Bryennios
Nikephoros Bryennios' history of the Byzantine Empire in the 1070s is a story of civil war and aristocratic rebellion in the midst of the Turkish conquest of Anatolia. Commonly remembered as the passive and unambitious husband of Princess Anna Komnene (author of the Alexiad), Bryennios is revealed as a skilled author whose history draws on cultural memories of classical Roman honor and proper masculinity to evaluate the politicians of the 1070s and implicitly to exhort his twelfth-century contemporaries to honorable behavior. Bryennios' story valorizes the memory of his grandfather and other honorable, but failed, generals of the eleventh century while subtly portraying the victorious Alexios Komnenos as un-Roman. This reading of the Material for History sheds new light on twelfth-century Byzantine culture and politics, especially the contested accession of John Komnenos, the relationship between Bryennios' history and the Alexiad and the function of cultural memories of Roman honor in Byzantium.
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Writing history in twelfthcentury Constantinople
Sources for the Material for History
civil war and mercenaries
The rise ofAlexios
Roman family politics
Religion and Providence
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Alexiad Alexios Komnenos Alexios’s ambushes ancient Anna Dalassene Anna Komnene Anna’s appears aristocratic army attack Attaleiates audience barbarians Basilakes battle battle of Manzikert behavior Botaneiates Botaneiates’s brave brother Bryennios the Elder Bryennios’s Byzantine Byzantium Caesar Cambridge University Press campaign capture chapter character Choniates classical Roman history Constantine Doukas Constantinople context criticism cultural memory described Devious Success divine eleventh century enemies engagement ﬁght ﬁghting ﬁgure ﬁrst gender Greek Hellenism heroes historians honor husband imperial inﬂuence Irene Isaac Komnenos John Doukas John’s Kaldellis Komnenian Konstantios Kori Manuel Manzikert Margaret Mullett marriage masculinity medieval mercenaries Michael VII military moral mother Nikephoros Bryennios Nikephoros’s history Nikephoros’s narrative ofAlexios ofJohn ofthe Paul Magdalino Plutarch political Polybius portrayed present Procopius Psellos Psellos’s rebellion revolt rhetorical Roman Empire Romanos Diogenes Romanos’s Rome Roussel Scythians signiﬁcant Skylitzes story Straight Defeat Theodora Trpog Turkish Turks twelfth twelfth-century valorization victory virtue women Zonaras