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Aikaterine: Identity and power in eleventh century Byzantium.

Short, Ewan 2022. Aikaterine: Identity and power in eleventh century Byzantium. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Abstract

This thesis is a biographical study of the life of Aikaterine, the Bulgarian-born woman who arrived in Byzantium in 1018 as a prisoner-of-war, and became empress of Byzantium between 1057-1059. It utilises a structural approach influenced by methodologies from the social sciences. In this thesis, the political importance of the link Aikaterine established between the Komnenos family and the Bulgarian family of the Kometopouloi is demonstrated. Furthermore, it is shown that as the first empress to rule after the reigns of Zoe and Theodora and the end of the ‘Macedonian’ dynasty, Aikaterine’s reign was a historically significant bridging period. In addition, Aikaterine is shown to be a politically important and visible actor during the first years of Constantine X’s reign. Throughout the thesis, Aikaterine’s life is explored as a paradigm for the lives of other women and men in middle Byzantine society and in other comparable medieval societies. This thesis is composed of six chapters: a prosopographical chapter, four thematic chapters, and a concluding chapter. The thematic chapters are focused upon the analytical categories of identity and power. They are organised as case studies orientated around Aikaterine’s life course and targeted towards different subjects in Byzantine and medieval studies. Each chapter discusses how representations of Aikaterine were shaped and reshaped by messages communicated by different groups in Byzantium, to project messages about power. Each chapter also examines how Aikaterine herself was empowered through the shaping of the identities she carried. The findings of each chapter are located within wider scholarly discussions in different areas of Byzantine and medieval studies, with a focus upon women’s studies. This thesis is intended as an exemplar which demonstrates the potential for biographical studies to bring about advancements in Byzantine and wider medieval studies. The concluding remarks offer suggestions for the way biographical studies can be further used to advance scholarly understandings of the patterns structuring the lives of people in Byzantium and other medieval societies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Acceptance
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D051 Ancient History
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
Funders: AHRC SWW DTP Studentship
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 September 2022
Date of Acceptance: 27 June 2022
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2022 15:06
URI: https://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/152304

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