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Byzantium, Volume 1: The Early Centuries

The sixth to eleventh centuries are a crucial formative period for Jewish communities in Byzantium and Latin Europe: this is also a period for which sources are scarce and about which historians have often had to speculate on the basis of scant evidence. The legal sources studied in this volume provide a relative wealth of textual material concerning Jews, and for certain areas and periods are the principal sources. While this makes them particularly valuable, it also makes their interpretation difficult, given the lack of corroborative sources.The scholars whose work has been brought together in this volume shed light on this key period of the history of Jews and of Jewish-Christian relations, focusing on key sources of the period: Byzantine imperial law, the canons of church councils, papal bulls, royal legislation from the Visigoths or Carolingians, inscriptions, and narrative sources in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. The picture that emerges from these studies is variegated. Some scholars, following Bernhard Blumenkranz, have depicted this period as one of relative tolerance towards Jews and Judaism; others have stressed the intolerance shown at key intervals by ecclesiastical authors, church councils and monarchs.Yet perhaps more than revealing general tendencies towards "tolerance" or "intolerance", these studies bring to light the ways in which law in medieval societies serves a variety of purposes: from providing a theologically-based rationale for social tolerance, to attempting to regulate and restrict inter-religious contact, to using anti-Jewish rhetoric to assert the authority or legitimacy of one party of the Christian elite over and against another. This volume makes an important contribution not only to the history of medieval Jewish-Christian relations, but also to research on the uses and functions of law in medieval societies.

Byzantium, Volume 1: The Early Centuries

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182 Short Notices Morris, Jan, The Venetian empire: a sea voyage, rpt, London, Penguin, 1990; paper; pp. 200; 1 map; R.R.P. A U S $ 14.99. Jan Monis's 1980 book (London, Faber and Faber) provides a wonderfully evocative ride, or better galley voyage, around the far-flung outposts of the Venetian Emphe, from the city in the lagoons itself to Constantinople, Crete, Cyprus, Corfu and a hundred other places where Venetians fought, traded, and ruled from the thirteenth to eighteenth centuries. Monis writes withflairand passion and has a knack for accenting the entertaining and unusual. She combines popular history with description of the physical remains and evocation of their past with great skill. Her book is not a serious addition to scholarship and research on Venice but it is amongst the very best examples of the genre of popular history. The reprint should make this fun book available to a wide audience. The only thing one regrets is that it does not include the numerous colour and monochrome plates of the original. John H. Pryor Department of History University of Sydney Norwich, John Julius, Byzantium, the early centuries, rpt, Harmondsworth, Penguin , 1990; paper; pp. 408; 5 maps, 26 plates, 6 genealogical tables; R.R.P. A U S $ 19.99. If one were to categorize this book under the heading 'rattling good yarn' rather than serious scholarship, and recommend it for seaside holiday reading, the author would probably not be too offended ('No professional Byzantinist... will find anything he does not know already', p. 28). It is certainly a lively retelling of thefirstfivehundred years of the life and times of the rulers of the Empire of East Rome, a more animated version of the nanatives of a Bury or Ostrogorsky and a latter-day answer from the English-speaking world to the exhilarating papers of Diehl or Brdhier. However the reader should be warned that the bibliography is enatic in its use of recent work. Blockley is cited for the classizing historians, but why not Paschoud for Zosimus? And Norwich's whole approach suffers when contrasted with the intelligent appraisals of this same period that emerged almost simultaneously with itsfirstpublication from the pens of Judith Herrin (Formation of Christendom) and Wanen Treadgold (The Byzantine Revival). Nevertheless, fun to dip into. Elizabeth Jeffreys Department of M o d e m Greek University of Sydney ...

The Physiologus was influential for a thousand years, being translated into Arabic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Syriac, and other VERNACULAR languages; the later medieval bestiaries descended primarily from a variable Latin translation that was available from at least the fifth century. Several more beasts and additional material were conflated with the Latin Physiologus from the Etymologies of the seventh-century Spanish bishop Isidore of Seville and other selected sources. From this expanded text, Philippe de Thaon produced a rhyming version in Anglo-Norman (c. 1125), dedicated to Aelis (or Adela) de Louvain, second wife of Henry I of England; this version gave rise to the popular medieval Bestiaire. Other medieval versions include that of Gervaise, written in French (perhaps in Normandy) in the thirteenth century; that of Guillaume le Clerc (the most popular version), written in the early thirteenth century in French by a Norman priest working in England; and two versions ascribed to Pierre de Beauvais, 'le Picard', composed in the dialect of Picardy, also in the early thirteenth century. The Latin bestiary still flourished alongside its French counterparts and was often produced in luxurious illustrated copies in England during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. These are grouped into two important families on the basis of variations in their texts and programs of ILLUMINATION.

Beginning in the fourth century, when Christianity gradually became the official religion of the Roman Empire, luxurious CODICES were produced, among them the Codex Sinaiticus and the Cotton Genesis. During the early Middle Ages, corruptions of the Vulgate and intrusions from Old Latin versions led several scholars to attempt to standardize the biblical texts; Cassiodorus in the sixth century and, in the CAROLINGIAN period, Alcuin of York, Theodulf of Orléans, and Hartmut of St. Gall are the best known of these. As a result of their endeavours, a group of large, luxuriously written and illuminated editions of the complete Bible were produced. Cassiodorus' nine-volume edition influenced Bible manuscripts in ANGLO-SAXON England, such as the Codex Amiatinus, and in the ninth century Alcuin's SCRIPTORIUM at Tours went on to produce a whole series of Bibles for circulation. During the ROMANESQUE period, many of the Bibles produced were large in format. In the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries, a practice arose, stimulated by the universities, of producing small-format Bibles (or parts thereof) with condensed SCRIPT and HISTORIATED INITIALS, often accompanied by GLOSSES. Many of these were made quite cheaply.

After the eleventh century more hospitals were founded in Nicomedia, Thessalonica, Philadelphia, and Nicaea. Many seem to have become even more like modern medical centers, treating patients with serious conditions, with specialized wards for surgery and also for women, and sections providing outpatient treatments such as enemas. Home visits were also done but were expensive, presumably reserved for the very wealthy. Medical students in the early centuries were more likely to be taught in schools and colleges not attached to hospitals, but by the twelfth century hospitals seem to also have provided medical instruction.

Foreign musics and mythologies were a horror and an abomination to the early Christians, or, rather, Judeo-Christians of the first two centuries, as were any pagan practices. The question of influence by Roman popular songs upon the chants of the early church has been raised, but all too few facts in favor of such a hypothesis can be adduced. The first Latin Church Fathers were so strongly biased against anything that smacked of paganism that they may well have suppressed any real evidence. Further, the Romans did not invent a musical notation of their own, nor were they interested in musical theory, so that any question of influence is difficult to judge.

For over a thousand years--from the fifth century B.C. to the fifth century A.D.--Greek mathematicians maintained a splendid tradition of work in the exact sciences: mathematics, astronomy, and related fields. Though the early synthesis of Euclid and some of the supremely brilliant works of Archimedes were known in the medieval west, this tradition really survived elsewhere. In Byzantium, the capital of the Greek-speaking Eastern empire, the original Greek texts were copied and preserved. In the Islamic world, in locales that ranged from Spain to Persia, the texts were studied in Arabic translations and fundamental new work was done. The Vatican Library has one of the richest collections in the world of the products of this tradition, in all its languages and forms. Both the manuscripts that the Vatican collected and the work done on them in Rome proved vital to the recovery of ancient science--which, in turn, laid the foundation for the Scientific Revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries. In the Roman Renaissance, science and humanistic scholarship were not only not enemies; they were natural allies.

This plate from the same manuscript of Euclid's Elements as Vat. gr. 190, vol. 1, shows Book XI Propositions 31-33 on the volumes of parallelpipedal solids. The figures are excellent early representations of three dimensional objects in a plane.

The atomisation of Romani and Traveller communities is a product of later persecution and attempted extermination, during the 17th and 18th centuries, with the infamous 'Gypsy' hunts, and not this early period of mobility, migration, and arrival in the Byzantine Empire and then early modern Europe (1050CE to 1400CE).

A historical process of coalescence into an ethnic community that became the late medieval 'Egyptians' and early modern 'Gypsies' took place in the Byzantine Empire over four centuries or so, with a distinct form of language (i.e., early Romanës) recognised as barbarophonos (non-Greek speaking) by Byzantine commentators, such as Manuel Mazaris' Journey to Hades2. 041b061a72

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