IMC 2012: Sessions

Session 1307: Rebellion, Resistance, and Subversion in Byzantium, the Latin West, and the Medieval Islamic World, II

Wednesday 11 July 2012, 16.30-18.00

Sponsor:Political Culture in Three Spheres: Byzantium, Islam & the West
Organisers:Catherine Holmes, University College, University of Oxford
Björn Weiler, Department of History & Welsh History, Aberystwyth University
Moderator/Chair:Jo Van Steenbergen, Henri Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies / Department of Languages & Cultures: The Near East & the Islamic World, Universiteit Gent
Paper 1307-aSüleyman-shah, the Son of Kutalmish: Rebellion and State Founding in 11th-Century Anatolia
(Language: English)
Alexander Beihammer, Department of History & Archaeology, University of Cyprus, Nicosia
Index terms: Islamic and Arabic Studies, Mentalities, Politics and Diplomacy
Paper 1307-bJustifying Murder and Legitimising Regime Change: Imperial Iconography and Political Strategy in 9th-Century Byzantium
(Language: English)
Neil Churchill, Centre for the Visual Fields, Department of Art History, University of Sussex
Index terms: Art History - General, Byzantine Studies, Mentalities, Politics and Diplomacy
Paper 1307-cTales of Trickery and Deceit: Choosing an Emperor in 12th-Century Germany
(Language: English)
Björn Weiler, Department of History & Welsh History, Aberystwyth University
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Mentalities, Politics and Diplomacy
Abstract

The study of medieval political culture involves thinking about the assumptions, expectations, and codes of behaviour which contemporaries brought to the practice of politics. To put it another way, the analysis of political culture involves uncovering the rules of the game in a given political context. Sometimes the nature of the political game and the rules which governed its conduct are explicitly expressed by contemporaries. More often than not, both game and rules are left unstated and have to be recovered through more indirect means. The examination of moments of tension, pressure, and change constitutes one such indirect approach to political culture – moments when the political game itself appears to come under pressure and when rules may be broken, but also moments when norms and expectations may be restated, reinforced, and rediscovered.

In the sessions to this thematic strand paper-givers will consider how instances of rebellion, resistance, and subversion reveal the rules by which political life was conducted in their own particular specialist area. How symbols, language, and gestures were deployed at times of tension will be relevant here, as will the use of practical tools by rebels. Consideration of the identity of the agents of rebellion, resistance, and subversion will also be important. Some agents came from outside political elites, including so-called ‘grass roots’ rebels; others were from within political elites. The extent to which rulers could themselves be rule-breakers or the subtle subverters will be considered. Other questions also arise. To what extent did acts of rebellion, resistance, and subversion have their own rules? How far did rules change over time? To what extent did rebels appeal to tradition, including prior examples of rebellion? How exactly did multi-confessional or multi-ethnic contexts shape the theory and practice of rebellion, resistance, and subversion?

Paper-givers have been encouraged to tackle such questions by reference to their own specialist area. However, we have asked them to prioritise the wider political practices and principles which can be identified in instances of rebellion, resistance, and subversion rather than focusing too narrowly on the causes, events, and consequences of single episodes. Contributors will elucidate their examples in a manner that will facilitate a genuinely comparative discussion of political cultures across three spheres: Byzantium, the medieval Islamic world and the Latin West.