IMC 2012: Sessions

Session 1507: Rebellion, Resistance, and Subversion in Byzantium, the Latin West, and the Medieval Islamic World, III

Thursday 12 July 2012, 09.00-10.30

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:Jonathan Shepard, Independent Scholar, Oxford
Paper 1507-aEstablishing and Subverting the Rules in Ottonian and Salian Historiography
(Language: English)
David Warner, Department of History, Rhode Island School of Design
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Mentalities, Politics and Diplomacy
Paper 1507-bThe Military Aristocracy and Rebellion in 10th- and 11th-Century Byzantium
(Language: English)
Kyle Sinclair, College of Arts & Law, University of Birmingham
Index terms: Byzantine Studies, Historiography - Medieval, Mentalities
Paper 1507-cThe Crucible of Crisis: Ecclesiastical Identity and the Production of Political Ideas in 1264
(Language: English)
Sophie Ambler, Department of History, King's College London
Index terms: Ecclesiastical History, Mentalities, Political Thought, 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.