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The Mediterranean City and Its Rulers

A Comparison of Byzantium, Islam and Western Christendom in the High Middle Ages

The High Middle Ages were a period of profound transformation for the Christian cities of the central and western Mediterranean. However, it has generally been thought that the urban centers of the Islamic and Byzantine worlds to the south and east did not share in the same economic, political, and cultural developments. Most interregional studies carried out so far have promoted this understanding of the period by considering the "classic example" of the cities of northern Italy solely in the context of the situation on the other side of the Alps. Otherwise, attention has tended to be focused on specific polities within each of the three Mediterranean macro-regions, to the neglect of the picture across macro-regions. There has been no in-depth comparison of how cities were ruled in the various lands encircling the Great Sea, despite the existence of a strong common Roman heritage, as well as evidence for extensive interaction through long-distance trade, pilgrimage, diplomacy, and warfare. This conference will begin to undertake such an analysis, highlighting similarities and differences in governmental institutions, civic identity, and revolutionary activity throughout the Mediterranean.

Director: Teresa Shawcross, Assistant Professor of History

Click here for conference abstracts


Saturday, April 26th
216 Aaron Burr Hall

8:30 a.m.                 Breakfast

9:00 a.m.
                 Opening remarks and welcome

9:30 -11:15a.m.      Session 1:   City Communes

The Magna Carta of the Lombard Cities: The making of the Peace of Constance and the Battle over Its Legacy in the Long Thirteenth century
Gianluca Raccagni, University of Edinburgh

Dalmatia in the Thirteenth Century: The Formation and Survival of City-Communes against the Backdrop of the Struggle between Powers for Control of the Adriatic and Its Hinterland
Zdenka Janeković Römer, Institute for Historical Sciences of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts

11:15-11:30 a.m.   Coffee/break

11:30-1:15 p.m.     Session 2:  Negotiations with Central Authorities

Negotiating Cvic Autonomy in Thirteenth-Century Morocco
Amira K. Bennison, Cambridge University

Taking Liberties in Byzantium: Emperors and Cities
Teresa Shawcross, Princeton University

1:15-2:15 p.m.          Lunch

2:15-4:45 p.m.          Session 3: Topography, Civic Government and
                                          Ethno-Religious Diversity

Cities and the Kings of Sicily in the Late Twelfth Century: Compromise, Panegyric and Pilgrimage
Paul Oldfield, University of Manchester

The Creation of the Via Dolorosa and the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem during the Third Reign of Al-Nāsir Muhammad Ibn Qalawun
Ronnie Ellenblum, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Spatial and Visual Expressions of Power and Difference in Medieval Anatolian Cities: The Cases of Antalya and Konya
Scott Redford, Koç University

4:45-5:00 p.m.            Break

5:00-6:00 p.m.            Keynote Lecture

Is the Mediterranean a Useful Category?

David Abulafia, Cambridge University
Respondent: Molly Greene, Princeton University

6:45 p.m.                      Dinner for speakers, roundtable participants, and chairs

Sunday, April 27th
216 Aaron Burr Hall

8:30 a.m.                       Breakfast

9:00-10:45 a.m.           Session 4:  In Peace and War

The City, Its Bishop, Three Kings, and a Viscount: Identity and Authority in Southern France
Justine Firnhaber-Baker, University of St. Andrews

Damascus and the Transition of Power, 1245-1277
R. Stephen Humphreys, University of California, Santa Barbara

10:45-11:00 a.m.           Break

11:00-12:30 p.m.           Roundtable: Preliminary Conclusions 
                                             and New Directions

David Abulafia, Cambridge University
Adam Beaver, Princeton University
Alison Isenberg, Princeton University
Deborah G. Tor, University of Notre Dame

Cosponsored by the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, the Council of the Humanities, the Davis Center for Historical Studies, the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies, the Program in Medieval Studies, and the Committee on Renaissance and Early Modern Studies

For more information, contact Sarah E. Mullins (609-258-485).

The conference is intended to establish an international network of scholars. The next meeting will be hosted by the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of Edinburgh in 2015. For more information, contact Dr. Gianluca Raccagni.

Conference poster