It is well known that the history of Byzantium does not fit comfortably with mainstream medieval history. This paper returns to the problem in the light of two recent, if opposing, historiographical trends: first, the emphasis on the Mediterranean as a unifying factor, and second, the turn towards the comparative history of western and eastern Eurasia. Neither emphasis accommodates Byzantium well, and it is argued that however difficult it may seem to some historians, any broad approach to medieval history will be inadequate if it does not make space for the history of Byzantium.
(Online publication February 05 2010)
* This is an adapted version of a paper read to the Society in February 2010, and I am grateful for comments received then; some of the material was included, though with different emphasis, in the Syme Lecture at Wolfson College, Oxford, and the John W. Pope Lecture at the University of Carolina, Chapel Hill, both given in November 2010.