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Visions of Community in the Post-Roman World

Walter Pohl/Clemens Gantner/Richard Payne

This volume looks at ‘visions of community’ in a comparative perspective, from Late Antiquity to the dawning of the age of crusades. It addresses the question of why and how distinctive new political cultures developed after the disintegration of the Roman World, and to what degree their differences had already emerged in the first post-Roman centuries. The Latin West, Orthodox Byzantium and its Slavic periphery, and the Islamic world each retained different parts of the Graeco-Roman heritage, while introducing new elements. For instance, ethnicity became a legitimizing element of rulership in the West, remained a structural element of the imperial periphery in Byzantium, and contributed to the inner dynamic of Islamic states without becoming a resource of political integration.

Similarly, the political role of religion also differed between the emerging post-Roman worlds. Anybody interested in the development of the post-Roman Mediterranean, but also in the relationship between the Islamic World and the West, will gain new insights from these studies on the political role of ethnicity and religion in the post-Roman Mediterranean.


Introduction: Ethnicity, Religion and Empire. Walter Pohl

Part I: What Difference Does Ethnicity Make?

Tribe and State: Social Anthropological Approaches

  • Envisioning Medieval Communities in Asia: Remarks on Ethnicity, Tribalism and Faith. Andre Gingrich
  • Tribal Mobility and Religious Fixation: Remarks on Territorial Transformation and Identity in Imperial and Early Post-Imperial Tibet. Guntram Hazod

Identity and Difference in the Roman World

  • Zur Neustiftung von Identität unter imperialer Herrschaft: Die Provinzen des Römischen Reiches als ethnische Entitäten. Fritz Mitthof
  • The Nabataeans – Problems of Defining Ethnicity in the A ncient World. Jan Retsö
  • Political Identity versus Religious Distinction? The Case of Egypt in the Later Roman Empire. Bernhard Palme

Ethnic Identities in the Early Medieval West

  • How Many Peoples Are (in) a People? Herwig Wolfram
  • The Providential Past: Visions of Frankish Identity in the Early Medieval History of Gregory of Tours’ Historiae (sixth–ninth century). Helmut Reimitz
  • Inventing Wales. Catherine McKenna

Early Islamic Identities

  • Religious Communities in the Early Islamic World. Michael G. Morony
  • Seventh-Century Identities: The Case of North Africa. Walter E. Kaegi

Christian Identities in the Middle East

  • Ethnicity, Ethnogenesis and the Identity of Syriac Orthodox Christians. Bas ter Haar Romeny
  • Avoiding Ethnicity: Uses of the Ancient Past in Late Sasanian Northern Mesopotamia. Richard Payne
  • Truth and Lies, Ceremonial and Art: Issues of Nationality in Medieval Armenia. Lynn Jones
  • Roman Identity in a Border Region: Evagrius and the Defence of the Roman Empire. Hartmut Leppin
  • Holy Land and Sacred History: A View from Early Ethiopia. George Hatke

Part II: Political Identities and the Integration of Communities

Regional and Imperial Identites in the East

  • Anastasios und die ‚Geschichte‘ der Isaurier. Mischa Meier
  • Zur Stellung von ethnischen und religiösen Minderheiten in Byzanz: Armenier, Muslime und Paulikianer. Ralph-Johannes Lilie
  • Regional Identities and Military Power: Byzantium and Islam ca. 600–750. John Haldon and Hugh Kennedy

The Challenge of Difference: Early Medieval Christian Europe

  • ‘Faithful believers’: Oaths of Allegiance in Post-Roman Societiesas Evidence for Eastern and Western ‘Visions of Community’. Stefan Esders
  • „Einheit“ versus „Fraktionierung“: Zur symbolischen und institutionellen Integration des Frankenreichs im 8./9. Jahrhundert. Steffen Patzold
  • Diaspora Jewish Communities in Early Medieval Europe: Structural Conditions for Survival and Expansion. Wolfram Drews
  • New Visions of Community in Ninth-Century Rome: The Impact of the Saracen Threat on the Papal World View. Clemens Gantner

Part III: Visions of Community, Perceptions of Difference
Islamic Views

  • Arabic-Islamic Historiographers on the Emergence of Latin-Christian Europe. Daniel G. König
  • The Vikings in the South through Arab Eyes. Ann Christys
  • Identities of the Saqaliba and the Rusiyya in Early Arabic Sources. Przemyslaw Urbabczyk

Byzantine Views

  • Gog, Magog und die Hunnen: Anmerkungen zur eschatologischen „Ethnographie“ der Völkerwanderungszeit. Wolfram Brandes
  • Strategies of Identification and Distinction in the Byzantine Discourse on the Seljuk Turks. Alexander Beihammer

Western Views

  • ‘A wild man, whose hand will be against all’: Saracens and I shmaelites in Latin Ethnographical Traditions, from Jerome to Bede. John Victor Tolan
  • Where the Wild Things Are. Ian N. Wood


  • Conclusion. Leslie Brubaker
  • Conclusions. Chris Wickham


Institut für Mittelalterforschung
der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften

Hollandstraße 11-13 • A-1020 Wien
Tel.: +43-1-515 81/7200 • e-Mail
Direktor: Univ.Prof.Dr. Walter Pohl

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