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Ben Morris

Research student,

Overview

I am a SWW DTP funded doctoral student. My thesis compares the treaties of the Byzantine Empire with those of the Kingdom of England, between 900-1200 CE.


Research Interests:



  • English peacemaking and diplomacy

  • Byzantine peacemaking and diplomacy

  • Ecclesiastical authority and rulers' interaction with it

  • Religious rituals surrounding peacemaking

  • redress and giftgiving in and surrounding treaties

Research

Research interests

Research Networks:


I'm an active committee member of the South West of England and Wales Late Antique, Early Medieval, and Byzantine Network. The Network hope to link like minded reaserchers studying similar periods (300-1500 CE) across different diciplines. I helped organise the Network's first annual colloquium on identity on 22/05/2020. Due to Covid 19, this was adapted to an online event, but was still a fantastic day, with over 50 attendees.


Thesis

Shared Solutions to Common Problems: A Comparative Study of Byzantine and English Treaties (900-1200)

The study of medieval diplomacy has been divided into two schools, one focused on the Greek-speaking world of Byzantium, and the other on the Latinized powers of Western Europe. While this linguistic divide existed in the Middle Ages, it is frustrating that it persists in scholarship: Benham having shown that a linguistic division does not usually indicate different diplomatic practice. This prevailing gap in the literature is illustrated by the claim that Byzantine treaties made with Islamic powers were naturally short, due to the Islamic belief of ‘Jizya’. However, treaties between Western, Christian, powers were often short themselves. By focusing on evidence from one school, scholars have limited their view of shared diplomatic practices. Furthermore, the study of medieval diplomacy has often focused on the rituals surrounding treaties, with little work analysing the treaty clauses. As treaties reflect how polities see a shared problem and a shared solution, they provide the best evidence for studying diplomacy and its connection to surrounding laws and customs. This project will re-align the disparity in the historiography, by analysing and comparing the treaties of the Byzantine Empire and the Kingdom of England 900-1200.


I’ve chosen this time frame and these case studies as this is both the earliest time period and these are the only polities from which enough material survives to make any adequate comparison. This comparison will allow me to answer three vital questions: which clauses were essential to treaty making; which were unique to each power; and which were common responses to particular circumstance? In order to answer these questions I will highlight six prominent themes that recur in the treaties of this period, and compare and contrast both the treaty clauses of both powers and the circumstances surrounding them. 

Funding source

SWW DTP