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CAS Discussion Series: “Why Byzantium?”: Bulgaria as a ‘prime candidate’ for membership of the Byzantine Commonwealth?

8 December 2023 @ 16:30 - 18:00

The Centre for Advanced Study Sofia hosts a discussion series under the theme:

Why Byzantium?

On the 8th December 2023 we will convene for a lecture on the following topic:

Bulgaria as a ‘prime candidate’ for membership of the Byzantine Commonwealth?

Lecturer: Assoc. Prof. Angel Nikolov, Ph.D. (Mediaeval Bulgarian History, Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”)

8 December 2023 (Friday), at 16:30h.

Presentation abstract:

The point of the lecture is to show that from a Byzantine perspective the conversion of the Bulgarian people placed it in spiritual dependence (‘sonship’), which presupposed a kind of political union with the empire. However, Bulgaria was a well-organized and powerful country that did everything possible to defend its sovereignty not only through diplomacy and wars, but also by building its own autocephalous church and adopting Slavonic as the language of liturgy and worship. This was a model of selective borrowing and adaptation to the local demands of the Byzantine political, literary and cultural norms and patterns, which was adopted by all Eastern European countries that accepted Byzantine Christianity. Thus Slavia Orthodoxa was born – a new Christian world that shared the religious and cultural values spread by Constantinople, but remained autonomous and separate from the empire, which is why it was regarded by the Byzantines as barbaric and alien to Roman traditions.

About the discussion series:

The topic of this discussion series hosted by the Centre for Advanced Study, titled “Why Byzantium?”, deals with the influence and legacy of the Eastern Roman Empire, which withstood multiple waves of barbarian invasions and lasted more than a millennium after the fall of its western half, spanning the entire Middle Ages. Apart from being an Empire, however, Byzantium was a cultural and historical community of enormous influence that carried the Hellenic, Hellenistic and Roman heritage or inheritances, but already in their Christian form, into all spheres of its existence, transmitted them to other populations and continued to live long after its fall under the Ottoman Sultans. This influence took on a strongly identitarian character – recognized or not – for many peoples, states and social establishments. And thus, the circle of our interests is formed: how Byzantium comes to be perceived, studied, appreciated and understood. This takes place in various ways, some of which we are trying to trace, but one of the main ones is its comprehension in historical works – chronicles, narratives and scholarship – both in the Middle Ages and up to the present day. At the centre of our interest is the perception and conceptualization of the phenomenon of “Byzantium,” and not so much the phenomenon itself. This is achieved through various paths, only one of which is historiography. In addition to historians, the discussion series is addressed to representatives of various disciplines with an interest in the Middle Ages, the Modern Period or Late Antiquity – literary scholars, linguists, art historians, archaeologists – and to all those for whom the phenomenon of Byzantium could and should be of interest.


8 December 2023
16:30 - 18:00


Centre for Advanced Study Sofia


Centre for Advanced Study Sofia
7B Stefan Karadzha St, entr. 3
Sofia,‎ ‎1000‎ ‎Bulgaria
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