The study of the family is one of the major lacunas in Byzantine Studies. Angeliki Laiou remarked in 1989 that ‘the study of the Byzantine family is still in its infancy’, and this assertion remains true today. The present volume addresses this lacuna. It comprises 19 chapters written by international experts in the field which take a variety of approaches to the study of the Byzantine family, and embrace a chronological span from the later Roman to the late Byzantine empire.
The context is established by chapters focusing on the Roman roots of the Byzantine family, the Christianisation of the family, and the nature of the family in contemporaneous cultures (the late antique west and the Islamic east). Key methodological approaches to the Byzantine family are highlighted and discussed, in particular prosopographical and life course approaches. The contribution of hagiography to the understanding of the Byzantine family is analysed by several authors; other chapters on the family and children in art and on the archaeology of the Middle Byzantine house explore the material evidence that can shed light on the Byzantine family. Overall, the diversity of families that existed in Byzantium (blood, fictive, metaphorical) is emphasised, and chapters consider the specific cases of ascetic, monastic, aristocratic and peasant families, as well as the imperial family, which is illuminated by the comparative case of a Caliphal family. The volume is topped and tailed by a Preface and an Afterword by the editors, which address the state of the field and consider the way ahead. Thus the volume is vital in putting the subject of the Byzantine Family in sharp focus and setting the research agenda for the future.
Contents: Preface; Looking for the family: the Greek and Roman background, Mary Harlow and Tim Parkin; Family violence: punishment and abuse in the late Roman household, Julia Hillner; Family relations and the socialisation of children in the autobiographical narratives of late antiquity, Ville Vuoulanto; The death of the father in late antique Christian literature, Fotis Vasileiou; Preserving family honour: Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Macrina as theological polemic, Nathan Howard; The family in the late antique West (AD 400-700): a historiographical review, Emma Southon, Mary Harlow and Chris Callow; The family in medieval Islamic societies, Julia Bray; Age, gender and status: a three-dimensional life course perspective of the Byzantine family, Eve Davies; Looking at the Byzantine family, Leslie Brubaker; The Byzantine child: picturing complex family dynamics, Cecily Hennessy; Social mobility in Byzantium? Family ties in the Middle Byzantine period, Claudia Ludwig; The Middle Byzantine house and family: a reappraisal, Simon Ellis; Family in the Byzantine Greek legend of Saint Alexios, the man of god, Stavroula Constantinou; La Vie du Théodora de Thessalonique, un écrit familial, Michael Kaplan; Imperial families: the case of the Macedonians (867-1056), Shaun Tougher; An Abassid caliphal family, Nadia Maria El Cheikh; Byzantine monastic communities: alternative families?, Dirk Krausmüller; Families, politics, and memories of Rome in the Material for History of Nikephoros Bryennios, Leonora Neville; Changes in the structure of the Late Byzantine family and society, Fotini Kondyli; Afterword, Shaun Tougher; Index.