About our staff
Professor Niels Gaul
MSt, MA, PhD
A. G. Leventis Professor of Byzantine Studies
Affiliated research centres
I am a Byzantinist with research interests primarily in the middle and later Byzantine periods. Together with Curie Virág, I currently co-direct a Byzantinist-Sinologist project funded by the European Research Council, ‘PAIXUE: Classicising learning in medieval imperial systems: cross-cultural approaches to Byzantine paideia and Tang/Song xue’ (CoG 726371, 2017–2022).
In the framework of this project I am presently working on a monograph on the function(s) of classicising learning in the Byzantine imperial system, while on the sides pursuing a short project on Byzantium and Scotland.
The latter fits well with the 12th A. G. Leventis Conference on ‘The Greek Revolution of 1821: Contexts, Scottish Connections, the Classical Tradition’, that I am presently organising together with our next A. G. Leventis Visiting Professor of Greek, Professor Roderick Beaton FBA. The conference will be held in November 2021 and be accompanied by a display in the Main Library Exhibition Gallery.
Prior to taking up the inaugural A. G. Leventis Chair at Edinburgh in 2015, I taught Byzantine studies at Central European University Budapest (2007–2015) and held the Dilts-Lyell Research Fellowship in Greek Palaeography at Lincoln College, Oxford (2005–2007). I hold a Master’s degree from Oxford and my PhD from Bonn, where I also spent my undergraduate years.
I welcome applications from potential research students with interest in the Byzantine world: I supervise PhD students in both Classics and History.
- Series editor, Edinburgh Byzantine Studies (Edinburgh University Press)
- Editorial board member, Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library/Byzantine Greek series (Harvard University Press)
- Editorial board member, Translated Texts for Byzantinists (Liverpool University Press)
- Chair, British Academy Project, 'Prosopography of the Later Roman and Byzantine Worlds' (based at the Institute of Classical Studies, School of Advanced Study, London)
- Instructor, Byzantine Greek Summer School, Byzantine Studies Research Center, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, 2017–2019, 2021
- E. A. Lowe Lecturer in Palaeography, Corpus Christi College, Oxford, 2022/3
- 2021 A. G. Leventis Professor, Conference and Exhibition
- Inaugural Lecture for the A. G. Leventis Chair in Byzantine Studies (20 November 2019): ‘Byzantium and Scotland’
- Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Podcast, Episode 2 (August 2020) – in conversation with Divna Manolova and Anna Stavrakopoulou
- MSc programme in Late Antique, Islamic & Byzantine Studies (LAIBS)
- Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies Research Group at the University of Edinburgh
- UK Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies
- Edinburgh Research Explorer profile
- Academia.edu profile
Summary of research interestsPlaces:
- Near East
- Ancient Civilisations
- Language & Literature
My research focuses on the middle and later Byzantine empire; my recent work has looked at classicising learning and the classical tradition in Byzantium, various types of social performances – be it in the form of rhetorical ‘theatre’, processions or (staged) miracles – and at the scholarly networks permeating late Byzantine society. Right now I am working on a monograph on the sociology of classicising learning in the Byzantine empire.
All these interests come together in the ERC project I am currently co-directing with Dr Curie Virág, ‘PAIXUE: Classicising learning in medieval imperial systems: Cross-cultural approaches to Byzantine paideia and Tang/Song xue’ (ERC CoG 726371).
In the medieval Eurasian geopolitical space, Byzantium and China stand out as two centralised imperial orders that drew on seemingly unbroken, in fact purposely constructed, traditions of classicising learning. With generous support from the European Research Council (ERC), the PAIXUE project examines in tandem, with equal focus on structural parallels and divergences, the conscious revival and subsequent dialectics of classicising learning in middle and later Byzantium (c.800–1350) and Tang/Song China (618–1279). Initially tied into aristocratic culture, it became a tool by which the imperial state sought to monopolise prestige and access to power so as to effectively channel the activities of newly emerging burgeoning ‘middling’ strata into the service of empire. As time progressed, it was also the basis upon which these new elites constructed novel forms of subjectivity that claimed authority and agency increasingly independent of the imperial state.
PAIXUE traces this evolution of classicising learning in Byzantine and Tang/Song literati culture from two angles. The ﬁrst examines the galvanising function of social performances that involved classicising learning in the imperial systems. The second places the individual literatus centre-stage and explores the transformations of self-awareness, ethos, and self-cultivation. Given PAIXUE’s concern with examining phenomena cross-culturally in the longue-durée, rather than merely juxtaposing ‘spotlight’ impressions, a comparison of these two imperial systems does not only allow for deeper insights into the historical development of both China and Byzantium: it opens the possibility of studying cultural mechanisms behind the formation of institutions, practices and values. The project explores novel forms of collaboration in the humanities, including the co-authoring of research output between Byzantinists and Sinologists. Byzantium, frequently perceived as the ‘Other’ within western culture to the present day, serves here to build meaningful bridges to (pre-modern) China.
- Greek Palaeography
- Byzantine Literary History
- Constantinople: The History of a Medieval Megalopolis from Constantine the Great to Süleyman the Magnificent
- Centre, Province and Periphery in the Age of Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos
- Renovatio Imperii or ‘Twilight of Empire’? Byzantium under Andronikos II Palaiologos
- Constantinople: The History of a Medieval Megalopolis from Constantine the Great to Süleyman the Magnificent (PG version)
- Córdoba & Constantinople: Exchange & Competition between the Umayyad and Byzantine Courts – taught together with Dr Glaire Anderson (ECA)
- Byzantine Text Seminar
- Greek Palaeography (PG version)
|Name||Thesis topic||Supervision type|
|‘Monasteries and monasticism in late Byzantine Constantinople’||Primary|
‘Monetary exchanges and social capital in the court and empire of Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos’
|Defangyu (Charles) Kong||‘Female rule in Byzantium and Tang China: The empresses Eirene and Wu Zetian’||Primary|
|Joaquín Serrano del Pozo||
‘Crosses and relics of the Holy Cross in Byzantine warfare’
|Bilal Adıgüzel||‘Patterns of resistance and subversion in the middle Byzantine empire: Niketas David Paphlagon in context’||Primary|
|George Pinkerton||‘Porphyry, the “Roman marble”: imperial purple, power, and perception in the Long Late Antiquity’||Secondary|
‘Translating Hellenic words into Christian minds: Classicising learning from the Greek Fathers through the Byzantine literary tradition’
|Name||Thesis topic||Supervision type||Completion year|
|At Central European University Budapest|
|András Németh||‘Imperial systematization of the past: Emperor Constantine VII and his historical excerpts’; revised version published as The Excerpta Constantiniana and the Byzantine Appropriation of the Past||Primary||2010|
|Florin Leonte||‘Rhetoric in purple: The renewal of imperial ideology in the texts of Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos’; revised version published as Imperial Visions of Late Byzantium: Manuel II Palaiologos and Rhetoric in Purple||Primary||2012|
|Julia Bokody||‘Itinerant rulership in Byzantium: A topographical analysis of the Laskarid realm (1204–1261)’||Primary||2013|
|Luka Špoljarić||‘Nicholas of Modruš, “The Glory of Illyria”: humanist patriotism and self-fashioning in Renaissance Rome’||Primary||2013|
|Cristian-Nicolae Daniel||‘Coping with the powerful other: a comparative approach to Greek-Slavonic communities of rite in late medieval Transylvania and the Banat‘||Primary||2014|
|Divna Manolova||‘Philosophical argumentation and dialogicity in Nikephoros Gregoras’ epistolary collection’||Primary||2014|
|Roman Shliakhtin||‘From Huns into Persians: the image of the Seljuk Turks of Asia Minor among the Byzantine literati of the eleventh and twelfth centuries’||Primary||2016|
|Mircea Duluş||‘Philagathos of Cerami: Byzantine culture, monastic renewal and politics at the courts of Roger II (1130–1154) and William I (1154–1166)’||Primary||2018|
‘Byzantium and the Georgian world c. 900–1210: Ideology of kingship and rhetoric in the Byzantine periphery’
|At the University of Edinburgh|
|Mihail Mitrea||‘A late Byzantine hagiographer: Philotheos Kokkinos and his vitae of contemporary saints’||Primary||2018|
|Jesús Rodríguez Viejo||‘Ottonian and early Salian manuscript illumination at St Gall: Imagery, thought and Marian devotion’||Secondary||2019|
|Ivan Marić||‘Iconoclast imperial authority and its contested legacy: From the Arab siege (717/18) to the death of Michael III (867)’||Primary||2020|
‘Cross-confessional captivity in the later Byzantine world, c.1280–1460’
|Mark Huggins||‘The reception of John Chrysostom in the middle Byzantine period (9th–13th centuries): A case study of the Catechetical Homily on Pascha’||Primary||2021|
Currently accepting research student applications : Yes
Areas accepting Research Students in:
Middle and late Byzantine history and culture; Greek palaeography and Byzantine manuscripts; Byzantine rhetoric and the classical tradition; comparative approaches to the Byzantine world
- Thomas Magistros und die spätbyzantinische Sophistik. Studien zum Humanismus urbaner Eliten in der frühen Palaiologenzeit. Mainzer Veröffentlichungen zur Byzantinistik, 10 (Wiesbaden, 2011).
- with M. Carr and Y. Stouraitis (eds), The Post-1204 Byzantine World: New Directions and Novel Approaches. Papers read at the 51st Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, University of Edinburgh, 13–15 April 2018 (Abingdon and New York, forthcoming).
- with V. Menze and Cs. Bálint (eds), Center, Province and Periphery in the Age of Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos: From De Cerimoniis to De Administrando Imperio. Mainzer Veröffentlichungen zur Byzantinistik, 15 (Wiesbaden, 2018).
- with Av. Cameron (eds), Dialogues and Debates from Late Antiquity to Late Byzantium (Abingdon and New York, 2017).
- with S. Steckel and M. Grünbart (eds), Networks of Learning: Perspectives on Scholars in Byzantine East and Latin West, c. 1000–1200. Byzantinische Studien und Texte, 6 (Berlin and Münster, 2014).
- with S. Ronchey (eds), Peter Schreiner, Byzantinische Kultur. Eine Aufsatzsammlung, II: Das Wissen (Rome, 2008).
- ‘All the emperor’s men (and his nephews): Paideia and networking strategies at the court of Andronikos II Palaiologos, 1290–1320’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 70 (2016): 153–78.
- ‘Writing “with joyful and leaping soul”: Sacralizing strategies, scribal hands, and ceremonial in the Lincoln College Typikon’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 69 (2015): 243–71 (with eleven figures).
- ‘The twitching shroud: collective construction of paideia in the circle of Thomas Magistros’, Segno e Testo 5 (2007): 263‒340 (with six ﬁgures).
- ‘Andronikos Komnenos, Prinz Belthandros und der Zyklop: Zwei Glossen zu Niketas Choniates’ Χρονικὴ Διήγησις’, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 96 (2003): 623–60.
- ‘Introduction’, in The Post-1204 Byzantine World (above, forthcoming).
- ‘The circulation and display of imperial effigies in (early) Palaiologan Byzantium’, in The Post-1204 Byzantine World (above, forthcoming).
- ‘Processions in early Palaiologan Constantinople: From Michael Palaiologos's theatrical spectacles to participatory processions under Andronikos II and Patriarch Athanasios I’, in L. Brubaker and N. Patterson Ševčenko (eds), Processions: Urban Ritual in Byzantium and Neighbouring Lands, Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Symposia and Colloquia (Washington, D.C., forthcoming).
- ‘Voicing and gesturing emotions: Remarks on emotive performance from antiquity to the middle Byzantine period’, in D. Cairns, M. Hinterberger, A. Pizzone and M. Zaccarini (eds), Emotions through Time: From Antiquity to Byzantium (Tübingen, forthcoming).
- ‘Schools and learning’, in S. Bassett (ed.), The Cambridge Companion on Constantinople (Cambridge, 2021).
- ‘Fringe encounters: Translations of antiquity and negotiations of scholarly authority in the margins of Byzantine schoolbooks of Ioannes Tzetzes and Manuel Moschopoulos’, in J. Henderson and R. F. Thomas (eds), The Loeb Classical Library and Its Progeny: Proceedings of the First James Loeb Biennial Conference, Munich and Murnau 18–20 May 2017. Loeb Classical Monographs (Cambridge, Mass., 2020), 351–91.
- ‘The letter and its audience: Epistolary voice, character, and their audience’, in A. Riehle (ed.), Companion to Byzantine Epistolography (Leiden, 2020), 353–73.
- ‘“And the whole city cheered”: The poetics and politics of the miraculous in the early Palaiologan period’, in A. Mattiello and A. Rossi (eds), Reconsidering the Concept of Decline and the Arts of the Palaiologan Period (Abingdon, 2019), 7–30.
- ‘Performative reading in the late Byzantine theatron’, in I. Toth and T. Shawcross (eds), Reading in the Byzantine Empire and Beyond (Cambridge, 2018), 215–233.
- ‘Zooming in on Constantinople: Introductory notes on the interplay of center, province and periphery in the tenth-century Byzantine empire’, in Center, Province and Periphery in the Age of Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos (above), 1–21.
- ‘Embedded dialogues and dialogical voices in Palaiologan rhetoric’, in Dialogues and Debates from Late Antiquity to Late Byzantium (above), 184–202.
- ‘Rising elites and institutionalization – ĒthosImores – “Debts” and drafts: Three concluding steps towards comparing networks of learning in Byzantium and the “Latin” West, c.1000–1200’, in Networks of Learning (above), 235–80.
- ‘The manuscript tradition’, in E.J. Bakker (ed.), A Companion to the Ancient Greek Language (Malden, Mass., and Chichester, 2010), 69–82.
- ‘Moschopulos, Lopadiotes, Phrankopulos (?), Magistros, Staphidakes: Prosopographisches und Paläographisches zur Lexikographie des 14. Jahrhunderts’, in E. Trapp and S. Schönauer (eds), Lexicologica byzantina (Bonn, 2008), 163–96.
- ‘The partridge’s purple stockings: Observations on the historical, literary, and manuscript context of Pseudo-Kodinos’ Handbook on Court Ceremonial’, in M. Grünbart (ed.), Theatron. Rhetorische Kultur in Spätantike und Mittelalter (Berlin and New York, 2007), 69‒103.
- ‘Anassa Anna skopei – Fürstin Anna, bedenke! Beobachtungen zur Schedo- und Lexikographie in der spätbyzantinischen Provinz’, in L. Hoffmann (ed.), Zwischen Polis, Provinz und Peripherie. Beiträge zur byzantinischen Geschichte und Kultur. Mainzer Veröffentlichungen zur Byzantinistik, 7 (Wiesbaden, 2007), 663–704.
- ‘Eunuchs in the late Byzantine empire, c.1250–1400’, in S. F. Tougher (ed.), Eunuchs in Antiquity and Beyond (London, 2002), 199–219.
Lexicon and encyclopedia entries
- Chapter on ‘Byzantinische Buchkultur’, in F. Daim (ed.), Byzanz. Historisch-kulturwissenschaftliches Handbuch. Neuer Pauly, Supplementband, 11 (Stuttgart, 2017), 982–996.
- Entries on ‘Books, book illustration, book binding, Byzantium’; ‘Libraries, Byzantium’; ‘Scribes, Byzantium’; ‘Scripts, Byzantium’, in Blackwell’s Encyclopedia of the Ancient World (Malden, Mass., 2012).
- Entries on ‘Eustathius’; ‘Moschopoulos, Manuel’; ‘Planudes, Maximus’; ‘Thomas Magister’; and ‘Triclinius, Demetrius’, in A. Grafton, G. Most and and S. Settis (eds). The Classical Tradition: A Guide (Cambridge, Mass., 2010).
- Entry on ‘Metochites, Theodoros’, in L. Arnold (ed.), Kindlers Literatur Lexikon, 3rd edn (Stuttgart, 2009).
- Contributor to E. Trapp (ed.), Lexikon zur byzantinischen Gräzität, fifth fascicle (λ–παλιάνθρωπος) (Vienna, 2004).