Joaquin Serrano del Pozo

Thesis title: "Invincible weapons": holy relics in Late Roman and Byzantine war (4th-13th centuries).


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MSt and BA (Hons) in History - Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaiso, Chile

Undergraduate teaching

Tutor - The Transformation of the Roman World, ca. 300-800: Towards Byzantium and the Early Medieval West (ANHI08015)

Tutor - Roman World 1B: The Roman Empire 

Research summary

Social and cultural history of Late Antiquity and Byzantium (4th-13th centuries)

Circulation of knowledge, ideas and images in the Mediterranean and Middle East 

Relations among images, history and literature

The 7th century, the Roman-Persian War and the reign of Heraclius

Imperial ideology and War in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

The Holy Cross and its relics 

Current research interests

My thesis examines the use of holy relics in war and military context, by the Late Roman and "Byzantine" empires (4th-13th centuries). I am analysing literary, iconographic and material sources to understand how and when the practice of using holy relics as a war-standard and protective talisman originated, and what represented in the context of Byzantine culture. From the introduction of Christian symbols into the Roman military standards by Constantine (4th century) to the recurrent use of relics and icons by the Byzantine armies of the 12-13th centuries, the sources offer only a glimpse of these practices, which underwent several transformations over time. The military use of relics, icons, and holy devices is also linked with the problem of war ideology and holy war in Byzantium. I am interested in the cultural history of Late Antiquity and Byzantium, in the social and cultural history of war, and in the Christian practices and beliefs towards relics, icons, amulets and other holy "devices".


Member of the organization committee of the 4th Edinburgh International Graduate Conference in Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies, University of Edinburgh (2019-2020)

Papers delivered

The reliquary-cross of Saint Constantine and the military use of holy relics,  Oxford Graduate Byzantine Seminar (October 2022). 


The cross in the Second Arab siege of Constantinople (AD 717-18), Edinburgh Byzantine Colloquium (January 2022). 


Holy relics in the Roman-Persian wars (4th-7th centuries),  Chilean Medieval Conference (September 2021). 


Relics, Icons, and Christian Holy Devices in the Roman-Persian Wars, 4th-7th Centuries, International Medieval Congress, Leeds (2021).


Between Medieval Legend and Byzantine History: emperor Heraclius’ single combat, Oxford University Byzantine Society’s 22nd International Graduate Conference, Oxford (2020).


Poster: The legend of emperor Heraclius: Byzantine roots and origins, 3rd Edinburgh International Graduate Conference in Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies, Edinburgh (2019).


Byzantines and Sassanids. The last Roman-Persian war (602-628): considerations about a conflict of centuries [Spanish], 6th International Conference of Greek Studies – University of Chile, Santiago de Chile (2018).


Emperor Heraclius’ single combat: history and legend [Spanish], 16th Conference of Medieval Studies - CONICET – SAEMED, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2018).


Restorer of the Cross: the legend of Heraclius during the crusades [Spanish], 22nd Medieval Conference, Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaiso, Valparaiso, Chile (2017).


The legend of emperor Heraclius: Mediterranean circulation and development in the Medieval West [Spanish], Inaugural keynote speech of the Research Group: Circulation of knowledge, objects and people, Institute of History, Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaiso, Valparaiso, Chile (2016). 


Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles 

“The Constantinian Labarum and the Christianization of Roman Military Standards”, Journal for Late Antique Religion and Culture, 15, 2021, pp. 37–64. 



“The Cross-standard of Emperor Maurice (582-602 AD)”, Diogenes 11 (ISSN 2054-6696), 2021, pp. 1-17:


“El combate singular de Heraclio: ¿leyenda o historia?”, Historia 396, Vol. 10, N°1, 2020, pp. 285-318 (ISNN: 0719-7969 [Emperor Heraclius’ single combat: legend or history?]


“El emperador Heraclio (610-641) entre la Historia y la leyenda: un estado de la cuestión”, Intus-Legere Historia, Vol. 12, N°1, 2018 (DOI: 10.15691/07198949.237). [The emperor Heraclius (610-641): between History and legend: current state of the question]


“El emperador Heraclio como nuevo David? La iconografía de los Platos bizantinos de Chipre frente a las fuentes escritas”, Byzantion Nea Hellás, N°36, 2017, pp. 282-305 (ISSN: 0718-8471) [The emperor Heraclius as a new David? The iconography of the Byzantine silver plates of Cyprus against the written sources]


“La Pérdida de España: el tópico de la lamentación y el sentido providencial en la Crónica Mozárabe del 754.”, Intus-Legere Historia, Vol. 8, N°1, 2014. (DOI: 10.15691/07176864.2014.002) [The “Loss of Spain”: the topic of lamentation and the providential interpretation in the Mozarabic Chronicle of 754] 


Book Reviews: 

MIKE HUMPHREYS (Editor), A Companion to Byzantine Iconoclasm, Brill, Leiden-Boston, 2021. ISBN: 978-90-04-46200-7.