Joaquin Serrano del Pozo

Thesis title: Crosses and relics of the Cross in Late Antique and Byzantine Warfare


PDF icon 114063.pdf


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

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 the Cross, both the symbol and its relics, in military or war contexts, by the Late Roman and Byzantine empires (4th-13th centuries). I am analyzing literary, iconographic and material sources to understand how and when the practice of using the cross 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".