Professor Niels Gaul

A. G. Leventis Professor of Byzantine Studies


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 and in the Faculty of Classics, Oxford (2005–2007). I hold a Master’s degree from Oxford and my PhD from Bonn, where I also spent my undergraduate years.


MSt (Oxf), MA, PhD (Bonn)

Responsibilities & affiliations

  • Director, Centre for Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies
  • Series founder and – with Louise Blanke, Ivan Drpić, Alexander Riehle, Yannis Stouraitis and Alicia Walker – editor, Edinburgh Byzantine Studies (Edinburgh University Press)
  • Editorial board member,
  • Chair, Academy Research Project, 'Prosopography of the Later Roman and Byzantine Worlds' (based at the Institute of Classical Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London)
  • Houghton-Medieval Studies Lecturer in Early Book History, Harvard University, 2024
  • E. A. Lowe Lecturer in Palaeography, Corpus Christi College, Oxford, 2022/3
  • Instructor, Byzantine Greek Summer School, Byzantine Studies Research Center, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, 2017–

Undergraduate teaching

  • Medieval Worlds: A Journey through the Middle Ages (sub-honours)
  • Transformation of the Later Roman World, c.300–800: Toward Byzantium and the Early Medieval West (sub-honours)
  • Greek Palaeography (honours)
  • Byzantine Literary History (honours)
  • Constantinople: The History of a Medieval Megalopolis from Constantine the Great to Süleyman the Magnificent (honours)

Postgraduate teaching

  • 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)

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I welcome applications from potential research students with interest in the Byzantine world: I supervise PhD students in both Classics and History.

Areas of supervision: middle and late Byzantine history and culture; Byzantine rhetoric and the classical tradition; Greek palaeography and Byzantine manuscript studies; comparative approaches to the Byzantine world (especially Tang and Song China)

Current PhD students supervised

Name | Thesis topic | Supervision type

  • Defangyu Kong | ‘Empresses Eirene and Wu Zetian: Examining imperial authority in early medieval Byzantium and China through the angle of female rule’ | Primary
  • George Pinkerton  | ‘Porphyry, the “Roman marble”: imperial purple, power, and perception in the Long Late Antiquity’ | Primary
  • Bilal Adıgüzel | ‘Patterns of resistance and subversion in the middle Byzantine empire: Niketas David Paphlagon in context’ | Primary
  • Shinichi Kubo  | ‘Reading as encountering Classicising learning from the Greek Fathers through the Byzantine literary tradition’ | Primary
  • David Moore (MScR) | tbd | Primary
  • Daiki Sano | ‘Imperial decision-making and its performative communication in early Palaiologan Byzantium (1261–1328)’ | Primary
  • Callum Hendleman | ‘Constructing and addressing female voices in late Byzantine literary culture: from epistolography to ethopoiia’ | Primary

Past PhD students supervised

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 | ‘Discourses of science and philosophy in the letters of Nikephoros Gregoras’ | 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
  • Sandro Nikolaishvili | ‘Byzantium and the Georgian world c. 900–1210: Ideology of kingship and rhetoric in the Byzantine periphery’ | Joint | 2019

At the University of Edinburgh

Research summary


  • Mediterranean
  • Near East


  • Ancient Civilisations
  • Culture
  • Ideas
  • Language & Literature


  • Antiquity
  • Medieval

Research interests

I am a Byzantinist with research interests primarily in the middle and later Byzantine periods. My current work looks at classicising learning, the classical tradition and at the learned networks permeating Byzantine society, often from a cross-cultural vantage point; manuscript culture and Greek palaeography as well as various types of social performances, be it in the form of rhetorical ‘theatre’, processions or (staged) miracles.

Current research interests

In addition to cross-cultural approaches, Greek palaeography and Byzantine book culture have been longstanding interests of mine. My ‘Manuscripts of Character: Codex, Ethos and Authority in Byzantium and Beyond' project explores the various ways in which Byzantine literati came to form their character through reading and writing/copying books and make their character visible in their own books, and I have recently presented my initial findings in the E. A. Lowe Lectures in Palaeography 2023 at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

Knowledge exchange

A developing interest of mine are the manifold connections between Byzantium and Scotland through the ages; after initial explorations in my 2019 inaugural lecture I have since been involved, alongside Professor Roderick Beaton (Edinburgh's 12th A. G. Leventis Professor of Greek), in organising a series of exciting events that commemorated the Greek Revolution of 1821 and first time somewhat systematically explored its Scottish connections: the 12th A. G. Leventis Conference (‘The Greek Revolution of 1821’) and the accompanying ‘Edina/Athena – The Greek Revolution and the Athens of the North’ exhibition in the Main Library.

Affiliated research centres

Project activity

Current project grants

Byzantine authorial/autograph manuscripts: typology, terminology, methodisation (2024/5)

The large number of authorial and/or autograph manuscripts that survive from the middle and later Byzantine periods notwithstanding, students of such manuscripts still lack a coherent terminological and methodical framework in which to place them. Drawing on synergies between two current book projects, this proposal is designed to (a) take steps towards offering a detailed typology of such manuscripts alongside a more precise terminology; and (b) illustrate ways in which these manuscripts can fruitfully be analysed and integrated in literary, historical or cultural studies, thus offering a blueprint for approaching authorial/autograph manuscripts with confidence. Given Byzantium’s cultural connectivity, the project will open pathways into meaningful cross-disciplinary work, with comparative insights into practices of authorship and manuscript publication across pre-modern Eurasia. An open-access peer-reviewed article will make its key findings freely accessible, while the two 'affiliated' monographs (both under contract/review with CUP) will ensure wide dissemination of the outcomes.

Prosopography of the Later Roman and Byzantine Worlds (PLRBW, 2019– )

The PLRBW project unites two Academy projects under one umbrella: the recently revived Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire (PLRE) and the Prosopography of the Byzantine World (PBW), which arose from the former.

PLRE was originally published in three seminal print volumes between 1971 and 1992 (with a fourth volume including addenda and corrigenda explicitly envisaged but never realised) and covers the governing class of the Roman Empire from 260 to 641. The Connecting Late Antiquities project is now updating it and making it more accessible, beginning with digitising PLRE and making it freely available on the Cambridge University Press website. This will be followed by incorporating the various addenda and corrigenda articles to PLRE published during the last five decades and also creating a new framework for linking the Digital PLRE to other online prosopographical resources. This project will therefore take the place of the final supplementary volume to PLRE that was supposed to have been published, but never was.

From its inception, PBW has been a pioneering project in the Digital Humanities and is published online (currently in the 2016 version), with the technical responsibility for the site being undertaken by King’s Digital Lab (KCL). The project aims to to record every individual mentioned in Byzantine sources during the period from 1025 to 1204, and every individual mentioned in non-Byzantine sources during the same period who is ‘relevant’ (on a generous interpretation) to Byzantine affairs; currently, coverage is near complete into the 1180s.

For the 641 to 1025 period that bridges PLRE and PBW there is now the Prosopographie der mittelbyzantinischen Zeit (PmbZ), originally produced at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences; while the post-1261 period is covered by the Prosopographisches Lexikon der Palaiologenzeit produced by the Austrian Academy of Sciences, with a smaller prosopography to fill the 1204 to 1261 gap presently under way in Vienna.

The PLRBW project is part of the PROSOPON international research network based at the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Chair: Prof. Niels Gaul (PBW); Co-chair: Prof. Richard Flower, University of Exeter (PLRE)

Previous project grants

Classicising learning in medieval imperial systems: cross-cultural approaches to Byzantine paideia and Tang/Song xue (PAIXUE, 2017–2023)

Together with Curie Virág, I have been co-directing 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), from 2017 to 2023.


  • 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 R. Beaton (eds), The Greek Revolution of 1821: European Contexts, Scottish Connections (Edinburgh, 2024).
  • 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).
  • Thomas Magistros und die spätbyzantinische Sophistik. Studien zum Humanismus urbaner Eliten in der frühen Palaiologenzeit. Mainzer Veröffentlichungen zur Byzantinistik, 10 (Wiesbaden, 2011).
  • with S. Ronchey (eds), Peter Schreiner, Byzantinische Kultur. Eine Aufsatzsammlung, II: Das Wissen (Rome, 2008).

Journal articles

  • ‘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. [open access]
  • ‘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). [open access]
  • ‘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.

Book chapters

  • ‘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 performances 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).
  • ‘George Finlay, the founding figures of Greek national historiography and iconoclast emperor Leo III: Byzantine paratexts of Revolution’,  in The Greek Revolution of 1821 (above), 303–26.
  • ‘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, 2022), 201–23.
  • ‘Schools and learning’, in S. Bassett (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Constantinople (Cambridge, 2022), 263–276.
  • ‘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. [open access]
  • ‘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. [open access]
  • ‘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 – Ēthos/mores – “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.

Exhibition catalogue

  • with A. Grant, I. G. Brown and R. Beaton, Edina/Athena – The Greek Revolution & the Athens of the North – 1821/2021 (Edinburgh, 2021). [open access]

Lexicon and encyclopedia entries

  • Chapter on ‘Byzantinische Buchkultur’, in F. Daim (ed.), Byzanz. Historisch-kulturwissenschaftliches Handbuch. Neuer Pauly, Supplementband, 11 (Stuttgart, 2017), 982–996; Engl. tr., ‘Books and libraries – writing and reading in Byzantium’, in History and Culture of Byzantium. Brill's New Pauly. Supplements, 10 (Leiden, 2019), 451–7.
  • 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).