Dr Tom Brown (MA, PhD, FRHistS)

Honorary Fellow; Early MedievalHistory



After graduating from the University of Edinburgh, I completed my PhD. at Nottingham.  I carried out research in Italy at the University of Pavia, and the British School at Rome, and spent two years as a junior fellow at the Dumbarton Oaks Centre for Byzantine studies in Washington DC. After a short stint in publishing, and teaching at various universities including Birmingham and the Australian National University, I moved to Edinburgh in 1980. I retired as a Reader in History in 2016.

Responsibilities & affiliations

Affiliated research centres

Centre for Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies

Research summary

I have published extensively on the relations between early medieval Italy and the Eastern Mediterranean, continuity and change in the history of cities, especially in the Romano-Byzantine zones of the peninsula, and the impact of ecclesiastical institutions on society.

Current research interests

I am working on a major study of the relations between the city and archbishops of Ravenna with its extensive hinterland in the period ca. 751-1024 CE. I am also interested in: Social, economic and cultural contacts across the early medieval Adriatic, especially Dalmatia. The nature and range of ties between early Sicily and the Byzantine Empire. The comparative history of diverse areas of early medieval Europe which remain predominantly ‘Roman’.


[List of Major Publications


Gentlemen and Officers. Aristocratic Society and Imperial Authority in Byzantine Italy, 554-800 A.D.  (British School at Rome, London, 1984)


Book chapters:

‘Culture and Society in Ottonian Ravenna: Imperial Renewal or New Beginnings?’ in J. Herrin and J.L. Nelson, edd., Ravenna and its Role in Earlier Medieval Change and Exchange (London, 2016)

‘Byzantine Italy, 680-876’ in J. Shepard, ed. The Cambridge History of the Byzantine Empire, c.500-1492, (Cambridge U.P. 2008), pp. 433-464.  A revised version of 'Byzantine Italy, 680-876' in R. McKitterick, ed., New Cambridge Medieval History, vol. 2 (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 320-49

‘Lombard Religious Policy in the Late Sixth and Seventh Centuries: the Roman Dimension’ in G. Ausenda, P. Delogu and C. Wickham edd., The Longobards before the Frankish Conquest: an Ethnographic Perspective (The Boydell Press, 2009), pp. 289-308.

‘The Role of Arianism in Ostrogothic Italy: The Evidence from Ravenna’ In S. Burnish and F. Marazzi eds., The Ostrogoths from the Migration Period to the Sixth Century. An Ethnographic Perspective (Woodbridge 2007), pp. 447-71.

'Romanitas and Campanilismo: Agnellus of Ravenna's view of the past', in C. Holdsworth and P. Wiseman, eds., The Inheritance of Historiography  (Exeter, 1986), pp. 107-14 

'The Transformation of the Roman Mediterranean 400-900 A.D." in G. Holmes, ed., The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval Europe  (Oxford, 1988), pp. 1-61. 

New introduction and bibliography to revised edition of M. Bloch, Feudal Society (London, 1989), pp. xi-xxi and 482-5

'Louis the Pious and the papacy: a Ravenna perspective' in P. Godman and R. Collins, edd., Charlemagne's Heir. New Perspectives on the Reign of Louis the Pious (814-840) (Oxford, 1990), pp. 297-307

'Ebrei ed orientali a Ravenna' in A. Carile, ed., Storia di Ravenna, ii (Ravenna, 1991), pp. 135-149

'The Political Use of the Past in Norman Sicily', in P. Magdalino, ed., The Perception of the Past in the Twelfth Century  (London, 1992), pp. 191-210.

'Byzantine Malta: a Discussion of the Sources' in A.T. Luttrell, ed., Medieval Malta  (London, 1975)

'Urban violence in early Medieval Italy:  the cases of Rome and Ravenna', in  G. Halsall, ed., Violence and Society in the Early Medieval West (Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 1998), pp. 76-89 .

'Gibbon, Hodgkin and the Invaders of Italy' in Gibbon and Empire, ed. R. Quinault and R. McKitterick (Cambridge U.P., 1996), pp.137-161


Articles and Conference Papers:

'Cities of Heraclius' (with A. Bryer and D. Winfield), Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, iv (1978), pp. 15-38

'Settlement and Military Policy in Byzantine Italy', in H. Blake et al., Papers in Italian Archaeology, i, The Lancaster Seminar, ii (Oxford, 1978), pp. 323-38  

'Imperial Administration and the Church of Ravenna in the Seventh Century', English Historical Review, XCIV (1979), pp. 1-28

'La Chiesa di Ravenna durante il regno di Giustiniano, ' Corso di Cultura sull' Arte Ravennate e Bizantina, XXX (1983), pp. 266-90

 'Transformation and Continuity in Byzantine Italy:  Society and Administration ca. 550-650' in V. Vavrinek, ed., From Late Rome to Early Byzantium: Proceedings of the Byzantinological Symposium of the 16th Eirene Conference (Prague, 1985), pp. 55-9 

'The Aristocracy of Ravenna from Justinian to Charlemagne', Corso di Cultura sull' Arte Ravennate e Bizantina, XXXIII (1986), pp. 135-49.  (Also published in Italian in Felix Ravenna  in 1987)

'Melting-pot or Salad Bowl? Assimilation of Immigrants in the Byzantine Cities of Italy', 17th International Byzantine Congress.  Abstracts of Short Papers (Washington, 1986), pp. 46-7. 

'The Interplay between Roman and Byzantine Traditions in the Exarchate of Ravenna', in XXXIV Settimana di Studio del Centro Italiano di Studi sull' Alto Medioevo  (Spoleto, 1988) 128-67  

'The Background of Byzantine Relations with Italy', Byzantium and the West, c. 850-c. 1200. Proceedings of the XVIIIth Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies (Amsterdam, 1988) (= Byzantinische Forschungen, xiii). pp. 27-45

(With N.J. Christie) ‘Was there a Byzantine model of settlement in Italy?’ Mélanges de l’Ecole Française de Rome. Moyen Age, 101 (1989), pp. 377-399

'Ethnic Independence and Cultural Deference: The Attitude of  the Lombard Principalities to Byzantium c. 876 - 1077' in V. Vavrinek, ed., Byzantium and her Neighbours from the mid-9th till the 12th Century (Prague, 1993), pp. 5-12.

'Everyday life in Ravenna under Theoderic: an example of his 'tolerance' and 'prosperity'?' in Teoderico il Grande e i Goti d'Italia. Atti del XIII Congresso Internazionale di Studi sull'Alto Medioevo (Spoleto, 1993), pp. 77-99.

'History as myth: medieval perceptions of Venice's Roman and Byzantine past', in R. Beaton and C. Roueché (eds.), The Making of Byzantine History. Studies dedicated to Donald M. Nicol, (Aldershot, 1993), pp. 145-157

'Appunti sui monasteri dell' Italia meridionale: piazzaforti carolingi, emporia, centri culturali ovvero foci di identità etnica' in R. Francovich e G. Noyé, edd., La Storia dell' Alto Medioevo Italiano (VI-X secolo) alla luce dell' archeologia  (Florence 1994), pp. 130-133.

'Justinian II and Ravenna' in STEPHANOS. Studia Byzantina ac Slavica Vladimiro Vavrinek ad annum sexagesimum quintum dedicata , ed. R. Dostalova and V. Konzal (Slovansky Ustav, Prague, 1995) , pp. 29-36 

Seven dictionary entries (six short, one lengthy [on Ravenna]) in A. Kazhdan, ed. The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium (Oxford, 1991)

Several entries in the Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (Rome): e.g. Ecclesio, Epifanio, Eleutherio, Eutichio).


Articles and Chapters published since commencement of Honorary Fellowship in 2016.


‘The “Political” Use of Saints’ in Early Medieval Ravenna’, in Paul Kershaw and Scott di Gregorio, Cities, Saints and Communities in Early Medieval Europe. Essays in Honour of Alan Thacker(Brepols, Turnhout, 2020)

‘A Byzantine cuckoo in the Frankish nest? The relations of the Exarchate of Ravenna with the Kingdom of Italy in the long ninth century’ in Clemens Gantner, ed., After Charlemagne. Carolingian Italy and Its Rulers (Cambridge University Press, 2021)

‘680 and all that. A turning point in the history of early medieval Italy?’ in I longobardi a Venezia: Scritti per Stefano Gasparri, ed. by Irene Barbiera, Francesco Borri, Annamaria Pazienza, (Brepols, Turnhout, 2020)

‘Ravenna; Constantinople of the West?’ in S. Toucher and D. Smyth eds., Constantinople: Queen of Cities.Festchrift for Paul Magdalino (forthcoming)

‘Ravenna and Other Early Rivals of Venice: Comparative Urban and Economic Development in the Upper Adriatic c. 751-1050,’ in M. Skoblar, (ed.) The Adriatic Between Venice and Byzantium c.700–1453, British School at Athens Studies in Greek Antiquity 2 (Cambridge University Press, 2020)

‘The study of empire and cities in the early medieval Mediterranean

Personal reflections and conclusions,[i] in Thomas Macmaster and Nicholas Matheou, edd., Ravenna, Italy and the Medieval Mediterranean World: Cities, Elites and Communities after Antiquity (Routledge. 2021)