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Between Constantinople and Italy: Scholarly Circles, Agency and Imperial Patronage in Byzantium before the Fall (c. 1350-1453) (2011-2012)

Field of study: Byzantine studies

Unlike modern societies, Byzantine scholars did not have the institutional support that is now provided by the systems organized institutions of education. Instead, usually, in occasional pedagogical activities Byzantine scholars often attracted support from more or less generous patrons. If the patronage has represented a constant social and cultural phenomenon throughout the Byzantine  history, after 1261, the year Constantinople was recovered from the Latins, support for scientific activities fluctuated significantly due to
transformations in the regional economy and society. This article has two main objectives: to detect changes in the nature of the
imperial generosity towards researchers during the last century of Byzantine history and to identify the uses of intellectual networks in the imperial milieu. These elements will therefore be analysed over three distinct periods. corresponding to the reigns of emperors John V Palaiologos (1347-1391), Manuel II Palaiologos (1391-1425) and John VIII Palaiologos (1425-1448). Finally, it will be argued that the literary mecenat of Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos was unique for the period of the Palaiologos and that it had many implications for his ideological program. As proof of my survey I will use written sources mainly letters and rhetorical texts by authors active in this period.

Keywords: Patronage, scholars, Byzantium, theatron

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