Society for the Medieval Mediterranean

Dionysius A. Agius Prize 2015


Cecily J. Hilsdale, Byzantine Art and Diplomacy in an Age of Decline

Cambridge University Press 2014.


In this book, Cecily J. Hilsdale subjects a well-known phenomenon, the inexorable political and financial decline of the Byzantine “empire” after the Latins had left Constantinople, to a series of unexpected and exciting investigations. In particular, she shows how the Byzantines, lacking real wealth and military clout, chose diplomacy and gift-giving as their weapons of choice in dealing with other polities.  In particular, they exploited the unparalleled technical skill of Byzantine artists in the capital – and in the capital alone – in mastering recondite and exotic materials, and created political capital from those rare skills. In developing these two complementary themes, the author controls an astonishing variety of material – historical chronicles, Byzantine court ceremonial, epigraphy, numismatics, iconography, relics, textiles, mosaics, manuscripts and much more. The combination of close-focus textual work and art-historical analysis results in an absolute tour de force. 

Conference information

We host a biennial conference which brings together scholars from a range of disciplines to present and discuss their work, thus providing a forum for the exchange of ideas on the Medieval Mediterranean. Our next conference will be held in July 2019.



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Journal: Al-Masãq

These web pages introduce the Society and its peer-review journal: Al-Masāq: Journal of the Medieval Mediterranean, as well as providing details of our biennial conference series.