Texts and Tales of Byzantium in Primarily Oral Cultures
From the Caucasus to Canterbury
This paper considers the unregulated 10th-12th-century outflow northwards of Eastern Christian persons, written texts, oral tales and artefacts via the waterways spanning Rus. Responses to this outflow varied across northwest Europe, helping to consolidate regimes or legitimise rebels, while bolstering individual’s status. Comparable dynamics are seen in the Caucasus, with the titles and visible trappings of a God-blessed court enhancing Alan rulers’ imperial and dynastic ambitions, while tales of Byzantium helped legitimise regional clans. But intensive engagement was finite and fitful, registering the changing needs of developing polities/cultures.
Keywords: weaponry • Mercenaries • elite • Stratagems • Dynasties • Cnut • writing • Basileus • Harald Hardrada • tales • Alans • Normans • Byzantine-awareness • Viking • laudes • Edward the Confessor • Edgar • Texts • basileus • Caucasus • Iceland • Elite • Laudes • stratagems • dynasties • Anglo-Danish • gold • Weaponry • Tales • Writing • texts • Ragnvald • William the Conqueror • Gold • mercenaries