The Frankish Church as a Contact Zone: Perception and Knowledge of Byzantium in Hagiographic Sources
The reaction to foreign things or cultures is ambiguous: On the one hand we are fascinated by them, on the other hand they cause incomprehension, rejection, and even fear. The kind of reaction does not that much depend on the question whether the characteristics attributed to these things are facts or just projections. This study is concerned with the Frankish view on Byzantium, hence a view from the outside. Christian Frankish realms persisted for a surprisingly long time, beginning from the baptism of Clovis (probably just before 500 A.D.) and lasting up to the middle of the 11th century but we shall stop our study by the end of the Carolingian dynasty (911 in eastern Francia, 987 in the western part of it).
Although hagiographic works outnumber every other category of medieval sources they have often been neglected. So it is promising to lay stress on hagiographic texts when asking about perception and knowledge of Byzantium in Francia and especially in the Frankish church. This does not mean that other texts are completely excluded from the study. Many authors have written hagiographic texts as well as historiographic ones – and many historiographic works show hagiographic characteristics and vice versa.
Considering the long time period that will be analysed it has to be assumed that we will not find a homogenous pattern. Therefore it will be necessary to classify the sources in a political context as follows: 1. Merovingian Sources, 2. Carolingian sources from 751 to 800, 3. Sources after Charlemagne had become Roman Emperor. This structure shall facilitate to detect continuity and change in the image of Byzantium in Frankish realms.
This project is affiliated to the Historic Seminar, Working Area Medieval Studies, of Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz.