Prof. Beihammer comes to Rome for a conference on King Peter I and to launch the new research project in collaboration with the Vatican Library

Author: Costanza Montanari

The conference Knighthood, Crusades, and Diplomacy in the Eastern Mediterranean at the Time of King Peter I of Cyprus, which took place in the Rome Global Gateway on October 14-16, 2016, chose a fascinating figure in the history of the crusades as focal point in order to explore numerous facets of the late medieval Eastern Mediterranean.

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King Peter's Alexandrian crusade of 1365 was a decisive moment in the development of the later crusades, which left its imprint on a wide range of European, Levantine, and Muslim literary sources. Research on the medieval Eastern Mediterranean, a hub of cross-cultural interaction, requires interdisciplinary approaches involving documents and narratives written in Latin, French, Italian, Greek, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and other languages. From this cross-cultural vantage point, this conference aimed at reaching a better understanding of political, institutional, socio-economic, and intellectual aspects in the fourteenth-century Eastern Mediterranean. Scholars from Europe and the US discussed forms of conflict and peaceful interaction between the papacy, the Latin West, Greek-Orthodox Christianity, and Islam, the perception of King Peter in medieval literary traditions, contemporary ecclesiastical controversies in Byzantium and their repercussions on East-West dialogue, Muslim reactions to the western crusading plans in Egypt and Asia Minor, and developments in the Levantine aristocracy of the kingdom of Cyprus.

The recently initiated collaboration between the Vatican Library and the University of Notre Dame is an ideal framework for a new research project on Sources on the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the Vatican Archives, which intends to further elucidate the cultural links between the papacy and Byzantine Orthodox Christianity. Charles Yost and Zachary Thomas, two graduate students from the Medieval Institute and the Theology Department respectively, will spend six months in Rome in order to explore the rich treasures of the Vatican collections for information related to the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople in the late Byzantine Period from the time of the Fourth Crusade (1204) up to the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. With the support of the Vatican curators for Greek manuscripts, Timothy Janz and Andras Nemeth, they will transfer relevant information into databases and prepare hitherto insufficiently known texts for publication.