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Level 7

7AACM701 One God, One Sea: Byzantium & Islam, 600-800

Credit value: 20 credits
Module convenor/tutor: Dr Dionysios Stathakopoulos
Teaching pattern: 10 x 2-hour seminars (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x essay of 5,000 words (100%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

Places on this module will be capped at 16 and will be allocated in the first instance to those students from any College who are following the MA Late Antique and Byzantine Studies degree programme and students on the King's College London MA Medieval History programme. Any remaining places up the maximum size of the class will then be distributed proportionally between Colleges.

This module covers the transitional period which preceded and followed the Arabic conquest of large parts of the Byzantine empire in the seventh century. Initially, Byzantium struggled to contain the Arabic expansion in the East and the Slavic settlement in its European provinces. Numerous administrative reforms testify to this effort, and perhaps equally, one of the most emblematic theological debates to be associated with the Eastern empire, that of Iconoclasm. 

In this module we will look closely at how the Byzantines faced these threats to their stability and follow the historical course up to the onset of gradual economic, political and cultural revival in the late eighth century.

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

  • J. Berkey, The Formation of Islam (Cambridge 2003).

  • L. Brubaker, J. Haldon, and R. Ousterhout, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era (ca. 680–850): The Sources: An Annotated Survey (Aldershot 2001).

  • R. Cormack, Writing in Gold (London 1985).

  • P. Crone, Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam (Princeton, NJ 1987).

  • P. Crone and M. Hinds, God’s Caliph: Religious Authority in the First Centuries of Islam (Cambridge 1986).

  • G. Endress, Islam: an Historical Introduction (New York 2nd ed., 2002).

  • J. Haldon, Byzantium in the Seventh Century (Cambridge 2nd ed., 1997).

  • G. R. Hawting, The First Dynasty of Islam: The Umayyad Caliphate, AD 661-750 (London 2nd ed., 2000).

  • J. Herrin, The Formation of Christendom (Oxford 1987).

  • — Women in Purple (London 2001).

  • J. Howard-Johnston, Witnesses to a World Crisis: Historians and Histories of the Middle East in the Seventh Century (Oxford 2010).

  • W. E. Kaegi, Byzantium and the Early Islamic Conquests (Cambridge 1992).

  • H. Kennedy, The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In (London 2007).

  • — When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World: The Rise and Fall of Islam's Greatest Dynasty (2004).

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