2023 Mathews Byzantine Lecture: Olivier Delouis (CNRS, Maison française d'Oxford), "Writing Byzantine History with the Archives of Mount Athos: The Odds and Perils of Uneven Sources"
Watch the replay of the conference on YouTube
The Mathews Lectures bring a distinguished scholar of Byzantine studies to campus each year to deliver a talk, supported by the Rev. Constantine Mathews Endowment for Excellence in Byzantine Christianity in the Medieval Institute. Vasilios Mathews and Nikiforos Mathews established the endowment to honor their father, the Reverend Constantine Mathews, who earned a Masters Degree in Liturgical Studies at Notre Dame in 1977. During a half-century of dedicated ministry, Father Mathews served as presiding parish priest at St. Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Church in South Bend, followed by the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Stamford, Connecticut.
Byzantine documents preserved in the archives of the monasteries of Mount Athos in Greece are by far the most extensive and valuable body of documentation from the Byzantine Empire. They represent about half of the entire collection of archival documents that have survived, span more than five centuries (10th–15th c.), and cover large areas of Macedonia and Thrace as well as some North-Aegean islands. Moreover, these documents are often our only source of information about rural and urban society, agrarian economy, demography, provincial administration, among other subjects. Their prevalence should be a matter of concern since monasteries–although common in Byzantium–are very specific by nature. This presentation will assess the current research on the documentation of Mount Athos and ask the following question: is monastic history– economic, social, administrative–representative of the Empire? How can we guess what is missing, based on these monastic archives?
About the Speaker
Olivier Delouis is a researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and a former member of the French School of Archaeology of Athens, Greece. In Oxford, he is currently a Research Fellow at the Maison française d’Oxford (CNRS) and a Visiting Fellow in Byzantine Studies at Campion Hall. From 2013 to 2021, he directed the Revue des études byzantines (Peeters Publishers). His current research includes the edition of the Great Catecheseis of Theodore the Stoudite, the edition of two volumes of Mount Athos archives collection (monastery of Chilandar), and the publication of the scientific correspondence of Athanasios Papadopoulos-Kerameus (1856–1912). Among his recent publications are three collective volumes on Monastic Mobility (Rome, 2019), Monastic Daily Life, 4th–10th c. (Cairo-Athens, 2019), and Athos Monastic Archives and their Reception (Paris, 2019), as well as various articles on Theodore the Stoudite.