The collective volume Byzantium, 1180–1204: ‘The Sad Quarter of a Century’? seeks to revisit the period in Byzantine history that begins with the death of the emperor Manuel I Komnenos in 1180 and ends with the capture of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204. Though brief in its time span and most often viewed through the prism of the Latin conquest, the period witnessed important developments both within the Byzantine Empire itself and in the wider region of Southeastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean world.
Looking beyond Byzantine-Western relations that have dominated the scholarship of the period, individual papers examine themes ranging from the historiographical perception and interpretation of the late twelfth century, to the empire’s changing relations with its neighbours, and the significant shifts occurring in its political and social life. They cover issues concerning the administration and economy of the empire and the relations between capital and provinces; and investigate the increasing importance of commerce along with the seemingly pervasive role of money-making in Byzantine society. The art-historical papers rounding off the volume examine the renovation of two prominent monuments of Constantinople which occurred during this period.