Byzantium and the Black Sea, c. 1000-1204

Jack Sheard

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis will argue that the Black Sea of the High Medieval period was an important and vibrant economic zone. During the two centuries before the fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade in 1204, the Black Sea was bustling with economic activity. Not only did those dwelling on its coasts – the Byzantines, Russians, Georgians and later Seljuqs – make use of the maritime connections for local trade; but its markets also connected those further afield, across the Mediterranean and European worlds. As a result of its substantial commercial activity, and geopolitical import, the Black Sea figured significantly in Byzantine foreign policy; however, the Byzantines did not attempt to systematically close the sea off to foreign merchants, as has been suggested. Rather, they used it as a bargaining chip in their negotiations with the Italian merchant republics of Genoa and Venice. Due to the later flourishing of the Black Sea under the Pax Mongolica, historiography has tended to underestimate or dismiss this earlier period of Euxine activity; however, such side-lining of this earlier trade is based on mistaken premises or misevaluated sources. In all, the Black Sea was a substantial economic zone in its own right long before 1204, and deserves more thorough investigation than it has been given. This thesis will provide that examination.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Harris, Jonathan, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Byzantine
  • Constantinople
  • Trebizond
  • Cherson
  • Trade
  • Rus
  • Georgia
  • Silk Road
  • Medieval
  • Grain
  • Greek Fire

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