A Comparative Diachronic Analysis of Post-Byzantine Networks in Early-modern Europe (15th-18th c.) - MIGWEB

Project: Research


Initiated by the Ottoman expansion to the territories of the Byzantine Empire, the movement of people from the Eastern Mediterranean to other parts of Christian Europe is usually seen as a starting point of the migrations that we know today. Following the fall of Constantinople (1453), émigrés of various ethnic, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds sought the protection most commonly from their immediate neighbours in the Apennine peninsula (Kingdom of Naples and Sicily, Rome, the Venetian Republic, etc.) and in Central Europe (Kingdom of Hungary). While the émigré higher elite was aided by the pontifical Curia, or Greek intellectuals by the Italian aristocracy, émigrés commoners, renowned for their military and trade capacities, were settled in the frontier areas, where new Ottoman attacks were expected. Migration from the East continued throughout the next few centuries (16th–18th), sometimes involving reverse processes too, but its general direction westwards was modified, and the new comers started to increasingly appear in distant regions such as the British Isles, Spain or even the New World. With their professional backgrounds usually in trading, craft and sea traffic, these emigres directed their settlement towards urban areas and environments featured by extensive economic activities.

Aiming at contributing to the modern research of this movement of people, wealth, and ideas, this project will concentrate on the relationships that developed among/by the émigrés and various structures of their receiving societies. How were these relations formatted, prompted and controlled, both institutionally and socially? How were these connections seen and used in émigré and host societies, both in private and public? Above all, how effective were these networks in neutralizing the differences between the émigrés and their hosts (and “other” members of the hosting societies), and what role did they play – not just in the cohesion of specific local societies, but, even more importantly, in facilitating the expansion that shaped the early-modern European West?

In answering these questions, our attention will involve summary inquiries of the key post-Byzantine emigre points in Western Europe, as well as a narrowed focus on two specific European regions, the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily, and the Kingdom of Hungary/later Habsburg Hungary. Both realms are specific in that they represented the borders of the Western Christianity most exposed to the Ottoman attacks after the fall of the Byzantine Empire (1453), and were thus both seen as widely open to the displaced Easterners. In this, we rely upon interdisciplinary methodological approach that integrates conventional tools of the historiographic research with those used in demography, sociology, cultural/socio-anthropology, and digital humanities, thus allowing in-depth surveys and representations of the networks’ dynamics in specific contexts of a historical change.

Apart from conventional scholarly publications and conference presentations that will publicize the results of this project in international academia, the MIGWEB will produce an advanced open access digital aid that will facilitate further prosopographic, documentary and spatial comparisons of the studied networks. The third important wider asset of this project will be the communication of its results to the popular audience and stake-holders dealing with human migrations, thus prompting a reflective critical dialogue in understanding the role - which the post-Byzantine migration played in the common European heritage.

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska Curie grant agreement No 747 857
Short titleA Comparative Diachronic Analysis of Post-Byzantine Networks
Effective start/end date1/07/1730/06/19


European Union: £147,744

ID: 28104735