Corpus Christi College Oxford

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Dr Mark Whittow

Mark Whittow

University Lecturer and Fellow in Byzantine Studies

Dr Mark Whittow, was tragically killed in a road accident on 23 December 2017.  An obituary was published in the Guardian on 1 January 2018.  This page will remain live for a short period.


I joined Corpus Christi in October 2009, coming from St. Peter's College, where I had been Fellow and University Lecturer (CUF) in History since 1998. I read Modern History as an undergraduate at Trinity College, Oxford, writing an optional thesis on seventeenth-century English history; but Byzantium, Turkey, Persia, the Crusades, Late Antiquity, and the lure of Near Eastern archaeology was all too much fun, and inspired by my predecessor in this post at Corpus, I wrote a DPhil on Byzantine history and archaeology, centred in part on the career of a man who spent forty years living on top of a column. I was later a research fellow and lecturer at Oriel, followed by spells teaching at the University of Reading and King's College, London. As an archaeologist I have worked in Turkey and Jordan, running a field project surveying Byzantine castles in Turkey through the 1990s, and helping to administer the Council for British Research in the Levant and the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara. Looking back over the last decade, I think my chief achievement has been to foster a happy community of enthusiastic young historians, and that is my aim for the future too.


I am a Byzantinist, but probably more truthful to say a comparative historian of medieval Europe and the Near East who places Byzantium at the heart of the picture rather than on the exotic margins. My chief interests have been the nature and fate of the late antique economy, the context behind the seventh-century rise of Islam and the Arab conquests of the Near East, and the transformations which reshaped Europe in the eleventh and twelfth century, and the extent to which these did and did not reshape Byzantium too: an issue to be summed up in the question, Was there a Feudal Revolution in Byzantium? I have been writing recently on all these themes, but principally on the Feudal Revolution on which I have a book appearing soon. After that the next major book will look at the eleventh century across Europe. My research covers archaeology and history, and over the next few years I am looking to set up a new field project in Turkey. In term I co-convene the research seminars in Byzantine Studies, in Medieval History, and in Thematic History, the latter being part of a commitment to encouraging as much discussion in Oxford as possible across geographic, cultural and period boundaries.

Teaching and Supervision

Teaching is one of the great pleasures of a post at Oxford. I teach all the British and General papers between the end of the third and the beginning of the fourteenth century, plus a variety of special papers on topics that intrigue me, but my chief responsibility is teaching the history and archaeology of Byzantium and the Near East through Late Antiquity and the Medieval period to undergraduates and graduates across the university, and supervising doctoral research.


Major Publications

"The Late Roman / Early Byzantine Near East", in The New Cambridge History of Islam I, ed. C. Robinson (Cambridge, 2010)

"Early Medieval Byzantium and the End of the Ancient World", Journal of Agrarian Change 9 (2009)

"The Middle Byzantine Economy", in J. Shepard (ed.) The Cambridge History of the Byzantine Empire (Cambridge, 2009)

"Recent Research on the Late Antique City in Asia Minor: the second half of the 6th c. revisited" in L. Lavan (ed.) Recent Research in Late Antique Urbanism, JRA Supplementary Series 42 (Portsmouth, RI, 2001)

The Making of Orthodox Byzantium, 600-1025, New Studies in Medieval History, (London, 1996)


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