Urban Interactions: Communication and Competition in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages
Urban Interactions is volume is dedicated to eliciting the interactions between localities across late antique and early medieval Europe and the wider Mediterranean. Significant research has been done in recent years to explore how late ‘Roman’ and post-‘Roman’ cities, towns and other localities communicated vis-à-vis larger structural phenomena, such as provinces, empires, kingdoms, institutions and so on. This research has contributed considerably to our understanding of the place of the city in its context, but tends to portray the city as a necessarily subordinate conduit within larger structures, rather than an entity in itself, or as a hermeneutical object of enquiry. Consequently, not enough research has been committed to examining how local people and communities thought about, engaged with, and struggled against nearby or distant urban neighbors.
Urban Interactions addresses this lacuna in urban history by presenting articles that apply a diverse spectrum of approaches, from archaeological investigation to critical analyses of historiographical and historical biases and developmental consideration of antagonisms between ecclesiastical centers. Through these avenues of investigation, this volume elucidates the relationship between the urban centers and their immediate hinterlands and neighboring cities with which they might vie or collaborate. This entanglement and competition, whether subterraneous or explicit across overarching political, religious or other macro categories, is evaluated through a broad geographical range of late ‘Roman’ provinces and post-‘Roman’ states to maintain an expansive perspective of developmental trends within and about the city.
Vera lex Historiae? Historical Truth and the Emergence of the Event in Late Antiquity and the Earlier Middle Ages
Writing circa ad 731, Bede professes in the introduction to his Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum that he will write his account of the past of the English following only “vera lex historiae.” Whether explicitly or (most often) implicitly, historians narrate the past according to a conception of what constitutes historical truth that emerges in the use of narrative strategies, of certain formulae or textual forms, in establishing one’s own ideological authority or that of one’s informants, in faithfulness to a cultural, narrative, poetic or tradition. If we extend the scope of what we understand by history (especially in a pre-modern setting) to include not just the writings of historians legitimated by their belonging to the Latinate matrix of christianized classical history-writing, but also collective narratives, practices, rituals, oral poetry, liturgy, artistic representations and acts of identity – all re-enacting the past as, or as representation of, the present, we find a plethora of modes of constructions of historical truth, narrative authority and reliability.
Vera lex historiae? will be constituted by contributions that reveal the variety of evental strategies by which historical truth was constructed in late antiquity and the earlier middle ages, and the range of procedures by which such narratives were established first as being historical and then as ‘true’ histories. This is not only a matter of narrative strategies, but also habitus, ways of living and acting in the world that feed on and back into the commemoration and re-enactment of the past by communities and by individuals. In doing this, we hope to recover something of the plurality of modes of preserving and reenacting the past available in late antiquity and the earlier middle ages which we pass by because of preconceived notions of what constitutes history-writing.
The journal Networks and Neighbours (N&N), from 2013 to 2016, was dedicated to the global study of late antiquity and the early middle ages. It was a central voice of the eponymous international project, and a fantastic space to establish innovative and sustainable dialogues between emerging and senior scholars from around the world. The journal was double-blind peer-reviewed, entirely independent, and no-fees open-access (that is, free for everyone, which it still is), and helped to establish N&N’s international presence.
The meta-national, extra-institutional, and critical intellectual spirit that embodied the journal continue to define N&N the [free, open, non-profit and environmentally aware] project, as N&N moves into its next phase of development.