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Title:Architecture and statehood in late Byzantium: a comparative study of Epiros and Trebizond
Author(s):Georgiadou, Sofia
Director of Research:Ousterhout, Robert
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):O'Brien, David
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Hedeman, Anne D.; Marina, Areli
Department / Program:Art & Design
Discipline:Art History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:This study examines the architectural patronage of the Komnenodoukai in Epiros and the Grand Komnenoi in Trebizond during the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. The main focus is on churches and monasteries constructed, rebuilt or renovated by the ruling families and aristocracy in the capitals, Arta and Trebizond, and in the periphery of their dominions. Analysis of the buildings—their architectural design, construction, decoration, function and symbolism—and the available literary sources aim at defining the political and historical context of the architectural projects considered. Focusing on patrons’ intentions, pursuits and cultural background, this study seeks to determine major turning points in the cultural orientation of Epiros and Trebizond. This study proposes revised dates for a number of architectural projects. In the case of Epiros, these concern particular historical periods within the thirteenth century and the patronage of specific rulers. The traditional view of Michael II Komnenos Doukas (1231-1267/1268) and his wife Theodora as great patrons of religious foundations is questioned. I point out that some of Michael’s most celebrated projects—such as the remodeling of the Blacherna church into a royal mausoleum, the first phase of the Pantanassa church and the Paregoretissa church—might have been constructed later than the mid-thirteenth century and not necessarily during his reign. Likewise, Theodora’s contribution in the remodeling of her future burial place, the church of Hagia Theodora, is not self-evident and requires additional documentation. On the contrary, the reign of Nikephoros I (1267/8-1296/8) and Anna Kantakouzene Palaiologina (d. after 1313) emerges from this study as the most important period of building activity in Arta and Epiros due to intensified royal and aristocratic patronage. The revision of dates proposed for Trebizond significantly affects the picture of the thirteenth-century city as it is known to us from previous studies and the architectural patronage under the Grand Komnenoi. I argue that the Chrysokephalos and St. Eugenios were probably rebuilt by 1291, and that the construction of Hagia Sophia could also be placed in the last quarter of the thirteenth century. Accordingly, the reign of John II (1280-1297) and Eudokia Palaiologina (d. December 1301) appears as a most important period of building activity for the city and the “empire”—a claim supported by a number of related projects attributed to them. My dissertation stresses the contribution of members of the Palaiologan dynasty as royal consorts and regent queens in shaping the cultural landscape of Epiros and Trebizond, which seems to have been greater than previously recognized.
Issue Date:2015-06-25
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Sofia Georgiadou
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-29
Date Deposited:August 201

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