The year 1204 witnessed the cataclysmic fall of Constantinople, capital of Byzantium, to Latin crusaders. The Laskarid dynasty established the new capital at Nicæa, ruling until 1261. Laskarid art, architecture, and material culture reflect the inevitable adaptations, transformations, and changes that result from the trauma of urban displacement. Framed through theoretical discussions on exile and memory, this dissertation defines and interprets the art, architecture, and material culture produced in the Laskarid period, offering the field of Byzantine Studies an original, interdisciplinary project devoted to the Laskarid artistic legacy in the thirteenth century as exiled populations returned to Constantinople following the reconquest of the city.


ACLS Fellowship Program, 2022


Replacing Byzantium: Laskarid Urban Environments and the Landscape of Loss (1204-1261)


Art History


In 1261 Constantinople celebrated its restoration as the beloved capital of the Byzantine Empire. Scholars typically call the following period’s artistic innovations the “Palaiologan Renaissance,” named after emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos. My book reveals that this so-called renaissance is not Palaiologan, but in fact originated in the Laskarid dynasty. This noble family had fled from Constantinople sixty years earlier when the great capital fell to western crusaders in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade. The Laskarids established an exilic capital in western Turkey and eventually returned to Constantinople bearing new art, architecture, and material culture created in exile. Replacing Byzantium: Laskarid Urban Environments and the Landscape of Loss (1204-1261) reinterprets the Palaiologan renaissance as exilic and peripheral rather than metropolitan and Constantinopolitan, and provides a humanistic model for rethinking artistic histories of “the center” that obscure essential minor and peripheral histories that have informed them. Each chapter focuses on well-known Palaiologan art and architecture in the capital and illuminates their connections to Laskarid works from exile, demonstrating the unique ways in which memories of place, space and the past migrate with populations on the move.