HOME
        TheInfoList






The Alexiad (Greek: Ἀλεξιάς, romanizedAlexias) is a medieval historical and biographical text written around the year 1148, by the Byzantine princess Anna Komnene, daughter of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos.

In the Alexiad, Anna describes the political and military history of the Byzantine Empire during the reign of her father, which makes it a significant reference on the Byzantium of the High Middle Ages. The Alexiad documents the Byzantine Empire's interaction with the Crusades and highlights the conflicting perceptions of the East and West in the early 12th century.

The text was written in a form of artificial Attic Greek.

History

The Alexiad is divided into 15 books and a prologue; its scope is limited to the duration of Alexios' reign, which it is thus able to depict in full detail.[1] , especially regarding political relations between the Byzantine Empire and western European powers. The Alexiad remains one of the few primary sources recording Byzantine reactions to both the Great Schism of 1054 and the First Crusade,[2] as well as documenting first-hand the decline of Byzantine cultural influence in both eastern and western Europe.[3]

According to Peter Frankopan, the content of the Alexiad falls into five main categories:

1. Attacks against the Byzantine empire by the Normans, under their leader Robert Guiscard (Books 1–6):

Book 1 addresses Alexios' becoming general and Domestikos ton Scholon. It also discusses the Normans' preparation for their invasion. Book 2 addresses the Komnenian revolt. Book 3 addresses Alexios as Emperor (1081), the internal problems with Doukas family, and the Normans' crossing the Adriatic Sea. Book 4 addresses war against the Normans (1081–1082). Book 5 also addresses war against the Normans (1082–1083), and their first clash with the "heretics". Book 6 addresses the end of war against the Normans (1085) and the death of Robert Guiscard.

2. Byzantine relations with the Turks (Books 6–7, 9–10, and 14–15):

Book 7 addresses war against the Scythians (1087–1090). Book 9 addresses operations against Tzachas and the Dalmatians (1092–1094), and the conspiracy of Nicephorus Diogenes (1094). Book 10 addresses war against the Cumans and the beginning of the First Crusade (1094–1097). Book 14 addresses Turks, Franks, Cumans, and Manicheans (1108–1115). Book 15 addresses the last expeditions — The Bogomils — Death of Alexios (1116–1118).

3. Pecheneg incursions on the northern Byzantine frontier (Books 7–8):

Book 8 addresses the end of the Scythian war (1091) and plots against the Emperor.

4. The First Crusade and Byzantine reactions to it (Books 10–11):

Book 11 also addresses the First Crusade (1097–1104).

5. Attacks on Byzantine frontiers by Robert Guiscard's son, Bohemond I of Antioch (Books 11–13)[2]

Book 12 addresses domestic conflicts and the Norman preparation for their second invasion (1105–1107). Book 13 addresses Aaron's conspiracy and the second Norman invasion (1107–1108).

Although Anna Komnene explicitly states her intention to record true events, important issues of bias do exist. Throughout the Alexiad, emphasis on Alexios as a "specifically Christian emperor," morally, as well as politically laudable, is pervasive. Frankopan frequently compares Alexios' treatment in the text to the techniques of the hagiographical tradition, while contrasting it with the generally negative portrait or outright absence of his successors John II and Manuel I.[4] Anna discusses the Latins, (Normans and "Franks"), considering them barbarians. This distaste extends to the Turks and Armenians. The Alexiad also criticizes John II Komnenos for his accession to the throne (in place of Anna herself) following Alexios' death. From a modern reader's point of view, the inconsistencies in the descriptions of military events and the Empire's misfortunes – partially due to these literary and especially Homeric influences – may seem exaggerated and stereotypical. Despite these issues, George Ostrogorsky nevertheless emphasizes the importance of the Alexiad as a primary document.[5]

General themes

The main theme of the Alexiad is

In the Alexiad, Anna describes the political and military history of the Byzantine Empire during the reign of her father, which makes it a significant reference on the Byzantium of the High Middle Ages. The Alexiad documents the Byzantine Empire's interaction with the Crusades and highlights the conflicting perceptions of the East and West in the early 12th century.

The text was written in a form of artificial Attic Greek.

The Alexiad is divided into 15 books and a prologue; its scope is limited to the duration of Alexios' reign, which it is thus able to depict in full detail.[1] , especially regarding political relations between the Byzantine Empire and western European powers. The Alexiad remains one of the few primary sources recording Byzantine reactions to both the Great Schism of 1054 and the First Crusade,[2] as well as documenting first-hand the decline of Byzantine cultural influence in both eastern and western Europe.[3]

According to Peter Frankopan, the content of the Alexiad falls into five main categories:

1. Attacks against the Byzantine empire by the Normans, under their leader Robert Guiscard (Books 1–6):

Book 1 addresses Alexios' becoming general and Domestikos ton Scholon. It also discusses the Normans' preparation for their invasion. Book 2 addresses the Komnenian revolt. Book 3 addresses Alexios as Emperor (1081), the internal problems with Doukas family, and the Normans' crossing the Adriatic Sea. Book 4 addresses war against the Normans (1081–1082). Book 5 also addresses war against the Normans (1082–1083), and their first clash with the "heretics". Book 6 addresses the end of war against the Normans (1085) and the death of Robert Guiscard.

2. Byzantine relations with the Turks (Books 6–7, 9–10, and 14–15):

Book 7 addresses war against the Scythians (1087–1090). Book 9 addresses operations against Tzachas and the Dalmatians (1092–1094), and the conspiracy of Nicephorus Diogenes (1094). Book 10 addresses war against the Cumans and the beginning of the First Crusade (1094–1097). Book 14 addresses Turks, Franks, Cumans, and Manicheans (1108–1115). Book 15 addresses the last expeditions — The Bogomils — Death of Alexios (1116–1118).

3. Pecheneg incursions on the northern Byzantine frontier (Books 7–8):

Book 8 addresses the end of the Scythian war (1091) and plots against the Emperor.

4. The First Crusade and Byzantine reactions to it (Books 10–11):

Book 11 also addresses the First Crusade (1097–1104).

5. Attacks on Byzantine frontiers by Robert Guiscard's son, Bohemond I of Antioch (Books 11–13)

According to Peter Frankopan, the content of the Alexiad falls into five main categories:

1. Attacks against the Byzantine empire by the Normans, under their leader Robert Guiscard (Books 1–6):

2. Byzantine relations with the Turks (Books 6–7, 9–10, and 14–15):

Book 7 addresses war against the Scythians (1087–1090). Book 9 addresses operations against Tzachas and the Dalmatians (1092–1094), and the conspiracy of Nicephorus Diogenes (1094). Book 10 addresses war against the Cumans and the beginning of the First Crusade (1094–1097). Book 14 addresses Turks, Franks, Cumans, and Manicheans (1108–1115). Book 15 addresses the last expeditions — The Bogomils — Death of Alexios (1116–1118).

3. Pecheneg incursions on the northern Byzantine f

3. Pecheneg incursions on the northern Byzantine frontier (Books 7–8):

Book 8 addresses the end of the Scythian war (1091) and plots against the Emperor.

4. The First Crusade and Byzantine reactions to it (Books 10–11):

Book 11 also addresses the First Crusade (1097–1104).

5. Attacks on Byzantine frontiers by Robert Guiscard's son, Bohemond I of Antioch (Books 11–13)[2]

Book 1

4. The First Crusade and Byzantine reactions to it (Books 10–11):

Book 11 also addresses the First Crusade (1097–1104).

5. Attacks on Byz

5. Attacks on Byzantine frontiers by Robert Guiscard's son, Bohemond I of Antioch (Books 11–13)[2]

Book 12 addresses domestic conflicts and the Norman preparation fo

Although Anna Komnene explicitly states her intention to record true events, important issues of bias do exist. Throughout the Alexiad, emphasis on Alexios as a "specifically Christian emperor," morally, as well as politically laudable, is pervasive. Frankopan frequently compares Alexios' treatment in the text to the techniques of the hagiographical tradition, while contrasting it with the generally negative portrait or outright absence of his successors John II and Manuel I.[4] Anna discusses the Latins, (Normans and "Franks"), considering them barbarians. This distaste extends to the Turks and Armenians. The Alexiad also criticizes John II Komnenos for his accession to the throne (in place of Anna herself) following Alexios' death. From a modern reader's point of view, the inconsistencies in the descriptions of military events and the Empire's misfortunes – partially due to these literary and especially Homeric influences – may seem exaggerated and stereotypical. Despite these issues, George Ostrogorsky nevertheless emphasizes the importance of the Alexiad as a primary document.[5]

General themes

The Alexiad was originally written in Greek in around 1148, and first edited by Possinus in 1651.[8]

Anna Komnene explicitly describes herself in the text and openly acknowledges her feelings and opinions for some events, which goes against the typical formatting of historiography.Anna Komnene explicitly describes herself in the text and openly acknowledges her feelings and opinions for some events, which goes against the typical formatting of historiography.[9] She differed widely from Greek prose historians, and because of this the book was initially well received, but was subjected to criticism later on.[10] The Alexiad interests many historians because of the fact that Anna wrote it in a different format to the norm of the time.[9] Anna Komnene is the only female Greek historiographer of her era, and historians are keen to believe that her style of writing owes much to her being a woman.[9] Despite including herself in the historiography and the other qualities that make her style vastly different from the typical historiography of the era, Anna Komnene's Alexiad has been seen as a "straightforward" history.[9]

Anna Komnene's writings are a major source of information on her father, Alexios I of the Byzantine Empire.[11] She was around the age of 55 when she began work on the Alexiad.[11] While she was alive, she held the crusaders that came to her father's aid in contempt for their actions against the Empire after they looted various reconquests and failed to return to the Basileus' demesne many of the lands they promised to return to him. She regarded the crusaders, whom she refers to as Celts, Latins and Normans, as uneducated barbarians.[6][11] Despite this, Anna claims that she portrayed them in a neutral light. Some historians believe her work to be biased because of her feelings towards the Crusaders, and how highly she regarded her father.[6]

Gender and authorship

Anna Komnene's somewhat

Anna Komnene's somewhat unusual style of writing history has been attributed to her gender. Her style is noteworthy in that it included both a history of her father's actions during the First Crusade, and her reactions to some of these events. Her opinions and commentary on particular events in an otherwise historical text have been assigned to her gender both positively and negatively.[13] This interpretation of her histories is known as a "gendered history",[24] meaning it is both the history of Alexos and of Anna herself through her particular style, which is not seen in male authors. While the Roman historian Edward Gibbon saw this "gendered" narrative to betray "in every page the vanity of a female author",[25] with some scholars agreeing with him,[26][27] other scholars claim that this style might be indicative of Anna's mentor, Michael Psellos.[28] Some take this even further to suggest that Anna used Psellos' Chronographia as a model for her personal narration in her history and took his style even further, suggesting it was not her gender but her influences that led to her writing style.[29]

Anna Komnene is considered unique for her time in the intensity by which she integrates her own narrative and emotion,[30] and yet she does not mention all personal details, such as the fact

Anna Komnene is considered unique for her time in the intensity by which she integrates her own narrative and emotion,[30] and yet she does not mention all personal details, such as the fact that she had four children.[31] For some, this unusual combination of style and lack of personal, gendered information is reconciled by her lack of modern feminist ideals, without which she was not interested in questioning her societal place in her own narrative, even though her depictions of women do not fit in with male authors of the time.[32] Instead, her style can be understood from her belief system that intelligence and nobility cancel out gender in terms of importance, and so Anna does not view her history as overstepping any necessary gender roles.[23]

Below is the list of manuscripts containing some or all of the Alexiad.

  • Codex Coislinianus 311, in Fonds Coislin (Paris)
  • Codex Florentinus 70,2
  • Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1438
  • Codex Barberinianus 235 & 236
  • Codex Ottobonian