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Kathryn Jasper


Andrew Pfannkuche's and I's research focused on the often-overlooked Empress Irene. Specifically, we looked to apply emerging digital methods to one of the most significant sources of information on her reign- Theophanes' Chronographia. Other Byzantinists have suggested that Irene's reign marked a turning point in which Imperial favor moved away from the Iconoclast army and towards the Iconophile clergy and bureaucracy. Our research therefore aimed to test this claim; our hypothesis being that if such a change occurred, a geographic shift in the focus of Theophanes' narrative should be present and able to be mapped. Borrowing much of our methodology and data from Dr. Torgerson (of Wesleyan University) and his team's ongoing research, we collected and organized geographic data from Theophanes' text. This was used to create the maps which our analysis hinges on. In total we created 7 different maps, documenting the reigns of Leo IV through Nikephorus I, giving us data on an emperor to each side of Irene, so as to see how drastically she changed imperial policy, and how well those changes stuck. Sadly, our maps did not particularly allow for direct viewing of the administrative changes occurring under Irene, rather we saw their effects on the direction of Imperial policy. For example, it showed the Byzantine army was capable of carrying out offensive campaigns earlier than it is generally credited for. Irene's time on and around the throne would see this reinvigorated army turned towards the West. Theophanes' narrative implies this change was not merely military, as the Franks and Papacy gain new importance as well. Analysis of Nikephorus' reign according to Theophanes shows that (despite Theophanes' evident distaste for the man) he mostly held to Irene's new policy directions.

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