Warriors, Martyrs, and Dervishes

Moving Frontiers, Shifting Identities in the Land of Rome (13th-15th Centuries)


Warriors, Martyrs, and Dervishes: Moving Frontiers, Shifting Identities in the Land of Rome (13th-15th Centuries) focuses on the perceptions of geopolitical and cultural change, which was triggered by the arrival of Turkish Muslim groups into the territories of the Byzantine Empire at the end of the eleventh century, through intersecting stories transmitted in Turkish Muslim warrior epics and dervish vitas, and late Byzantine martyria. It examines the Byzantines’ encounters with the newcomers in a shared story-world, here called “land of Rome,” as well as its perception, changing geopolitical and cultural frontiers, and in relation to these changes, the shifts in identity of the people inhabiting this space. The study highlights the complex relationship between the character of specific places and the cultural identities of the people who inhabited them.

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Buket Kitapçı Bayrı, Ph.D. (2010), Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and Boğaziçi University, is senior fellow at Koç University, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Center for Late Antique and Byzantine Studies (GABAM).
"There is much to commend in this meticulous study. Kitapçı Bayrı is in full control over her source base in Greek and Turkish as well as the substantial bodies of scholarship in multiple languages that surround them. Her reach into the vast realm of Byzantine and Islamic studies is on display in her exceptionally rich contextualization of her primary sources and in the notes that accompany this contextualization, many of which are little disquisitions in their own right on particular topics. [...] For scholars of Turkish history in particular, who are not normally conversant with Byzantinist scholarship, the author’s ability to flesh out the Byzantine settings reflected in these epics is invaluable. Byzantinists, too, will benefit from such a contextualized presentation since in a real sense, Kitapçı Bayrı turns these medieval Turkish epics into sources for Byzantine history. [...] In brief, Kitapçı Bayrı is to be commended for erecting a bridge over the divide between bodies of scholarship based on expertise in Greek-language versus Turkish-language sources and for successfully uncovering as complete a historical setting as possible, both Byzantine and Turkish, for the three medieval epics and the martyrdom stories that lie at the core of this study. Warriors, Martyrs, and Dervishes will now be the go-to book for anyone interested in these sources in particular and, more generally, for all who would like to think holistically about the shifting identities of Greek and Turkish inhabitants of “Rome/Rum” between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries."
Ahmet T. Karamustafa, University of Maryland, in Mediterranean Historical Review, 2020, 225-7

"And the new book by Kitapçı Bayrı now offers an excellent example of how to look at the Byzantine empire from a new angle. [...] Accordingly, the new book by Kitapçı Bayrı could hardly be more timely, offering an alternative model for how to understand both space and identity in a non-binary way that can only benefit our field of study."
Ingela Nilsson, in Scandinavian Journal of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, No 6, 2020, 211-6

"Especially interesting are her detailed observations on food and feasting as markers of the clashing identities of both ethnic groups. Also notable, her running critical commentary of recent multilingual scholarship covers a broad swath listed in an extensive bibliography, accompanied by 10 maps. In sum, this is a welcome update on a little-known period of extreme importance in late medieval Anatolian history, and a well-written contribution to Byzantine and Turkish history. Summing Up: Recommended."
S. Bowman, in Choice, 57 (10), June 2020, 1130

"Overall, this is a very stimulating book which sheds considerable light on the vibrant, fluid and often brutal landscapes of 13th-15th century Anatolia (as well as other lands formerly ruled by the Byzantine Empire). It offers texture and detail to the identities, boundaries and ambitions which moulded this world. To date, scholars have been at pains to stress the many zones of accord and positive interaction between the peoples of these regions, especially the Turks and local Christians, highlighting examples of cross-cultural influence and intermarriage.This book does not neglect such themes and yet the lasting impression it imparts is of a deeply conflictual environment where inter-cultural exchange could take place but within a social context of deeply-rooted suspicion and antagonism''.
Nicholas Morton, in AL-MASĀQ, 32 (2), 2020.

"The problem of Byzantine-Turkish transformation in Asia Minor and the Balkan Peninsula has found growing scholarly attention in recent years. Numerous innovative studies reexamine and develop new approaches to matters of conflict and conquest, diplomatic, cultural, and religious interaction, social change, or artistic cross-fertilizations. The present monograph fits well into this trend by focusing on literary representations of interactions between Orthodox Christian and Muslim Turkish communities in frontier zones, cities, and imaginary spaces of the ‘land of Rome’ (bilād al-Rūm/Rum İli), i.e., Asia Minor and the Balkans, between the 13th and the 15th centuries. Kitapçı Bayrı attempts a comparative analysis of Turkish warrior epics and late Byzantine martyria, two literary genres which share the common intention to present both peaceful and violence-driven contact situations as a means of projecting identity, religious and moral superiority, and cultural and ideological attitudes [...] Kitapçı Bayrı’s monograph is an impressive piece of innovative scholarship which in many ways breaks new ground through a parallel investigation of Byzantine and Turkish sources."
Alexander Beihammer, in The Medieval Review 21.12.06. See the full review here.

"C’est donc un ouvrage très riche, qui donne à repenser en un sens très original la notion de romanité à la fin du Moyen- ge et incite à réfléchir sur la disjonction entre identité romaine et identité chrétienne. La géographie mentale d’une part et les enjeux territoriaux de l’autre se révèlent être les deux bouts d’une chaîne que l’auteur parvient à tenir dans un équilibre remarquable. Cet ouvrage est aussi une preuve supplémentaire, s’il en fallait, de l’intérêt qu’il y a à décentrer le regard en mettant à profit des sources turques pour étudier la période byzantine tardive."
Marie-Hélène Blanchet, in Revue des études byzantines 80, 2022.

'KB’s remarkable accomplishment is to provide, not merely a juxtaposition or comparison Byzantine and Turkish voices, but an account of their reciprocity and interaction. This is just what the fascinating historical context, the late medieval Eastern Mediterranean, deserved. This work will serve as landmark study for future generations, not only for its manifold contributions to Byzantine and Turkish studies, or even for its introduction of a successful, novel, transdisciplinary and holistic perspective. It will remain so for its fulfilment of a real desideratum for scholarship and indeed society: the creation of bridges. This work creates bridges over a series of scientific divides: between bodies of scholarship, between academic cultures, between perceptions of ethnicity, between traditions and future exigencies. Research of this kind constitutes a persuasive counter-discourse to contemporary narratives of ethnic and social division. A fresh, masterly, and pioneering contribution to historical, literary and spatial studies, which all Byzantinists should read.'
Myrto Veikou, in Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 47 (1), 2023.
List of Maps
Note on Transliteration

 1 Sources
 2 Scholarship
  2.1 Nomadization
  2.2 Islamization
  2.3 “Romanization”
 3 Organization of the Book

1 Warriors
 1 Introduction
 2 Part 1: The Battalname
  2.1 Land of Rome and Frontiers
  2.2 Us
  2.3 Them
  2.4 Byzantines: Fact and Fiction
 3 Part 2: The Danişmendname
  3.1 Land of Rome and Frontiers
  3.2 Them
  3.3 Byzantines: Fact and Fiction
  3.4 Us
  3.5 Social and Cultural Frontiers: Love Affairs and Food as Identity Markers
   3.5.1 Love Affairs
   3.5.2 Food, Feasting, and Fasting: The Creation of Boundaries
   3.5.3 Meat
   3.5.4 Sugar and Sweet
   3.5.5 Fish, Seafood, and Wine
  3.6 Who Are You?

2 Martyrs
 1 Introduction
 2 Part 1: The Story of the Stories: Late Byzantine Martyrs and Martyria
  2.1 Nicene Empire (1204–1261)
   2.1.1 Thirteen Monks of Cyprus (m. 1231) (BHG 1198)
  2.2 Reign of Andronikos II Palaiologos (1282–1328)
   2.2.1 Niketas the Younger (m. December 1282) (BHG 2302, 2303)
   2.2.2 Michael of Alexandria (m. ca. 1311–1325) (BHG 2273)
  2.3 Liberation of Philadelphia (March 7, 1348) (BHG 801q): A Dissident Text
  2.4 Hesychast Patriarchs (1347–1397)
   2.4.1 Theodore the Younger (m. 1347–ca. 1369) (BHG 2431)
   2.4.2 Three Martyrs of Vilnius (m. 1347) (BHG 2035)
   2.4.3 Anthimos, Metropolitan of Athens (m. 1371) (BHG 2029)
  2.5 Eve of the Council of Ferrara-Florence (1437–1439)
   2.5.1 George of Adrianople (m. 1437) (BHG 2160)
 3 Part 2: Land of Rome, Frontiers, Cities, and Us and Them
  3.1 Land of Rome
  3.2 Frontiers: Borders of the Christian Roman Oikoumene
  3.3 Cities
  3.4 Us
  3.5 Them

3 Dervishes
 1 Sarı Saltuk, the Nomad Dervish
 2 Land of Rome
 3 Frontiers
 4 Us and Them
  4.1 Gazi
  4.2 Turk
  4.3 Rumi



All those interested in late Byzantine period, late medieval Anatolia, the Balkans and the Mediterranean, and anyone concerned with issues on identity, space, place, and story telling.
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