A PKAP Thesis Defense: Latin- Greek Relations in Frankish Cyprus

David Terry, a Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project alumnus successfully defended his Master’s Thesis here in the Department of History at the University of North Dakota yesterday.  His work was entitled “Authority and Cultural Interaction on Frankish Cyprus, 1191-1374.”  His defense was good fun as he ably engaged his committee and members of the general public on all topics related to his research.  I learned a tremendous amount from his thesis, and I suspect it will continue to inform my interest in the contours of authority and religion in pre-modern Europe.

At his defense, David graciously claimed to have been inspired to work on the Frankish period in Cyprus by his time on PKAP and his personal visits to numerous Frankish period monuments on Cyprus (you can read his blog postings from his time on Cyprus here).  (I can also detect the influence of an informal seminar that some of his colleagues and I participated in a couple of years ago which focused on Authority and Religion in the Early Christian East!).

His visit to Cyprus was partially funded by the Graduate School at the University of North Dakota as part of Graduate School Summer Professorship.  David will study next year at Western Michigan University in their Ph.D. program in History.  He hopes to continue working in some capacity with PKAP and continue to pursue research in the Medieval Eastern Mediterranean.  He is also a member of the Medieval and Post Medieval Mediterranean Interest Group of the Archaeological Institute of America.

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Many treatments of cultural interaction on Frankish Cyprus depict the Latin and Greek cultural identities as historic, monolithic constructions and the society of Frankish Cyprus as a multicultural society.  However, sources suggest that similarities between Greek and Latin cultural traditions were numerous and that there was a considerable amount of ambiguity between the two groups.  This thesis will examine the cultural practices of the Latin Cypriots and the origins of these practices and argue that Latin Cypriot communal identity was less dependent upon identification with the Roman Church than it was with a pan-Christian view of Cypriot society.  The subsequent chapter will examine the approach that the king and nobility of Cyprus took to protect this developing cultural milieu and argue that, in addition to a need to protect the island, the Latin secular leadership also felt a communal bond with the island’s non-Latin majority.  Last, a discussion of intermarriage between Latins and Greeks shows how easily the two groups could cross the confessional line as well as the Latin Church’s ability to prevent them from doing so.

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