MA Thesis abstracts, 2016

Abstracts of MA Theses Defended in 2016 

Kelechi Johnbosco Ahunanya (Nigeria)

Josip Banic (Croatia)

Leslie Carr-Riegel (USA)

Andrei-Octavian Fărcaș (Romania)

Sabina-Maria Ganea (Romania)

Iliana Kandzha (Russia)

Ines Ivić (Croatia)

Angelina Kalashnikova (Russia)

Daniel K. Knox (New Zeeland)

Marino Kumir (Croatia)

Petar Parvanov (Bulgaria)

Ester Petrosyan (Armenia)

Paige Richmond (USA)

Davor Salihović (Croatia)

Robert Sharp (UK)

Miraslau Shpakau (Belorus)

Transfer of Authority: The Traditio Legis Motif on Christian Sarcophagi in Fourth-Century Rome 

Kelechi Johnbosco Ahunanya (Nigeria) 

Thesis Supervisor: Marianne Sághy, Volker Menze 

External Reader: Galit Noga Banai (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel)

 This thesis focuses on the traditio legis motif as found on fourth-century sarcophagi in Rome. Scholars previously interpreted this motif as the replacement of the old Mosaic Law by the new Law, which Christ gives to the Apostle Peter in the presence of the Apostle Paul. Thus, it has also been called “the Lord gives the Law” scene. However, the assessment of this motif in the context of the debates and events of the fourth century, especially in Rome, reveals that it might rather express primarily the establishment and the transfer of authority from Christ to Peter and, hence, the establishment of the apostolic lineage.

I approach the idea of the transfer of authority by analyzing other motifs that are found alongside the traditio legis on Roman sarcophagi. I also analyzed scriptural topoi and narratives to clarify this notion. A significant scene is the ascension of Elijah, during which he hands over the mantle of leadership and authority to his disciple, Elisha. Other motifs currently used on Roman sarcophagi are Moses receiving the Law and eschatological scenes. For these reasons, I argue that although the traditio legis expresses the transfer of a new law its primary interpretation might be the divine origin of power and its transfer to humans. 

 

Justice in Flux: The Introduction of Venetian Jurisdiction in the Former Margraviate of Istria (1420-1470)

Josip Banic (Croatia) 

Thesis Supervisor: Gerhard Jaritz 

External Reader: Darko Darovec (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice)

The thesis analyzes an important aspect of the changes that the introduction of Venetian jurisdiction brought to the communes formerly under the margraviate of Istria. Since Venice functioned as a jurisdictional state, administration of justice was the most important element of the Venetian government in both their Terraferma and the Stato da Mar communities. This feature is at the center of this study and the changes the new government introduced to the local legal systems are approached from several mutually complementary theoretical frameworks. Trial records from fifteenth-century Buzet, the central Istrian commune of the former margraviate, are analyzed in detail through both normative and processual approaches as advocated by the postulates of legal anthropology. By comparing various medieval statutes of the northern Adriatic communes, it is concluded that Venice made no changes to most of the local statutes following incorporation into Venetian domain. These law codes were, however, used rarely as the source of law since the delegated rector regularly prescribed more lenient fines. The old public tribunal, the per adstantes trial, was completely abolished and a new judicial ritual, one that marginalized the role of the local elite, was introduced. Analyses of specific cases showed that there was no transplantation of the Venetian ius proprium. Although the introduction of Venetian jurisdiction made the administration of justice a more mechanical process and brought the local legal systems closer to Damaška’s hierarchically structured ideal, judicial ritual retained its primary purpose of preserving peace and the balance of power. 

 

Waste Management in Medieval Krakow: 1257-1500

Leslie Carr-Riegel (USA) 

Thesis Supervisor: Gerhard Jaritz 

External Reader: Dolly Jorgensen (Luleå University of Technology, Sweden)

This thesis outlines the wastes produced in medieval Krakow –- Animal, industrial, and domestic – and the efforts made to control them from the date of the city’s incorporation under Magdeburg law in 1257 up to 1500. Chapter 1 covers the city government’s often insufficient attempts to control waste build-up in Krakow that led to the continued rise of the city’s street levels until the sixteenth century. The chapter compares Krakow’s waste management with those of other polities and shows that although the city developed impressive infrastructure, civic leaders failed to implement sufficient legislation, enforcement, and public services to keep it clean. In chapter 2, industrial waste is discussed focusing on the most noxious trades – metallurgy, tanning, meat processing, and textile manufacture – detailing efforts to manage the harmful effects of these activities. Chapter 3 focuses on domestic waste showing how residents dealt with rubbish in everyday life. 

 

Maces in Medieval Transylvania between the Thirteenth and Sixteenth Centuries 

Andrei-Octavian Fărcaș (Romania) 

Thesis Supervisor: József Laszlovszky 

External Reader: Adrian Andrei Rusu (Institute of Archaeology and Art History, Cluj-Napoca)

Scholars have ignored medieval mace heads and many artifacts of this type lie unpublished and sometimes unknown in various museums even today. In some countries, such as present-day Hungary, Poland, and the former USSR, archaeological research into these weapons has been undertaken to understand their use and origin. Currently there are two typo-chronologies in use, but both are limited to certain geographical areas. A survey of research on maces held in Transylvanian museums revealed that scholarship on this topic is scarce and mace heads are often left in collections with incorrect or no dating. 

In this thesis I created a new typo-chronology for Transylvanian mace heads based on existing scholarship and analogies, comparing the results with research from other regions. I conclude that Transylvania was among the few regions with a large number of mace heads which, at least after the twelfth century, included types that are rare elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe. Aside from the importance of the typo-chronology for dating new artifacts, the thesis’s main contribution to scholarship is the compilation of the first catalogue of almost all presently known mace heads now held in Transylvanian museums. 

  

Reception of the Plague in Transylvania 

Sabina-Maria Ganea (Romania) 

Thesis Supervisor: Gerhard Jaritz, Marcell Sebők 

External Reader: Ottó Gecser (Eötvös Loránd University [ELTE], Budapest)

In Transylvania, as in other parts of Europe, the plague received a variety of discursive approaches. Physicians and laymen wrote volumes about the causes and the treatment of the plague with the discourse relying on the tradition of medical treatises and their religious affiliation. At the same time, preachers were writing sermons about the proper Christian way of confronting death and the plague. The religious and medical discourses have similar approaches as a result of an ideological collaboration between them, which was ultimately reflected to a certain degree in the administrative measures applied to plague-stricken Transylvanian towns. This thesis presents an analysis of a selection of medical treatises and plague or funeral sermons collected from all the religious denominations officially recognized in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Transylvania – Lutheran, Calvin, and Orthodox. The thesis also covers  the few Jesuit letters which mention the plague, as well as a statement of the main administrative measures taken against epidemics. The goal is a comprehensive image of the reception of the plague in Transylvania and the main discourses elaborated when facing it. 

 

Royal Penance: Narrative Strategies of Ritual Representation in Ottonian Historiography 

Iliana Kandzha (Russia) 

Thesis Supervisor: Gerhard Jaritz, Daniel Ziemann 

External Reader: Gerd Althoff (University of Muenster, Germany)

This research belongs to the sphere of studies of political rituals and images of power; although here only one type of ritual practice is analyzed, namely, royal penance as represented in historiographic sources from the Ottonian age (919-1024). Acts of repentance performed by Ottonian kings and emperors have always been approached as historical events, “moves” between powerful magnates in the political game of the kingdom. This perspective, however, often neglects other dimensions of royal penance, such as the political agenda, commemorative needs, and literary traditions, all of which led Ottonian authors to reflect upon the repentance of kings in their writings, much more often than writers from the Carolingian or Salian periods. Royal penance is perceived here primarily as a narrative in historical discourse which was created to memoriialze a historic event when penance was believed to have been performed.  

In this light, royal penance was used by Ottonian authors as a stable narrative pattern which appeared in certain specific literary circumstances such as battlefields, the establishment of a diocese, and family conflicts. Each author had his or her own reasons for evoking, creating or erasing memories of royal penance, but several common functions of a “narrated” royal penance can be revealed: Establishing a useful past for the needs of a specific community, a retrospective legitimatization of political acts, establishing a relationship between royal power and local ecclesiastical authorities, andr implicit Kaiserkritik. I also touch upon literary prototypes of royal penance and possible ways of categorizing this ritual between imposed penance and the self-humiliation of a king. 

  

The Cult of Saint Jerome in Dalmatia in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries 

Ines Ivić (Croatia) 

Thesis Supervisor: Gábor Klaniczay, Marianne Sághy 

External Reader: Lovro Kuncević (Institute for Historical Science, Dubrovnik)

At the present time in Croatia, Saint Jerome has a special place among the national saints as the patron saint of Croatia and humanists, but there has been no detailed study of the development of his cult in Dalmatia. This thesis deals with the formation of a regional cult of the saint through three phases of development: the implementation of a Slavic cult, the transformation of the humanist cult in the fifteenth century, and the ethnic appropriation of the saint in the writings of Dalmatian humanists in the sixteenth century. Based on archival material and artworks preserved in Trogir and Dubrovnik, the focus of this study is on the manifestations of worship in these two cities. These manifestations are seen through the perspective of the private and official worship, identifying the major promoters of the cult and commissioners of the art depicting Saint Jerome: the Cipiko and Sobota families in Trogir and the Gozze and Gradi families in Dubrovnik. The major contribution of this work is interpreting the regional cult of Saint Jerome in the light of the establishment of Venetian rule in the Dalmatian communes after 1409. This study explains how the implementation of a centralized government and the restriction of the autonomy of the Dalmatian communes contributed to the formation of the notion of togetherness on the territory of Dalmatia, expressed through the figure and the patronage of Saint Jerome. 

 

Diplomatics of Russian Judicial Charters (c. 1400 – 1550) 

Angelina Kalashnikova (Russia) 

Thesis Supervisor: Balázs Nagy 

External Reader: Anna Adamska (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)

In this thesis I examine Russian judicial charters from the fifteenth and first half of the sixteenth century which represent protocols of land court procedure. By focusing on precise details of judicial charters such as formulae, text layout, seals, and signatures, this study aims to explore features of the Russian judicial system. I apply classical diplomatic analysis to compare formulae of charters surviving from various northeastern Russian principalities, and I show that competitive state formations such as the grand duchy of Moscow and the grand duchy of Ryazan issued judicial charters in the same form. This indicates that the judicial procedure of these duchies was quite similar and that there were few difficulties incorporating local judicial practices in the Muscovite judicial system. Detailed analysis of the external features of judicial charters also reveals that court protocols were not written in the process of litigation, but after it. Thus, judicial documents were not just an accurate record of the “real” procedure, but a post-representation of it with possible distortions. The direct speech of the litigants and witnesses was hardly ever exactly recorded, but consisted of formulae common in many trial records. 

  

Trading Letters: A Network Analysis of Ennodius of Pavia’s Letter Collection (A.D. 500-513) 

Daniel K. Knox (New Zeeland) 

Thesis Supervisor: Marianne Sághy, Volker Menze 

External Reader: Ralph W. Mathisen (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

This thesis is a network analysis of the letters of Ennodius of Pavia: aristocrat, intellectual, churchman, and letter writer of the early sixth century. This thesis examines the structure of Ennodius’s network to the extent that it can be reconstructed from his extant published letter collection. Three questions are the focus of the thesis: who were the most structurally important actors in Ennodius’s network? Which influential individuals and groups did Ennodius seek to attach himself to and why? And how did Ennodius maintain the ties that he had made? By answering these questions I aim to provide a better understanding of how Ennodius’ social network functioned. I argue that Ennodius was what network scientists call a “sociometric superstar”: a well-connected actor within his network who facilitated the communication and connectivity of the other actors within the network. This status is based on Ennodius’s ties to a number of influential individuals in Ostrogothic Italy — chiefly the senator Faustus Niger. Considering Ennodius’s letter collection in the light of the social network that it represents it is clear that a key purpose of the text was to promote Ennodius’s ties to the most influential members of his society and his extensive participation within it. 

  

Memory and Authority in the Ninth-Century Dalmatian Duchy 

Marino Kumir (Croatia)

Thesis Supervisor: Daniel Ziemann 

External Reader: Trpimir Vedriš (University of Zagreb, Croatia)

The eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea underwent a dramatic process of transformation in the later part of the eighth century. Evidence of this change was most apparent in the material culture. A surplus of luxurious items became available to the elites of the duchy, who then started depositing them in graves. But this change in the burial rite was as brief as it was dramatic. By the second quarter of the ninth century it was already disappearing from most sites. This rite was replaced by church building, which provided the elites with new symbolic access to memory and authority. They memorialized their status and position within the society by putting inscriptions on the stone altar fences inside their churches. Unlike burials, building churches enabled the elites to express their power and authority by permanent and visible interventions in the landscape. 

The elites could also gain access to the past by carefully choosing the location where their churches were to be built. The anonymous donor who was buried in the sarcophagus at Biskupija-Crkvina constructed his memorial basilica on top of a row-grave cemetery that was used by his ancestors for at least half a century. This act of re-appropriation of the past was a two-way process. It gave the donor access to his ancestral past and it also included the ancestors themselves into the new Christian context. 

 

Medieval Deviant Burials from Bulgaria (7th-14th centuries) 

Petar Parvanov (Bulgaria) 

Thesis Supervisor: József Laszlovszky 

External Reader: Andrew Reynolds (University College-London, UK)

This thesis deals with the archaeologically known medieval deviant burials from the territory of Bulgaria. These deviant burials have long received the attention of archaeologists, but this is the first systematic collection of the evidence from the Bulgarian lands. This study examines the characteristics of mass graves, prone (face-down) burials, fixation of the body, decapitations and mutilations in long-term perspective. Various elements of the phenomenon are discussed, including chronology, spatial distribution, associated grave goods, and correlations among the deviant burial practices. Special attention is paid to the interpretative issues of deviant burial rites. The traditional explanation as anti-transfiguration or anti-vampire rites is critically evaluated and more balanced interpretations are offered. Their significance as material manifestations of a legal culture and social complexity are particularly emphasized. 

 

Ms Cario Syriac 11: A Tri-Lingual Garshuni Manuscript 

Ester Petrosyan (Armenia) 

Thesis Supervisor: István Perczel 

External Reader: Hidemi Takahashi (University of Tokyo, Japan)

This thesis deals with MS Cairo Syriac 11, a seventeenth-century tri-lingual (Syriac-Arabic-Armenian) manuscript dictionary. The manuscript was written by a scribe from the Mesopotamian city of Gargar and contains the Syriac-Arabic dictionary of Eliyah of Nisibis (975-1046), supplemented with a third column containing the Armenian equivalent of the words. Both the Arabic and the Armenian words are written in Syriac characters in the dictionary. The manuscript has the potential to prove a unique source for many interdisciplinary studies, such as Armenian and Arabic Garshuni studies, Syro-Armenian lexicography, Armenian dialectology, Syro-Armenian intercultural historical studies and relations. The methodology is multi-faceted, including the paleographic, codicological, and philological analyses as well as comparative textual criticism. 

I study the manuscript from both the linguistic and historical perspectives. From the linguistic angle, my work aims at reconstructing the principles of transcribing the Armenian words used in the manuscript as well as at reconstructing the Armenian dialect whose vocabulary the manuscript records. From the historical angle, I attempt to reconstruct the context in which Armenian and Arabic were recorded in Syriac script instead of their natural alphabets. 

 

Communities Empowered: Developing Institutional Identities at Quedlinburg and Gandersheim under the Ottonians 

Paige Richmond (USA) 

Thesis Supervisor: Gerhard Jaritz, Marianne Sághy 

External Reader: Käthe Sonnleitner (University of Graz, Austria)

Quedlinburg and Gandersheim abbeys were two of the most important monastic institutions throughout the Ottonian period; that they were female houses paradoxically enhanced their prestige. While an immense number of studies focused on Quedlinburg and Gandersheim have been produced, none have dealt with the overarching characters of the institutions themselves. This study unites several distinct but tangentially related components of activity in order to identify consistent elements of their respective institutional identities. It is broken down into three primary categories: intellectual activity, memorial responsibility, and the joint but distinct political and monastic characteristics of each institution. These three elements are treated separately in the main body of the thesis, but are in reality inextricably intertwined with one another. The conclusion unites them, allowing for a final assessment of identity-relevant activity at Quedlinburg and Gandersheim. By combining the specific modes and expressions of the categories of self-perception and identity creation, a great deal can be said about the important characteristics at each institution. The synthesis of these elements provides a unique glimpse into institutional self-perception and the consequent development of corporate identities at each institution. The attempt to assess these institutional identities likewise provides a first comprehensive comparison of these institutions based upon their self-perception and institutional identities. 

 

An Interesting Episode: Nicholas of Ilok’s Kingship in Bosnia 1471 – 1477 

Davor Salihović (Croatia) 

Thesis Supervisor: Balázs Nagy 

External Readers: Tamás Pálosfalvi (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest), Stanko Andrić (Croatian Institute of History, Zagreb, Croatia)

The Ottoman invasion of the Kingdom of Bosnia in 1463 marked the end of the rule of the local Kotromanić dynasty whose members ruled Bosnia both as bans and kings for more than two centuries. However, the Bosnian polity continued to exist under intensified Hungarian control after King Matthias initiated a counterattack in the same year and recaptured Jajce and other important Bosnian fortresses. Initially under the control of bans, in 1471 this territory was given to Nicholas of Ilok (Miklós Újlaki), who was simultaneously made king of Bosnia. 

By challenging the conclusions of previous scarce scholarship on this issue and by reinterpreting the sources and introducing sources never consulted before, this thesis analyses the historical preconditions which allowed for Nicholas’s kingship to take place. Furthermore, the source information is contextualized within the contemporary political-historical framework to offer a detailed analysis of the nature, causes, administrative, and archontological implications of Nicholas’s rule. The historical context itself is questioned, since the analyses show and the author demonstrates that Bosnia did not lose its royal identity after 1463 as was thought previously.

The analysis presented in the thesis largely refutes the claims of previous scholarship by showing that the kingship was a result of several long-standing factors, on both the personal and broader political level. The kingship emerged from a decade-long agenda planned by the two close allies, King Matthias and Nicholas of Ilok, who were brought together by their mutual political interests within the Kingdom of Hungary. The thesis finally evaluates Nicholas’s kingship as a real and firm rule over the Bosnian territory handed to him, albeit Hungarian-appointed and very specific. 

 

Deviant Christianities in Fourth to Seventh-Century Britain 

Robert Sharp (UK) 

Thesis Supervisor: József Laszlovszky, Volker Menze 

External Reader: Peter Heather (King's College London, UK )

This thesis attempts to define the position of deviant Christianities in the narrative of early medieval Britain. By seeking to understand the transformation of the likes of Arianism and Pelagianism from movements that started as religious disputes within the Roman Empire into indicators of separate identity in the post-Roman world, this study offers insight into the political benefits of deviation from the Nicene form of Christianity. The thesis uses a close analysis of the surviving textual evidence related to deviant Christianities, primarily the works of Gildas and Bede, to establish an argument for the presence of Arianism and Pelagianism in Britain. It also attempts to situate this analysis in relation to the recent scholarly debate concerning the extent to which Christianity endured in post-Roman Britain with a discussion and assessment of the archaeological evidence for Christianity in Britain before AD 597. The thesis targets an area that has largely been neglected in historical scholarship. Despite the limited number of sources and the problematic nature of those relevant sources that do survive, this thesis makes the argument that the impact of deviant Christianities on Britain between the fourth and seventh centuries is worth further consideration and most definitely further investigation. 

 

The Roman Myth: Constructing Community in Sixteenth-Century Lithuania 

Miraslau Shpakau (Belorus) 

Thesis Supervisor: Gerhard Jaritz, Daniel Ziemann 

External Readers: Oleg Łatyszonek (University of Białystok, Belarus), Julia Verkholantsev (University of Pennsylvania, USA)

This study is dedicated to an analysis of the Roman myth contained in the Chronicle of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Samogitia composed in Lithuania in the sixteenth century. It aims to demonstrate the identity-creating role of the myth and reveal the nature of the collective identity it constructed. Narratological analysis and the contextualization of its results in the framework of the newest theories of ethnicity and nationhood are used to describe the structure of the collective identity reflected in the myth, classify it, and determine the social groups which shared this identity. The conclusion is that the myth reflected one of the models of Lithuanian ethnic identity widespread among the multi-lingual and multi-confessional elites of Lithuania proper.