Byzantine Princess Anna Komnene Is Known For Two Things Plotting To Murder Her Brother To Usurp The Throne, And Writing The Alexiad, An Epic History Of Her Father Alexios I Komnenos 1081 1118 That Is A Key Historical Source For The Era Of The First Crusade Anna Komnene The Life And Work Of A Medieval Historian Investigates The Relationship Between Anna S Self Presentation In The Alexiad And The Story Of Her Bloodthirsty Ambition It Begins By Asking Why Women Did Not Write History In Anna S Society, What Cultural Rules Anna Broke By Doing So, And How Anna Tried To Respond To Those Challenges In Her Writing Many Of The Idiosyncrasies And Surprises Of Anna S Alexiad Are Driven By Her Efforts To Be Perceived As Both A Good Historian And A Good Woman These New Interpretations Of Anna S Authorial Persona Then Spark A Thorough Re Thinking Of The Standard Story Which Defines Anna S Life By The Failure Of Her Supposed Political Ambitions The Second Half Of This Work Reviews The Medieval Sources With Fresh Eyes And Re Establishes Anna S Primary Identity As An Author And Intellectual Rather Than As A Failed Conspirator. Neville has two goals in this book to examine how Anna functioned as a woman writing Greek historiography, a traditionally male genre, and she attempts to revise Anna s biography She succeeds admirably in both these efforts The first half of the book deals with Anna as a woman and a writer of history Being a woman posed all sorts of problems for writing history in Byzantium Historians were supposed to be familiar with their subjects, or to know those who participated in them While Anna occasionally hints that she went on military campaigns, this is not a what a good woman would do in Byzantium, where it was ideal that they were seen as little as possible and stayed at home Hence Anna has a problem she wants to be seen as a good woman and a good historian Neville suggests that Anna does this by using the emotions of her audience She stresses the tragedy of her life, the death of Alexios, and her widowhood following the death of Nikephoros This gave Anna the opportunity to fulfill the role of a good woman, that of the widow, while continuing to write history The second part of the book targets the history of Anna following Alexios s death and the supposed coup against John Neville goes through the evidence and argues that only Niketas Choniates mentions her attempted coup, and that he does so in the context of showing the Komnenian family as torn from strife within The other evidence indicates no separation between Anna and Nikephoros, and
Anna Komnene was a Byzantine princess, the daughter of Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos and his wife Irene Doukaina She was born in the purple meaning during her father s reign and in the Porphyra Chamber of the imperial palace in Constantinople, making her a porphyrogenita She is perhaps best known for her attempt to usurp her brother, John II Komnenos As a result, Anna was exiled to a monastery where she would spend the rest of her life While imprisoned, she wrote the Alexiad, an account of her father s reign.Anna Komnene The Life and Work of a Medieval Historian by Leonora Neville tells the story not only of Anna Komnene herself but also about her work as a historian and the balance she had to find between her work and the impression she would make as a woman writing it The story is very well written, though it is perhaps a bit repetitive and longwinded at
Excellent history of the great medieval historian, Anna Komnene I have been skeptical of gender studies, but in this context I found it useful in gaining an understanding of the cultural environment in which Anna lived The last few chapters dealt with whether or not Anna really opposed her brother taking the throne, or if she was ok with it The author believes that Anna was ok with it and that earlier historians including near contemporaries were not correct in stating that Anna made failed attempts to gain it for herself My own opinion is that Anna may have made abortive efforts, but I suspect her mother, Eirene, had responsibility for them than is in the his
I stopped reading this book 50 pages in I love Byzantine history but this book was dry as a bone.
- 256 pages
- Anna Komnene
- Leonora Neville
- 11 July 2018 Leonora Neville