In 2016, the department of Classics of the Maison française d’Oxford has expanded its activities. Up to now it was dedicated to all aspects of the ancient world (philology, philosophy, history, archaelogy), and now it also covers the study of the Byzantine world. The history of the Eastern Roman Empire during the Middle Ages has been a favoured topic both of French scholarships since Louis XIV, if not François Ier, and of its Oxonian counterpart, thanks to a unique synergy between the faculties of classics, history and oriental studies.
This new orientation stems from the recent questioning of traditional historical periodization, allowing for a global approach of the long transition phase which resulted from the collapse of the unified Mediterranean Roman world with equal interest towards each of the three political and religious entities heirs of the Roman Empire: the Germanic Kingdoms in the west, the Greek-speaking Empire of Byzantium and the caliphate(s). In this framework, particular attention is paid to contact zones, especially Sicily, Cyprus or the Adriatic.
Furthermore, the development of studies on medieval Orthodoxy leads to an additional interest in the Early modern legacy of the Byzantine empire and its impact on the nation-building processes in Eastern Europe. This thematic approach complements the strictly chronological definition of the scientific sphere of interest of the department.