Herrin, Judith

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Herrin, Judith


Education: Graduate of Cambridge University; University of Birmingham, Ph.D.


Office—Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, King's College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS, England. E-mail—[email protected]


Historian, educator, and writer. King's College, London, England, professor of late antique and Byzantine studies, director of the Centre for Hellenic Studies; previously Stanley J. Seeger Professor in Byzantine History at Princeton University, Princeton, NJ; member of governing board of Warburg Institute, London, 1995-2001; University of London, governor of Camden School for Girls, 1995-2002.


Society of Antiquaries (fellow), British Academy Committee for the Prosopography of the Byzantine Empire.


Golden Cross of Honour, president of the Hellenic Republic of Greece, 2002.


(Editor, with Anthony Bryer) Iconoclasm: Papers Given at the Ninth Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, University of Birmingham, March 1975, Centre for Byzantine Studies, University of Birmingham (Birmingham, England), 1977.

(Editor, with others) Constantinople in the Early Eighth Century: The Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary, E.J. Brill (Leiden, Netherlands), 1984.

The Formation of Christendom, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1987.

(Selector and editor) A Medieval Miscellany, manuscript selection and book design by Linda and Michael Falter, introduction by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1999.

Women in Purple: Rulers of Medieval Byzantium, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2001.

(Editor, with Margaret Mullett and Catherine Otten-Froux) Mosaic: Festschrift for A.H.S. Megaw, British School at Athens (London, England), 2001.

(Editor, with others) Porphyrogenita: Essays on the History and Literature of Byzantium and the Latin East in Honour of Julian Chrysostomides, Ashgate (Burlington, VT), 2003.

(Editor, with Emma Stafford) Personification in the Greek World: From Antiquity to Byzantium, Ashgate (Burlington, VT), 2005.

Contributor to books, including Toleration and Repression in the Middle Ages, edited by K. Nikolaou, [Athens, Greece], 2002; LI Settimana di Studio. Cristianit d'Occidente e Cristianit d'Oriente (secoli VI-XI), [Spoleto, Italy], 2004; Alexandria, Real and Imagined, edited by Anthony Hirst and Michael Silk, [Aldershot, England], 2004; Christian and Islamic Gender Models in Formative Traditions, edited by K.E. Borresen, [Rome, Italy], 2004; Household, Women and Christianities, edited by Anneke B. Mulder-Bakker and Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, [Brepols, Belgium], 2006. Contributor to periodicals and professional journals, including Dialogos: Hellenic Studies Review and Past and Present. Member of editorial board of Past and Present. Works have been published in foreign languages, including Spanish, Greek, and Czech.


Judith Herrin is an historian who has written about Christianity and Byzantine archaeology. Her research interests include women in Byzantium and also Byzantium in relation to Islam and the West. In her book Women in Purple: Rulers of Medieval Byzantium, Herrin writes of three Byzantine women who served as rulers during the eight and ninth centuries. All three women, Irene, Euphrosyne, and Theodora, were wives of emperors who played an important role in the course of Byzantium history by insisting on the preservation of Christian icons and going against the typical iconoclasm of Byzantium rulers. For example, Irene, who was also the first female emperor of Byzantium, formed a council in the year 787 that resulted in restoring Christian religious icons to prominence. This is significant, according to the author, because women rulers were usually barred from guiding religious matters within the empire.

Reviewers generally praised the author for providing new insights on Byzantium and its female rulers. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the author's "study provides important glimpses into medieval history as well as the daily lives and rituals of Byzantine imperial women." Mary A. Valante, writing in the NWSA Journal, noted: "Herrin argues that the power wielded by these three women, especially in the ecclesiastical matter of iconoclasm, is unusual." Valante went on to write that the author's "readable style may make it interesting to a general audience or for undergraduates." Church History contributor Patrick D. Viscuso commented: "In this work, the reader gains an understanding of the empresses, ladies in waiting, nuns, and others, as well as the author herself, since much of Herrin's own experience as a woman appears incorporated into the writing." Catherine Holmes wrote in the English Historical Review: "Judith Herrin's study is a welcome contribution to a topic now very popular in Byzantine studies." Holmes went on to note: "Herrin writes extremely fluently and with an acute awareness of the need for Byzantinists to reach out to a general audience." The reviewer also commented: "Vivid descriptions of court life, the teeming streets of medieval Constantinople, eunuchs, bride shows and female saints give the text a cinematic quality."

Herrin has also served as editor or coeditor of several books, including A Medieval Miscellany, which is a selection of a wide range of medieval texts from the sixth to the fifteenth centuries. The texts cover numerous and diverse topics, such as love and death and even unattractive feet. Writing on the Wobbly Wheel Web site, a reviewer called the collection "a wonderful source of interesting little pieces of information that provide a unique insight into the world we are trying to recreate."

Herrin and Emma Stafford are editors of Personification in the Greek World: From Antiquity to Byzantium, which presents twenty-one papers by European and Australian scholars that focus on personification in the religion, art, and literature of the Greeks. In addition to a discussion of the Iliad and Odyssey as personified in Hellenistic and Roman art, the papers cover such diverse topics as light and divine images and the ancient Greek ideas of death and dying. Alan Shapiro, writing in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review, commented: "Text-based studies are fully integrated with visually oriented ones, and indeed most authors, whether coming from literary or art-historical/archaeological backgrounds, are at pains to bear in mind the interplay of both kinds of evidence when studying the phenomenon of personification." Herrin also serves as coeditor with others of Porphyrogenita: Essays on the History and Literature of Byzantium and the Latin East in Honour of Julian Chrysostomides. In a review of Porphyrogenita in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Paul Stephenson commented: "Thirty-four papers … constitute an impressive tribute to the interests and reputation of Julian Chrysostomides."



Bryn Mawr Classical Review, September 12, 2006, Alan Shapiro, review of Personification in the Greek World: From Antiquity to Byzantium.

Choice, December, 1987, D. Williman, review of The Formation of Christendom, p. 673; September, 2002, M.E. Weisner, review of Women in Purple: Rulers of Medieval Byzantium, p. 166.

Church History, September, 2003, Patrick D. Viscuso, review of Women in Purple, p. 647.

English Historical Review, September, 2003, Catherine Holmes, review of Women in Purple, p. 984.

Journal of Ecclesiastical History, January, 2005, Paul Stephenson, review of Porphyrogenita: Essays on the History and Literature of Byzantium and the Latin East in Honour of Julian Chrysostomides, p. 128.

Journal of Women's History, spring, 2004, Linda E. Mitchell, review of Women in Purple, p. 183.

NWSA Journal, summer, 2004, Mary A. Valante, review of Women in Purple, p. 218.

Publishers Weekly, January 21, 2002, review of Women in Purple, p. 79.

Reference & Research Book News, February, 2006, review of Personification in the Greek World.

Spectator, August 8, 1987, Eric Christiansen, review of The Formation of Christendom, p. 27.

Times Literary Supplement, January 22, 1988, Alexander Murray, review of The Formation of Christendom, p. 88; February 11, 2000, M.T. Clanchy, review of A Medieval Miscellany, p. 29; May 24, 2002, Michael Angold, review of Women in Purple, p. 29.


Independent Enjoyment Channel Web site,http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/ (October 1, 2002), Peter Stanford, review of Women in Purple.

Internet History Sourcebooks Project,http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ (September 22, 2004), excerpt from The Formation of Christendom.

King's College London Web site,http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ (March 22, 2007), faculty profile and selected publications of author.

Wobbly Wheel,http://www.knightscrossing.org/html/wheel/book5.html (March 22, 2007), review of A Medieval Miscellany.

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