The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences has awarded the 2016 Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for History (a sum of USD 200,000) to Professor Judith Herrin, Emeritus Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies at King’s College London (UK).
A leading role in history for the Byzantine Empire
Judith Herrin will receive the 2016 Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for History for her pioneering research into Medieval cultures in Mediterranean civilisations and for establishing the crucial significance of the Byzantine Empire in history.
Herrin has a huge international reputation as a researcher and as an author of popular books on history. Her work is characterised by four main themes:
- The first consists of a detailed comparison of eastern and western attitudes towards religious images in the early Middle Ages. Her book The Formation of Christendom, which was first published in 1987, has become a standard reference work.
- The second theme is the political, economic and social history of Byzantium: the Medieval Roman Empire (330–1453) of which Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) was the capital. Herrin’s book Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire which was published in 2007 has also become a standard work that has already appeared in twelve languages.
- A third theme consists of archaeological field research into traces from the Byzantine period in Greece, Cyprus and Istanbul.
- In the fourth theme, she uses her own methods to examine the role of ordinary women in Medieval society.
The jury praises Herrin’s ability to convert archive studies and field research into a broad vision that is rich in detail. Her work paved the way for a non-theological view of the influence of Christendom on Medieval society. Thanks to Herrin, the place of the Byzantine Empire in history is now assessed at its true value and thanks to her tenacity, the many varied contributions made by women to Byzantine society are now appreciated.
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