Dr Marek Jankowiak

Dr Marek Jankowiak

Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies
Birmingham Fellow
Early Career Lecturer

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Marek Jankowiak works on Byzantium and its broader context between 500 and 1000 AD. His interests range from religious history (he wrote his dissertation on the monothelete controversy) to historiography, various aspects of the history of the Byzantine state, economy and society, and contacts of Byzantium with its eastern and northern neighbours. He was the co-investigator of the AHRC project “Dirhams for Slaves” which studied the slave trade between the Islamic world and northern Europe (and to some extent also Byzantium) between 800 and 1000 AD. He is also interested in a comparative approach to Byzantium, taking inspiration from other long-lived imperial systems such as China.


  • MA in Banking and Finance, Warsaw School of Economics (1998)
  • MA in History, University of Warsaw (2001)
  • PhD in Byzantine Studies, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Paris) and University of Warsaw (2011)


For my doctorate, which I did in Paris and Warsaw, I worked on the monothelete controversy, i.e. the seventh-century debate on whether Christ had one or two wills. I argued that, far from being merely an arcane theological dissension, the monothelete controversy sheds valuable light on how the Byzantines reacted to the existential threat of the Persian and Islamic invasions, and more generally on such remarkable traits of the medieval Roman Empire as its resilience and longevity.

After a spell as a strategic consultant, I was British Academy Newton Fellow at the University of Oxford in 2011-13, co-investigator of the AHRC project “Dirhams for Slaves” in 2013-17, and Departmental Lecturer in Byzantine History also in Oxford in 2016-17. During that period I worked mainly on a large-scale slave trade system that connected the Islamic world and northern Europe between c.800 and 1000 AD. My research was based on various bits and pieces of evidence – such as hoards of Islamic and Byzantine coins around the Baltic, mentions of the Slavs in Arabic and Greek sources, or archaeological traces of unusual levels of violence in Slavic Europe in the 9th and 10th centuries – that have never been jointly studied. Taken together, they reveal a trade system that had a formative effect on Northern and Eastern Europe and ultimately led to the emergence of such states as Sweden, Poland, Bohemia, and Rus. A monograph of this trade system is forthcoming; I am also publishing a catalogue of 10,000 dirham imitations which, I believe, constitute a unique source for the history of eastern Europe in the 9th and 10th centuries.

Finally, I am also interested in world history, both in connections across Eurasia in the seventh and eighth centuries, and in a comparative approach to imperial systems and imperial bureaucracies.

Postgraduate supervision

I am interested in supervising all topics related to Byzantine history between roughly 500 and 1000 AD, especially on Byzantium and its neighbours, Byzantine religious history, Byzantine bureaucracy, Byzantine economy and society, and historiography. I am also keen to work with students interested in central and eastern Europe, from the Slavic lands to the Eurasian steppe.


My main research interests are:

  • Byzantine religious history, especialy monotheletism and iconoclasm
  • Byzantine economy
  • Byzantine bureaucracy
  • Byzantine and Islamic historiography, in particular sources for the seventh and eighth centuries
  • slave trade and slavery in Byzantium, the Islamic world, and northern Europe
  • history of the Slavs and the steppe 500-1000 AD
  • global and comparative history 500-1000 AD



The Acts of the Council of Constantinople of 680-681, Translated Texts for Historians (Liverpool University Press), to be submitted in 2017, with Richard Price

Catalogue of early medieval dirham imitations, Commentationes de Nummis Saeculorum IX-XI in Suecia Repertis. Nova Series (Royal Swedish Academy of Letters), to be submitted in 2017, with Gert Rispling and Luke Treadwell

(ed.) Studies in Theophanes. Travaux et Mémoires 19 (Paris, 2015), with Federico Montinaro

(ed.) Archaeology of medieval slavery, Themes in Contemporary Archaeology (Maney), to be submitted in 2017, with Felix Biermann

(ed.) Silver, Slaves and Gotland. Cogs and Drivers in Viking-Age Trade, to be submitted in 2017, with Jonathan Shepard and Jacek Gruszczyński

Chapters in books

“Procopius of Caesarea and his Byzantine successors”, in Brill’s Companion to Procopius of Caesarea, ed. M. Meier, forthcoming

“Silver fragmentation: reinterpreting the evidence of hoards”, in Silver and Other Economies in the Viking Age, ed. J. Kershaw and G. Williams, forthcoming

“The First Arab Siege of Constantinople: The Campaign of Yazīd b. Mu‘āwiyah in 667–669”, in Byzantion'dan Constantinopolis'e, İstanbul Kuşatmaları, ed. M. Arslan and T. Kaçar (Istanbul, 2017)

“Byzantine coins in Viking-Age northern lands”, in Byzantium and the Viking World, ed. F. Androshchuk, J. Shepard and M. White (Uppsala, 2016) 117-39

“A New Date-List of the Works of Maximus the Confessor”, in Oxford Handbook to Maximus the Confessor, ed. P. Allen and B. Neil (Oxford, 2015) 19-83, with Phil Booth

“Travelling across borders: contacts between Byzantium and Syria in the second half of the seventh century”, in Arab-Byzantine coins and history, ed. T. Goodwin (London, 2012) 13-25


 “What can trade in Saqaliba slaves tell us about early Islamic slavery?”, International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 49 (2017) 169-72

 “The Notitia 1 and the impact of Arab invasions on Asia Minor”, Millennium 10 (2013) 435-61

“The First Arab Siege of Constantinople”, Travaux et Mémoires 17 (2013) 237-320

“The Invention of Dyotheletism”, Studia Patristica 63 (2013) 335-42