Updated 1st March 2017
The Centre de recherche d’Histoire et Civilisation de Byzance was created in 1972. Upon the Center’s inception, the CNRS asked Paul Lemerle to draw together common research programs, with as many French scholars specializing in that field as possible, in order to mutualize means. Today, the goals remain the same. Under the direction of Gilbert Dagron, the associate research unit URA (Unité de Recherches associée) has grown. On January 1st, 1996, it became a mixed research unit UMR (Unité Mixte de Recherche). Since January 1st, 2006, under the direction of Jean-Claude Cheynet, it has been a part of the newly created UMR 8167 Orient et Méditerranée, under the name Byzantine world (Monde byzantin).
The (Institut d’histoire et civilisation de Byzance ), based at the Collège de France in the buildings of the 52 rue du Cardinal Lemoine, welcomes the research center next to the documentation center (Bibliothèque byzantine, section grecque de l’IRHT), bringing together documents in the same field of research. This cluster provides high quality working conditions to scholars and fosters contacts between byzantinists of different expertise and age groups. The research center, now under the direction of Vincent Déroche, has 26 scholars (researchers and academics), 8 engineers, technicians and administrative staff, numerous associate members, and emeriti, in particular members of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres.
The research projects cover the areas of Byzantine studies, but also Late Antiquity, the Byzantine commonwealth (Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Bulgaria and mediaeval Serbia), and relations between the Byzantine world and its neighbours, such as the Latin kingdoms. The research center has a common focus on a specific field of knowledge, but following its founder’s wishes, it tackles these studies through different methods by combining the interpretation of literary or documentary texts (coming from different media such as inscriptions, papyry or manuscripts) with other documentary evidence provided by archaeology, numismatics and iconography.
The center maintains close relationships with foreign institutions and scholars, increasing the number of research programs in collaboration with them. To list a few examples, the center has a long-standing collaboration with the Max-Planck-Institut für europäische Rechtsgeschichte (Frankfurt-am-Main) and with the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies (Harvard University, Washington). This recent collaboration was formalized through a signed convention since 1991. Close collaborations with Italy and Greece have fostered research programs. Some members of the research center have scholarly ties with Turkey, others with the countries of the former USSR, especially in the Caucasian region and in Crimea (Ukraine).