Judith Herrin

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Judith Herrin

Herrin in 2016
Born1942 (age 81–82)
AwardsHeineken Prize for History (2016)
Duff Cooper Prize (2020)
Academic background
EducationNewnham College, Cambridge (BA)
University of Birmingham (PhD)
ThesisThe Social and Economic Structure of Central Greece in the Late Twelfth Century (1972)
Academic work
DisciplineByzantine studies
InstitutionsPrinceton University
King's College London

Judith Herrin FSA (/ˈhɛrɪn/; born 1942) is an English archaeologist, byzantinist, and historian of Late Antiquity. She was a professor of Late Antique and Byzantine sudies[1] and the Constantine Leventis Senior Research Fellow at King's College London (now emerita).[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Herrin was educated at Bedales School,[3] after which she studied history at Newnham College, Cambridge, and was awarded her PhD in 1972 from the University of Birmingham.[4] She trained in Paris, Athens and Munich.[4]


Herrin worked as an archaeologist with the British School at Athens and on the site of Kalenderhane Mosque in Istanbul as a Dumbarton Oaks fellow.[5] Between 1991 and 1995, she was Stanley J. Seeger Professor in Byzantine History, Princeton University.[6] She was appointed Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies at King's College London (KCL) in 1995, and was head of the Center for Hellenic Studies at KCL.[4] She retired from the post in 2008, becoming Professor Emeritus.[4] She was president of the International Congress of Byzantine Studies in 2011.[7]

In 2016, she won the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for History.[8]

Her book Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe was awarded the Duff Cooper Prize for 2020.[9] It was shortlisted for the 2021 Wolfson History Prize.[10]

Critical reception[edit]

In 2013, G.W. Bowersock said in a New York Review of Books (NYRB) article that The Formation of Christendom had since its publication in 1987 meant "many historians suddenly discovered that early medieval Christianity was far more complex than they had ever imagined".[11] Her book Unrivalled Influence: Women and Empire in Byzantium with its "comparative perspective on Byzantium, European Christendom, and Islam reflects a lifetime of distinguished work on the Byzantine Empire."[11]

Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire (2007) was similarly well received by academic historians writing in the UK broadsheet press. Norman Stone commented in The Guardian: "Herrin is excellent on the Ravenna of Justinian, with the extraordinary mosaics that somehow survived the second world war (when Allied bombing could be ruthless) and she is very good on that odd Byzantine (and Russian) phenomenon, the woman in power".[12] He concluded "Judith Herrin can work her way into the mind of Byzantium, and she gives prominence especially to the artistic side. A very good book, all in all."[12] In The Daily Telegraph, Noel Malcolm stated: "her general readers will mostly be people whose history lessons at school have left them thinking in terms of a West-centred sequence: 'Rome – Dark Ages – Middle Ages – Renaissance'. Their brains need some re-calibrating if they are to understand the rather different pattern of development that took place in the 'Rome of the East'; and that is the task which Judith Herrin has now performed, deftly and with much learning lightly worn".[13]


Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Ravenna. Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe (Penguin Random House/Princeton University Press, 2020) ISBN 978-1-84614-466-0, 978-0-691-20197-9
  • Ravenna, its role in earlier medieval change and exchange, edited with Jinty Nelson, (Institute of Historical Research, London, 2016) ISBN 978 1 909646 14 8, E-ISBN 978 0 691 20197 9.
  • Margins and Metropolis: Authority across the Byzantine Empire (Princeton University Press, 2013) ISBN 978-0-691-15301-8, E-ISBN 978-1-400-84522-4.
  • Unrivalled Influence: Women and Empire in Byzantium (Princeton University Press, 2013) ISBN 978-0-691-15321-6, E-ISBN 978-1-400-84521-7.
  • Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire (Allen Lane, the Penguin Press, London, 2007; Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2008) ISBN 978-0-691-13151-1, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish translations (2009–11), Princeton paperback ISBN 978-0-691-14369-9.
  • Personification in the Greek World, eds Emma Stafford and Judith Herrin (Ashgate: Aldershot 2005) ISBN 978-0-7546-5031-7.
  • Porphyrogenita: Essays on the History and Literature of Byzantium and the Latin East in Honour of Julian Chrysostomides, eds J. Herrin, Ch. Dendrinos, E. Harvalia-Crook, J. Harris (Publications for the Centre of Hellenic Studies, King's College London. Aldershot 2003). ISBN 978-0-7546-3696-0.
  • Mosaic. Byzantine and Cypriot Studies in Honour of A.H.S. Megaw, eds. J. Herrin, M. Mullett, C. Otten-Froux (Supplementary Volume to the Annual of the British School at Athens, 2001) ISBN 0-904887-40-5.
  • Women in Purple. Rulers of Medieval Byzantium (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2001, Princeton University Press, 2002) ISBN 978-1-84212-529-8 [on Irene (empress), Euphrosyne (9th century) and Theodora (9th century)]. Spanish translation (2002), Greek translation (2003), Czech translation (2004), Polish translation (2006).
  • A Medieval Miscellany (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1999) ISBN 978-0-670-89377-5, Dutch and Spanish translations (2000).
  • The Formation of Christendom (Princeton University Press and Basil Blackwell, 1987). Revised, illustrated paperback edition (Princeton University Press and Fontana, London, 1989), reissued by Phoenix Press, London, 2001, ISBN 978-1-84212-179-5.
  • Constantinople in the Early Eighth Century: The Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai, Introduction, Translation and Commentary, edited with Averil Cameron. Columbia Studies in the Classical Tradition, vol. X (Leiden, 1984). ISBN 90-04-07010-9.
  • Iconoclasm, edited with Anthony Bryer (Centre for Byzantine Studies, University of Birmingham, 1977). ISBN 0-7044-0226-2.


  1. ^ "The Glories of Byzantium". The Wall Street Journal. 12 March 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2016.
  2. ^ "KCL research portal". Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  3. ^ Old Bedalian bulletin, May 2016
  4. ^ a b c d "King's College, London – Classics Emeritus Professor Judith Herrin wins 2016 Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for History". King's College, London. Archived from the original on 23 February 2017. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  5. ^ "The West meets Byzantium: unexpected consequences of the Council of Ferrara-Florence". The American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Judith Herrin – KNAW". Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (KNAW). Archived from the original on 13 May 2021. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  7. ^ "KCL research portal". King's College London.
  8. ^ "Heineken Prizes – Judith Herrin". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 13 May 2021. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  9. ^ "Home - The Duff Cooper Prize". www.theduffcooperprize.org. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  10. ^ "Shortlist announced for £40k Wolfson History Prize". Books+Publishing. 3 May 2021. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  11. ^ a b Bowersock, G.W. (21 November 2013). "Storms over Byzantium". New York Review of Books. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  12. ^ a b Stone, Norman (15 December 2007). "In old Istanbul". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  13. ^ Malcolm, Noel (7 August 2007). "An unusual history of Byzantium". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 February 2017.