Talk:Constantine XI Palaiologos/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2


~~ Is the immensely verbose debate over? Can I archive this 166K talk page?Dwyatt 101 06:03, 27 May 2007 (UTC)


It came to my attention that the date the Fall of Constantinople happened, was May 29 according to Julian and not Gregorian calendar. It was a Tuesday. Should the date change to June 7 or note the different calendar? --geraki 20:20, 7 Apr 2005 (UTC)


Legally Constantine XI held the title of Roman Emperor, not Byzantine. The term "Byzantine" was an invention of the west in the 16th century. I think it's an insult to refer to legal Roman Emperor's as Byzantine. If you told Constantine that he was Emperor of the Byzantine's he would not understand the term. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:24, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

Technically you are right, but 'Byzantine' is the conventional term used in contemporary historiography. Some attention could be given to the long tradition of Romano-Byzantine emperorship coming to a close with Constantine's death, but it would i.m.o. not be correct to identify Constantine as a 'Roman emperor' in the lead. If you want to discuss the term 'Byzantine' in general, it is better to do this on the talk page of the article on the Byzantine Empire. Iblardi (talk) 18:20, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

Constantine the XII / XIII ???

Please add a source for the statement that Constantine XI was also referred to as Constantine XII or XIII. I've heard of references to King Constantine I of Greece being referred to as Constantine XII, but I've never heard of this variation before. Regards. --Valentinian 23:37, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

I've removed this reference from the main article - (sometimes numbered Constantine XII or Constantine XIII) - . If anyone has a source to back it up, feel free to add it again. --Valentinian (talk) 17:09, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

I am not certain of the sources but the numbering "XII" can be found on Greek encyclopedias of the 1930s and 1960s which I inherited from my maternal grandfather. The man they count as Constantine XI is Constantine Laskaris "who was unsuccessfully proclaimed emperor by some of the defenders of Constantinople" in 1204. He was brother of Theodore I Lascaris. He had fled to Anatolia and is presumed to have co-operated with his brother in setting the foundations of the Empire of Nicaea. He was however dead by late 1205.

There are several co-ruling Constantines who are usualy ommitted in regnal lists. If someone chose to count for example Constantine Lecapenus, co-ruler of his brother-in-law Constantine VII and father Romanus I, the numbering of Constine Palaiologus would go up to XIII. The only Greek text I have found using this numbering dates from the 1910s. I don't imagine many would care to use it currently. User:Dimadick

That was very enlightening. Thanks, both of you. In any case, it seems like it should be better explained if this information is included again, but I don't think it would be a good idea. Regards. Valentinian (talk) 20:29, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
You can see all the associate emperors who never became senior emperors in their own right here: (scroll down to the Byzantine period). These include the several Constantines and others who also cannot be renumbered without causing considerable confusion. The Constantines who most often used to be counted to inflate the numbering of Constantine XI Palaiologos were Constantine Lakapenos and Constantine Laskaris who was proclaimed emperor by a faction in Constantinople while the city was being taken by the Crusaders in 1204. Best, Imladjov 21:59, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

Rendering of Greek names

The standard reference work on the Byzantine Empire is now the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, 1991. This has a relatively consistent standard of rendering Greek names, which is now practically universally accepted by Byzantinists, with very few exceptions. The basic premises of this usage is to render Greek personal names that have a readily available common English equivalent in English (e.g., Constantine, John, Michael, instead of Kōnstantinos, Iōannēs, Mikhaēl), and to transliterate other names (mostly family names) as accurately as possible without using diacritical marks (so Kantakouzenos instead of the Latin Cantacuzenus or the more precise transliteration Kantakouzēnos, and Palaiologos instead of Palaeologus). While it may be impossible or in any case unadvisable to alter the Latin-based spelling in the main entry titles, using them in the body text of the articles seems to represent a step backwards and is inconsistent with current usage, itself a move in the right direction. Imladjov 06:52, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

I appreciate the will to correctly write thenames of people, but notice that, even if the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium is the reference for Byzantinists, it is not for common people. According to Wikipedia naming policiey "Generally, article naming should give priority to what the majority of English speakers would most easily recognize, with a reasonable minimum of ambiguity, while at the same time making linking to those articles easy and second nature." I think that you will agree with me that, even if "Palaiologos" is the name that family members used for themselves, the are almost universally famous as "Palaeologus" in English speaking world. Thus, I am reverting to the Latinized names.--Panairjdde 13:37, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
I happen to be both an English-language scholar and a Byzantinist. I think I am well-informed enough to know what constitutes common practice. It is true that most older books written in English Latinize, but most current scholarship does not. To exclusively use the Latinized forms in Wikipedia automatically archaizes its contents and will put it behind what is and will continue to be the standard practice. New reference books and historical treatments will follow the standard of the ODB, not the older practice. Also, please note that I have in no case changed the name of a Wikipedia article, and have limited the alteration to the text inside for the purpose of consistency. Best wishes, Imladjov 17:42, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
Indeed, the Latinized versions are somewhat outdated. We should use the ODB standard. Valentinian (talk) 22:35, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
If you plan a major change, you should gather consensus before actually change everything. The point is that we are trying to write an ecyclopedia for common people, not a manual for scholars. If common people call them Paleologus and scholars call them Palaiologos, then we should acknowledge the "new wave", but stick with the common spelling. Until, at least, the scholar version becomes the mainstream version.--Panairjdde 23:31, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
"Common people" (and of which nation?) do not bother to know about the Palaiologoi. The form Paleologus is virtually non-existant in English, which is something you ought to consider before undertaking your own major change of many articles. Moreover, if you were to change such forms, you should have done so more consistently. I have reverted to the ODB forms which are reflective of the current standard and will be the basis for future usage in English-language scholarship. This is fully consistent with Wikipedia expectations. With the original Wikipedia article naming intact, a user can search and find the information regardless of the form that they know or put into the search engine: there are no legitimate grounds of complaint here. Best, Imladjov 23:37, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
I'll try to be patient, and end the edit war for the time. Let's discuss this, ok? My points are:
  • There is a common form, which is the one used in English speaking countries. So, in English Wikipedia, we have Rome instead of Roma, Moskow instead of Moskva, Japan instead of Nippon, Mark Antony instead of Marcus Antonius, and so on;
  • Palaeologus, Lascaris, Angelus, Comnenus are the common English forms for the names of the imperial byzantine families, as Imladjov himself acknowledge by not renaming the articles;
  • Wikipedia policies mandate the use of the commonest form, if it exists;
  • If anyone wants to chang a standard, the burden of gathering consensus relies on him.
Which of my points Imladjov, Valentinian and eventually others do not agree with?
--Panairjdde 00:36, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
I am happy to avoid an edit war, but I beg to differ with some of your comments. Rome, Moscow (not Moskow), and Japan are indeed universally accepted in English, and they are names of features that have survived over centuries and different historical and cultural contexts. I would have some reservations about the universaility and appropriateness of Mark Antony, but that too is (or was) something of a "household" name in English. Greek names, and especially Byzantine names, are no longer that, if they ever had been. Palaeologus, Lascaris, Angelus, and Comnenus, to use the examples you listed, are the common Latin forms for the names of these imperial families. They are not English, although they were dominant in English scholarship in the 19th and early 20th centuries. These usages have been thoroughly supplanted by Palaiologos, Laskaris, Angelos, and Komnenos in the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium (ODB), a work of trans-Atlantic cooperation and now the standard reference work on things Byzantine in English. It is safe to say that with a few exceptions (sometimes enforced by antiquated conventions of printing houses) modern English scholarship treating such matters now conforms with ODB usage. I did not change the names of the relevant Wikipedia articles, primarily because I did not want to cause confusion with redirects and because the old usage has not yet slipped into complete oblivion. Wikipedia policy on naming (which I have perused several times) focuses on the naming of articles. My changes involved content. Where the ODB exists as the standard (and is in itself a consensus of English usage) it did not seem problematic to add the ODB usage to the article and to use it in the actual text. The Latinized form was allowed to coexist as the article's title, both because the article was created in this way (often based on the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica) and for the purposes of cross-reference. If one is to weight the two usages in importance, it is the ODB usage that should be given preference. Wikipedia does advise that "Names of Wikipedia articles should be optimized for readers over editors; and for a general audience over specialists". But once again, this refers to the naming of articles. Moreover, readers will increasingly be looking for forms corresponding to the current ODB standard, which makes it the more appropriate convention. The ODB is not a matter of personal preference, as I do not think it goes far enough in reflecting the Greek language and orthography. But it is the product of consensus and standard usage, and therefore appropriate for application here. This choice has been supported by several contributors proficient in things Byzantine, including at least one other Byzantinist. To sum up:
  • Palaeologus and the like are Latin, not English.
  • Wikipedia advises on naming, rather than content; whether Latin or ODB forms are now the common English form is increasingly debatable, and in favor of the newer usage.
  • I am not aware of the Latin forms constituting a Wikipedia standard; ODB is the modern English standard.
  • I am not aware of breaking an existing consensus. My edits drew notice, but that seemed to be in support. I was hoping to expand other short articles or stubs on Byzantium in accordance with this practice.
  • I would not go as far as to advise the wholesale change of the names of Wikipedia articles dealing with Byzantium just yet, mostly because of their value for cross-referencing and in recognition of the difficulties and inconsistencies that would ensue. But I do not see why we should not adopt the current (and yes, better) standard within the article text itself. Surely the reader is not likely to be confused where forms are duly noted side by side and links point to the appropriate entry. I see the coexistence of the Anglo-Latin article names and the ODB standard applied within as a useful and satisfactory compromise.
  • I am open to seeking a consensus on this and any other general usage. But if such usage is to be reversed, it should be reversed thoroughly (not allowing ODB and Latin forms to coexist in the name of the same person or within the same articles) and any additional information should be preserved, rather than swept away with the revert. Such information would include the name in actual Greek (e.g., Ιωάννης Δ΄ Δούκας Λάσκαρις), as distinct from transliteration (Iōannēs IV Doukas Laskaris), ODB (John IV Doukas Laskaris), Latin (Ioannes IV Ducas Lascaris), or Anglo-Latin (John IV Ducas Lascaris).
  • Just as a quick reference, the ODB standard strictly transliterates (minus the diacritical marks of ē and ō and the double g) Greek terms and names that do not have a traditional form (e.g., Homer), or a common English equivalent (e.g., John, Nicholas, Peter). So John Kantakouzenos but not Iōannēs Kantakouzenos (transliteration) or John Cantacuzenus (older Anglo-Latin form).
Best, Imladjov 01:21, 21 May 2006 (UTC)
Latinised names were quite appropriate in English in the past, for ancient and Byzantine Greek, because
  • In the past, users of English tended to study Greek history via Latin, or having done Latin first
  • English reference books used Latinised forms
In my view, both of these things have now changed:
  • Many more scholars, students and others, of many different languages and backgrounds, now use reference tools in English (e.g. English Wikipedia); a far smaller proportion of these now regard Latin as the route to Greek, meaning that there is less and less logic in converting Greek names to Latin in a widely-used source
  • The ODB, a good standard reference tool, sets a new example by using Greek forms
I personally used Latinised forms in my writing in the past, but I believe the choice of Greek forms makes more sense now. Luckily this comes easier for Byzantine studies than for classical Greece, because, with few exceptions, Byzantine names were never really familiar to general English readers in any form, so few general readers will be confused by a change. Andrew Dalby 11:53, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

Ok, the discussion is going on. Let me not indent further, and point my objections to your claims.

  • Claim 1: Common people are not interested into Byzantine rulers/do not know their name, so we should stick to scholar standards. I think this claim is dangerous and not supportable by facts, so I won't discuss it further (if nothing new is added, of course).
  • Claim 2: Latinized names were common until beginning of the 20th century, now Greek names are more common. I am not a Byzantinist, but a common person. My way to measure the relative diffusion of the two naming standards is through Google (I know it is not the best tool, but it is handy and verificable). Searching for "palaiologos -wikipedia" gives 37,900 results, "palaeologus -wikipedia" gives 78,900 (more than double); "Lascaris -wikipedia" 270,000, "laskaris -wikipedia" 112,000, "comnenus -wikipedia" 173,000, "komnenos -wikipedia" 63,200. Searching in book pages ( gives: Comnenus vs. Komnenos 8320-2760, Palaeologus vs. Palaiologos 2520-1530 (Lascaris/Laskaris and Angelus/Angelos searches gave many false alarms, so I dropped them). For sure it is not possible to say that the latinized names are not known, they are used even recently, and also outside Byzantine scholarship.

--End, for now.--Panairjdde 10:26, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

The "commonness" of such names cannot really be determined in this fashion. Nowadays the internet contains all sorts of bibliographical citations or excerpts of texts (especially ones out of copyright, i.e., ones published a long time ago). These same bits of electronic data repeat, inflating the number of hits (although this of course is true for both forms). Since Byzantology is a field of fairly long history and the ODB standard was largely developed in the last third of the 20th century (the ODB istelf is published in 1991), it is obvious that the Latinized forms would occur more often in internet searches.
However, the English version of Wikipedia is not the work of Pliny or Gibbon or even Bury. It is a modern reference intent on reflecting modern and up-to-date scholarship. Consequently, it should be reflective of a modern standard which is followed in current English-language scholarship and will be followed in future English-language scholarship. Where non-Byzantinists discuss Byzantine matters, they would be referring to the standard reference work, the ODB.
Moreover, the modern reader who is interested in Byzantine matters is automatically uncommon, whether a scholar or not. Ultimately, Wikipedia is also an educational tool. If that means that the reader uncommonly interested in Byzantium becomes acquainted with the current standard rendering of Greek names, is that such a travesty?
As an aside, the Wikipedia recommendation of common usage technically seems to extend to article naming only. Either way, you cannot expect contributions by specialists (which ought to be the most desirable ones) to follow obsolete practice just because a lot of the old scholarship used it. Using the Latinized forms now would mean dating the contents of Wikipedia and reopening the case in the future.
Best, Imladjov 15:01, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

As a Greek I may have a clue why your searches were not particularly enlightning.

1) Palaiologos derives from "palaio" (old) and logos (meaning word, thought, speech, reason, principle, standard, or logic). I am not certain why the name was given to this family since it has never been a widely used nickname and does not specify their origin. Today it can still be found as a last name. The Internet Movie Database contains for example profiles on several people of that name under various transliterations to English:

2) Laskaris does not have any obvious etymology, though las means "stone" in Ancient Greek. But in addittion to having several prominent Byzantine figures carrying this name, we have several people of Byzantine/Greek origin still using the name after the fall of the Empire. With scholar Constantine Lascaris being the most prominent. This has never been a particularly rare name. The Internet Movie Database does not care about emperors or historic figures but has quite a list of people using this last name in modern times:

3) "Comnenus/Komnenos" derives from their origin from Komne, a minor city located in modern Edirne Province. Τhey actually moved there from Paphlagonia but this is not reflected in their last name. I consider the name to be relatively rare and I would be hard pressed to list more than handfull of modern users. The Internet movie database has surprisingly enough profiles of modern people with that name:

4) "Angelos" is a common noun meaning "messenger". You will find plenty of those in almost all surviving ancient Greek tragedies. It has religious connotations in the phrase "Angelos Theou" (Messenger of God) or "Angelos Kyriou" (Angel of the Lord) from where apparently derives the English "angel". In Greek language it has been used both as a first name and a family name. The Latin "Angelus" has the same religious connotations and is probably the source of such names as "Angelo", "Angela", etc.

A brief search in the Internet movie database gives profiles of 36 people named "Angelos". Most as a first name and a few as a last name. A search for "Angelus" found one person using it as a first name, two as a last name and one as a single-word pen-name.

A google search may help clear whether any or both forms are in use around the Internet

  • 48,200 uses of Palaiologos, for 106,000 uses of Palaeologus. I would say the latter is still more common.
  • 111,000 uses of Laskaris, for 282,000 uses of Lascaris.
  • 80,900 uses of Komnenos, for 212,000 uses of Comnenus.
  • 3,670,000 uses of Angelos, for 6,340,000 uses of Angelus.

Any thoughts? User:Dimadick

I apologize if this lacks precedence but I as a common person use Paleologus.

Survey on the use of Latinized/Greek names for Byzantine rulers

This is a survey over the use of Latinized vs. Greek names in the articles about Byzantine rulers and their families. As an example, this survey should show if the form Palaeologus is preferred over Palaiologos.

Note that, for the pourpose of this survey, for Latinized names the traditional mixed Anglo-Latin form is meant (example "John VIII Palaeologus"), while for Greek names the "Oxford Byzantine Dictionary" form is meant (example "John VIII Palaiologos").

Please sign your name using four tildes (~~~~) under the position you support, preferably adding a brief comment. If you are happy with more than one possibility, you may wish to sign your names to more than one place. Extended commentary should be placed below, in the section marked "Discussion", though brief commentary can be interspersed.

  • 1. Article name in Latinized form, citation of Greek name, article body in Latinized form
Panairjdde 17:43, 23 May 2006 (UTC). This is the commonest form, used by tradition and outside modern scholarship. It reflects Wikipedia policy to use well established names when possible. Furthermore, several scholars use Latinized and not Greek forms (see David Luscombe, Jonathan Riley-Smith, The New Cambridge Medieval History, for example).
Adam Bishop 17:50, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
Eupator 18:03, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
Colossus 19:14, 23 May 2006 (UTC) Latinization makes the names prettier in the English language, so I support this.
Kmorozov 06:23, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Flamarande 10:14, 24 May 2006 (UTC) I have searched here and there in other sources, and it seems to me that the Latinized form is still in use and not being replaced. But look for yourselves: [1] and here: [2] (notice: Alexius I Comnenus at second one), but if we have to change it at all, then we change to Nr 2. The proposal Nr 3 is simply exagerated.
--Telex 09:58, 25 May 2006 (UTC) (They seem to be more common in English)
Eluchil404 17:03, 25 May 2006 (UTC) Typical English style
Septentrionalis 04:09, 26 May 2006 (UTC) This article is intended for English speakers, for whom the Latinate forms will in general be most familiar. This is the practice of the New Pauly-Wissowa, presently being published. When there is an Anglicized form in common use, as John Cantacuzene, it should be preferred to the Latin. This is modern scholarly usage.
(The Pauly-Wissowa is primarily a classicist reference work, and the ODB is the reference work relevant for English convention on Byzantine studies. By the way, the form "Cantacuzene" is now very archaic and less familiar than either Cantacuzenus or Kantakouzenos. Imladjov 12:32, 29 May 2006 (UTC))
R.D.H. (Ghost In The Machine) 15:24, 29 May 2006 (UTC) (Interesting sidenote, today just happens to mark the anniversary of the fall Constantine XI and the Byzantine empire).
  • 2. Article name in Latinized form, citation of Greek name, article body in Greek form
Dimadick 20:53 23 May 2006. Demonstrates pronanciation of names in Greek form while retaining the common search term of the title.
Andrew Dalby 18:17, 23 May 2006 (UTC) This would be my second choice. Added later: I am coming round to the view that this solution is the best right now, as esxplained below. Andrew Dalby 11:54, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
Imladjov 19:00, 23 May 2006 (UTC) The "Greek" form is consistent with the current English-language standard in the field, the ODB. For the purposes of cross-reference and avoiding redirects, perhaps this option is optimal. The ODB standard is used by both Byzantinists and non-Byzantinists in specialized and reference publications, e.g., The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol. III (Janet Nelson), and The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol. III (Jonathan Shepard).
Valentinian (talk) 23:01, 23 May 2006 (UTC) My second choice, but my preferred form is no. 3.
Obi-Jon 01:06, 24 May 2006 (UTC) I support this one for the same reasons as Dimadick; people will most likely be searching for these emperors byt the name they know best, which would be the Latinized. However, the rulers were Greek, so their Greek names should be the one in the body. At the very least there should be a redirect from searches with the Greek name.
Bigdaddy1204 12:52, 24 May 2006 (UTC) I can see no reason why we should stick to archaic usages which do not correspond to modern scholarship nor to the usage of the people being named. We should not seek to propogate some obsolete eccentricity of the English language in the 19th century. As far as I am concerned, the Latinizing argument is both defeatist and unimaginitive. Wikipedia should move with the times, and use the Greek form in the article. The article name will still be Latinized, so no one will be confused. I recently read a book entitled "The development of the Komnenian army, 1081-1180", by J.Birkenmeier. The book was published in 2002, and it represents the direction modern usage has taken.
Dr.K. 20:57, 24 May 2006 (UTC) This choice is a stop-gap measure. It will eventually have to be replaced by choice 3. The title of the article must eventually be the Greek version as it possesses the momentum. But in deference to the ingrained Latin form I can wait, if I must.
Cplakidas 21:39, 24 May 2006 (UTC)I expect that most people will search for the names in the Latinized form, since it still predominates in both the relevant scholarship, and also in the non-scholarly works, to which the general public would have wider access. Hence I vote to retain it in the article name. Otherwise I certainly prefer the Greek form. If at some point in the future it is decided that the Greek form has become better known, we can always redirect...
Haukur 01:02, 28 May 2006 (UTC) Second choice.
Marrtel 01:09, 29 May 2006 (UTC) I accept this alternative as my second choice.
  • 3. Article name in Greek form, citation of Latin name, article body in Greek form
Andrew Dalby 18:17, 23 May 2006 (UTC) This is my first choice (but we should always add a redirect page in Latin form)
Imladjov 19:00, 23 May 2006 (UTC) I would not be opposed to this option either.
TCC (talk) (contribs) 21:27, 23 May 2006 (UTC) A more direct transliteration ought to be preferable. Agree with Andrew Dalby about the redirect.
Valentinian (talk) 23:01, 23 May 2006 (UTC) I can support both no. 2 and 3, but this is the better of the two. Agree about the redirect. I've never managed to understand why Greek material should be viewed through Latin glasses. The standard used by the ODB and Dumbarton Oaks is more accurate.
Dr.K. 20:57, 24 May 2006 (UTC) This choice may be a reasonable compromise since it recognizes the historical precedence of the Latin form by icluding it, while at the same time yielding to the momentum of the Greek form.
Haukur 01:02, 28 May 2006 (UTC) First choice. We should follow modern scholarship. (Note: I don't edit much in this area and would prefer that the opinions of those who do be given more weight than mine.)
Marrtel 01:09, 29 May 2006 (UTC) This is my first choice.


Use of Greek forms would reflect the fact that English reference sources are now used internationally: readership includes people of Greek and many other mother tongues to whom Latin forms are irrelevant. Andrew Dalby 18:17, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

I agree. My only concern in actually changing the current article names (though not the content) is that there may be problems with redirects, but either the second or third options would be welcomed by me. Imladjov 19:00, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
I do not agree. A non-English/American/Australian (you get it) speaker should not expect anything else than the English/American/Australian way of calling peoples and places on English Wikipedia. Otherwise they should go to visit the Wikipedia in their mothertongue (which is why many WP exist - ever though of the problem of duplication, with all these WPs? There should be a reason why we have the same article in many languages.)--Panairjdde 22:31, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
Panairjdde, my native tongue is Danish, and I'm surely not the only person on the Continent puzzled by the obscure British and American tradition of measuring the Eastern Roman Empire with the yardstick of the Western Empire. Why should readers and editors be forced to turn to the German Wikipedia if they prefer information to be as accurate as possible? I find it incredibly annoying that I have to make guesses about how names have been inconsistently transcribed into Latin, eventough I understand the Greek alphabet and know how to transcribe it. Especially since I'm used to reading modern works of scholarship, and they've moved away from this archaic practice. Valentinian (talk) 23:42, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
— I do not know about German Wikipedia. This is English Wikipedia, and according to Wikipedia policies, we should stick to English way of calling people/places. If you are looking for a phylological correct encyclopedia, this is not the place. As regards standards, I think you will search in English Wikipedia for an animal under its English name, for example dog, not under its scholar name of Canis lupus. Once you write that his real name was GAIVS IVLIVS CAESAR, you can keep calling the Roman general Julius Caesar, with its English form (and same goes for Marcus Antonius/Mark Antony, Pompeius/Pompey, and so on). Do you think English Wikipedia is not accurate, if it call another general Alexander the Great, when he was called actually Megas Alexandros? Names of ancient places and peoples have been traditionally "translated" into English, either directly, or through Latin and French. And since this is English Wikipedia, once acknowledged the original names, we should stick with most common English forms for names of people and places. And that means Palaeologus, Lascaris, Angelus, and Comnenus, for example.--Panairjdde 10:35, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
I don't believe I was talking down to you, so kindly abstain from doing so towards me. I presumed that Alexander the Great was simply referred to as "Alexandros" in his day, but he, Caesar, Christopher Columbus and similar examples belong in a category for themselves, and I can think of few Byzantines to add to such a list of household words. My POV on this issue is that I like reading articles on Wikipedia as an inspiration to read more elsewhere. Hence, I prefer modern standards to ease the cross-referencing to the works I'm going to read in the future. Second, the ODB standard is the standard agreed upon by around 100 scholars, so in my eyes, that makes any old standard void. I am far from an expert on the Byzantine Empire, but I am educated in the German / Scandinavian tradition of history writing which dictates accuracy and the use of the most recent information, and the Latinized forms fail on both counts. Furthermore I consider them counterproductive in terms of transliteration purposes. The ODB standard is not ideal in this respect, but it is a definite improvement. Valentinian (talk) 16:21, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
I won't comment any further on this topic, since it seems I am not able to clearly state my point, or you two are evading them. I pretend you show me, however, wherever "I was talking down to you".--Panairjdde 17:05, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Panairjdde, as an actual English speaker myself, I can guarantee that the Latinized form is no more current English than the ODB form. So kindly stop pretending that it is. Imladjov 00:51, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
— As I wrote you on my talk page, it is a standard on Wikipedia. Bear with this fact, and if you do not like it, change the standard by gatering consensus first.--Panairjdde 10:37, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
There's no big difference if appropriate redirects are provided. Miskin 00:53, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
It is perhaps worth considering Byzantines' own estimation of Latin. In a letter composed by Patriarch Photios, Latin is described as a "barbarous and Scythian tongue". As for one user's comment that the "Latin" forms look "prettier" in English, that is a very subjective approach. I for one think the "Greek" forms look better and are less misleading.Imladjov 01:33, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
- The statement about Latin leads me to ask you: Are you a "Latin-hater" perchance? Are you perhaps of Greek background? Flamarande 11:20, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
No, not at all, in fact I love Latin and I am not Greek. If it were common English practice, I would be writing Plinius, Livius, Traianus, Antonius, etc. But it isn't. However, there is no reason to impose post-Roman imperialism on a culture that was linguistically Greek and increasingly distinct from its own cherished Roman past. Latin forms simply don't do for Byzantine names, and there is a well-established scholarly standard that is no strain on "normal" people (as Panairjdde) would call them. Imladjov 14:53, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
— We are not writing an encyclopedia in the way Byzantine people (who did not call themselves Byzantine, either) whould have done. We are writing an Encyclopedia the way English/American/Australian/etc... people would write. And this means using the commonest form for names, as stated by Wikipedia policies, which, on Wikipedia, do supersede OBD or other scholar standards.--Panairjdde 10:35, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
And if I may remind you, the ODB is written precisely by English/American/Australian/etc... people, and not medieval Romans, Martians, or Italians. Imladjov 14:53, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Let me correct your sentence: "the ODB is written precisely by English/American/Australian/etc... scholars". Looks like you still have problems with understanding this point. And "normal" people are those who are not Byzantinists, but who can enjoy this historical field.--Panairjdde 15:20, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Us "abnormal" folk (by which I mean scholars) tend to be expected to educate. I think most students would take to our recommendations, although apparently you have not. In this case the recommendation tends to be the ODB, which will make your personal choice increasingly isolated over time. Imladjov 15:41, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Why is it necessary to follow the ODB? They have their style, we can have our own... Adam Bishop 02:46, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Who are we to "improve" (even by the questionable notion of seeking consensus through a survey) on the agreed standard of the leading specialists in the field? With all due respect to Wikipedia, are Panairjdde's so-called "normal" people really the best choice for setting scholarly standards? Imladjov 14:53, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
We are the editors of this work, whose aim is to become an encyclopedia for "common people", not for scholars. So we can decide to set whatever standard we want for WP, since we will not oblige Byzantinists to stick with ours.--Panairjdde 15:20, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
If we had decided, then why is this still up for discussion? Imladjov 15:41, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Imladjov, you seem to base your entire case in: a Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, 1991 (why only 1991? aren´t there any newer editions?). I suggest you (or anyone) do provide us with internet link in the interest of fairness and veribilaty, so that we can verify that statement. Flamarande 11:30, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
You can a description of it on Amazon: [3]. See the extract on [4], e.g. notice the spellings Romanos, Komnenos, and Alexios. According to the book's description page, this work has three volumes, more than 5000 entries, 2366 pages, and was contributed to by more than 100 international scholars. That sounds pretty definitive to me, given both the exceptionally large scope and the number of contributors. See elso e.g. the webpage of Dumbarton Oaks, for a similar use of spelling: [5] Valentinian (talk) 10:40, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Also I have to ask you all: 1)Are there any newer editions of that particular dictionary or not? If yes, where there any changes? 2)Is the following statement: "which is now practically universally accepted by Byzantinists, with very few exceptions" verifiable at all?
I know that there are other influential dictonaries and to base an entire case in a single one is ... puzzling, to say the least. I have looked at the Britannica here: [6] and here: [7] (notice: Alexius I Comnenus at second one) and they seem to use the latinized/english form. If I wrote that the Britannica is "now practically universally accepted by Byzantinists, with very few exceptions." I wouldn´t be fair, would I?
And I have to simply say this: It seems to me that "We" (non-native english speakers, and I am one of them) at the english wikipedia should try our best to use the english language at its correct form. Statements like: "people of Greek and many other mother tongues to whom Latin forms are irrelevant" and others like: "puzzled by the obscure British and American tradition..." could also be interpreted as: "I want to speak an international form of english, which neglects the origins of BE or the AE." which, to be really honest, is simply ludricous. We here in wikipedia are hardly capable or qualified of reforming the english language and we should not even wish to. We should improve our english so that we can speak and write it as correctly as possible. Flamarande 10:53, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Nobody is suggesting a reform of the English language, well, I'm certainly not. I'm suggesting that we terminate an archaic practice which is disfavoured in modern scholarship. I don't find it any more odd than the techies preferring to use .svg images rather than .gif images. A few years ago "Moldavia" and "the Ukraine" were internationally recognized spellings; today it is "Moldova" and "Ukraine". Times change and we change with the times. Valentinian (talk) 11:07, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
— The fact that a small subset of English speaking peoples, the Byzantinists, use a new convention does not mean that the one used until now but all other people is archaic. Notice also that Moldavia is still the name of the geographical region, while Moldova is the name of a new political entity.--Panairjdde 11:12, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
In other words, would you like to study about the Byzantine Empire from works written by people other than Byzantinists? I think not. And what will you do when Byzantinists keep putting out works in ODB style while you are sticking to Latinization?
On the ODB, the original edition is still in print and being sold. If there were problems with its conventions, they would have necessitated a new edition, which is apparently not the case.
Theoretically, it should be possible to verify the amount of adherence to the ODB standard by looking at Byzantine-themed books published since the appearance of the ODB. If someone wants to investigate, be my guest. When I mentioned exceptions, I was referring to the occasional book still published with Latinized name forms, e.g., Kaegi's Heraclius, Emperor of Byzantium or Angold's Church and Society in Byzantium under the Comneni. It should be noted that such works are generally put out by scholars who have been raised on the older system. Most others, and not only the newer generations, have switched to ODB style, e.g., Nicol, Shepard, Magdalino... Imladjov 14:53, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
When, in future, another standard will be set, we shall change ours. Up until now, you still have to prove that your scholar standard (not accepted by everyone, I see from your citations) is a non-scholar standard too.--Panairjdde 15:20, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
When, in the past, has the opposite standard been set explicitly? When has Wikipedia demanded less than scholarly intergrity and accuracy? When has Wikipedia demanded to be written in accordance with obsolescence and antiquarianism? Wikipedia has a recommendation on naming articles in accordance with common practice (but it has not explicitly demanded that this naming be followed in the text). Common practice in Byzantine studies is to follow the ODB, and increasingly so. Common practice in English is unclear, but "Latinized" forms cannot be shown to be any more current than the increasingly used ODB forms. Imladjov 15:41, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
As far as I remember, "Moldavia" was widely used by for both entities in the beginning of this country's independence, and in Romanian/Moldovan, both entities still use the same name; Moldova. But the list of similar examples is long: "Belarus" is now preferred compared to "White Russia", Anatolia is preferred over Asia Minor, the Czech Republic has replaced Bohemia, "Georgia" (the country) has replaced "Gruzia" etc. Does your position imply that if mathematicians, geologists or economists change their convention on something, that Wikipedia should ignore such decisions? To me this sounds rather counterproductive. Besides, I very much doubt the names of long dead emperors have become household names. Regards. Valentinian (talk) 11:37, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
"Does your position imply that if mathematicians, geologists or economists change their convention on something, that Wikipedia should ignore such decisions?" My position implies that if mathematicians or others change their convention, we report the change, but actually use the commonest form in English in the body of the articles. Example: if all the historians in the world start calling Pompey "Gnaeus Pompeius", we should stick to Pompey.--Panairjdde 12:53, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
We obviously don't agree on this one, but I respect your position. Valentinian (talk) 13:27, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

The supposedly Greek version is using a semi-Attic transliteration, which is anachronistic to Byzantine/modern Greek phonology. Therefore I don't see how it is any better than the Latin one. The fact that Byzantine Greeks hated Latin(s) (and vice versa) is largely irrelevant. Miskin 13:25, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Exactly how is that a problem? A proper transliteration (which the ODB standard is not, but it is better than Latin) should be direct and reversible. This means correspondence to orthography, not pronunciation. And the orthography is pretty standard. A Greek speaker knows, for example, that Komnenos (Komnēnos) is pronounced KOM-NEE-NOHS (or the like). Imladjov 14:53, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Panairjdde, your reference to Jean Richard's chapter in The New Cambridge Medieval History in support of the Latinized spelling is somewhat misleading. While he uses the form Comnenus, he also uses the ODB forms Xiphilinos, Nikephoros Phokas, Patirion, Christodoulos, Neophytos, Psellos, and the form Kekharitomeni which goes even beyond the ODB (which would have had Kecharitomeni). Basically, Richard is inconsistent, and most forms contained therein conform to ODB. Imladjov 16:52, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Ok, other citations:
There are 802 results [8] when searching for books containins "Palaeologus" but not "Palaiologos" and published since 2000, while 736 [9] contain "Palaiologos" and not "Palaeologus" (27 recent books from Google collection contain both). It looks like that, for the time being, book writers still prefer the Latinized form.--Panairjdde 17:13, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
That would be true if your search can eliminate reprints of books written and published before 1991. Since I use the same search engine, I know that this is possible only manually. Another way of looking at the statistic is that the form Palaiologos shows up 1530 times, but Palaeologus only 1250 times (since the ODB was published); compare Doukas 3170 times vs. Ducas 2090 times. This still includes any reprintings of older publications, although of course books published before 1991 are far more likely to have been reprinted than those published after. As an example of such contamination we may look at John Fine's Late Medieval Balkans. This book was published in 1987, but shows up as 1991 in the search engine due to a reprinting. Moreover, a bevy of recent books on the crusades have also appeared, much of their contents based on dated scholarship. More informative may be looking at what authors have used over time: for example, Donald Nicol and Paul Stephenson have switched to ODB from the older practice in their newer works. E.g., Stephenson's Byzantium's Balkan Frontier (2000) vs. his The Legend of Basil the Bulgar-Slayer (2003). There is no convenient way of obtaining a comprehensive result. I think the field's current standard should be respected. Imladjov 17:29, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

From the details of this discussion it appears that the perceived dichotomy between the ODB and Latin based versions of the Greek names can be mitigated by observing the following:

  • a) The ODB version has been adopted by most modern scholars and its use is growing in the works of Byzantinist scholarship.
  • b) The Latin version is still currently being used due to its earlier popularity and its greater diffusion into the culture but its growth is a transient phenomenon that will eventually stall.
  • c) As time passes the Latin version will atrophy while the ODB version will continue to grow as the works of the scholars diffuse into the greater culture.
  • d) From a, b and c above it follows that ODB is the wave of the future and that the Latin version will eventually stall.
  • e) From a,b,c and d above it follows that Wikipedia must follow the wave of the future.
  • f) The only remaining topic of discussion should be how fast must Wikipedia adopt the ODB version given the sensitivities attached to the use of the Latin version of the names due to its perceived pervasiveness in popular culture. (With thanks to Panairjdde for his gracious invitation to participate in this discussion). Dr.K. 20:02, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
I think Dr.K. puts it very well. 'How fast' is an important question, because reference works ought not generally to get too far ahead of the general trend: it makes them less easy for most people to use. Considering this, I would now feel at least equally happy with solution 2 rather than 3. If usage continues to shift in the next 10 years as it has in the recent past, solution 3 would be an easy next step! But what, and how big, will Wikipedia be in 2016? Andrew Dalby 11:51, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

A small check

When putting my vote, I assume that the alternatives 2 and 3 mean "Michael Palaiologos", not "Mikhael Palaiologos"; and "John Komnenos", not "Ioannes Komnenos", etc. Is my assumption correct? Marrtel 01:08, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

Yes, Mikhaēl Palaiologos and Iōannēs Komnēnos are merely transliterations of the Greek, they are not the same thing as the ODB transcription (which is paired with common English forms like Michael and John). The transliterations should be employed only to indicate what the Greek actually reads, but are not suitable for general use in this setting. Imladjov 12:32, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

Mediation Results

Panairjdde had requested a mediation on this matter, which is all the more necessary since (in the mediator's words), the survey has deadlocked. The mediator's response and recommendations can be seen at the mediation page. Imladjov 17:55, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

Survey on the use of Latinized/Greek names for Byzantine rulers Follow Up

Since the mediator Digital_me recommended "that proposal two from this page be implemented in the short term, until a consensus can be reached about proposal three", before resuming editorial work, I ask you to express (or re-state) your opinion on whether option 2 or 3 above should be adopted as present. If you voted for option 1, which of the other two options is more acceptable to you. I realize some of you have already expressed such a preference, in which case, unless you indicate something to the contrary, that would be considered as your answer.

To put it simply, the content of Wikipedia entries on Byzantium would now conform to the ODB standard. The question is whether the article title should be in the Anglo-Latin style currently employed or in the ODB (Anglo-Greek) style of the content. If the latter option is chosen, the Anglo-Latin style article title will redirect to it.

Additional note: it has just come to my attention that, contrary to my expectation, option A (former 2) below does not produce search results for the ODB spelling. This accounts for my change of opinion. Redirects would have to be produced in either case.

Please choose between the sample options A (former 2) and B (former 3) below:

A: John VIII Palaeologus

John VIII Palaeologus or Palaiologos (Greek: Ιωάννης Η' Παλαιολόγος, Iōannēs VIII Palaiologos) (December 18, 1392October 31, 1448), was Byzantine Emperor from 1425 to 1448.


B: John VIII Palaiologos

John VIII Palaiologos or Palaeologus (Greek: Ιωάννης Η' Παλαιολόγος, Iōannēs VIII Palaiologos) (December 18, 1392October 31, 1448), was Byzantine Emperor from 1425 to 1448.

Please sign your name using four tildes (~~~~) under the position you support. Brief commentary and suggestions are of course welcomed. Thank you, Imladjov 13:59, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

  • Option A (Wikipedia entry: e.g., John VIII Palaeologus)
Unquestionably better; minimum acceptable acknowledgement of the form recognizable by Greekless English speaker. {I have removed the word better from the phrasing of the option as PoV; both transcriptions have merits). Septentrionalis 20:31, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Option B (Wikipedia entry: e.g., John VIII Palaiologos)
Imladjov 15:02, 29 May 2006 (UTC) (it seems that only a redirect would produce results for searching either option)
Andrew Dalby 15:17, 29 May 2006 (UTC) (with redirects. I have wavered, but finally favour this option because I think it better to have headings consistent with text)
Adam Bishop 15:26, 29 May 2006 (UTC) (if we're going to use the Greek we might as well go all the way...)
Bigdaddy1204 19:03, 29 May 2006 (UTC) (Should Manuel I Comnenus now be changed to Manuel Komnenos?)
Eluchil404 20:29, 29 May 2006 (UTC) (Headings should be consistent with text)
Valentinian (talk) 21:28, 29 May 2006 (UTC) The most consistent form is preferable (with redirects).
Dr.K. 22:31, 29 May 2006 (UTC) I totally agree with Adam Bishop, Andrew Dalby et al. Simpler option, more consistency in name forms, fewer redirects and provides closure.
Dimadick 12:37, 30 May 2006 (UTC) If we are prepared to turn the current article names into redirects then so be it.
Marrtel 21:52, 30 May 2006 (UTC). My first choice anyway. Yes, and Manuel will be Manuel Komnenos or Manuel I Komnenos,
I.H.S.V. (talk) 19:00, 31 May 2006 (UTC).
Obi-Jon 00:32, 1 June 2006 (UTC) Normally I would support option A for the sake of the "Greekless English speaker," but the redirects take care of that AND are iaccordance with the OBD.

Given the results of this survey, it appears that Option B is gaining the most support -- 9:1 (or 12:4, taking into consideration earlier votes above in favor of either 1 or 3). Other editors have already begun to edit accordingly (e.g., articles on Manuel I and John II), and I think we may begin to apply it. Thanks for participating. Imladjov 12:58, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

There are numerous double redirects now. These must be fixed. Why was this change sought in the first place? It irks me that some people think Greek transliterations better than simple Latinisations. This is English, neither is to be preferred but that which is most commonly used and, I think, the Latinisations are far more common in the literature (which is far more extensive than merely the ODB). Srnec 23:31, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

Where are the numerous double redirects? I have been fixing them with each moved page. I am assuming that by "double redirect" you mean a redirect that leads to another redirect, as specified in [10]. Perhaps you should have added your opinion on name forms in the earlier survey. At any rate, the current practice of English-speaking Byzantinists is both reflected and set by the ODB, which is not some isolated scholarly flight of fancy. The ODB standard is seen as an improvement by the experts in the field, therefore the "Greek" transcription (not transliteration) is "better" than the "Latin". And utilizing it improves Wikipedia itself. Imladjov 23:38, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
I just found a few more double redirects in pages that I hadn't moved and I fixed them. Please let me know if you find any other ones. I noticed, however, several cases where a redirect was created from a typo, which, if anything, should be simply deleted. Imladjov 00:02, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

The double redirects I found were all at Manuel Comnenus and I assumed that the problem was probably more widespread. I am not trying to suggest a policy change now (it seems too late) and so I will not defend any specific change in that policy, but I will defend my philosophy on these naming policies in general.

Firstly, Anglophone Byzantinists do not get to set standards for the English language. They may set scholarly standards within their field, but the naming of Byzantine emperors is important outside of their field and an encyclopedia is a reflection on all scholarship. This is to say: "experts" have opinions, important ones, but these opinions change over time and the fact that Greek transcriptions are in style means little to me. These opinions and hypotheses are also nonbinding on others: it is the facts which are binding and this nomenclature has no bearing on the facts of history. Secondly, what can "better" possible mean in this context? How is it better, the Greek? I think it is less recognisable to most English readers and this is not better. I think it is silly to regard some form or other "better" in English: why should one approximating the original be better? Should we reform our orthography to make all words with foreign etymologies closer to the originals? That's just silly. I see no reason for a difference here. Srnec 03:08, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

These double redirects have now been fixed, thanks for drawing my attention to them. On your other remarks I really do not have much to say that is different than what has been said again and again. A closer and less culturally altered look at other cultures seems to be desired aim of scholarship in this and other fields. If you cannot see why something like this (and a name--not a regular word/phrase--need not be translated) being closer to the original is better, then I suppose I cannot really explain it to you. And if Byzantinists are not to set the standard for their own field, then I do not know who is. There is no gnostic mystery here or insurmountable difficulties posed by odd symbols and special characters. Moreover, the current standard is no less artificial than the past and it is set by the very same group. It has taken hold and continues to expand. Modern works that do not follow it do so increasingly in ignorance (though sometimes because of engrained attachment to what was once familiar). And that does not seem suitable to Wikipedia's quest for up-to-date accuracy. To keep the older practice is to drive a rift between the current and future reader and a subject that is already pretty distant and illuminated mostly by scholarly works. Imladjov 05:13, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

I agree. Now that a majority have agreed the change, I think we should focus on fixing any articles with redirect issues, and on making sure that all articles are as consistent as possible. The reasons behind the change have already been amply discussed, and I see no need to argue about them here. As far as I can see, to do so is unhelpful and only undermines the good work being done by Imladjov and others in updating the pages that need attention. Bigdaddy1204 13:49, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

I hate not to let sleeping dogs lie, so to be clear, I do not propose any policy reversal now. If you don't wish to respond further, don't. But I think perhaps I can make my point clearer by say that I take issue with your statement "does not seem suitable to Wikipedia's quest for up-to-date accuracy." I do not deny that it is more "up-to-date" this way, but how is that more "accurate"? Because it is closer to the originals in Greek? The original spellings of old names have never been binding on modern English, or any other language for that matter. Why should a current scholarly fad, which may pass, determine policy? Also, I think many of these figures appear in popular scholarly works, not obscure and distant ones, especially ones on the Crusades, and that is where most people would be familiar with them and their Latinisations. Srnec 15:23, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
That's a perfectly reasonable argument, this is something reasonable people can differ on. In the end I think some of us may prefer up-to-date scholarly usage of names because to us it has connotations of up-to-date scholarly information in general. To take an example in my own field I tend to assume that someone who uses a name form like "Eiríkr Hákonarson", as recent scholars generally do, knows what she is talking about and that someone who uses a 19th century Anglicized form like "Eric Hakonson" is probably relying on obsolete 19th century information. When I write the article I want it to look like it is written using recent scholarly works (which, in fact, it is) and so I prefer the more "up-to-date" form. Sometimes, of course, connotations of up-to-date scholarly information are entirely undeserved on Wikipedia :) Haukur 15:37, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

Have we ruled out Ioannes or Iōannēs in the article title? Sorry, I haven't really read the extensive discussion above. Ardric47 03:08, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

Yes, I think we have. The second of these forms should be placed after the citation of the actual name in Greek to provide an accurate and reversible transliteration. Imladjov 01:10, 11 June 2006 (UTC)


Why was a massive manual of style/naming conventions type issue being discussed and agreed to based on discussion at an article talk page? This is really bad form, especially since this individual article is one that wouldn't even get moved based on the criteria under discussion (it stays at just Constantine XI). Comnenus and Palaeologus remain more common than Komnenos and Palaiologos. The "use common names" policy should dictate that we retain them. They are not incorrect, and are more familiar to most people. If some discussion was to be had about abandoning them, it should've been had on a policy talk page, not an article talk page. This kind of "discussion of major changes to naming conventions" business shouldn't be had at an out of the way article talk page like this. john k 03:49, 25 June 2006 (UTC)

Also, Alexios I Komnenos? I'm sorry, but this is unjustifiable. "Alexius Comnenus" is used in most every English language source I've ever read. As usual, voting on naming policy on an article talk page leads to bad results. I'm very irked. john k 03:57, 25 June 2006 (UTC)

And, what the fuck is up with the vote on this? The original vote showed absolutely no consensus. 10 people voted for "all latin", 10 people voted for "Latin in title, Greek in body," and 4 people (I think...too lazy to go back and count) voted for "all Greek." And somehow this resulted has ended up with us at an "All Greek" format. This was some seriously fucked up procedure. In the absence of a consensus for a change from the default (which would be the Latinized forms, as the more commonly used forms in English), we stick with what we were doing before. We don't move to the position that got the fewest votes. john k 04:03, 25 June 2006 (UTC)

Please note that not one but two votes took place. The decision was based on the results of the second vote. An non-involved admin was asked for his opinion, and he commented that the old default option (the latinized forms) ought to be replaced by either choice 2 (Latinized article name, but ODB form in the text) or 3 (consistent ODB forms) since the academic standard is shifting. This prompted the second vote in which B (=3 in the first vote) was pretty unanimously agreed upon. This is the form used by the biggest English-language (and international) work of reference, and by e.g. Dumbarton Oaks. Valentinian (talk) 08:12, 25 June 2006 (UTC)
The result can never make everyone happy. But, looking at it practically, what we are now beginning to get for Byzantine persons in Wikipedia is something very close to their 'real' names (easily comparable with current publications on the subject if anyone wants to go on and read further), plus the true form in Greek script, plus redirects from other versions that we might have thought of; and we're getting consistency! And that helps even the most casual reader. Those things are somewhat better than what's currently available in some of the other regions of Wikipedia. Andrew Dalby 08:54, 25 June 2006 (UTC)
Why does a "non-involved administrator" get to just ditch the option that was (tied) for getting the most support? This is absurd. Sure, once you remove the option that I support, I'd prefer a consistent approach to the weird inconsistency of "Option 2". But why on earth should a "non-involved admin" (and aren't I a "non-involved admin," too?) get to decide what options we choose between, not based on consensus, but based on his own opinion of what the "academic standard" is. And, again, this decision should not have been made on an article talk page. If I had come across Alexios I Komnenos before I came across this talk page, I might have moved it back to Alexius I Comnenus on the understanding that this was the more common usage. It would be absurd to then say that I can't do this because we have a policy to use the Alexios I Komnenos form, and refer me to Talk:Constantine XI! This needs to be discussed on a policy page, and you can't just exclude from consideration one of the options in order to get your way.
As to the various arguments in favor of this way of doing things, 1) the academic standard is shifting towards native names everywhere (although it hasn't yet gotten there anywhere, I don't think). But our policy is not to use the "academic standard"; it's to use the "most common English name." For monarchs of, say, Spain, and German principalities, and Italy, there is coming to be more and more usage of the Spanish, German, and Italian names for monarchs. But in most cases the anglicized name is still more common, and we use that in article titles. I don't see how Byzantine monarchs are any different, and I don't see why they need a separate policy. Why should we have Alexios I Komnenos, but not Carlos II of Spain, or Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, or Vittorio Emanuele II of Italy? As a graduate student in modern European history, I can assure you that the academic situation is pretty much exactly the same for all European monarchs - older works always use the anglicized/latinized form; newer works increasingly tending not to. In almost all of these cases, we opt for the anglicized/latinized form. One can also suggest that this is starting to happen for ancient Greek names - I've seen versions of the Iliad, for instance, that use "Akhilleos" and "Hektor" and so forth rather than "Achilles" and "Hector". I can see no reason to have a special standard for Byzantine Emperors, because their case is not special. It is exactly the same as the case for all other monarchs. john k 12:27, 25 June 2006 (UTC)
Because a user submitted the case to mediation. "Non-involved admin" = the "mediator". See this edit. [11] Valentinian (talk) 13:12, 25 June 2006 (UTC)
Ah, got it now. Looking at the mediation, and what happened, I'm even more appalled. In the first place, mediators don't get to decide that one side has lost. They're supposed to come up with a compromise that can receive consensus. What happened here appears to be that the mediator essentially sided with you (on, I think, incorrect grounds), and then you had another vote, in which almost everyone who voted had taken your side to begin with. Almost everyone who voted for option 1 (except for Adam Bishop) did not vote in the second vote. In the first place, mediation is accepted by everyone accepting the mediator's solution. There is no evidence that anyone other than Adam Bishop who originally supported latinized forms accepted the mediator's solution. As such, it was completely inappropriate to have another vote. john k 13:20, 25 June 2006 (UTC)
Last time I checked, I did not post the request to abandon the Latinized forms. I didn't propose the second ballot either, and I did not move any of these pages, ok? However, I agree with the idea of renaming the material since the current forms simply make the most sense to me, I quite respect if you disagree on the matter. To me, the ODB is simply the standard of the world's biggest work of reference on the Eastern Roman Empire, so I expect this standard was not chosen without good reason. Second, further works of reference the size of the ODB are unlikely to be published in the near future (given the limited size of this market). Third, the ODB is a coorporation of around 100 international specialists and followed by e.g. Dumbarton Oaks and supported by Oxford University. Paragraph 1 of Wikipedia:Naming_conventions_(names_and_titles) mentions works of general reference. This work is - to me - a work of general reference on the Eastern Empire (but this paragraph can be read in at least two ways.) The policy guidelines simply say: the "most common form of the name used in English if none of the rules below cover a specific problem". Such rules are in themselves somewhat messy - at least in my book. Valentinian (talk) 13:51, 25 June 2006 (UTC)
I'm not terribly interested in getting into the merits right now. I prefer the latinized forms, but I would not find the ODB forms utterly abhorrent if there was an actual consensus for them. You say that you didn't propose the second ballot. Fair enough. But the second ballot was proposed, and it was completely illegitimate. As far as I can tell, the procedure used to arrive at the current policy was as follows:
  1. Have a vote among three options.
  2. No consensus emerged
  3. Throw out one of the options that garnered the most support (Choice 1) and have a vote between the other two options, one of which (Choice 2) was voted for almost entirely as a second choice by people who supported the other remaining option (Choice 3) as their first choice.
  4. Hurray! My favorite option is the new policy!!
This is completely outrageous. john k 14:48, 25 June 2006 (UTC)

Most books on the Byzantine Empire, other than the ODB, I have read (and I studied the Byzantine Empire at uni) only ever used the Latinised names. John Julius Norwich in his fairly recent trilogy on Byzantium uses Latinised names throughout. Wikipedia should reflect current practice - not try to effect a change in the termnology used - which is what will happen here. Roydosan 12:00, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

Indeed. At any rate, I'm going to propose that all these pages should be moved back to the Latinized titles, because the second poll was completely illegitimate, and that we then further discuss the issue, and try to do a better job of determining what standard usage in English is. john k 13:20, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
Can't we discuss first and move then? :) Haukur 13:51, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
Discussion, as Haukur says, yes. Move first and discussion afterwards, as John K appears to say, no. Andrew Dalby 16:33, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
Look, I'm happy to discuss the issue. But leaving them at the current locations means we are endorsing the results of the completely bogus second vote. Let's recall that in the original vote, 19 different users expressed their approval of having the page titles remain at the latinized form, while only 7 approved of moving them. There was never any consensus for a move, and the consensus was essentially made up out of thin air by illegitimately excluding the option of "latinized all around," and then ignoring the fact that none of the people who originally voted for that option voted in the second vote. If we have to leave the articles here while we debate the merits (and, presumably, never agree), then we are approving this sequence of events as an appropriate way to go about with page moves:
  1. A series of page moves (and changes to article text) is suggested based on a different naming convention from the one currently in use.
  2. A vote is held, in which the results are inconclusive - there is no consensus for a move.
  3. The status quo option is thrown out, and a new vote is held, which results in a lop-sided vote for a move to the suggestion the original person wanted, even though most of the people who supported the status quo originally don't vote in this vote.
  4. All the pages are moved.
  5. Someone comes upon ths discussion later, and protests the patent unfairness of the original moving procedure.
  6. The result - more discussion! The page can't be moved back to the previous status quo, because that would be disruptive.
This kind of thing endorses dubious, sneaky moves - once a page is moved, you can't move it back, or you're the one being disruptive. I suppose this happens all the time on wikipedia, but it shouldn't. I can only ask you to think about this as if the result were one you didn't like. Can you seriously say that you think this is a fair procedure? My general feeling is that when there's no consensus for a move, the issue should get dropped, not taken to mediation. Everything that happened since the first vote seems pretty bullshitty to me.
But, if we have to discuss it, here's my first question: what should be the criterion here? In my view, the criterion should be most common name. This is the official wikipedia standard, and whatever option we determine should be based on this. I also think that whatever spelling is used in the title should also be the spelling used in the article text. I do not always think this should be followed - when an article title uses one name for disambiguation purposes, there's no need to use it; we can use alternative names like "William the Conqueror," even if the article is at "William I of England;" when somebody's name changes, we should use whichever name is appropriate for the particular point in discussion; but when the issue is essentially one of transcription, I see no reason to use different forms.
In my view, the "most common name" still points fairly strongly towards the latinized names. Unfortunately, I don't really have any way of getting evidence on this - I don't really have access to a library. Certainly, the Latinized names were used pretty much universally until, what, 15, 20 years ago? They are still used by many sources - general encyclopedias, popular histories, and according to discussion further up, some works by academic historians. Apparently, Byzantinists themselves are tending towards the "ODB" standard. But I don't think that's the be all and end all. john k 17:34, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
I can sympathise with your view that the moves took place through an unusual procedure. I can also sympathise with your worry that when we say "discuss first, then move" we really just mean that we don't want any moves to happen at all and we're happy to filibuster any proposal from you while "our forms" slowly gain legitimacy through the passage of time. But what I gather from your writings is that you really want the exact same thing to happen - you just want to be in the other position :) You say: "[the ]proposal should have been put onto the talk page, and discussion should have been had about it. In the meanwhile, things should have been left as they were." And you say: "My general feeling is that when there's no consensus for a move, the issue should get dropped, not taken to mediation." Haukur 19:34, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
True. It's really important to understand that at the time of the votes people were acting in what they believed was the proper Wikipedia way. There was a dispute, they really tried to find out how to resolve it, people on both sides of the dispute contacted everyone who seemed to be interested in the best way they could; they took a vote, they got mediation which seemed to necessitate a second vote, they took that too, it finally seemed to produce a consensus, no one objected.
And since then a lot of good work has been done on articles old and new.
Although I prefer the present spellings, and voted for them, I don't feel strongly on the issue. But I am against wasting work, especially really useful work that is given voluntarily, and I am against spending more time than is necessary on technicalities (and I think that how you spell Byzantine names in English is a technicality!) Are you sure that it's good for Wikipedia if we start up this issue again?
Briefly, anyway, on the substantive issue: in the past there was a sort of English standard, based on Latin. Usage among English-speaking writers etc. seems now to be shifting towards the ODB standard; I agree the shift is far from general as yet. But meanwhile English-speaking reference sources, including English Wikipedia, are being used more and more internationally. How many editors, how many users of English Wikipedia articles on this kind of subject have English as mother tongue? Fewer than half, probably. To international users the older English standard has little relevance, because many other people never studied Greek via Latin as English speakers used to do. This suggests to me the value of adopting a standard that is nearer to real Byzantine names. But there's no easy answer. Andrew Dalby 18:32, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
I am perfectly willing to accept that people were acting in good faith, but the way this played out is pretty seriously bullshit. It's a lot harder to notice that a procedure is unfair when it brings the result you want (and I mean that genuinely, not sarcastically), but I think in this case it's pretty clear. Firstly, the mediator acted improperly by, essentially, taking sides. The mediator's job is not to decide a case. That's what the arbitration committee does, and notably and probably properly, the arbitration committee has only very rarely gotten involved in content disputes, and only in cases where user conduct was heavily entangled with the content dispute. Mediation is supposed to be a way to resolve disputes through consensus. The theory is that you bring in a neutral outside observer who tries to come up with a solution that everyone will agree to. That is not what happened here. What happened here is that the mediator sided with you. In my view, if a mediator feels that they support one side over another, and they feel that their support for that side is such that they'd rather support that side than try to mediate a compromise, they should recuse themselves, and a different mediator should be found. In this case, the mediator basically made a judgment in favor of your side, decreeing that option 1 was inappropriate and excluded, and that we could only choose between inconsistency between page title and article text, on the one hand, and the ODB names, on the other. This was highly inappropriate - the mediator has no right to decide the rights and wrongs of a case - their job is only to try to find an agreement between the people debating, not to decide who is right
At this point, you say, you feel that the mediation "necessitated" a second vote. This is, in fact, going quite well beyond what the mediator said. What should have happened is that the mediator's proposal should have been put onto the talk page, and discussion should have been had about it. In the meanwhile, things should have been left as they were. It should have been accepted that there was a consensus that the mediator's proposal should be the basis for discussion before any further action was taken on it.
I'm not sure how exactly things turned out the way they did, but this was all highly irregular. Perhaps those of you involved haven't had much experience with this kind of dispute before. As to the substantive issue, I really have a difficult time accepting the idea that the English Wikipedia should not be written for native speakers of English. We are supposed to model our usage on that of English language sources. English language sources are generally written for native speakers of English, and, at any rate, non-native speakers expect to encounter native usage. If I am reading in French, I expect that they are going to call London "Londres" and the United States the "Etats Unis," and that they will Francicize the names of, for instance, monarchs. I expect to see "Jules César" and not "Julius Caesar," even though English usage in this instance is closer to the Latin original than French usage. And the claim that more than half the users of English wikipedia are not native speakers of English is completely unsupported by anything save supposition. Certainly the large majority of editors would appear to be native speakers of English, although there's obviously a significant minority of non-native English-speakers. john k 19:02, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
I think the English Wikipedia is for all speakers of English, whether native or not. That's certainly one reason I spend most of my time here rather than at is.wikipedia. If some official policy were to develop which said I didn't have as much say because I'm not a native speaker I would be rather annoyed and probably quit. I'm surprised that you perceive that there is a large majority of native speaking editors, my perception is the exact opposite. I wonder if we can get actual data anywhere instead of exchanging biased suppositions :) Haukur 19:40, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
In response to posts by john k I do not understand the charges against the validity of the above survey. The location is, surely, not ideal. But it was on this page that the discussion took place, and an effort was made by both Panairjdde and myself to attract the attention of such persons potentially interested in this issue that were known to us. I had edited, expanded, or created a number of Byzantine-subject articles and, in keeping with Wikipedia's intent on improvement brought the usage in accordance with that of the current English language standard (I will not bother to repeat why this is a standard, why it is common, and why it is increasingly prevalent, for all that see above), the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, the product of cooperation by English-speaking Byzantinists from the UK, USA, Australia and other countries, a standard both reflective and determining of the usage in the field. The ODB standard does not truly represent a shift towards native forms (something that would be thoroughly justifiable, by the way), as it retains all common English forms, such as John, Theodore, Helena, etc. Byzantine family names are in no case common English forms, and with a very few exceptions (most of them western medievalists writing on the Crusades) they are now given in accordance with the ODB standard. Any objection based on usability of the text is automatically invalidated by that wonderful Wikipedia expedient, the redirect. Whether you are looking for Alexius I Comnenus or Alexios I Komnenos, you would find the article and the information you were looking for. This was not the case in the past. Thinking (erroneously, as it turned out) that I could avoid redirects, I did not change the titles of the articles, but only the usage within their content.
All this was reverted, sometimes with the loss of other factual information by Panairjdde, who claimed that the Latinized forms are the standard and that consensus was needed for the change, and the articles were then re-corrected by myself. Rather than engage in an editorial war, Panairjdde simultaneously asked for arbitration and launched the first survey above, which was, in the words of the mediator, deadlocked (although it could be said that the non-Latinized option, albeit perhaps intentionally split up, enjoyed a slight advantage). The mediator recommended the "compromise" option of unaltered article names in combination with the ODB usage for the time being unless consensus was reached in favor of consistent ODB usage. I had no objections to that but discovered that through internal search alone, this would not have been enough to reach the information if one typed in the alternate form. At that point I proposed a second survey between the two remaining options, Latinized article names and ODB content versus ODB usage throughout, while calling attention to the lookup problem. In this survey the ODB standard received overwhelming support and the issue was resolved (even Panairjdde reluctantly stated support for this option after the end of the mediation). I had agreed to abide to the arbitration sought by him and also to seek consensus. All this was done. I also did my best to execute the necessary page moves, edit the internal text consistently, provide apporpriate redirects and eliminate double redirects, in articles on Byzantine History. Some articles (most notably on the Empire of Trebizond) remain to be edited but I have not had the time, though hopefully others are doing some of the work.
Adherence to the current standard is a definite improvement for Wikipedia, and I do not regard this as a personal victory. The whole experience merely exposes the underlying problem of this sort of unmonitored endeavor in which any editor, however well-meaning, can pursue misguided or outdated whims of taste. As a self-respecting Byzantinist I could not ignore the discrepancy between the archaic earlier usage in the articles and that in current specialized literature on the subject (and I do not mean overly specialized, because in that case we'd be dealing with actual Greek). By the same token I would not presume to edit articles on nuclear physics, of which I know next to nothing. I am sufficiently put off by the process to leave the matter alone, regardless of what follows. If the standard usage is supplanted, I only hope others who have contributed to the survey above will strive to restore and retain it, as ignorantia neminem excusat. Imladjov 01:05, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
Clarification on survey results. Contrary to some of the statements regarding the votes above by john k, it should be noted that in the first survey, 10 users voted for Option 1 (keeping Latinized usage for Greek names in both text and the article names) and 11 users voted for Options 2 or 3 (Latinized article names with ODB usage in the text or ODB usage throughout). Here I am counting Options 2 and 3 together to eliminate overlap between users voting for either, and because this indicates the actual extent of opposition to Option 1. Perhaps the splitting up of votes between the last two options was not appropriate at that time, but I did not design this survey.
In the mediation that had been simultaneously requested by Panairjdde, the mediator expressed the following conclusions: "the scholarly standard appears to be ODB spellings", and that "further discussion in order to establish a consensus is necesary before any changes are made, as the survey ended deadlocked". Asked to clarify, he wrote further that: "It is obvious that the articles in question draw heavily on scholarly research, but at the same time, they are written for the general public to be able to read. In these articles, there is nothing to be lost, content-wise, by following the scholarly standard and using ODB names in the article. It would be a different matter if the names were considerably different, but, as it stands, the Latin names are close enough to the ODB names, that, along with a citation of the Latin name, there would be little confusion resulting from the use of ODB names in the article. Therefore, it is my reccomendation that proposal two from this page be implemented in the short term, until a consensus can be reached about proposal three." Only one user, Septentrionalis expressed determined opposition to the result of the mediation, to which both Panairjdde and I had agreed to hold.
To avoid continued limbo, I proposed to follow up the recommendation of the mediator and to see if a consensus could be reached on Option 3. Since the mediator had espoused Option 2 as a temporary compromise, this survey was limited to Options 2 (now A) and 3 (now B), and the vote came to 1 vs. 10 in favor of the latter. This vote is by no means any more "completely illegitimate", "completely bogus", or "seriously bullshit" (your choices of words) than the one that preceded it or for that matter the very notion that non-specialists (no offense) ought to be deciding scholarly usage (and this sort of thing is entirely dependent on the relevant scholarship) by casting votes. But this is how Wikipedia works and therefore there is nothing irregular about this vote. It may also be mentioned that the number of votes in favor of Option B is actually larger, as some of its supporters did not bother to vote again. At the time I counted an explicit result of 1:9 (or implicitly 4:12) in favor of Option B. Every user who voted in the first survey was invited to vote in the second personally by me (you can check the user pages).
There was no stated opposition to the second vote (even by the user who expressed disagreement with the mediation), and Adam Bishop was not the only person to vote for Option B after having originally voted for Option 1. This was also done by Eluchil404, and espoused, albeit reluctantly by Panairjdde on the mediation page itself: "If, in the end, it is decided that the ODB is a standard that has to be adopted for English Wikipedia, the best solution will be to have ODB names for both the article and the article name (title)." While it is only he and I who have agreed to hold ourselves to the results of the mediation, the second vote was open to all and known to all users who had then participated in the survey or chanced upon the issue; it was unopposed and conducted regularly, with a very definite result. Whether or not the mediator had business making a recommendation (this remains moot to me) becomes practically irrelevant, if the users involved accepted it and moved along with its implications. After all, we were supposed to find a working consensus, and this is precisely what we found.Imladjov 02:20, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
Not much time now, but basic point - the only reason the second survey came out as it did was because you excluded the option of sticking with latinized names based on the mediator's recommendation. Whether or not anyone objected at the time (and Pmanderson certainly did, even if nobody else did), this was inappropriate. As to a consensus, those are funny things. I believe that, at the moment, there is no longer a consensus... john k 10:57, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
Yes, exactly: there was a dispute, a mediation, and a recommendation for implementing one option temporarily and seeking consensus on another, neither of these being the obsolete Latinization. That is precisely what the second survey did and it provided for feedback from everyone by virtue of voting or discussion or both. Of course consensus on Wikipedia is a "funny thing", as shown by the very fact that issues can be raised again and again, surveys can be added to in perpetuity, pages can always be altered, etc. But if users (including Pmanderson) accepted to vote, then you cannot fault the survey (note also that users, including myself, who had previously voted for Option 2 now voted for the equivalent of Option 3). The current option which was clearly favored in that vote is fully consistent with the current standard in the field. Anything else automatically dates Wikipedia and creates a rift with the practice of current English-language scholarship. Where Byzantium is concerned there is only scholarship (I believe the only occasion I have encountered a reference to Byzantium in a non-Academic setting is a line from Space Cowboys in which a Soviet satelite is described as a "Byzantine piece of $#!%"). To argue that because some people (mostly outsiders to the field) still use books published in or before the middle of last century (or written by the few academics who still follow the older usage) is a good case in defense of the archaic spelling is not compelling. Even in the much more western-oriented field of Crusader studies that is being gradually abandoned, although sometimes very inconsistently and ineptly (without naming names, I recently came across a new source translation in which the utterly groundless form Andronicos -- neither Greek nor Latin -- appeared). If you are simply unfamiliar with a field or with its up-to-date state, just leave it alone and allow it follow its own fairly conventional standards which represent the consensus of its specialists. Imladjov 12:44, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
Imlajdov, my whole point is that the mediator had absolutely no right to decide that the "obsolete" Latinization, which showed about as much support as the use of the ODB names, should be excluded. That people didn't object to this bogusness at the time doesn't make it any less bogus. The mediator's job was to try to get both people who supported the Latinized names and people who supported the ODB names to come to some kind of agreement about how it would be best to proceed in terms of figuring out which set of names is used more frequently.
I don't want to particularly get into the actual usage issue, but John Julius Norwich is a non-academic source, and is probably the most likely single author for any layperson to read about the history of Byzantium, and he apparently uses the Latinizations. As do general encyclopedias. And there are academic books by non-Byzantinists to consider, as well - you seem to be suggesting that the only things written about Byzantium are by academic historians of Byzantium, which seems bogus to me. Also, the idea that the Latinized names are only found in books up to the middle of the last century doesn't seem right - I would suggest that into the 1980s, the Latinization remained overwhelmingly more common.
Basically, I think you have yet to demonstrate your case, because the only specific source you've cited is the ODB (ETA: also the New Cambridge Medieval History, although apparently only intermittently). I agree that the ODB is a seriously major source, and that what it says should be taken seriously. If the case really is that its forms of the names is becoming predominant, I'd be willing to accept the current system. But I don't think you've demonstrated that yet, and I think this was enabled by the fact that a mediator basically showed up and decided that you won, regardless.
So, since my "let's move first and then discuss" position has been rejected, I'm going to suggest that we actually try to look at sources and figure out what their usage is. I think you are certainly going way too far in claiming that the latinized usage is obsolete. Obsolete, in terms of language, means "Never used anymore," as far as I can gather. For instance, the old 19th century transcriptions of Russian names, where you get Prince Gortschakoff, or the use of Frenchicized names for German cities like Mainz (Mayence) and Regensburg (Ratisbon) is obsolete. So is use of "Mahomet" for the prophet of Islam, or "Saracen" for Arab. The latinized names of Byzantine emperors are not obsolete. john k 17:52, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
I do not know exactly what rights the mediator had or did not have. I was asked to accept the mediation (which I did not seek) and to adhere to it, which I did. I was asked to seek consensus and I did. The response was in favor of the ODB forms, which are used in most modern scholarship and reflect the main relevant work of reference. What was done was, to my knowledge, within Wikipedia's expectations and with the intent of its improvement in accordance with current scholarship. This discussion is and was useless, as Wikipedia cannot possibly expect anything less than this kind of documentable and standardized accuracy. The discussion is also pointless because now (but not before) the information is easily accessible regardless of whether a particular user prefered the old usage or the current one.
Please do not misrepresent what I wrote. Most but not all pre mid-20th century English books on Byzantium use the Latinized spelling and most but not all post ODB English books on Byzantium use its standard (which itself follows a usage gradually established long before the ODB was published in 1991). John Julius Norwich's work is semi-academic, and his three-volume history (and its one-volume epitome) are indeed popular, but they are neither the book on Byzantium one would necessarily turn to (if one is not an expert), nor are they regarded as particularly valuable in the field. While they are very readable, they are archaic both in content and approach, and reflect the era in which the author was educated. A similar effect can be discerned in the much more academic works of Jenkins, Ostrogorsky, and most recently Treadgold (only he is post ODB). We have discussed the attempts to establish prevalence of usage above. This cannot be based on simple google searches as bits of bibliographical information duplicate ad nauseam across cyberspace, and (in a more exclusive bibliographical search) old books get republished. A comparison between the number of instances of ODB-type and Latinized usage since the 1990s shows that ODB has either overtaken the Latinized spellings or is set to do so. Again, the sample is biased in favor of the latter by republished old books and the greater influence of the antiquated usage in non-Byzantinist literature. Such modern Byzantinists as can be seen to choose one usage over the other have switched from Latinized usage to the ODB style (see references to Stephenson and others above). It is preposterous to insist that standards (and, one may add, very user-friendly standards at that!) for articles on Byzantium should be set by the usage of largely outdated (my definition of obsolete) practice followed largely by writers outside that field. In the vast majority of cases it is Byzantinists that write anything of substance on Byzantine history. Most western medievalists tend(ed) to treat the Byzantine Empire as a sort of footnote to European or Roman history. If they often fail to keep up with the advances (both in scholarship and usage) of the Byzantine field and base their writings on old classics like Gibbon, Bury, and Ostrogorsky, that cannot be held over current Byzantinist usage. Any self-respecting general work (whether encyclopedic or a textbook) will eventually come to follow (if it has not done so already) the practice of experts in the field; the fact that many have not yet done so has a lot to do with the field's relative insularity, a situation which is also in the process of changing. The argument in favor of the ODB usage works on multiple layers: it is (1) the current standard in the field, (2) it is increasingly more common, (3) it is more accurate and less artificial, (4) it is simple enough not to confuse any careful reader. To oppose this usage is, to use your examples, to insist on "Mahomet" and "Saracens" at a time when scholars are already using "Muhammad" and "Arabs". As you obviously know, there was a time when the former two were still more common than the latter. Imladjov 18:33, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
You are misusing the word "obsolete," which in this context has a very specific meaning - it is a former usage that is no longer used at all. You would never find a book published today which calls Muhammad "Mahomet." Probably the only books in print which use this term would be works which are more valued for their literary value than for their historical value - things like Gibbon. This is not at all the case with the Byzantine Emperors. If you want to argue that the latinized forms are "obsolescent," (I think even that is an exaggeration, but it's at least arguable) go ahead, but that is not the same thing at all. "Mohammed" is a form which one still frequently comes across, but that is perhaps now frowned upon in scholarly circles in favor of "Muhammad." I don't support moving the article to Mohammed, but I don't think it would be at all absurd for the article to be there, and I don't think it's at all absurd for the articles on Byzantine Emperors to be at latinized forms.
As to your basic argument, the same could certainly be used for, for instance, Spanish monarchs and German monarchs. I study modern European history, and I can say with, I think, some confidence that sources written in the last 15 years are probably more likely to use the German names of German monarchs than the anglicized forms. But wikipedia is not supposed to be based on specialist usage, and I've never felt any inclination to push for specialist usage in my area of expertise. Wikipedia is supposed to reflect general usage, and that includes general reference works, textbooks, general histories, "semi-academic histories" like Norwich's (and yes, I know that it's not a brilliant original work. It's a popular history. It's much more likely to be read by a layman than the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium is, or than a specialist monograph is), and references in specialist academic histories on other topics. And yes, that does lag behind usage by specialists. But wikipedia's rule is not supposed to be based solely on usage by specialists. It is meant to be based on general usage in English, and that purposely includes stuff that lags behind, and older works that are still used. (That is to say, a book from the 70s that people still read should count for usage. Gibbon should not, because his work has essentially become a work of literature, rather than history). What you are doing is introducing a rule for Byzantine naming that is completely different from the rule we use for other sorts of monarchy naming, which is why I object. If we can demonstrate that general usage is behind the ODB forms, I'm happy to oblige. But what you're arguing is that the appropriate standard is specialist usage, and I'm not happy about that at all.
And here's some quotes from Wikipedia:Mediation:
Mediators are not Private Investigators. Mediators do not "work for you," nor will they work to build a case against someone or research the facts in an article. Mediators will examine the facts surrounding the dispute in an attempt to understand what each party is looking for and to determine what may end the dispute.
Note the second sentence. Mediators are supposed to evaluate what each party is looking for and to determine what may end the dispute. Their job is not to research the facts in the article and come to a judgment on them. This is exactly what the mediator did in this case. They made no effort to determine what would end the dispute, they instead made an effort to determine which side was right. Also note:
The ordinary form of a mediated agreement is the consensus of the parties on a proposal that has been developed by the mediator. The acceptance of a mediation does not necessarily entail for the parties the obligation to abide by the agreements that the mediator will propose.
Note the latter part, again. Mediation does not entail the obligation to abide by the mediator's proposals. john k 22:55, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
The term "obsolete" does not imply that the usage is no longer found. "Obsolete" can indicate something that is no longer used, valid, fashionable, outmoded in style, etc. I have not misused this word. Latinized forms are now outmoded in Byzantine studies. The books of Nicol and Whittow (for example) are by no means less likely to be read by a general reader than those of Norwich, and they are both more scholarly and conform with ODB forms. All the recent English translations of Byzantine sources adhere to the ODB forms. What is definitely absurd is the notion that specialized literature on that level (which is not terribly specialized) is considered as too demanding of the reader. It is not. A reader consulting Wikipedia may be far better served by a usage which he or she may find in more specific works they seek as a follow up than in a general work using the archaic usage, such as, for example, The Encylopedia of World History.
Sorry, but no. American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language gives the following as the first definition of "obsolete": "1. No longer in use: an obsolete word." Latinized names are not no longer in use - they are in less use than they once were, but are still in use. The word you are looking for is "obsolescent": "1. Being in the process of passing out of use or usefulness; becoming obsolete." "Archaic" might theoretically be appropriate: "3. Of, relating to, or characteristic of words and language that were once in regular use but are now relatively rare and suggestive of an earlier style or period." I think both of these terms are a bit strong, but one could make the case. "Obsolete" is incorrect, at least in the context of language usage, which is the relevant context. john k 00:51, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
The better term for the purpose of this discussion may well be "obsolescent", but if your definition of "obsolete" is far too rigid. If you really wish, I would be happy to provide you with references to dictionary definitions that describe it as out of fashion/style, outmoded. Imladjov 01:54, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
Well, if you really want to convince me, go ahead, because I'm pretty sure of this. In the context of words, "obsolete" has a clearly limited meaning of "no longer in use". Again - Mahomet is an obsolete form; Alexius Comnenus simply isn't. It may be a bit old fashioned, but it is not obsolete - a form currently used by the Encyclopedia Britannica and so forth can hardly be obsolete. If you don't care about convincing me that I am wrong here, then don't bother, since this doesn't really have any relevance to the argument, being entirely semantical. john k 15:32, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
Actually just look up the second definition of The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, or Merriam-Webster's online dictionary under 1a and b, which go as far as equating it with old-fashioned, i.e., archaic.Imladjov 01:00, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
My point was not that "obsolete" could not mean "old-fashioned." It was that in the context of language usage it has a more specific meaning, which is "no longer in use." Of course it can be and is used more broadly, but it is misleading to do so in this context, because in this context one would expect use of the more specific meaning. Does that make sense? john k 11:40, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
While I understand you argument, I do not think it holds up. There is no specific and exclusive usage of "obsolete" for words (or for that matter names). The term "obsolete" can be applied to just about anything without any assurance that, though obsolete, it is no longer in some usage. I occasionally like to use the term "erstwhile," which has pretty much disappeared from modern English--does this make it any less obsolete? Just because the American Heritage dictionary gave the example of "obsolete word" as "no longer in use" does not (and cannot) preclude the alternative "no longer fashionable" (or the like). The word "obsolete" is inherently indefinite (look up the etymology) and it would be fair to say that to some extent it is always potentially equivalent to "obsolescent." The point was that, whether obsolete or obsolescent, in current English Byzantinist writing Latinized forms have almost completely gone out of use. Besides, you complain that this page was used to discuss naming practices; is this really the place for discussing English words? Imladjov 15:58, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
Personally I have no problem with Spanish and German names being used for the relevant monarchs in modern European history. But this is really not the issue. Your demand for conformity is already achieved because we are not talking about Iōannēs Komnēnos, Leōn Phōkas, Theodōros Laskaris, or Kōnstantinos Doukas; we are talking about John Komnenos, Leo Phokas, Theodore Laskaris, and Constantine Doukas. All the Christian names are English except such that really do not occur in English (e.g., Staurakios, Nikephoros, Romanos). This is all that you can ask for. Do we have any artificially Latinized forms of the Hohenzollern, Habsburgs, Wettins, and Wittelsbachs that you would like us to use? Obviously not (unless you are one of those who still like "Hapsburg"). Then what on Earth is the problem with, e.g., Komnenos vs. Comnenos and Doukas vs. Ducas?
If you wish to claim that current usage in the field is irrelevant and we must enforce absolute consistency, then why not change Ivan IV the Terrible to John IV the Terrible in Russia, or Lorenzo de' Medici to Lawrence of Medici in Florence? And if you tell me that we should not do that because the relevant fields use Ivan and Lorenzo, then how could you claim that the ODB usage should be an exception? The irony is that this usage was designed precisely to make the material more accessible to the common reader, since a real Byzantinist can handle all these forms in the original Greek. THAT would be truly specialist usage, as would be a usage employing odd scripts and diacritics which are either incomprehensible or inaccessible to the general user of this website. Again, that is not the case. (Moreover, it should be stressed that in Byzantine Studies it is largely impossible to establish a clear distinction between moderately specialist and general usage, as it tends to be the same.)
In determining the prevalence of current usage in the field (which I continue to insist is a must), we cannot count Latinized forms appearing in publications before the ODB's appearance in 1991. We also have to project foreword, something that can only be approximated statistically. I think all this had been done far, far above...
Two points here: 1) my point is most certainly not that we should always anglicize monarchs' names. That would be absurd. My point is that we should follow the most common usage in English. The names of Ivan the Terrible and Lorenzo de' Medici are never anglicized in English works, and thus it would be ridiculous for us to do so. The case for German monarchs is not the same at all - the names are sometimes anglicized, and sometimes not. They used to be anglicized more than they are now, but there's still a lot of things being written which use the anglicized names. And there's a lot of useful older works still in print that use the anglicized names. It is not wikipedia's purpose to dictate usage to a more "correct" or "up to date" form. It is to reflect the most common usage in English, whether or not this usage is in tune with the most cutting edge scholarship. To exclude all works written before 1991 is utterly ridiculous, and the idea that we need to "look forward" is not supported by policy. My basic problem on the substantive issue here is that it does not appear to me that what we have here is a disagreement on how to interpret wikipedia naming policies. What it seems like we have here is that you don't like wikipedia naming policies as they currently are, and would like to substitute a different set of naming standards than what we use for virtually every other article. I don't know enough about Byzantine subjects to be sure of exactly what usage is at this point. But I do know that a large portion of your argument has resolved not around determining whether the ODB names are the most common usage, but arguing, in essence, against the common usage policy in toto. john k 00:51, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
Never say never. I have actually seen them Anglicized to e.g., John and Lawrence in the odd place or two, although I cannot think of the specific references at present. But the point stands, it is very rare. Nevertheless, it is the result of English usage adhering to the practice of the particular fields which for once did not insist on applying English names. When a new standard is established, it is obvious that works adhering to other standards before the date of its establishment cannot be held against it. If this were 1991, you would have a case. But 15 years down the line, ODB has held up almost universally within the field. And I repeat that in this particular field there is no easy distinction between moderately specialist and general literature. While I do not particularly like Wikipedia' naming policy I see it as reasonable and do not seek to undermine it. However, I do not believe that it precludes adherence to the current ENGLISH standard for rendering Byzantine terms and names. (And yes, I realize that a standard does not need to be used by everyone to be a standard.) Imladjov 01:54, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
Imladjov, yes, I suppose one might occasionally see John the Terrible and Lawrence of Medici. But very rarely, and this was, I think, never the standard - from pretty early on in English the standard usages were Ivan and Lorenzo. The Byzantine issue is less clear. john k 15:32, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
Whatever the mediator's faults, he recommended a course for resolving the dispute whether you like it or not. This was followed up with seeming success. Until you re-opened the issue, that seemed to have held. But an issue can always be re-opened, by anyone and for any reason. As for keeping to the results of the mediation, I know it was not binding. However, my promise, and I presume Panairjdde's, to hold to it, is. You (or anyone else) are obviously not obligated by this. Having "won" the argument, as it were, I had to do the dirty work and update articles accordingly, and I am convinced, correctly. When this is complete my editorial and my academic duties would be complete. After that, come what may. Open editing, the very factor which makes Wikipedia an excellent resource, also makes it absurd (as is this whole dispute), and I am looking forward to my effective retirement from this project. Imladjov 23:50, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
Your position on this would appear to be that because you got away with this nonsense "mediation" business, that justifies the process. This is ridiculous, especially given, again, that the vast majority of the people who originally disagreed with you did not ever express any opinion after the mediation occurred. Pmanderson, who is certainly one of the more experienced editors who was involved in this dispute did object at the time. Obviously, the extent to which arguing about such things can be useful - especially since the most assertive person here on "my side" of the argument at the time was Panairjdde, who was, I must admit, pretty ineffective about the whole thing. In terms of my reopening the issue, I certainly would not have done so had I thought this result had been arrived at in a fair way. I do think that it is probably a violation of Wikipedia:Naming conventions (common names) and other wikipedia naming and style conventions, but I would still accept a genuine consensus. The problem here is that there was a forced consensus. What happened here, it appears to me, is that the people most involved in the discussion here were under the impression that mediation was some kind of arbitration process, and that by agreeing to mediation, everyone had agreed to abide by whatever the mediator decided. This is not how mediation is supposed to work, and, in any event, Panairjdde does not have the right to agree on behalf of other people.. john k 00:51, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
I clearly did not imply that Panairjdde or myself have the right to agree on behalf of others. This was simply in relation to the dispute between the two of us. You can see relevant exchanges on his and my talk pages. I continue to hold that currently the ODB is the common standard of the field. The serious contributions in the field are written by specialists who have chosen the ODB style as a user-friendly consensus. It would be a disservice to Wikipedia's mission to insist on divorcing its usage from that of the basic field of scholarship, especially when the latter is in no way impeding accessibility of data and information. Your interpretation of the naming specification, while entirely possible is in this case almost perverse. If you want Wikipedia to attain credibility, it has to keep up with basic standards in the relevant disciplines. I am not particularly well-versed in the technicalities of Wikipedia enforcement policies, but I did my best to work within them, agreeing to the mediation and seeking to establish consensus. I am assuming that "getting away" with anything would not have been possible if that were truly objectionable in the first place. Imladjov 01:54, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
Well, if nobody's looking all kinds of truly objectionable things can happen on wikipedia. I'm sorry if the tone of the earlier post suggested that I was accusing you of acting in bad faith. I certainly don't think so. I think what happened here is that none of the people who were most involved in the discussion here (including both you and Panairjdde) were terribly familiar with what mediation is and is not, and thus nobody (except Pmanderson, ineffectually) called the mediator on his/her inappropriate actions. This is particularly easy to do when one agrees with the mediator's decision - I am not willing to say that I would selflessly hold out for proper rules when the result is coming out in the way I like. My only point is that the fact that everybody acquiesced at the time doesn't mean the procedure was kosher. john k 15:32, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
John, does anyone else apart from you currently want to reopen this question? Andrew Dalby 18:42, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
My posting of comment on this at Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (names and titles) suggested that at least a couple of people agreed with me. john k 22:55, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
But note that the same couple of people actively engaged in the present debate and participated in the surveys or otherwise indicated their positions at the time. In other words, to one extent or another they accepted the framework of the process you wish to dismiss as ... "bogus", was it? Imladjov 23:55, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
Francis Schonken did? And I've certainly voted in surveys before even if I thought they were invalid, which is clearly what Pmanderson was doing, since he explicitly protested against the mediator's actions. john k 00:51, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
Francis Schonken did not vote in these surveys but I am under the impression that he disagreed with you or at least with your analysis. Imladjov 01:54, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
You should read more carefully. His first words were "Agree with John k." He then pointed out, in interests of fairness, that the survey had been listed at Wikipedia:Current surveys, but said that he still felt I was basically write, more or less. john k 15:32, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
Actually I misread the last statement in Francis' posting. Imladjov 01:00, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

Surveys of what people think are surely beside the point. English Wikipedia should reflect current English usage and no-one has demonstrated that the Komnenos et al are the spellings in general usage. The ODB has been cited to the nth degree but that is only one book however authoritative and did it not occur to anyone that the editor of the ODB may have changed all the spellings of the names to reflect their own preferences? Most English books use the Comnenus, etc form of spelling - that is not bias or POV pushing that is fact. John Julius Norwich's trilogy on Byzantium uses the Latinised names throughout; the Alexiad of Anna Comnena published by Penguin uses Latinised spellings; Procopius' Secret History also re-published by Penguin recently uses Latinised spellings and so, I am lead to believe, do two books on the 1204 and 1453 siege of Constantinople published recently. The Latinised spelling (which I think is a ridiculous term since we are actually discussing Anglicised forms) are very far from obsolete. The average person is far more likely to come across them than any other forms. That should be the guiding principle and that is why they should go back to the Comnenus, etc spellings. Roydosan 11:35, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

Not at all. The ODB does not exist in a vacuum, nor is it isolated in its usage. Virtually every contemporary Byzantinist publication in English conforms to its usage whether expressly or simply because this usage happens to be the one that has become common. The Penguin translations of Anna and Prokopios are pretty old and do not indicate current usage. Norwich is more recent, but his usage is not. Nor is it indicative of the current practice in the field. Even if you are unable or unwilling to look at the bulk of Byzantinist literature, you should not be issuing such misleading statements. You should look at the series of Byzantine source translations, e.g., the American Dumbarton Oaks Texts, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, the Australian Byzantina Australiensia, Dagron's Emperor and Priest, Bartusis' Late Byzantine Army, Mullet's Theophylact of Ochrid, Oxford's newly published translations of the chronicles of Synkellos and Theophanes Confessor, Nicol's Last Centuries, Despotate of Epirus, Byzantium and Venice, Byzantine Family of Kantakouzenos, and many others, Whittow's Making of Byzantium, Stephenson's Legend of Basil the Bulgar-Slayer, Magdalino's Empire of Manuel I Komnenos, Birkenshaw's Development of the Komnenian Army, Magoulias' translation of Niketas Choniates, Cheetham's Medieval Greece (which is actually 10 years older than the ODB), Heath's Byzantine Armies, various chapters of The New Cambridge Medieval History, James' Women, Men, and Eunuchs, Haldon's Byzantium at War, Nicolle's First Crusade, Mango's Oxford History of Byzantium, Houben's Roger II of Sicily, Vásáry's Cumans and Tatars -- and I am only listing books I happen to have lying around my desk. Each of these is intended for a non-specialist readership (except for some of the DOP articles) and each conforms with the ODB (whether it is aware of it or not). I am sorry to say it, but ignorance is certainly not a criterion on which any standard, even Wikipedia standard, should be based! Imladjov 00:47, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
I am glad to see that this has not actually gone so far as to move Procopius from the place where the English language, and the Oxford Classical Dictionary put him; the suggestion that it should reduces this system to the absurdity it is. Septentrionalis 00:58, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
Our naming conventions for royalty already set aside the "most common" principle in favor of systematic names (or we would have William the Conqueror rather than William I of England). So even if you can show that Latinized spellings are more common in popular usage there is still plenty of precedent on Wikipedia for weighing other considerations more heavily. Redirects ensure that everyone finds what she's looking for (unlike, for example, at Encarta). Haukur 12:09, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
They do not set the most common name principle aside, they tweak it slightly in some cases for disambiguation; we require that William be the most common name. Septentrionalis 00:58, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
"William the Conqueror" is the most common way of referring to the man. Using that form as an article title would present no disambiguation problem. I'm sure that far more readers search for "William the Conqueror" than "William I of England". Haukur 09:44, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
Er, no. When we are talking about the people's actual names, the "most common" principle is most certainly adhered to. The "systematic names" issue is mostly for the purpose of disambiguation, and for standardization. I don't see how either of those applies to the Byzantine rulers. john k 15:32, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
I don't quite know what you mean by "actual names". As for the particular issues you mention neither may have much bearing on the present case, all I was pointing out is that there is precedent for weighing other consideration more heavily than frequency of use. Another example is the use of diacritics - we often use them even when they may be more commonly omitted in English prose because they are felt to be more academic/scholarly/"accurate"/"correct"/"professional" etc. That seems quite analogous to the case under consideration. Of course I'm not saying that the diacritics issue is without controversy (see Talk:Úbeda or Talk:Zürich).
I think comparing Wikipedia to "other encyclopedias" is not always apt because Wikipedia is increasingly much more comprehensive than they are. In a few years its coverage of Byzantine subjects will (I hope) be much closer in comprehensiveness to a specialist reference work than to a general encyclopedia. The move towards slightly more academic/pedantic name usage is a natural parallel development. Haukur 15:55, 28 June 2006 (UTC)