Nikolai Afanasevich Skabalanovich

Skabalanovich, Nikolai Afanas’evich

 

Born 1848; died Nov. 10, 1918. Russian Byzantine scholar.

After defending his master’s dissertation (1873), Skabalanovich occupied the chair of general civic history at the St. Petersburg Theological Academy. From 1886 to 1892 he was editor of Tserkovnyi vestnik (Church Bulletin). His chief work was The Byzantine State and Church in the 11th Century (1884). In this work, Skabalanovich set forth the history of political struggle in Byzantium between 1025 and 1081, drawing on Greek, Latin, and oriental sources. He also described the Byzantine administration, courts, army, provincial administration, and church. Skabalanovich’s study was the first wide-ranging work of Byzantine scholarship; although aspects of Byzantine public life are examined in an isolated manner and are not systematized, the book, filled with factual material, has retained its importance to the present time.

Following V. G. Vasil’evskii, Skabalanovich considered the best form of government for Byzantium to be a centralized monarchy basing itself on the peasant commune. Consequently, he attributed Byzantium’s decline during the 11 th century to the government’s departure from these principles. Skabalanovich revealed the vices of court life, the bureaucratic administration, and the self-seeking landowners—all the shortcomings that paved the way for the empire’s military defeat in the 1070’s.

A. P. KAZHDAN [23–1449–]

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