VIN Yu.Ya. Fortified Villages of Mediaeval Byzantium: Town or Village?


Yury Ya. Vin

Candidate of Sciences (History), Senior Researcher,

Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Sciences,

Prosp. Leninskiy, 32a, 991119 Moscow, Russian Federation

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Abstract. The search for a model rural settlement – “village” is the common position in interpretation of the problem on the “fortified villages” of Mediaeval Byzantium. On the one hand, the multiformity of the settlement’s types in the Byzantine Middle Ages is conditioned by climatic and local natural specificities. On the other hand, the patterns of rural settlement are predetermined by the social and economic structure and development of all the other sides of life of habitants of the village, including a dwelling. The tasks of the defence of population foreordain a necessary of construction of fortresses (“kastra”) and their deployment into defensive system. It quite corresponds to the processes, developed in many south regions of Mediaeval Europe, where the building of fortifications, transmuting the village into the fortress – “castrum”, becomes as rule. The building of the fortresses and other fortifications in towns and rural settlements of Mediaeval Byzantium creates a trend, designating the degree of necessary defence of its habitants. This tendency makes itself felt in Late Byzantium. The guarded by walls rural settlements here were not unique. The “pyrgoi” and so named “dwelling towers” were built everywhere, these served as refuges for villagers in the ordeals of the war years. The appellation “pyrgos” turned into synonym of the designation of the rural settlement, as a landlord’s state, and a substitute of term “chorion”. The “pyrgoi” appeared practically as “keypoints” of every description of the territories of large landownings, the passed ways and the households arranged there. The system of fortifications as a defence of whole region was deployed in Byzantine country, where the rural settlement has significant position. The article consists of the Introduction (“Introduction. The Village and key Problems of its Studying”), three parts (“The fortified Settlement”, “The rural Fortifications”, “The Pyrgos”) and the part “The Results and Conclusion. The Common Trends”, where the main problems are examined, touching the study of the Mediaeval Byzantine village, pyrgoi and common regularities of fortification of Late Byzantine village.

Key words: the mediaeval Byzantine village, rural fortification, fortress, pyrgos, dwelling tower.

Citation. Vin Yu.Ya. Fortified Villages of Mediaeval Byzantium: Town or Village? Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2021, vol. 26, no. 6, pp. 194-223. (in Russian). DOI:

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Fortified Villages of Mediaeval Byzantium: Town or Village? by Vin Yu.Ya. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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