Why is Medieval History Controversial in Greece? Revising the Paradigm of Teaching the Byzantine Period in the New Curriculum (2018-19)

Angelos Palikidis


In which ways was Medieval and Byzantine History embedded in the Greek national narrative in the first life steps of the Greek state during the 19th century? In which ways has it been related to the emerging nationalism in the Balkans, and to relationships with the West and the countries of south-eastern Europe during the Balkan Wars, the First and Second World Wars, and especially the Cold War, until today? In which ways does Byzantium correlate with the notion of Greekness, and what place does it occupy in Neo-Hellenic identity and culture? Moreover, which role does it play in history teaching, and what kind of reactions does any endeavour of revision or reformation provoke? To answer the above questions I performed a comparative analysis on the following categories of sources: (a) Greek national and European historiography, (b) School history curricula and textbooks, (c) Public history sources, (d) The new History Curriculum for primary and secondary school classes, and (e) The principles and guidelines of international organizations such as the Council of Europe. In the first three sections of this paper, I provide an overview of the conformation and integration of the Byzantine period in Greek national historiography, in association with the dominant European philosophical and historical perspectives during the era of modernity, as well as the evolving national politics, foreign affairs, prevailing ideological schemas and the role of history teaching in shaping the common identity of the Neo-Hellenic society throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The fourth section briefly deals with the current situation in history teaching in Greek schools, while the fifth section critically presents the innovative elements and features of the new History Curriculum, which, to some degree, aspires to be considered a paradigm shift in the teaching of Medieval History in school education. Finally, I summarize and draw several conclusions.


Byzantine history; curriculum; Greek national historiography; Medieval history; Public history dispute

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14516/ete.314


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