Paolo Tedesco

Visiting Fellow, Summer 2024

  • Affiliation
    University of Tübingen
    Research Project:
    Our Daily Bread: The Shaping of Christian Economy in Byzantine Italy
Contact Info
Biography

Paolo Tedesco is Senior Lecturer in Late Antique and Medieval History at the University of Tübingen. He holds a PhD from the University of Vienna. As a fellow in numerous prestigious academic institutions in Europe (Austrian Academy of Sciences, German Historical Institute at Rome, Cambridge University) and the U.S. (Dumbarton Oaks Library and Collections, Medieval Institute at University of Notre Dame), he refined his expertise in the field of ancient, late antique, byzantine, and medieval studies specialising in the history of the Mediterranean, Africa and the Middle East. His research includes the social and economic history of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, the fates of the peasantry across different types of society, and the long history of capitalism. Tedesco published his research outcomes on the Journal of Late Antiquity, Early Medieval Europe, Medieval Worlds, Journal of Egyptian History, and Al-Masāq. His recent or upcoming publications include two monographs: Writings on the Tributary State and Commercial Capitalism (Napoli, 2024) and Living at the Margins: African Peasants in an age of extreme, 300-900 CE (Stuttgart, 2025). A third monograph State, Taxation and Power in the Late Roman West, 300-600 CE has been accepted by Cambridge University Press. Tedesco’s works often appear in Jacobin, La Pensée and Commons, and other international outlets in the US, Latin America, Germany, France, Italy, and elsewhere.

About the Research Project

Our Daily Bread: The Shaping of Christian Economy in Byzantine Italy

The project explores the formation and transformation of post-Roman Christian economies in Western Eurasia and the Mediterranean world. It will compare how different social and political circumstances shaped various spiritual economies and how these ecclesiastical economies molded the various social and political environments that grew out of the late Roman world from the sixth to the ninth centuries.

So far, scholars have assumed that the economic growth of the early medieval churches in Western Eurasia followed a Gallic model: in Merovingian Gaul religious institutions replaced imperial functions in matter of economy, giving rise to a “social system” detached from secular intervention. My project instead examines the long process of land accumulation by the churches from the seventh to the early ninth centuries from a Byzantine angle. I will research the area of Ravenna and Pentapolis to demonstrate how eastern imperial ideologies and structures still shaped the system of accumulation and redistribution of the ecclesiastical wealth in the territories under Byzantine rule. Churches’ contribution to the formation of early Byzantine society cannot be properly appreciated without considering the surrounding economic infrastructures of the empire.
 

Current Roles

  • Visiting Research Fellow