How Global Was the Early Medieval World?

An Exploration of Worldwide Connections 500-1000 CE

Erik Hermans

Independent Scholar & ISAW Alumnus


This talk introduces the connections between early medieval societies that have previously been studied in isolation. From Oceania to Europe and beyond, it transcends conventional disciplinary boundaries and synthesizes parallel historiographical narratives. The period 500-1000 CE witnessed important historical developments, such as the establishment of a Southeast Asian thalassocracy by the Shailendra dynasty and the expansion of the Frankish polity under Charlemagne on the far ends of Afro-Eurasia and the consolidation of the Abbasid and Tang empires in between. This lecture integrates these contemporaneous processes and presents new insights into a neglected phase of world history, focusing on themes such as trade, migration, climate change and intellectual exchange. In doing so, this talk aims to contribute to an emerging historiographical narrative of the global pre-modern world.

Erik Hermans obtained his PhD from the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University in 2016. He specializes in global intellectual history of the pre-modern world, focusing on Greek, Latin, and Arabic traditions. He is the editor of A Companion to the Global Early Middle Ages (Arc Humanities Press, 2020), editorial adviser for Bloomsbury's Encyclopedia of the Global Middle Ages and a guest editor of a forthcoming special issue in the International Journal of the Classical Tradition. Dr. Hermans is an independent scholar and Latin teacher at Friends Select School in Philadelphia.

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