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Speros Vryonis, Greek-American historian, dead at 90

TAGS: Obituary, Diaspora, History

Speros Vryonis, the Greek-American historian and esteemed professor also known for his extensive research on the 1955 pogrom targeting the Greeks of Istanbul, has died. He was 90.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1928, Vryonis was the son of Greek migrants from the Ionian island of Cephalonia. He received his BA from Southwestern College, Memphis, Tennessee, majoring in ancient history and classics, before earning a postgraduate degree and a PhD from Harvard University for a thesis on “The internal history of Byzantium during the time of troubles, 1057-81.”

Vryonis later taught at Harvard before in the mid 1960s moving to the history department at the University of California in Los Angeles where he served as director of the G.E. von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies.

In the late 1980s, he was appointed director of the Alexander S. Onassis Center for Hellenic Studies at New York University, while from 1996 to 2000 he served as director of the Speros Basil Vryonis Center for the Study of Hellenism at Rancho Cordova, California.

His books include “The Decline of Medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor and the Process of Islamization from the Eleventh through the Fifteenth Century” (1971), “The Mechanism of Catastrophe: The Turkish Pogrom of September 6-7, 1955, and the Destruction of the Greek Community of Istanbul” (2005), and “Byzantium and Europe” (1968).

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