It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Cyril Mango (14 April 1928–8 February 2021), a pillar of Byzantine studies and a kind and generous professor. We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife, Marlia Mango, his family, friends, and students.
Cyril Alexander Mango was born and raised in the multicultural milieu of early twentieth-century Istanbul. From an interview he gave with his brother, Andrew (1926–2014), famous for his biography of Atatürk, we learn their paternal great grandfather, Dimitri, born in Chios, had moved to Syros, in the Cyclades (1821), and from there on to Constantinople (1840), where he became a printer for the Catholic Church. At the end of the nineteenth century, his son Anthony cofounded the successful Foscolo Mango Steamship Company with a partner of Venetian origin from Corfu. In 1929 the family’s fortune crashed along with the stock market.
Anthony and his wife, a Greek whose family came from Epirus, turned a mansion in Istanbul’s Galata district into the family residence and raised five children. One of their sons, John, married the daughter of Alexandros Karatheodori Paşa, the Ottoman foreign minister who participated in the Berlin Congress (1878) and was a vassal of the Prince of Samos. Around 1900 the other, younger son, Alexander, father of Cyril and Andrew, went to England to study law at Cambridge. He became a naturalized British citizen in 1902 and later returned to Istanbul to practice as lawyer at the British consular court and to serve as director of the Foscolo Mango Company in Galata. He married Adelaide Damonov, a refugee from Baku, where her Russian father had worked as an engineer at the oil industry. “Ada” arrived in Istanbul around 1920 after her both parents died. The couple brought up three sons: Andrew, Antony, and Cyril.
Cyril developed an interest in Byzantine monuments in his youth and attended the English High School for boys in Istanbul. During summers on Büyükada, one of the Prince’s Islands, the remains of the walls of the Empress Eirene monastery caught Cyril’s attention. The cultural context of his childhood probably contributed to the ease with which he later moved from philology to history, epigraphy, art history, and archaeology and for his ability to switch with ease among the Greek, Russian, English, French, and Turkish languages.
Cyril Mango is the heir to such prominent figures and fellow polymaths and polyglots as Alexander G. Paspates (1814–91) and Alexander Van Millingen (1840–1915) as well as other great admirers of Byzantine Constantinople. It is not surprising that Ernest Mamboury (1878–1953) bequeathed him the archives and drawings from his long years of surveys of Byzantine Constantinople. Mango revealed the gift in his introduction to Brazen House: A Study of the Vestibule of the Imperial Palace of Constantinople (1955), the monograph based on his dissertation (1953) for his doctorate from the Department of History at the Sorbonne.
After graduating from the English High School, Cyril set out on an academic career path that would make him a world citizen, earning a master’s degree from St Andrews (1949) before pursuing his doctorate in Paris. After twelve years at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC, as a junior fellow (1951–53), fellow (1953–54), research associate (1954–55), instructor (1955–58), lecturer (1958–61), and associate professor (1961–63), he became the Koraes Professor of Modern Greek and Byzantine History, Language and Literature in the Classics Department at King’s College London (1963–68). He then returned to Dumbarton Oaks as professor of Byzantine archaeology (1968–73) before settling at Oxford University (Exeter College) as Bywater and Sotheby Professor of Byzantine and Modern Greek (1973–95). Mango was elected to the British Academy in 1976. He taught a great number of students from around the world who would go on to excel and become respected scholars in the field.
Mango developed close scholarly ties with the generation of Byzantinists trained by Paul Lemerle (1903–89) in Paris, a city to which Mango remained attached after completing his studies there. The lecture series he delivered at the Collège de France in April 1983 was published as Le développement urbain de Constantinople (IVe–VIIe siècles) (1985). The Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres made Mango a foreign correspondent in 2002.
While Koraes Professor at King’s College, Mango also developed close ties to Greece. He was honorary member of the Christian Archaeological Society since 2013. His articles for the Deltion tes Christianikes Archaiologikes Hetaireias stand as landmarks in the study of Byzantine iconography. For his 80th birthday, his colleagues and friends honored him with a symposium at the Gennadius Library in Athens, where he gave the opening lecture, “Imagining Constantinople.”
During his long career, Mango enjoyed returning to his hometown to visit Byzantine monuments, often with groups of students, to conduct epigraphic surveys with his friend Ihor Ševčenko (1922–2009) and to view mosaics, objects, and stray finds. In 1962 he published Materials for the Study of the Mosaics of St. Sophia at Istanbul. He also maintained close contacts with the Istanbul Archaeological Museums and made sure to keep abreast of new discoveries in the city. Mango also communicated with Semavi Eyice (1922–2018), who established the Byzantine Art Division within the Department of Art History at Istanbul University (1964). The two scholars exchanged books, offprints, and letters, a number of which are preserved in the Semavi Eyice collection at the Istanbul Research Institute.
Cyril Mango was a prolific author. His voluminous bibliography comprises more than 200 titles with several monographs penned by him. His various archaeological expeditions extended beyond Constantinople to Cyprus (the monastery of St. Chrysostomos at Koutsovendis), Turkish Mesopotamia, and Syria (Androna, modern al-Andarin). Mango had a gift for using concise, precise, and simple language to translate the complex world of Byzantium for students, scholars, and the general public alike, imbuing Byzantium with a liveliness that made it accessible to all.
In a sign of scholarly accomplishments to come, Mango’s preternatural foresight as a young man led him at the age of twenty-one to identify for study such complex subjects as the euripos of the Hippodrome, which he published in the Revue des études byzantines in 1949. He went on to expand the visibility of Byzantium beyond the scholarly world of Byzantine studies with Byzantine Architecture, originally published in Italian (1974), and Byzantium: The Empire of New Rome (1980), translated into several languages, including Turkish (Bizans: Yeni Roma İmparatorluğu by Yapı Kredi Yayınları). Studies on Constantinople (1993) collated some of his more important articles on the topography and history of the city, while his opus magnum on Constantinople, a life-long project is yet to be published.
Cyril Mango was and remains a landmark figure of Byzantine studies in Istanbul. His regular visits to the city made him a living witness of the former Byzantine capital’s ongoing urban transformation.
May his memory be Eternal, Αἰωνία του ἡ μνήμη.
Exeter College 20 June 1977
I am very grateful to you for sending me your excellent book on the Bosphorus which I had already seen in Paris in the hands of M. Sodini. I have learned a lot by reading it. I only regret not to have known that you were preparing this study, because I would have been able to provide you, among other things, with photographs and a plan of the ruins of Beylerbey which I had made before their demolition.
The short review herewith attached, published a year ago in the weekly Times Literary Supplement, may interest you.
All my friendship,
 A bibliography is printed in Stephanos Efthymiadis, Claudia Rapp and Dimitris Tsougarakis, eds., Bosphorus: Essays in Honour of Cyril Mango, Byzantinische Forschungen 21 (Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert, 1995). Another festschrift presented to him is Ihor Ševčenko and Irmgard Hutter, eds., Aetos. Studies in Honour of Cyril Mango Presented to Him on April 14, 1998 (Stuttgart: Teubner, 1998).
Brigitte Pitarakis, Le Centre national de la recherche scientifique