A History of the Byzantine State and Society

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Stanford University Press, Nov 1, 1997 - History - 1044 pages
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This is the first comprehensive and up-to-date history of Byzantium to appear in almost sixty years, and the first ever to cover both the Byzantine state and Byzantine society. It begins in A.D. 285, when the emperor Diocletian separated what became Byzantium from the western Roman Empire, and ends in 1461, when the last Byzantine outposts fell to the Ottoman Turks.

Spanning twelve centuries and three continents, the Byzantine Empire linked the ancient and modern worlds, shaping and transmitting Greek, Roman, and Christian traditions—including the Greek classics, Roman law, and Christian theology—that remain vigorous today, not only in Eastern Europe and the Middle East but throughout Western civilization. Though in its politics Byzantium often resembled a third-world dictatorship, it has never yet been matched in maintaining a single state for so long, over a wide area inhabited by heterogeneous peoples.

Drawing on a wealth of original sources and modern works, the author treats political and social developments as a single vivid story, told partly in detailed narrative and partly in essays that clarify long-term changes. He avoids stereotypes and rejects such old and new historical orthodoxies as the persistent weakness of the Byzantine economy and the pervasive importance of holy men in Late Antiquity.

Without neglecting underlying social, cultural, and economic trends, the author shows the often crucial impact of nearly a hundred Byzantine emperors and empresses. What the emperor or empress did, or did not do, could rapidly confront ordinary Byzantines with economic ruin, new religious doctrines, or conquest by a foreign power. Much attention is paid to the complex life of the court and bureaucracy that has given us the adjective "byzantine." The major personalities include such famous names as Constantine, Justinian, Theodora, and Heraclius, along with lesser-known figures like Constans II, Irene, Basil II the Bulgar-Slayer, and Michael VIII Palaeologus.

Byzantine civilization emerges as durable, creative, and realistic, overcoming repeated setbacks to remain prosperous almost to the end. With 221 illustrations and 18 maps that complement the text, A History of the Byzantine State and Society should long remain the standard history of Byzantium not just for students and scholars but for all readers.


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User Review  - DinadansFriend - LibraryThing

A masterly survey, with the virtue of Convenient arrangement of political and some cultural and religious history. Treadgold runs a sort of scorecard on Emperor effectiveness and does introduce some ... Read full review

A history of the Byzantine state and society

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The last few years have seen a renewed interest in Byzantium (e.g., John J. Norwich's A Short History of Byzantium, LJ 4/1/97, and Treadgold's previous Byzantium and Its Army 284-1081, Stanford Univ ... Read full review


Copyright Page
PART ONE The Enlarged State and the Burdened Society
PART TWO The Interrupted Advance
PART THREE The Contained Catastrophe
PART FOUR The Long Revival
PART FIVE The Weak State and the Wealthy Society
Independence 13911461
State 12041461
APPENDIX Lists of Rulers
Bibliographical Survey

PART SIX The Failed Restoration

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About the author (1997)

Warren Treadgold is Professor of History at Florida International University. He is the author of, most recently, Byzantium and Its Army, 284-1081 (Stanford, 1995).

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