Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire

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Allen Lane, 2007 - Byzantine Empire - 391 pages
13 Reviews
For a thousand years Byzantium was a byword for imperial power, gold and international trade. This extraordinary but now little known empire combined paganism and classical Greek and Roman learning with orthodox Christianity, and for centuries held back the armies of Islam, making possible the transition from antiquity to modern Europe. From the prominence of eunuchs to the secret of 'Greek fire', it was surprising, creative and audacious.

Many long tomes have plodded through the emperors and battles of Byzantium, from the founding of its magnificent capital of Constantinople (today's Istanbul) in 330, to its fall to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Judith Herrin takes a new approach. In a concise and compelling account she focuses each short chapter around a theme such as a building (the great church of Hagia Sophia), luxury silks, iconoclasm, the fork, the crusades, or an individual, using them to take the reader on a journey from ancient to medieval times.

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User Review  - le.vert.galant - LibraryThing

A competent and readable history of the Byzantine empire. It updates earlier histories, such as the eloquent trilogy of John Julius Norwich, incorporating a more skeptical eye and covering a broader ... Read full review

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User Review  - MiaCulpa - LibraryThing

My knowledge of all things Byzantium was embarrassingly meagre prior to reading "Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire". I knew of the great military generals Belisaurus and Narses ("The ... Read full review

Contents

The City of Constantine
3
Constantinople the Largest City in Christendom
12
III
15
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

Judith Herrin was Stanley J. Seeger Professor of Byzantine History, Princeton University, 1991-1995 and is Director for the Centre for Hellenic Studies, King's College, London.

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