Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire

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Allen Lane, 2007 - Byzantine Empire - 391 pages
14 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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Review: Byzantium: The Surprising Life Of A Medieval Empire

User Review  - Hall's Bookshop - Goodreads

I should stress this is a re-read. As a Byzantinist, there is a chance I'm over-egging this book, but if it results in one or two more converts then that's well-worth it. Many introductions to ... Read full review

Review: Byzantium: The Surprising Life Of A Medieval Empire

User Review  - Timothy - Goodreads

I immensely enjoyed Herrin's The Formation of Christendom, and I'd been meaning for a while to read this one. I ended it with mixed feelings. Even though this is, I think, intended as her only book ... Read full review


The City of Constantine
Constantinople the Largest City in Christendom

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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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