The Byzantine Empire (Revised Edition)

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CUA Press, Oct 1, 1992 - History - 310 pages
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This revised edition presents the history of the Byzantine Empire from the 6th to the 15th century, not merely in terms of political events, but also through the art, literature, and thought of Byzantine society. It emphasizes the constant tension between continuity and change, between conservation of the traditions of the Roman Empire of Augustus and Trajan and the Christian Roman Empire of Constantine and his successors on the one hand, and on the other, the need to react positively to the loss of the Latin-speaking west and the successive challenges offered by the Arab conquests, the Crusades, and the inexorable expansion of the Ottoman Empire. Browning rejects the almost traditional concept of decline and fall - an empire whose decline lasted a thousand years must have had an inner strength of its own - in favour of that of a changing and developing state that at some periods was the ""superpower"" of Europe. But great power status is always fragile, and the story of the Byzantines' response to being overtaken by others is not without its lessons for today. The complex problems of relations between the Christian and Muslim worlds, and between the Catholic/Protestant western Europe and Orthodox eastern Europe (including Russia), cannot be understood without some acquaintance of Byzantine history. Addressed to the general reader as well as to students and scholars, this volume encourages readers to be wary of unconscious prejudice and to reject hasty and superficial solutions.

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About the author (1992)

Robert Browning was the son of a well-to-do clerk in the Bank of England. He was educated by private tutors and from his own reading in his father's library and elsewhere. Browning's first publication was Pauline (1833). The work made no stir at all. The following year Browning went to St. Petersburg and from there to Italy. On his return to England in 1835 he published Paracelsus, a dramatic poem based on the life of the fifteenth-century magician and alchemist. Browning next attempted a play. Strafford was the first of the poet's dramatic failures; it ran only five nights at Covent Garden in 1836. An obscure and difficult poem, Sordello, appeared in 1840. It did a great deal toward giving Browning a reputation for being unintelligible and for limiting the circles of his readers. The most important event in Browning's life occurred in 1846, when he married Elizabeth Barrett. The marriage brought a new lightness and openness of voice to Browning's verse during the next 21 years, resulting in the great dramatic monologues of Men and Women in 1855 and the epic The Ring and the Book in 1867. It is not that these are the most beautiful poems of the Victorian Age, but they are the most perceptive; they reveal more clearly the men and women who speak the monologues, and the poet who conceived them, than any comparable works of the century. In the last two decades of his life Browning produced only a few great poems but much were grotesque and fantastic. He turned, too, to translations and transcriptions from the Greek tragedies; in spite of some powerful passages, these were not highly successful Robert Browning died in Italy in 1889. His body lies in Westminster Abbey.

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