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Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire

Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Byzantium. The name evokes grandeur and exoticism--gold, cunning, and complexity. In this unique book, Judith Herrin unveils the riches of a quite different civilization. Avoiding a standard chronological account of the Byzantine Empire's millennium--long history, she identifies the fundamental questions about Byzantium--what it was, and what special significance it holds for us today.

Bringing the latest scholarship to a general audience in accessible prose, Herrin focuses each short chapter around a representative theme, event, monument, or historical figure, and examines it within the full sweep of Byzantine history--from the foundation of Constantinople, the magnificent capital city built by Constantine the Great, to its capture by the Ottoman Turks.

She argues that Byzantium's crucial role as the eastern defender of Christendom against Muslim expansion during the early Middle Ages made Europe--and the modern Western world--possible. Herrin captivates us with her discussions of all facets of Byzantine culture and society. She walks us through the complex ceremonies of the imperial court. She describes the transcendent beauty and power of the church of Hagia Sophia, as well as chariot races, monastic spirituality, diplomacy, and literature. She reveals the fascinating worlds of military usurpers and ascetics, eunuchs and courtesans, and artisans who fashioned the silks, icons, ivories, and mosaics so readily associated with Byzantine art.

An innovative history written by one of our foremost scholars, Byzantium reveals this great civilization's rise to military and cultural supremacy, its spectacular destruction by the Fourth Crusade, and its revival and final conquest in 1453.

Review:

"Offering a brilliant study of the history of the Byzantine empire, Herrin — whose groundbreaking The Formation of Christendom challenged traditional views on the development of Christianity — draws a similarly original portrait of a tradition-based yet dynamic empire that protected Christianity by checking the westward expansion of Islam. Herrin progresses in lively fashion, chronicling the 1,000-year history of Byzantium from its rise in A.D. 306 to its demise at the hands of the Ottomans. Along the way, Herrin, a professor at King's College, London, introduces an astonishing cast of characters, such as the empire's first leader, Constantine I; religious leaders such as Patriarch Photios; and Anna Komnene, the great 12th-century historian whose Odyssey-like epic, the Alexiad, celebrated the 37-year reign of her father, Alexios I. Drawing on letters, journals and other primary documents from both political figures and ordinary citizens, Herrin splendidly recreates an empire whose religious art, educational curriculum, tax and legal systems, and coronation rituals preserved the best of the empire's pre-Christian Greek past while at the same time passing along advances to the rest of the world. Herrin's history is hands-down the finest introduction to Byzantium and its continuing significance for world history. 8 color illus.; 16 b&w illus.; maps." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"She presents Byzantium as a vibrant, dynamic, cosmopolitan reality which somehow escaped the constraints of its official ideology." The Economist

Synopsis:

"This book provides an introduction to Byzantium in a nonconventional fashion. It explores, in chronological order, basic questions about Byzantine history and society. I know of no other book that attempts this approach to the millennium-long history of Byzantium. Judith Herrin is a scholar at the top of her form."--Michael Maas, author of Exegesis and Empire in the Early Byzantine Mediterranean

"A very readable and enjoyable introduction to Byzantium. Judith Herrin is a major scholar of Byzantium with much to teach us."--Robert Ousterhout, author of Master Builders of Byzantium

About the Author

Judith Herrin is professor of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies at King's College London. She is the author of "Women in Purple: Rulers of Medieval Byzantium" and "The Formation of Christendom" (both Princeton).

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

List of Maps xii

Introduction: A Different History of Byzantium xiii

Part I: Foundations of Byzantium

Chapter 1: The City of Constantine 3

Chapter 2: Constantinople, the Largest City in Christendom 12

Chapter 3: The East Roman Empire 22

Chapter 4: Greek Orthodoxy 33

Chapter 5: The Church of Hagia Sophia 50

Chapter 6: The Ravenna Mosaics 61

Chapter 7: Roman Law 70

Part II: The Transition from Ancient to Medieval

Chapter 8: The Bulwark Against Islam 83

Chapter 9: Icons, a New Christian Art Form 98

Chapter 10: Iconoclasm and Icon Veneration 105

Chapter 11: A Literate and Articulate Society 119

Chapter 12: Saints Cyril and Methodios,'Apostles to the Slavs’ 131

Part: III: Byzantium Becomes a Medieval State

Chapter 13: Greek Fire 141

Chapter 14: The Byzantine Economy 148

Chapter 15: Eunuchs 160

Chapter 16: The Imperial Court 170

Chapter 17: Imperial Children,"Born in the Purple" 185

Chapter 18: Mount Athos 192

Chapter 19: Venice and the Fork 203

Chapter 20: Basil II,"The Bulgar-Slayer" 212

Chapter 21: Eleventh-Century Crisis 220

Chapter 22: Anna Komnene 232

Chapter 23: A Cosmopolitan Society 242

Part IV: Varieties of Byzantium

Chapter 24: The Fulcrum of the Crusades 255

Chapter 25: The Towers of Trebizond, Arta, Nicaea and Thessalonike 266

Chapter 26: Rebels and Patrons 281

Chapter 27: "Better the Turkish Turban than the Papal Tiara" 299

Chapter 28: The Siege of 1453 310

Conclusion: The Greatness and Legacy of Byzantium 321

Further Reading 339

List of Emperors Named in the Text 354

Chronology 357

Maps 363

Acknowledgements 375

Index 377

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691131511
Subtitle:
The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Author:
Herrin, Judith
Location:
Princeton
Subject:
Ancient - Greece
Subject:
Middle East - General
Subject:
Medieval
Subject:
Middle East - Turkey
Subject:
European History
Subject:
Archaeology and Ancient History
Subject:
History
Subject:
Civilization
Subject:
Byzantine Empire History.
Subject:
Byzantine Empire Civilization.
Copyright:
Publication Date:
December 2007
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Illustrations:
42 halftones. 8 color photos.
Pages:
416
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Western Civilization » Byzantium
History and Social Science » World History » Byzantium

Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 416 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691131511 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Offering a brilliant study of the history of the Byzantine empire, Herrin — whose groundbreaking The Formation of Christendom challenged traditional views on the development of Christianity — draws a similarly original portrait of a tradition-based yet dynamic empire that protected Christianity by checking the westward expansion of Islam. Herrin progresses in lively fashion, chronicling the 1,000-year history of Byzantium from its rise in A.D. 306 to its demise at the hands of the Ottomans. Along the way, Herrin, a professor at King's College, London, introduces an astonishing cast of characters, such as the empire's first leader, Constantine I; religious leaders such as Patriarch Photios; and Anna Komnene, the great 12th-century historian whose Odyssey-like epic, the Alexiad, celebrated the 37-year reign of her father, Alexios I. Drawing on letters, journals and other primary documents from both political figures and ordinary citizens, Herrin splendidly recreates an empire whose religious art, educational curriculum, tax and legal systems, and coronation rituals preserved the best of the empire's pre-Christian Greek past while at the same time passing along advances to the rest of the world. Herrin's history is hands-down the finest introduction to Byzantium and its continuing significance for world history. 8 color illus.; 16 b&w illus.; maps." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "She presents Byzantium as a vibrant, dynamic, cosmopolitan reality which somehow escaped the constraints of its official ideology."
"Synopsis" by , "This book provides an introduction to Byzantium in a nonconventional fashion. It explores, in chronological order, basic questions about Byzantine history and society. I know of no other book that attempts this approach to the millennium-long history of Byzantium. Judith Herrin is a scholar at the top of her form."--Michael Maas, author of Exegesis and Empire in the Early Byzantine Mediterranean

"A very readable and enjoyable introduction to Byzantium. Judith Herrin is a major scholar of Byzantium with much to teach us."--Robert Ousterhout, author of Master Builders of Byzantium

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