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    History of the Byzantine State
    by Georgije Ostrogorski
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 July, 1986)
    list price: $29.95 -- our price: $29.95
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    Reviews (5)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Good survey
    Ostrogorsky has put together a good single-volume survey of the thousand years of Byzantium.The tale begins, standardly, with Diocletian and Constantine, and ends with the fall of Constantinople in 1453.He takes an omniscient view of Byzantium, focusing neither on the lives and deeds of the Emperors nor the cultural and religious developments, but telling a well-balanced narrative.In that it serves as a useful introduction.However, Ostrogorsky writes without any passion, and fails to humanize the major figures.There are, though, several excellent maps that put others to shame.In all, the book is worth owning for the factual narrative and great maps.If you are looking for an impassioned and entertaining story you should pick up John Julius Norwich instead.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Overview of Byzantine History
    This book covers the whole history of the Byzantine state from aound 400 to its collapse in about 1400.

    The good part of the book is that in a compact way it covers the major political events over that 1000 year period. The not so good part is that it assumes knowledge about many peoples that contribute to the story.

    When I read "The Histories" by Herodus I had a terrible time getting through the part on the Scythians. That is because I had know idea who they were. I went to the Net and found a reference to them that was just a few paragraphs, that they were Indo-European, that they may have invented horseback riding, that their decendents still lived in the Cacus mountians. After that I was interested in them and had not trouble reading the material.

    I say this to point out the biggest drawback of this book. There is no mention of the ethnographic or linguistic relationships between the various groups. Today it is important that Serbs and Russians are enthnically close. This books doesn't give a hint of these kinds of relationships. That makes it more difficult to remember the information.

    However, it is still a valuable book to help understand the events that made the world the way that it is. It is scrupulous about its sources and there is no question that the information is as accurate as possible.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading
    George Ostrogorsky's book covers allByzantine history from Diocletianand Constantine to the fall of Constantinople in 1453. It is, moreover,intelligible and useful to the nonspecialist with only a broad historicalbackground. Its particular value is that it imparts an understanding of the*process* of Byzantine history, especially in three key periods. First, thetransformation of the decrepit East Roman Empire to a viable state able towithstand great adversities and heavy defeats. Second, the reinvigorationof that state after the iconoclast crisis and its rise to great power.Finally, the unintentionally suicidal policies adopted after the death ofBasil II, which led to the breaking of Byzantium's back only fifty yearslater. Ostrogorsky's copious footnotes - happily, not endnotes - areespecially useful because they cite many arguments and authors with whichOstrogorsky himself disagrees. Thus he provides easy access to views otherthan his own. There are a few minor irritants in the softcover edition, theabsence of most of Ostrogorsky's excellent maps being the main one. Thereis also some little use of untranslated and untransliterated Greek. Butneither deficiency adversely affects the book's overall value. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0813511984
    Sales Rank: 487948
    Subjects:  1. Byzantine Empire - History    2. Europe - Greece    3. History - General History    4. History: American    5. Medieval   


    $29.95

    History of the Later Roman Empire: From the Death of Theodosius I to the Death of Justinian (Volume 1)
    by J. B. Bury
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 June, 1958)
    list price: $16.95 -- our price: $11.53
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Reviews (4)

    3-0 out of 5 stars A valuable but flawed history
    This is volume 1 of a 2 volume reprint of a work originally published in 1923. The original publication date is not mentioned on the title page, back cover, or anywhere else and may only be inferred by reading the author's preface. Dover would really do its customers a service by mentioning the 1923 publication date somewhere. The reprint itself is adequately done, though it would have benefited from some pre-press touching up as small bits of text has dropped out in a few spots.

    Overall, this is an extremely useful book for the researcher of the Late Roman/Early Byzantine empire. Bury covers all aspects of the empire during this period in adequate detail--enough to maintain a full and compelling narrative, but not too much as to drown the reader in minutiae. As with many scholars of his time, Bury was extraordinarily learned and an expansive researcher. The breadth of the sources he cites is indeed impressive, and every page is heavily footnoted. A 20 page bibliography is included at the end of Volume 2 that includes ancient historical and literary sources, inscriptions, and modern historical, literary, and artistic works up through the 1920s. This is very useful for pointing the serious researcher toward resources to provide additional detail on specific subjects of interest.

    Readers should beware, however, that this book was written during a time when it was assumed that most folks trained in the liberal arts would have a working knowledge of both Greek and Latin. This may be a source of some frustration to modern readers, as Bury retains many short passages in the original languages.

    The greatest weakness of this work is one that afflicts many scholars of the Anglo-American tradition up to the present day--a barely concealed animus toward the Roman Catholic Church in general and toward the Papacy in particular. Sadly, this bias permeates Bury's work, along with a not-quite-dispassionate attachment to Greco-Roman paganism that borders on the romantic. For Bury, it gets so thick in sections that it completely eclipses any semblance of scholarly objectivity.

    An example may suffice: In a long tangent from his main narrative, Bury presents a harsh critical analysis of "City of God", the monumental work of St. Augustine of Hippo which seems distinctly out of place. As part of his critique, he writes, "The main argument itself, although it has a definite architectural scheme, is marred by diffuseness and digressions." It seems that the irony of such a statement, contained as it is in a diffuse digression from Bury's central theme, was lost on the author. And indeed, this statement makes for an accurate criticism of the whole of Bury's work.

    It is indeed unfortunate that many of the most celebrated modern resources in English for this time period were written by protestant/agnostic/atheist scholars with an axe to grind. Few works exist to hold up the Catholic argument--at least in English. Perhaps someday, a press will see fit to translate the truly monumental Ecclesiastical Annals of the 16th century apologist and historian Cardinal Baronius into English to provide some much-needed counterpoise to the easily available histories of Gibbon and Bury.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A great overview of another time
    J.B. Bury was an historian of note in the early part of the twentieth century.  Educated at Irish universities, he ended up as a professor at Cambridge.  He did much to expand the historical horizons of students and scholars in the English-speaking world, whose focus had narrowed into distinctly Western emphases.  This volume on the Late Roman Empire is one such work - not content to explore the Roman Empire as centred wholly upon Rome (or, as was often the case with British historians, a Rome-Canterbury axis), his interest in the histories further afield is evident by his concentration on `barbarian'/Germanic influences, Eastern Roman Empire and Byzantine events, and courses of history outside of those that led in a linear fashion to the modern British nation. 
     
    Quite often, histories written in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries suffer from several deficiencies, the bias described above being but one of them.  Lack of reference to archaeological and documentary evidence (some of which was not available) is often the case, and a cultural influence perhaps described as `Christendom-centric' is usually evident, if not blatantly then at least in implied and undergirding assumption.  Obviously, Bury's text cannot benefit from the archaeological and methodological developments of the twentieth century, but it does stand the test of time fairly well in terms of being broader in approach, less judgemental in analysis, and fairly close in using original source material and primary documents whenever possible.
     
    One of the comments that Bury makes regarding the times of the Late Roman Empire (which he dates from the death of Theodosius I in 395 to the death of Justinian in 565) still rings true today - we often know far more about the events and details of life in Egypt of the Pharoahs thousands of years prior than we do about the events, or even the leading figures, of the time sometimes referred to as the beginning of the Dark Ages (Bury himself rarely uses this term in the text as part of his own descriptions).    His selection of Theodosius and Justinian look to periods of unification in the general trend of disintegration of traditional Roman authority.  The centre of power had already shifted during the period of Diocletian and Constantine away from the actual city of Rome; Theodosius I was emperor of both East and West prior to his death in 395, and Justinian was the last of the emperors of the East to have any hegemony or real authority in the West (the official line of Western emperors ended with Julius Nepos and Romulus Augustulus nearly a hundred years before the time of Justinian). 
     
    Some of Bury's insights into the period dispel typical notions of the pattern of history - Bury points out that most of the so-called pagan invaders were in fact neither pagan nor invaders.  The Germanic `barbarians' were less waves of invaders, as often popularly thought, but more of the nature of longer-term settlers, who over time shifting the demographics away from Roman/Mediterranean to Northern European stock.  Battles were frequently, but rarely large and long-lasting.  As for being pagans, it is true that most were not orthodox/catholic Christians, but many if not most were Arian Christians, something that the more orthodox patriarchs in Rome, Constantinople and other leading centres of Christendom found to be even more of a threat. 
     
    The first volume covers about 120 years, a period of murkiness in the historical record.  Physical monuments are few and far between.  Church records and writings were always intentionally biased in presentations, as were the meagre political discourses which have survived.  Bury points out that no contemporary histories or records of events survive - sometimes even of the emperors and leading figures in Rome and other princedoms all we have left to us are names on lists (this same holds true for the early church and lists of bishops, patriarchs and popes).  Thus, reconstruction of the history of this period is one of reconstructing fragments. 
     
    Bury's text is interesting and lively, not at all the dry and dusty tome of typical of many nineteenth century academic writers.  Bury is a good corrective and addition to Gibbons, adding detail in his balanced treatment of East and West.  Bury includes several genealogical tables, interesting in that they still retain blank spaces where people's names in the charts remain unknown to us (while some have since been filled in by more recent scholars, some remain a mystery).  There are also useful maps.  There is a helpful index and bibliography, but this is found only at the conclusion of the second volume.

    4-0 out of 5 stars "In-Depth Survey of the Later Roman Empire"
    Volume one of Bury's in-depth work handles the vicissitudes of the later Empire, beginning with the end of Theodosius the Great's reign in A.D. 395 until Theoderic's artful subjugation of Italy in A.D. 493.Detailed civil, administrative, topographical, and military analysis' underlay a significant portion at the start of this work; and they provide important information concerning the Empire's indelible shift and mutual balance of power between the two great cities, Rome and Constantinople.Bury concentrates on the barbarian tribes that eventually made claims to independent sovreignty within, and on the fringes, of Imperial territory; and also on the emperors who ignominously ceeded it to them.Bury also delves on the theological disputes, Church and State relations, and the Pagan and Christian sentiments towards the Roman world in transition and decline.While this work is exhaustive and full of valuable research material, it still remains eloquent and interesting, containing an engrossing storyline througout its duration.A comprehensive study of the Later Roman Empire will be difficult without this volume; and with volume two, Bury's work will be totally indispensable. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0486203980
    Sales Rank: 328115
    Subjects:  1. Ancient - Rome    2. Byzantine Empire    3. Empire, 284-476    4. History    5. History - General History    6. History: World    7. Rome    8. History / General   


    $11.53

    History of the Later Roman Empire: From the Death of Theodosius I to the Death of Justinian (Volume 2)
    by John B. Bury
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 June, 1958)
    list price: $16.95 -- our price: $11.53
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Reviews (2)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent scholarship
    This book is volume 2 of a reprint edition of Bury's "History of the Later Roman Empire" which was originally published in the early 1920s. It is well to keep this in mind when reading this work, as all the footnotes refer to works of scholarship from this period or before (obviously!) and much archaeological and philological work has been done since then. The reader should also keep in mind that Bury was writing for an audience that could read classical Latin and Greek, and therefore he includes passages in both languages that are not translated.

    This second volume focuses exclusively on the reigns of Justin I and his famous nephew, Justinian the Great. As with the first volume, Bury's scholarship is very impressive and wide-ranging and the book is extraordinarily useful as a general reference on the reign of Justinian. In format, it is somewhat marred by disjunction and lack of flow among the chapters. Bury begins with a history of the reign of Justin I, but then interrupts his narrative with extensive character sketches of Justinian, Theodora, John the Cappadocian, and others as well as descriptions of the church of St. Sophia, the Nika Rebellion, etc. For those lacking a basic framework of Justinian's reign, this can make for confusing reading.

    Bury then picks up the narrative again, successfully blending the sources at his disposal to give a coherent account of the Persian, Gothic, and Vandalic wars of the Justinianic reign. Toward the end, he gives excellent summaries of the financial and ecclesiastical situations within the empire. His overview of the great Justinianic legal reform is good, and would have been better if Bury had not wasted two whole pages decrying Roman divorce laws--this being a peculiar preoccupation for some British writers. The work ends with a very useful discussion of the major historians of the 6th century, Procopius, John Malalas, Agathias, etc.

    Bury's romantic attachment to Greco-Roman paganism is evident throughout volume 2, though it is better concealed than in the previous volume. The same is true of his dislike for Roman Catholicism, and particularly the papacy. He maintains, however, an annoying tendency to judge the actions of historical figures in terms of 20th century humanism.

    Overall, as long as readers are able to spot Bury's occasional biases with a clear eye, they will be well-rewarded by the time they finish this volume.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Justinian period
    This second volume of Bury's work is a good stand-alone volume about the history of the Justinian period, but really belongs with the companion first volume, which when taken together forms a comprehensive view of the Late Roman Empire to the time of its final, irrevocable split.
     
    J.B. Bury was an historian of note in the early part of the twentieth century.  Educated at Irish universities, he ended up as a professor at Cambridge.  He did much to expand the historical horizons of students and scholars in the English-speaking world, whose focus had narrowed into distinctly Western emphases.  This volume on the Late Roman Empire is one such work - not content to explore the Roman Empire as centred wholly upon Rome (or, as was often the case with British historians, a Rome-Canterbury axis), his interest in the histories further afield is evident by his concentration on `barbarian'/Germanic influences, Eastern Roman Empire and Byzantine events, and courses of history outside of those that led in a linear fashion to the modern British nation. 
     
    Quite often, histories written in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries suffer from several deficiencies, the bias described above being but one of them.  Lack of reference to archaeological and documentary evidence (some of which was not available) is often the case, and a cultural influence perhaps described as `Christendom-centric' is usually evident, if not blatantly then at least in implied and undergirding assumption.  Obviously, Bury's text cannot benefit from the archaeological and methodological developments of the twentieth century, but it does stand the test of time fairly well in terms of being broader in approach, less judgemental in analysis, and fairly close in using original source material and primary documents whenever possible.
     
    One of the comments that Bury makes regarding the times of the Late Roman Empire (which he dates from the death of Theodosius I in 395 to the death of Justinian in 565) still rings true today - we often know far more about the events and details of life in Egypt of the Pharoahs thousands of years prior than we do about the events, or even the leading figures, of the time sometimes referred to as the beginning of the Dark Ages (Bury himself rarely uses this term in the text as part of his own descriptions).    His selection of Theodosius and Justinian look to periods of unification in the general trend of disintegration of traditional Roman authority.  The centre of power had already shifted during the period of Diocletian and Constantine away from the actual city of Rome; Theodosius I was emperor of both East and West prior to his death in 395, and Justinian was the last of the emperors of the East to have any hegemony or real authority in the West (the official line of Western emperors ended with Julius Nepos and Romulus Augustulus nearly a hundred years before the time of Justinian). 
     
    Some of Bury's insights into the period dispel typical notions of the pattern of history - Bury points out that most of the so-called pagan invaders were in fact neither pagan nor invaders.  The Germanic `barbarians' were less waves of invaders, as often popularly thought, but more of the nature of longer-term settlers, who over time shifting the demographics away from Roman/Mediterranean to Northern European stock.  Battles were frequently, but rarely large and long-lasting.  As for being pagans, it is true that most were not orthodox/catholic Christians, but many if not most were Arian Christians, something that the more orthodox patriarchs in Rome, Constantinople and other leading centres of Christendom found to be even more of a threat. 
     
    The second volume covers about 50 years, less than half the period of the first volume, a period of much greater clarity, relatively speaking, in the historical record.  Recreation of the historical record is still a matter of fragmentary reconstruction, but there is much more documentary data from the period of Justinian, whose reign represented a window of stability in administration for both East and West.  Consolidation of the church in many places, and reinstitution of the last of Roman authority in the West, which then served as the foundation for later kingdoms and cultures, took place during this time.
     
    Bury's balanced text is perhaps exemplified in his treatment of Theodora, a controversial figure in her own time and every time thereafter.  Bury is careful to balance political rumour and social innuendo from verifiable fact, and discusses not only the motivations of the Empress and Justinian, but also the people around her.  Particularly with regard to differences between Justinian and Theodora (for example, the Monophysite controversy), he is good at navigating an even-handed course in his discussion.
     
    Bury's text is interesting and lively, not at all the dry and dusty tome of typical of many nineteenth century academic writers.  Bury is a good corrective and addition to Gibbons, adding detail in his balanced treatment of East and West.  Bury includes several genealogical tables, interesting in that they still retain blank spaces where people's names in the charts remain unknown to us (while some have since been filled in by more recent scholars, some remain a mystery).  There are also useful maps.  There is a helpful index and bibliography, but this is found only at the conclusion of this second volume.
    ... Read more

    Isbn: 0486203999
    Sales Rank: 353051
    Subjects:  1. Ancient - Rome    2. Byzantine Empire    3. Empire, 284-476    4. History    5. History - General History    6. History: World    7. Rome   


    $11.53

    The Later Roman Empire, 284-602: A Social, Economic, and Administrative Survey (2 Volume Set)
    by A.H.M Jones
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 June, 1986)
    list price: $65.00 -- our price: $65.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Reviews (2)

    4-0 out of 5 stars "Exhaustive and Informative"
    A.H.M. Jones' exhaustive and resourceful two-volume work on the "Later Roman Empire," is a definite recommendation for anyone seeking a deeper perspective of the times, although for informal reading it is not suggested.Over three hundred years are covered elaborately in twelve-hundred pages, and also the appendix itself is roughly five-hundred pages, though much of it will not be intelligible to general readers, since much of the information in it is preserved in the original Latin.Jones' work is a fountain head of research material, broken into two parts: the first is a basic overview of the religious, political, and military conditions of the empire; and the second part, which is more bulky and detailed, is an overview of the social, economic, and administrative aspects of the empire.With this, and J.B. Bury's two-volume work on the "Later Roman Empire," one may boast of holding two of the greater achievements in scholarship on this particular area of study.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A titanic source of reference
    This mammoth work guides the reader through all aspects of the later Roman Empire showering facts and sources upon him. It is better, perhaps, as a source of reference than as bedtime reading, for its sheer size and density of fact would exhaust all but the most avid and concentrated historians of the period.

    The most useful aspect of it must be the incredibly detailed source references, which comprise the fourth volume of his work. This enables those who have not the time or energy to wade through the entire book to use it as the definitive piece of reference for the period. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0801832853
    Sales Rank: 365906
    Subjects:  1. Ancient - General    2. Byzantine Empire    3. Empire, 284-476    4. Europe - Italy    5. History    6. History - General History    7. History: World    8. Rome    9. To 527    10. History / Ancient / General   


    $65.00

    The Making of Byzantium, 600-1025
    by Mark Whittow
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 July, 1996)
    list price: $24.95 -- our price: $24.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Reviews (2)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking.
    An excellent book for someone who wants to gain an understanding of the Empire and what drove it.The author makes a genuine attempt to help the reader to set aside the biases and prejudices of our age and to see things from a Byzantine perspective.He also calls into question certain myths that are repeated all too frequently in histories of the Empire -- such as the legend that Emperor Basil II blinded 14,000 Bulgarian prisoners.There is no contemporary evidence for this, yet the tale continues to be told. Also, as noted in the other review, Whittow calls into question standard views on the size and organization of the Empire's military resources.I'm not fully convinced by his arguments, but they cannot be ignored.Above all, though, this book is valuable for the attention it gives to parts of the Medieval world that are all too often ignored or forgotten, like Armenia and the Georgia in the Transcaucasus or the Khazars in the steppes of what is now southern Russia.The attentive reader will go away with a much fuller and clearer knowledge of the Early Middle Ages.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent book that challanges widely held beliefs.
    Whittow makes the reader re-examine widely held beliefs on the structure and history of the Byzantine Empire.His views on the lack of success of the military structure of the Empire as well as the basic size andfinancing of the government caused me to completely rethink my impressionsof the Empire.I haven't heard of much discussion concerning his views,however, I believe this book will dramatically alter the perceptions of theByzantine Empire and will cause scholars to rethink their beliefs. Excellent! ... Read more

    Isbn: 0520204972
    Sales Rank: 71376
    Subjects:  1. 527-1081    2. Ancient - General    3. Byzantine Empire    4. Church history    5. Europe - Greece    6. History    7. History - General History    8. History: World    9. Orthodox Eastern Church   


    $24.95

    The Byzantine Revival, 780-842
    by Warren Treadgold
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 September, 1991)
    list price: $34.95 -- our price: $34.95
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    Reviews (1)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Successful Revitalization of an Ancient Empire
    In another great text on Byzantine History, Treadgold shows how the Byzantine Empire, wrought by devastation on all sides from Avars, Slavs, Bulgars, Arabs and Saracens, as well as entangled in internal strife over the question of iconography was able to revitalize itself under a series of successful rulers beginning in 780. He provides accurate and useful information on the economy, the growth of the Orthodox Chruch, the debates of Iconoclasm, and the successful re-Hellenization of of the Balkans while keeping the reader interested and focused on the topic. What I like best about this book is that at the end of each chapter, he provides an overall assessment of the Empire, its growth since its last emperor, the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the times. The main argument Treadgold is trying to portray is that in this period of regrowth, the Empire was reduced to its skeletal framework, but was able to monopolize on a being a smaller regional state, and expand back into the Balkans and Asia Minor with a series of strategic and unified military and diplomatic endeavors and hold onto any new territorial claims. Here is where we see the beginnings of Byzantine culture, the revitalization of learning, and the guidance of educated patriarchs and monks that set the stage for the next 300 years of Byzantium's Golden Age. This book is a must for anyone who wishes to learn about how Byzantium recovered from its earlier defeats at the hands of Persia and Islam, and was able to come back stronger than ever before. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0804718962
    Sales Rank: 279047
    Subjects:  1. Byzantine Empire - History    2. Europe - Greece    3. History - General History    4. History: World   


    $34.95

    Byzantium: The Imperial Centuries Ad 610-1071 (Medieval Academy Reprints for Teaching, 18)
    by Romilly Jenkins
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 June, 1987)
    list price: $24.95 -- our price: $24.95
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    Reviews (1)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Good, but not perfect
    I read this book about five years ago, so it's not fresh in my memory.As I recall, it does give a good account and analysis of the major events that occurred within the time period it covers.Aside from an underlying anti-Christian bias that can sometimes be perceived, it does give balanced and even-handed coverage.All things considered, I recommend it to anyone who wants to seriously study the Byzantine Empire. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0802066674
    Sales Rank: 1038276
    Subjects:  1. Americas (North Central South West Indies)    2. Byzantine Empire - History    3. Eastern Europe - General    4. History    5. History - General History    6. History: American    7. Medieval   


    $24.95

    A History of the Byzantine State and Society
    by Warren Treadgold, Treadgold
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 November, 1997)
    list price: $39.95 -- our price: $26.37
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    Reviews (14)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Scholarly and Entertaining
    Treadgold's survey bridges a gap between the enjoyable yet sometimes sloppy work by Norwich and the considerably drier history of Ostrogorsky. He avoids Norwich's foible of sensationalizing Byzantine history, yet manages to tell an intriguing story nonetheless. Highly recommended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars As Good as Going to Get
    Eight hundred odd pages to cover a thousand plus years of history is a major undertaking.The author weaves a remarkablly interesting and almost always coherent narative moving along at an generally brisk pace. Treadgold makes the most of what is available in the sources.It is very easy to wish for a more finely rendered and detailed social or intellectual history.However, within the limits available both as to print space and primary sources, Treadgold does a remarkable job of laying out the history of this vast, varied and long lived empire.The military, political, and theological matters of importance which were the prime motive forces in the history of Byzantium are well explicated.Economics, demographics, and epidemiology all make interrelated appearances to the extent that the underlying source material is available.Treadgold handles his material with a deft touch and extracts keen insights and interesteing factoids throughout the book.This book is an excellent introduction to the history of the Byzantine Empire for one who is reasonablly well read in the general history of the period. Are other interpretations of equal validity available in specific instances regarding Byzantine history?Yes, they are.But that is to quibble over the details.This is the definitive general work on the topic for the moment and the forseeable future.We should enjoy it for what it is, and we owe the author a debt of gratitude for a lot of hard work well done.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Really only for the diehard Byzantium Enthusiast
    Detailed, precise, complete, and thick. That is how I describe "A History of the Byzantine State and Society." It is really a book only for the diehard Byzantine enthusiast. If you just want an introduction, there are other, smaller books by Treadgold which give a similiar overview but introduce you slowly.

    This work begins (really) with the ascention of Diocletion to the throne and ends with the destruction of the Empire of Trebizond in 1461. Everything is at least mentioned in some detail, though not always in great detail. It is, by far, more so a political history and without noticing it, gives religion far less a part in it than he really should have considering that Byzantium is probably in at least the top 5 most religious societies in history.

    It is definitely more organized then William Manchesters trilogy on Byzantium but not as easy to read. The writing style is 'Fact-After-Fact' and he does an increadibly poor job of explaining the "Monophysite" controversy in the immediate aftermath of Chalcedon in 451 yet doesn't cover the controversy with Nestorius and Ephesus in 431 nearly enough. Whatever you do when you read this, do't try to memorize ever fact that comes up since you will be overwhelmed completely. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0804726302
    Sales Rank: 149643
    Subjects:  1. Ancient - General    2. Byzantine Empire    3. Europe - Greece    4. History    5. History - General History    6. History: World    7. Renaissance   


    $26.37

    The Byzantine Empire 1025-1204 : A Political History (2nd Edition)
    by Michael Angold
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (18 August, 1997)
    list price: $50.60 -- our price: $50.60
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    Reviews (3)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Engrossing and Thought-Provoking
    Angold's is a wonderful and wonderfully readable analysis of two periods of Byzantine history: the fall of the Macedonian regime (1025-1081), and the rise and fall of the Comnenian regime (1081-1204).His explanation of the former goes well beyond the conventional story of incompetent emperors and courtly intrigue, bringing to the foreground the political, social, and intellectual changes of that time and the regime's attempts to cope with them.His portrait of Psellus is particularly illuminating.The analysis of how Alexius Comnenus adapted the government to meet these challenges is also penetrating.Only in the final part of the book is these a loss of focus (as indeed there was in the empire itself).Not a book for beginners, but useful for anyone who wants to look deeper at a fascinating period of history.

    3-0 out of 5 stars I was disappointed
    As a Byzantine history buff, I bought this book when it first came out, and was disappointed, though it's hard to say precisely why.It wasn't written, for my taste, in a particularly engaging style.(For point of comparison, I love Treadgold's style).Or perhaps it's just that is a time in the history of Byzantium when everyone appears to be pursuing their individual interests to the detriment of the state as a whole, and this simply made for a depressing read.In any case, I found myself skipping through the book to find those portions that interested me.On the other hand, since this is the only book I know of that covers this period in detail, I will keep the book in my collection.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent account of an exciting period
    Michael has brought his vast knowledge of the subject to bear in a lucid and very readable account of one of the most fascinating periods of this great civilisation.A joy. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0582294681
    Sales Rank: 232555
    Subjects:  1. 1025-1081    2. Byzantine Empire    3. Byzantine Empire - History    4. Civilization, Medieval    5. Comneni dynasty, 1081-1185    6. History    7. History & Theory - General    8. History - General History    9. History: World    10. Middle East - General    11. World - General    12. History / General   


    $50.60

    The Last Centuries of Byzantium, 1261-1453
    by Donald M. Nicol
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (14 October, 1993)
    list price: $36.99 -- our price: $36.99
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    Reviews (1)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Long Journey of Byzantium's Tragic but Noble End
    Donald Nicol's account of the last 250 years of Byzantine history is accurate, well written and neatly organized. Unlike studies of earlier agesfor the Empire where the Empire and the Arabs ruled the East, EasternMediterranean historyafter the Fourth Crusade can get rather complex andconfusing, as not only the Empire, but the "crusading" Latins,the Islamic nomads, and the Slavic Christian Kingdoms must all beconsidered. A tale that could easily become entangled and confusing for thereader, Nicol superbly narrates the events and provides detailed accountsof the players. He cleverly demonstrates how entrenched the beleaguredByzantines were, with the greedy Italians to the west, the encroachingTurks to the east, the growing Serbian Empire to the north, and thefestering internal decay of Imperial decentralization from within. Yet, theEmpire still produced great leaders like Theodore Laskaris I, John Vatazes,Michael VIII, John Cantacuzene, and perhaps the most tragic of all medievalheroes, Constantine XI Palaeologos, who all, in better times and without somany encoaching powers from the outside, may have saved the Empire fromsuch tragedies. But in addition to this sad tale of Byzantium's fall, Nicolalso narrates the flourishing of Orthodoxy in the Imperial and Slavicworld, as well as the flowering of learning and thought at Mistra, in thelower Peoloponese. This alone, was the spark that triggered the resurganceof knowledge and arts in the Italian Peninsula, less than 100 years afterthe Fall of Constantinople. What many, scholars and readers alike, tend toforget is that Byzantium's lasting legacy lay in its cultural achievementsin the Orthodox Church, as well as providing the materials and teachersthat would reawaken Western Europe into that period of rebirth so commonlyreferred to as the Renaissance. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0521439914
    Sales Rank: 132574
    Subjects:  1. 1081-1453    2. Byzantine Empire    3. Europe - Greece    4. History    5. History - General History    6. History: World    7. Medieval    8. Middle East - General    9. Asian / Middle Eastern history: BCE to c 500 CE    10. Europe    11. European history (ie other than Britain & Ireland)    12. History / Middle East   


    $36.99

    The Formation of Christendom (Princeton Paperbacks)
    by Judith Herrin
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 August, 1989)
    list price: $26.95 -- our price: $17.79
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    Reviews (3)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Informative And Wide Ranging
    'The Formation of Christendom' by Judith Herrin is an excellent resource for those interested in the crucial, much-maligned period when the Roman Empire fell apart, Byzantium and Islam arose, and the Roman Church gained institutional and intellectual primacy in western Europe. It should be essential reading for those allegedly educated many who think the Renaissance somehow erupted full blown in the 15th century without the important previous groundwork outlined here. True, it's not easy reading, but then again, this is not a beach novel. Particularly fascinating to me is the clear presentation of the relationships between political power and what now seem like obscure, even laughable, theological controversies. They were more serious and far-reaching than I would have imagined. Terrific book!

    4-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Synopsis Bridging The Gap Between East and West
    This is an excellent book that filled the gaps in my knowlege concerning the history of eastern christendom. Judith Herrin explains how the issues of Monotheletism, Iconoclasm, and the ideological struggle between the Papacy and Constantinople affected relations between both eastern and western "Europe". Her book is a close analysis of this struggle, spanning all of the early Middle Ages until 843. If your knowledge of the issue of iconoclasm is vague, then Judith Herrin's book is the one to buy.Her narrative is engaging, coherent, and thoughtful. It is a good synthesis of the developments of the Oecumenical Councils too. Her explication of the Franco-papal alliance and its influence on eastern christendom is what I found most illuminationg. The Afterword has a nice personal touch as well.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Demanding Survey of a Fascinating Topic
    This is an unbelievably comprehensive history of a little-known topic. Forthose not well-schooled in Late Antique, Early Christian, and EarlyMedieval history, Ms. Herrin's book is a tough introduction, assumingknowledge on a wide range of topics. Nonetheless, the overall narrative isfascinating and lack of background should not prevent one from enjoying it.This book's main thesis - that the Late Antique and Early Medievaldevelopments in Christianity explain modern Europe - is carefully andthoughtfully displayed. In addition, the prose is sharp and often elegant. Overall, Ms. Herrin's is an astounding accomplishment to read - both forthe specialist and the layman.

    Nonetheless, anyone who undertakes thisbook must be prepared to make a serious commitment to its rigor anddensity. Ms. Herrin is not patient in her presentation. You either get itor you don't. I spent many hours looking back to passages that I thought Ihad understood. Still, a delight. Highly, highly recommended. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0691008310
    Sales Rank: 472168
    Subjects:  1. Ancient - Rome    2. Christianity - History - General    3. Church history    4. History    5. History - General History    6. History: World    7. Medieval    8. Mediterranean Region    9. Middle Ages, 600-1500    10. European History    11. History / Medieval    12. Religion    13. World History/Comparative History   


    $17.79

    The Fall of Constantinople 1453 (Canto)
    by Steven Runciman
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (13 September, 1990)
    list price: $17.99 -- our price: $17.99
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    Reviews (28)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The tragic end of a proud civilization beautifully told
    Even after his death, Steven Runciman's works on the medieval Greeks and the Orthodox Church remain the standard for student seeking general information and for non-scholars seeking knowledge.

    As with all his works, The Fall of Constantinople is both well researched, but more importantly, well written.He provides enough background on the decline of the Eastern Empire and the rise of the Ottoman Turks to place the fall in proper perspective.The Eastern Empire in 1453 was a mere shadow of its once glorious self.The conspiracies and plots between Emperors, Patriarchs, Popes and Kings, ultimately, between Eastern and Western Christendom doomed the heir to the Caesars.

    Runciman's wonderful writing makes this come alive.He does not, like many historians, feel that a dry recitation of the facts alone is enough.Rather, his history reads almost like a novel.The characters have depth and emotion.The last Emperor is shown as a shrewd many trying desperately to save his people, even to the point of entering into an unpopular union with the Roman Church.The Sultan is no mere cartoon villain as often portrayed in medieval Europe or a politically correct Third World leader (as might be portrayed today) but rather a ruthless, though driven young man, determined to fulfill the goal of 8 centuries of Moslem leaders - the capture of "The City."

    And as the story winds toward its inevitable conclusion, you root for the heroes and mourn their deaths.

    Constantinople fell not because the Ottomans were the strongest empire in the world.Rather, it fell because the petty jealousies of the Western leaders made the defense of Constantinople impossible.Today, as the West finds itself again under attack, we should keep heed of our history, and avoid allowing our jealousies to cause another Fall of Constantinople.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fifteen stars
    One of THE all time great stories.A movie script would be appropriate.Can't wait to read this book again.Don't let this one go.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Grim, inexorable, heroic, glorious.
    Sir Steven Runciman was one of the English language's (if not the world's) leading scholars of the Crusades and the Eastern Roman Empire, and this brief but powerful book shows why. Norwich and his popular-history volumes of Byzantine history may be a more contemporary, personality-driven look at the story, but nobody can match, in my opinion, Runciman for both breadth of scholarship and elegant, intelligent, and highly readable prose.

    Runciman shows that the fall of Constantinople to the Turks on May 29, 1453 (550 years ago today!) was both inevitable and of mostly marginal historical significance(except, of course, to the people of the city itself). It had always seemed to me an event of epochal importance -- the final slamming shut of history's pages on the Roman Empire. But literally in the book's first sentence, Sir Steven disabuses us of this notion, or that the fall marked the close of the Middle Ages. Indeed, "only the Papacy and a few scholars and romanticists had been genuinely shocked at the thought of the great historic Christian city passing into the hands of the infidel" (p. 179). For the most part, it was part of the rising tide of Turkish conquest, alarming in a general way, but not immediately catastrophic to the dying empire's fickle co-religionists in the West.

    Runciman's narrative is engrossing, full of political tension, military conflict, and the religious disputes that always colored Byzantine history. His characterizations are insightful, his descriptions colorful, his writing elegiac -- at times even poetic -- well-sourced (both Christian and Muslim authorities are consulted), and frequently entertaining, even when discussing a sad and even horrific topic. His larger works may not be to everyone's taste (for topic more than style), but a short work like this one, on an interesting and oft-neglected theme, is a worthwhile read for any student of history. Highly recommended. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0521398320
    Sales Rank: 19974
    Subjects:  1. Byzantine Empire - History    2. Europe - Greece    3. History    4. History - General History    5. History: World    6. Istanbul (Turkey)    7. Middle East - Turkey    8. Reference    9. Siege, 1453    10. Byzantine Empire    11. Europe    12. European history: c 500 to c 1500    13. History / Middle East    14. c 1500 to c 1600   


    $17.99

    Fourteen Byzantine Rulers : The Chronographia of Michael Psellus (Classics S.)
    by MichaelPsellus, E. R. A. Sewter
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (20 December, 1979)
    list price: $16.00 -- our price: $10.88
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    Reviews (6)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Informative, erudite and biased
    Michael Psellus was an 11th century Byzantine scholar, historian and member of the court. After the emperor Basil II, there followed a host of emperors and empresses from the Macedonian house. It is widely beleived that their collective rule contained much mismanagement, as they were more interested in (empty) learning, ritual and intrigues concerning their city of Constantinople, while ignoring the international political and military predicament of the Byzantine state.

    Psellus's Chronographia is his attempt to write a history of these rulers (the Macedonian house as well as the two following houses of Comnenus and Ducas) while utilising a more classical Greek historiography and methodology. The work can be seen as part of the Byzantine "Golden Age" where learning, literature and the arts became increasingly important. This is reflected in the work - it is full of quite dense narrative styles, literary allusions and other fragments of Greek learning. However, being written by such a versatile historian, it does contain a detailed and intelligent description of the Byzantine rulers and their works.

    The issue of bias comes from the fact that Psellus was himself involved in the politics for much of his life, and this is quite obvious, especially towards the end of the work where he launches into a vomit-like praise of the last few rulers. Also, he was himself part of the scholars so he can also be accused of many of the failings as his contemporary emperors and empresses.

    So why read this book, if you're not a historian? It is an erudite journey into a very different world. Written by someone with some definite opinions as to what history, learning and politics are, it opens to us the world of the Byzantine "Rennaisance" scholars, philosophers and politicians. Despite providing a whole heap of genuinely well-thought out and careful history, on a wider scale, it provides a Byzantine counterpart to the European Rennaisance man in Psellus, and shows a great deal of the power, versatility and bias of the human.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Test of Time
    I was first hooked on Byzantine history after picking up a copy of John Julius Norwich's abridged History of Byzantium. This led to an abiding interest in the second half of the Roman Empire.

    Psellus' turn of phrase and genuine storytelling ability make this book a pleasure to read. I only regret I cannot read it in its original Greek, for I think it would be even better. Despite the bias against his female compatriots (only to be expected in that era) Psellus remains fresh, authoritative, winning, and as balanced as can be expected. I love the Penguin editions of classic works- I rarely buy anything else- and my copy of the Chronographia is already dog-eared and underlined.

    In short, I truly recomment this edition for any serious or leisurely student of Byzantium. Psellus gives us a window into a sorely misunderstood time and age- as well as being able to tell a ripping good story when the mood takes him.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Original History
    I always like to read the original texts that historians tend to paraphrase.

    This is definitely not one of those antique histories writtenby a forgotten author.Instead, Psellos writes across a range of topics:psychology of leadership, geography, OrthodoxChristianity, statecraft,and let's not forget philosophy.This historical work is a tribute to thepower of the Medieval empire of the Greeks, the high extent of its culture,and its heritage. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0140441697
    Sales Rank: 181346
    Subjects:  1. Europe - Greece    2. History - General History    3. History: World    4. Medieval    5. Asian / Middle Eastern history: c 500 to c 1500    6. Byzantine Empire    7. History / General   


    $10.88

    The Alexiad of Anna Comnena (The Penguin Classics)
    by Anna Comnena, Edgar Robert Ashton Sewter
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 June, 1979)
    list price: $15.00
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    Reviews (10)

    4-0 out of 5 stars From a Woman's Point of View
    Written by Anna Comnena, the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I (1083-1153), this is the recollections by the princess of the Crusades as it occurred in her father's court during his reign.

    The perspective not only of a member of the court but also a woman's view point makes this an interesting and exceptional view of the Crusaders, often describing them more realistically than some of the histories that were commissioned by the lords.

    Ms. Comnena is perceptive in her observations.She notes details that are overlooked in other historical accounts.She starts with the history of her father the Emperor, the revolt that placed him on the throne, various families and their relationship with her father.

    She then gives accounts of the wars with the Normans, the Scyths, the Turkish wars, and the First Crusade.

    Ms. Comnena has a very good grasp of those things we would not expect a young lady of the court at that time to have.She knows politics, diplomacy and has a good grounding in science and mechanics.

    Her accounts are dramatic but show a good grasp of the situations she is describing.We do not expect this from a woman of this time, but this book clearly illustrates we are not as aware as we thought we were about woman at that time and place.She has a strong writing style and presents us with a picture of a well educated and aware woman who knows well her position and the positions of those in her court.

    We also experience first hand her hatred of her younger brother, whom she seems to resent and whom she actually tries to assassinate.

    Court intrigues, physical accounts of the Crusaders as they appear in her fathers court, the feeling of the life and politics of the time are all preserved in this book as a slice of culture in Byzantine Empire at the time of the First Crusade.A good reference book and a wonderful read for those interested in a different perspective of the Crusades.medievalcrusadesbabe

    5-0 out of 5 stars History as told by a participant
    I was fascinated by Byzantine history anyway, but there is nothing quite like the Alexiad. Anna Comnena, daughter of the Emperor Alexius I, recalls in her old age the days of her father. Surely she is biased, but we can factor out the bias. She is also a surprisingly literary woman, more often quoting Homer than the Bible (though she quotes both, and her everyday language must have been much like the Greek of her quotations, by then 1000 to 2000 years old). She's also a great character. (She apparently tried to have her brother, the heir apparent, assassinated---well, where does one think the term "Byzantine" came from?) She also leaves us with a puzzle--she describes her father's fatal disease but she has no way of knowing what it was. It sounds like cancer to me. Read the book and get back to me on that!

    5-0 out of 5 stars If Not True, It Could Be Literature
    The Alexiad is a great read both for the events described -- especially the emperor's battles of wits and might with a (from Anna's perspective) rogue's gallery of kingdoms and adventurers -- and for what the author reveals of herself, both overtly and unwittingly.By and large, Comnena is remarkably objective and a graceful writer, at least in this translation (where her occasional rambling asides are generally shifted into footnotes).The translator's footnoted comments are perceptive and unobtrusive. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0140442154
    Sales Rank: 360371
    Subjects:  1. 1048-1118    2. Alexius    3. Byzantine Empire    4. Emperor of the East,    5. General    6. History: World    7. I Comnenus,    8. Literature - Classics / Criticism    9. Renaissance    10. European history: c 500 to c 1500    11. Greece   


    Later Roman Empire, The : A.D. 354-378 (Penguin Classics)
    by AmmianusMarcellinus, AndrewWallace-Hadrill, WalterHamilton
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (05 August, 1986)
    list price: $15.95 -- our price: $10.85
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    Reviews (10)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The cause of the Fall of the Roman Emoire
    Although many things have been claimed to be responsible for the fall of Rome, it was clear to me, after reading this book, that Julian's invasion of Persia precipitated the fall of Rome.

    As can be seen from this book, Rome was at its' heights before the invasion. Julian had secured the European borders, and made friends with Rome's European enemies, and he was confident enough of Rome's security, to undertake the invasion.

    Persia had learned a lesson from Alexander's invasion, and this time, they burned all the foliage for the Roman Army's horse, poisoned wells, and generally made the land impossible for a large army to live off of.

    After Julian was killed, and the Roman army retreated in disgrace, and gave up Armenia in order to get out of Persia with their lives, Rome lost the respect of their subjects and enemies, and their enemies immediately began to challenge Rome.

    It is interesting to see that history may be repeating itself as the Iraqi's are preventing the American army from living off the land by destroying pipelines, etc., and America's attack on Iraq, coupled with its' failure, has caused America to lose the trust and respect of most of the world. As many nations are forming new trade and military alliances that exclude America, and are rearming, it may be that an ill timed attack on Persia will bring down another great power.

    It is also interesting to observe that if Alexander had not attacked Asia, that Macedonia, rather than Rome, would have been the ruler of the Western world. Although Alexander conquered Persia and other lands, he diluted the power of Macedonia, and his leaders were killed or absorbed into the foreign cultures.

    This book may be the world's greatest text book, on how powerful nations fall.

    I suggest that readers should read this book carefully, and reflect on the lessons that can be learned from it, rather than get caught up in the details.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent source for Late Roman history
    "This is the history of events from the reign of the Emperor Nerva to the death of Valens, which I, a former soldier and a Greek, have composed to the best of my ability. It claims to be the truth, which I have never ventured to pervert either by silence or a lie. The rest I leave to be written by better men whose abilities are in their prime. But if they choose to undertake the task I advise them to cast what they have to say in grand style."

    Thus ends Marcellinus's history of Rome. Although we have extant only the period from Constantius II to Valens (354 - 378 AD) it is enough to establish Marcellinus as one of the great ancient historians. It chronicles a troubled time near the end of the Roman Empire in the West and the advent of a new order in Europe. Beginning with the paranoid reign of Constantius II, the arian son of Constantine the Great, Marcellinus then focuses on Julian the Apostate and his meteoric rise to the purple. A throw-back to the time of the "virtuous pagans" like Marcus Aurelius, Julian attempts to reinvigorate the moribund corpse of classical paganism, moves steadily to put Christianity on the outs, and even attempts to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem. However, all his efforts come to naught in portentious ways, ending in his death while on a calamitous campaign in Persia.

    The work climaxes at the destruction of a Roman field army and death of the Emperor Valens at Adrianople by the Goths in 378. This catastrophe ranks along with Salamis, Pharsalus, Manzikert, and Lepanto in terms of being a battle that effectively changed the course of history. After the defeat, Gothic tribes roamed practically at will throughout the Empire, even sacking Rome in 410 AD and laying claim to all of Italy less than 100 years later.

    Though criticized by later historians, Marcellinus maintains a vivid style throughout the work that holds the reader's attention. This Penguin edition is abridged, giving greater weight to the reign of Julian than to Valentinian I or Valens. The translation manages to preserve well the "grand style" urged by Marcellinus. All in all, it is an excellent resource for the student of late classical history.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Vivid and Memorable History that Should be Better Known
    Even the most confirmed buffs of ancient or medieval history generally take a while to get around to reading Ammianus.Part of the problem may be that his history falls into the transition period between the ancient and medieval worlds, and thus lies outside the principal sphere of interest for confirmed buffs of either period.Another problem is that of the the four Roman emperors who dominate this history - Constantius II, Julian, Valentinian I and Valens - only the second is a particularly sympathetic character.No matter.This history covers a fascinating epoch - the hinge between the ancient and medieval worlds - and it is full of both intriguing details and unforgettably vivid set pieces, many of which are derived from the author's own personal experience.

    Ammianus Marcellinus was an emblematic figure of these transitional times - a Greek army officer who wrote his history in Latin; a man of the east, born in Antioch, who spent most of his military career facing the Persians along the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire, but who finished his life as a man of letters in Rome itself; and a pagan who viewed the rise of Christianity with detached objectivity.

    The quarter century covered by the surviving books of his history - the years 354 to 378 A.D. - begins with the Roman Empire in its late antique heyday.The Empire is still the greatest military power of its time, but is wasting its strength in massive civil wars.At the beginning of Ammianus's narrative, the Empire's main external enemy is still Persia, but his history covers the critical years in which the Roman frontier defenses in the west first began to show signs of cracking under the pressure of the German tribes east of the Rhine.His history recounts the final years of the competent, but superstitious and insecure, emperor Constantius II, the last surviving son of Constantine the Great; the rise in the west of Julian ("the Apostate"), who succeeds his cousin Constantius in 361 and launches two quixotic and ill-starred enterprises -- his attempt to restore paganism as the official faith of the Empire and a massive invasion of Persia that ends with his own death; and the beginning of the divided rule of the Empire under the two brothers Valentinian I and Valens.Ammianus's history closes on a night of blood and fire with the appalling Roman defeat by the Visigoths and Ostrogoths on the plains of Thrace near Adrianople - a portentous event that would lead, in less than a third of a century, to the fall of Rome itself.

    For the first ten years covered by his history, Ammianus was serving as an intelligence officer on the general staff of the Roman Army of the East.He was an interesting personality: a military man with an intellectually curious and wide-ranging mind; an unsentimental realist about human nature, but intensely loyal to those he respected; and a man who could pay appropriate tribute to those whom politics or international rivalries made his enemies.These qualities come through in his account (from 355 A.D.) of a chillingly effective covert operation in which he and a small group of officers were sent by Constantius to find a way to eliminate the commander of the Roman Army of the Rhine, who had been forced to declare himself emperor.The mission was a success: they bribed some of the commander's German auxiliaries, who as Ammianus recounts, "made their way into the palace, dragged Silvanus, who was on his way to a Christian service, from the shrine in which the panic-stricken man had taken refuge, and butchered him with repeated sword-thrusts."Then he eulogizes his victim: "Such was the end of a commander of no small merit, who was driven by fear of the slanders in which a hostile clique [at the court of Constantius] had ensnared him in his absence to adopt extreme measures of self-defense."

    As an example of the vivid first-person accounts that make this book so memorable, I offer the following passage, in which Ammianus describes his adventures in 359 A.D. as the undermanned Roman outposts west of the Tigris brace for the onslaught of an immense Persian army:

    "[We] marched in haste to make ready for the defense of Nisibis, fearing that the Persians might disguise their intention to besiege it and then fall upon it unaware.While the necessary measures were being pushed on inside the walls, smoky fires were seen flickering from the direction of the Tigris past the Moors' Fort and Sisara and the rest of the country in an unbroken chain right up to the city, in such unusual numbers that it was clear that the enemy's raiding parties had broken through and crossed the river.We hurried on at full speed in case the roads should be blocked, but when we were two miles from the city we came upon a child crying in the middle of the road.He was a fine boy, apparently about eight years old, and was wearing a neck ornament.He told us that he was the son of a man of good family, and that his mother, panic-stricken at the approach of the enemy, had abandoned him because he was an impediment to her flight.Our general pitied him, and on his orders I set the boy before me on my horse and took him back to the city, but I found the walls already invested and enemy parties scouring the neighborhood.

    "Dreading to find myself involved in the mysteries of a siege, I put the boy in the shelter of a postern gate that was not entirely shut, and galloped back half dead with fear to rejoin our column, but I only just avoided capture."

    The informative and often puckishly witty notes accompanying this volume by Andrew Wallace-Hadrill also merit commendation. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0140444068
    Sales Rank: 44120
    Subjects:  1. Ancient - Rome    2. Empire, 284-476    3. History    4. History - General History    5. Rome    6. Ancient Rome    7. European history: BCE to c 500 CE    8. History / General   


    $10.85

    The Emperor Romanus Lecapenus and his Reign : A Study of Tenth-Century Byzantium (Cambridge Paperback Library)
    by Steven Runciman
    Paperback (25 August, 1988)
    list price: $32.99 -- our price: $32.99
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    Isbn: 0521357225
    Sales Rank: 440036
    Subjects:  1. Byzantine Empire    2. Byzantine Empire - History    3. Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, 913-959    4. Emperor of the East,    5. Europe - Greece    6. History    7. History - General History    8. History: World    9. I Lecapenus,    10. Middle East - General    11. Romanus    12. d. 948    13. Asian / Middle Eastern history: c 500 to c 1500    14. History / Middle East    15. c 500 CE to c 1000 CE   


    $32.99

    The First Crusade (Canto)
    by Steven Runciman
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (31 January, 1992)
    list price: $15.99 -- our price: $15.99
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    Reviews (5)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Historical as well as Romantic
    Steven Runciman is well noted for his three-volume 'History of the Crusades' published in 1951.This paperback edition is an abridged excerpt of that work that focuses on specifically the First Crusade.

    This is a much 'romanticized' narration of the First Crusades, as Mr. Runciman is well known for inscribing his passion for this event into his work.But do not let that stop you from reading this account.Mr. Runciman has added detail to this volume using quotes from actual chroniclers of the time to build and augment his story.

    This abridged paperback gives you contemporary descriptions of the political climate, the backgrounds of the main players, overviews of many of the campaigns and battles of the event and weaves it all into an interesting story filled with zealots, nobility, passion, intrigue and fire.Reading this you can easily get swept into the spiritual fervor and single minded determination that these people must have had.

    You also feel the impact of the battles and massacres in his descriptions of the sieges and taking of the various cities.Mr. Runciman does a very good job of making sure the reader becomes involved in the details of events as the Crusaders storm through the Holy Land to the city of Jerusalem.

    There is no bibliography in the volume I have nor are there any pictures or maps.The 'Introductory Note' states 'The book is published without reference notes nor a bibliography.If readers wish to consult the sources, primary and secondary, on which my account is based, may I refer them to the original work, in which a full apparatus criticus is provided?A recent edition is still in print.'

    For a very well written and passionate account of the First Crusade this book will provide a good read as well as an historical overview of the event.
    medievalcrusadesbabe

    5-0 out of 5 stars Classic and Comprehensive, Readable and Enjoyable
    For an expert or someone not well-versed in the Crusades, there might not be a better resource than Steven Runciman's three-volume history of the Crusades.

    Volume one relates the origins of the Crusades, and Runciman also provides very interesting overview of Christian history in the process of describing the relationship of the Church in the east to Muslims and Jews.In doing so, the reader is impressed by the complexity of relations between the three major faiths that lay claim to the Holy Land, and how the complexity of these relations is not a new phenomenon.If anything, Volume One suggests that, freed from outside pressures, the "people of the book" can coexist.

    Runciman also conveys the human dynamic aspect of the early Crusades that might be lost.The relationships between the hermits and clergy that spawned the first crusade, the competition (of sorts) between the Frankish and German lords, their confrontations with Byzantine authorities (both ecclesiastical and secular) and those of the Middle East were the real drivers of the Crusades.In understanding how these human interactions developed and played out, the reader can better trace the ebb and flow of the cause-effect of actions and reactions that shaped the Crusades.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Good survey, beautiful book
    This abridgement couples Runciman's well narrated and concise account of the First Crusade with some beautiful illustrations of the Holy Land, medieval warfare, and Byzantine, Latin, and Muslim art.It is a shame, however, that amongst all these wonderful illustrations, there is not one detailed map of the Holy Land and Asia Minor.Still, the book is well worth having and reading.If you haven't already read the unabridged edition you may want to read that as well. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0521427053
    Sales Rank: 328455
    Subjects:  1. Crusades    2. Europe - General    3. First, 1096-1099    4. History    5. History - General History    6. History: World    7. Medieval    8. Medieval World History (Circa 450 - Circa 1450)    9. Europe    10. European history: c 500 to c 1500    11. History / Europe / General    12. United Kingdom, Great Britain    13. World history: c 500 to C 1500   


    $15.99

    Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes
    by John Meyendorff
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 June, 1987)
    list price: $20.00 -- our price: $20.00
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    Reviews (6)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect introduction for the theologically literate
    Meyendorff's introduction to Orthodox theology is extremely detailed in a concise manner. His style is smooth and easy to follow, although it really would help if the reader had some background in theology (but not much!). Take a look at the sample pages for a taste. This is one of the best intros to Orthodox theology in English and I recommend it heartily! Enjoy!

    You may also be interested in Jordan Bajis' "Common Ground". It is an excellent introduction to the Orthodox Tradition geared towards Western Christians. Kallistos Ware has written a more devotionally-flavored into, "The Orthodox Way", which is also highly useful.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A great guide to otherwise confusing issues
    Father Meyendorff's complete and detailed discussion about the complex theology of the Byzantine church is outstanding.The Christiology debate was a little over my head at points but his chapters on Iconoclasm and on the Schism between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church were top notch.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Classical Introduction to Byzantine Theology
    This well written book is a general survey of Byzantine Theology bothin its historical and doctrinal aspects. The first part deals exclusively with the historical development of the various theological doctrines of the Byzantine Church and the second part deals with the exposition of different doctirnes of theology. As a teacher Dr Meyendorff is clear and accurate in his coverage of the different aspects of theology.

    As a Roman Catholic I was impressed by the striking similarities between the Byzantine doctirnes and the Roman Catholic faith. The author is objective and clear in his exposition. He seemed a little preoccupied with comparing and contrasting the theological doctirines of the ByzantineChurch with those of theWest. This seemed to limit the scope of the book.As a book dealing with theology, it is a successful work beneficial to those looking for some insight into the theological doctirnes and their development in the Church. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0823209679
    Sales Rank: 149576
    Subjects:  1. Christianity - Theology - General    2. Doctrinal Theology    3. Eastern Christian Churches    4. Philosophy    5. Religious    6. Theology   


    $20.00

    Phoenix: The Byzantine Commonwealth: Eastern Europe 500-1453
    by Dimitri Obolensky
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (August, 2000)
    list price: $24.95 -- our price: $24.95
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    Reviews (4)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A superb appraisal of Byzantine heritage in Eastern Europe
    A span of almost thousand years marks the blooming and decadence of the Byzantine Empire.
    "The Byzantine Commonwealth - Eastern Europe 500-1453" is a balanced and informed history of the outer lands (provinces, independent principalities and kingdoms), mostly inhabited by Slavic populations,whose history intersected the one of the Empire.
    It is mostly a history of assimilation, with its many facets.
    The strategy of the empire to develop an extensive diplomacy of the sword and of the cross. The cautious and balanced use of force, diplomacy (both political and religious) and money. The widespread and deep phenomenon of inclusion and assimilation of cultural values that Constantinople inspired. The gradual political emancipation of the emerging new nations (Bulgaria, Serbia, Russia, Hungary and lastly Rumania)
    It ends in 1453, the year of the fall of Constantinople to the Turkish armies: in that moment the Byzantine commonwealth disintegrates and the great eastern diasporas begin (with the rise of the myth of the third Rome in Russia, the emergence of the principalities of Rumania, the defeat and toll of resentment in the Serbian and Balkan lands).
    Obolensky's study is already somehow outdated since first printed in 1971 for the "History of Civilization" Series of Phoenix Press (in the same series you can find the still unsurpassed "The Greek Experience" by C. M. Bowra,). It cannot take account of the events following the disintegration of USSR and the widespread renaissance of an Orthodox "koinè" (cultural community), especially religious but sometimes also political and social (this at least is one of the - highly debatable - theses advanced by professor Samuel P. Huntington in "The Clash of Civilizations"): a feature this one that cannot change the overall picture, but is nonetheless a strong indication about how deeper went the Byzantine influence.
    "The Byzantine Commonwealth" is sometimes very specific, and yet immensely interesting.
    I greatly enjoyed the history of the missionary work and travels of st.Constantine (Cyril) and Methodius, their invention of the Glagolitic (and later Cyrillic) script and the inception of the movement of translation from Greek to Old Church Slavonic (the medieval common language of the Slavic populations).
    Compelling are also the chapters dealing with the presence and spreading of heretical movements, especially Paulicianism and Bogomilism, sects influenced by Manicheism and that very likely "exerted a powerful influence upon the Patarene and Cathar (or Albigesian) movements in Italy and Southern France".
    It is amazing to realize the scantiness ofour knowledge and the prejudices we still retain about the Byzantine world. While for Rome and classical Greece we have still outstanding and impressive remains (temples, theatres, aqueducts, weapons and literature), the whitewash following the Turkish conquest and censure of history (from "the idle liars of neither gender" of bishop Liutprand of Cremona to the "tedious and uniform tale of weakness and misery" of Gibbon) have almost cancelled a thousand years of European history.
    The Iron Curtain tried to eradicate the deep-rooted marks of a common culture of the Russian and Balkan lands: a heritage of art and faith, common language and culture.
    But this civilization has been able to endure the floodings of history, Turkish conquests and Socialist utopias.
    And this is one of those rare books than can make us feel the warmth of this candle, still alight.

    In the Epilogue a part deserves to be cited in full because of its poetic and evocative force:
    "It is hence not surprising that the fall of Constantinople aroused these countries immediate feelings of horror and dismay. Greeks, Slavs and Rumanians reacted to this event by composing laments, in poetry and prose, for the captured and stricken city. A Greek popular poem probably composed in the second half of the fifteenth century, describes an imaginary scene of the last liturgy celebrated in St Sophia in the presence of the emperor and the patriarch, which was interrupted by the arrival of the infidels: as tears were seen in the eyes of the Virgin on the church's icons, the clergy was commanded by voice from heaven to send the cross, the Gospel book and the holy table to Western Europe lest they be profaned by the Turks. In another version of the story as the Turks broke into St Sophia a priest bearing the chalice left building through a door which miraculously closed behind him: on the day the Greeks recapture their city, he will re-emerge to complete unfinished liturgy."

    5-0 out of 5 stars Byzantium and the Barbarians
    After the fall of Rome, Byzantium was the greatest, richest, mostprestigious city in the known world. It was the center of the Orthodoxreligion and a great center of culture. It was also the target for every barbarian tribe who wanted a piece of the wealth land and culture.

    Dimitri Obolensky's readable book achieves two purposes. First he describes the relations between the Byzantine empire and her neighbors. Obolensky explains how the Byzantines used one barbarian tribe against another, like the Avars, Slavs, Bulgars, Pechenegs, Russians and Khazars. He also shows how the Byzantines used religion to influence the tribes and gain control over them. Eventually the barbarian tribes worshipped Byzantium, but did not trust it.

    Secondly Obolensky describes how the barbarian cultures like the Bulgars and the Russians adopted the culture and civilization of Byzantium. The new comers learned art, literature, law and religion from Byzantium.

    This book covers the period from 500 AD to the fall of Byzantium in 1453,
    starting with a description of the geography, roads and trade routes the Byzantines used, and their strategic importance. Then Obolensky recounts relations in order of region, from the Balkans, then east-central Europe and finally the coast of the black sea.
    Obolensky shows how the Byzantines became the source of legitimacy among the states that made up the commonwealth like the Bulgars and the Russians. Finally he recounts how the barbarians learned art, religion, law and literature, and civilization in general from the Byzantines.

    The book includes many well placed maps and photos that make this complicated subject clearer. Obolensky's book is a must read book for anyone interested in the history of Byzantium or medieval eastern Europe.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting and useful
    For my background reading on Central and East European EU Candidate Countries, I have been reading several books on the history of the Balkans.For the period 500-1453 I took the book from Prof. Obolensky (for 1453-early 20th century I recommend L. Stavrianos, Misha Glenny, and G. Hodos).I found the book clearly written and well set out.The central message of this study runs like a red thread thorugh the book. The influence of the Byzantine East Roman Empire on the law, culture, religion and art of the countries in that region is shown to be of major importance and is clearly one of the major shaping actors in the early history of the Balkans.Yet at the same time during this period there was no slavish following of whatever came from Byzantium.The complicated story of attraction and repulsion, the ongoing flow and struggles with the 'Byzantine Commonwealth' (i find prof. Obolenksy's expression in this contect quite useful) of the different peoples in the Balkans makes good reading and, for me, gives met the sense of a good first grasp of the outset of history on this fascinating region.This book is not always easy to read and not only for beginners, but the more rewarding for it. ... Read more

    Isbn: 1842120190
    Sales Rank: 559255
    Subjects:  1. Civilization    2. Eastern Europe - General    3. Europe, Eastern    4. History    5. History - General History    6. History: World    7. Medieval    8. History / Europe / Eastern   


    $24.95

    Gregory Palamas: The Triads (Classics of Western Spirituality)
    by John Meyendorff, Nicholas Gendle
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 August, 1982)
    list price: $19.95 -- our price: $13.57
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    Reviews (2)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Contents
    This is a translation of Gregory Palamas' "Triads" with an introduction by John Meyendorff. The popular level illustrated version of John Meyendorff's "Study of Gregory Palamas" is "Gregory Palamas and Orthodox Spirituality". The Triads is a major work of Gregory Palamas defending the possibility of direct experience of God against Barlaam of Calabria.

    3-0 out of 5 stars An "approachable" version of his larger work.
    This is a "more approachable" version of Meyendorff's larger and more scholarly tome on St. Palamas, which remains to this day the definitive work on the monk.This shorter version includes numerousphotographs and a good level of background/historical detail.Those with ageneral (non-scholarly) interest in learning more about Gregory Palamaswill find it especially convenient; though it will fail to satisfy thosewith a desire for in-depth academic information. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0809124475
    Sales Rank: 328597
    Subjects:  1. Christianity - Christian Life - General    2. Christianity - History - General    3. Doctrines    4. Hesychasm    5. Inspirational    6. Inspirational - General    7. Institutions & Organizations    8. Orthodox Eastern Church    9. Religion    10. Spiritual life   


    $13.57

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