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.
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"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 ByzantiumAbout 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).
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