Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire
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...more
In actual fac...more
It is spoken of in fiction and histories as an enigma, a shrouded maze of privileged deception and perfumed deceit, an insular, ossified, jewel-encrusted court, where guile and honeyed treachery reign supreme–a mediaeval Middle Eastern version of the Versailles of Louis XV. It is Byzantium.
But that image, as cinematically enticing as it may be, is one of the most effective examples of disinformation the world has ever seen, a...more
The author narrates the history of the Eastern Roman Empire through small chapters, each of which concentrate on events/issues/battles of a relevant period. This avoids a straightorward, lineal chronological account, and allows instead a highly-detailed...more
Things that were difficult for me: I think I just didn't have enough background on the medieval times anywhere to fully appreciate the topological discussion of the 1000+ year...more
The syllabus illustrates the prejudice among Western historians, from the Renai...more
So it was with great relish that I read Herrin's book which focused primarily on the culture of Byzantium and not the tedious listing of emperor after emperor. It was rich, colorful, and even I, a hardcore Byzantinist, lear...more
The book isn't really written as time line of facts, although the three parts have a kind of chronological order. The chapters are focussing on themes, for instance the position of the women, the educational system and the way Byzantium functioned economically...more
The work is organized i...more
But then I remember Mark Kurlansky's Cod, the vital, absorbing history of a fish in 220 pages. With recipes.
The Roman Empire split into two entities in the 4th Century, the Western and Eastern Empires, each ruled by an Emperor and each wit...more
I found the book not overly difficult to read but I don't think I'd go as far as another reviewer who compared it to good travel writing. And I got really tired of hearing the author complain about how unfairly character...more
Fiction, eat your heart out.
P.S. Similarly, Elizabe...more