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Constantinople: Capital of Byzantium
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Constantinople: Capital of Byzantium

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  45 ratings  ·  14 reviews
In the early Middle Ages, the greatest city in Europe was not Paris, London or Berlin but Constantinople, capital of Byzantium. It was an article of faith that a saintly emperor, divinely appointed, had founded Constantinople and that the city was as holy as Rome or Jerusalem. The Byzantine emperors assiduously promoted the notion of a spiritual aura around the city. Thus, ...more
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published December 20th 2007 by Continuum
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Harris has again produced a fascinating and easy to read volume on Byzantine history. The book is laid out in a more scholarly format, but it is a very easy and enjoyable read. Those unfamiliar with Byzantine history should have no problem just picking this book up and reading it. One section that really stands out is Harris' work on the defences of the city. I was expecting the usual statistics about the size of the walls, etc., but he takes a totally different angle and it works very well. As ...more
This is not your traditional history book. Harris' effort starts off reading like a tourist guide, more or less, guiding the reader through a snapshot of Contstantinople taken in 1200.

Gradually, however, he starts jumping back and forth, from the early days of the city to its bitter end, giving a more complete picture of how the final version of this great metropolis came to be. Mind you, this is not by any means a history of Byzantium; it's more of a tale of the city, its civilisation, its rich
Jonathan Harris has managed to tell in a short way the large history of Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire in general. With "Constantinople: Capital of Byzantium" he examines, as he tells us, the intriguing interaction between the spiritual and the political, the mythical and the actual with heyday of the year 1200 as his main reference (the peak of the empire). If someone wants to read something about this less known empire (despite it lasting for 1000 years) this book is a good introducti ...more
Constantinople follows the glamour, mythos, and corruption that was world's premier city Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire.

The city is treated as the main character of the book and its long tale of continaul deceptions for the Byzantine crown,its mythos as to why the capital lasted for over 1000 years in a vulnerable crossroads, its veneration to the saints, and its final days are lovingly covered.

Surprisingly, a book on a city with this much history and subsequent history-makers
This book provides some interesting tales and glimpses of Constantinople, and is good at describing how superstitions and religion shaped peoples' outlooks. It doesn't provide a narrative framework, or thesis but is rather more a collection of facts and stories. I wish it had better maps. I like history books where the writer asks and tries to answer questions, and this doesn't do enough of that for me. For example, why did imperial politics involve the blinding or exile of competitors, rather t ...more
I wouldn't recommend this book for a really in depth look at Byzantine history, but I think it's a fantastic supplement. I really appreciated the way that it's arranged by topics, rather than by chronology, and I love that a lot of the myths and ideas and beliefs of the Byzantine people are included--I feel like I got a pretty good of a sense of how folks living in Constantinople back then might have seen the world, which I haven't really gotten from any other book on Byzantium I've read. I also ...more
David Gwartney
Harris gives an overview of the Byzantine Empire from the perspective of the events around the year 1200, as well as through legends and anecdotes that encapsulate the city's history. It is an enjoyable way to get an overview of something as daunting as the history of Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire. I might have preferred a few more timelines and charts to get a better perspective of the history, but for those who can get buried in the all the details, this book is a good survey of a hi ...more
An interesting review of Constantinople's history it contains illuminating information on the cultural significance of the city. Political or historical analysis is not the goal of this work, however, it is sufficiently present to give form to his wider narrative. Harris' work is well researched and clearly laid out but suffers from geographic confusion, furthered by poor map usage, as well as an under utilization of pictures.
Tells a lot about the Eastern Roman Empire and Eastern Orthodoxy, by way of its capital city. Shows how far from the truth the catholic church went, by showing the general history of its capital city. A must read for any student of the period. Though it purports to be the history of Constantinople of 1200, it gives its whole history. Really just an introduction. Could have been much longer.
Gwen Perkins
I'm still reading this but thus far, I love his description of the city itself. This is a book for the casual Byzantinist, in my opinion, easy to read but with great facts and not dry at all. I do wish that he would have gone more in-depth on some of the rulers. He hits some of the great stories of Byzantium but leaves out details that I think would intrigue many lovers of popular history.
Quick read. Mostly a collection of stories about Byzantine intrigue- an interesting topic about which I know very little, but not quite the overarching sweep of history that I really like to read about.
Amazing -- this was a fascinating look at Constantinople in the year 1200. It was a great look into the functioning of a late Mediaeval city.
Jun 02, 2010 Ali marked it as unfinished
Shelves: travel-reading, 2010
I give up. It's plenty good as far as non-fiction goes, but it just isn't working with my short attention span.
Sean Vangordon
Good overview of the city and culture.
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Professor of the History of Byzantium.

Research interests: Byzantine History 900-1460; relations between Byzantium and the west, especially during the Crusades and the Italian Renaissance; the Greek diaspora after 1453.
More about Jonathan Harris...
Byzantium and the Crusades The End of Byzantium Modernism in Dispute: Art Since the Forties Shakespeare and Literary Theory Seizing Amber

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