The Oxford History of Byzantium is the only history to provide in concise form detailed coverage of Byzantium from its Roman beginnings to the fall of Constantinople and assimilation into the Turkish Empire. Lively essays and beautiful illustrations portray the emergence and development of a distinctive civilization, covering the period from the fourth century to the mid-fifteenth century. The authors - all working at the cutting edge of their particular fields - outline the political history of the Byzantine state and bring to life the evolution of a colourful culture. In AD 324, the Emperor Constantine the Great chose Byzantion, an ancient Greek colony at the mouth of the Thracian Bosphorous, as his imperial residence. He renamed the place 'Constaninopolis nova Roma', 'Constantinople, the new Rome' and the city (modern Istanbul) became the Eastern capital of the later Roman empire. The new Rome outlived the old and Constantine's successors continued to regard themselves as the legitimate emperors of Rome, just as their subjects called themselves Romaioi, or Romans long after they had forgotten the Latin language.
In the sixteenth century, Western humanists gave this eastern Roman empire ruled from Constantinople the epithet 'Byzantine'. Against a backdrop of stories of emperors, intrigues, battles, and bishops, this Oxford History uncovers the hidden mechanisms - economic, social, and demographic - that underlay the history of events. The authors explore everyday life in cities and villages, manufacture and trade, machinery of government, the church as an instrument of state, minorities, education, literary activity, beliefs and superstitions, monasticism, iconoclasm, the rise of Islam, and the fusion with Western, or Latin, culture. Byzantium linked the ancient and modern worlds, shaping traditions and handing down to both Eastern and Western civilization a vibrant legacy.
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(251mm x 192mm x 23mm)
Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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UK Kirkus Review »
This is an elegantly presented book of essays written by experts on different aspects of Byzantine culture, and the story of how the city on the Bosphorus evolved from Constantinople, to Byzantium, to Istanbul is a fascinating one. Step by step, the essays in this volume trace the history of Byzantium from its beginnings, when the Emperor Constantine Christianized the late Roman Empire and established his capital there, through the stages of its long fight against Islam, to its final surrender in 1453 and the triumphant renaming of Haghia Sophia (the Church of the Holy Wisdom) as the Blue Mosque. Although the book chronicles the reigns of various monarchs, paying due attention to the political and religious pressures paramount in each, it does not concern itself only with the history of rulership. It also examines the texture of daily life, drawing information from the written texts of antiquity as well as more recent archaeological discoveries. Its closing chapters address the issue of Byzantine influence, looking at missionary activities in Russia and Hungary, and detailing the fragmentation of the Byzantine empire. The book is generously illustrated with both black-and-white and coloured photographs, many of them close-ups of illustrated manuscripts or icons. One of the most beautiful is a detail from the altar of St. Mark's in Venice, a rare piece of jewelled art commissioned and executed in Constantinople. Despite being scholarly, these essays are not in the least inaccessible. Not a book to read at one sitting, it is best enjoyed a chapter at a time, read slowly and with leisure to savour the detail of the Byzantine civilization that continued to inspire creative thought for centuries after its disappearance. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Cyril Mango
Cyril Mango was Bywater and Sotheby Professor of Byzantine and Modern Greek Language and Literature at Oxford until his retirement.