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The Oxford History of Byzantium

The Oxford History of Byzantium

Hardback

Edited by Cyril Mango

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 184mm x 248mm x 38mm | 1,139g
  • Publication date: 5 December 2002
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0198140983
  • ISBN 13: 9780198140986
  • Illustrations note: 24pp colour plates and numerous halftones
  • Sales rank: 148,919

Product description

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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Author information

Cyril Mango was Bywater and Sotheby Professor of Byzantine and Modern Greek Language and Literature at Oxford until his retirement.

Review quote

The illustrations and their captions add to the educative value of this book: well chosen and beautifully reproduced, they help to illuminate many of the points made in the text. The numerous maps are also clear and instructive ... a useful tool for students and lay readers at all levels, although it could also serve as an elegant gift for the coffee table. Sobornost (incorporating Eastern Churches Review) This is a book which succeeds in giving the reader an introduction to many different aspects of Byzantium and a sense of its long history and wide-spreading civilisation. Anglo-Hellenic Review ... fine collection of plates and maps. Anglo-Hellenic Review ... a high quality book of essays by a distinguished group of scholars covering the broad outlines of the period, together with interesting chapters on culture. Anglo-Hellenic Review ... essential reading for anyone who wants to look beyond the strictly 'classical' limits of our subject and in so doing to gain a greater insight into the medium through which the ancient cultures were transmitted to us. JACT Review ... consistently excellent level of scholarship ... surprisingly easy to read for a book of this type. Its accessibility is further enhanced both by the beautiful photographs which illuminate the text and which present a commendably broad range of images and by the seven 'special features' in which subjects such as Icons and Monasticism are singled out for focused attention. JACT Review This handsome book, which comprises twelve essays on the history and culture of Byzantium written by a luminary array of Byzantine scholars from Britain and America, deserves a place in the Classics section of every school and university library. JACT Review The essays are well worth reading for themselves, but taken together the reader can gain from them an excellent overall impression of the changing fortunes of Byzantium over its long and varied history. This is an attractively produced and readable book, beautifully illustrated and unencumbered by footnotes ... an appealing and enjoyable read, especially for non-specialists wanting convenient access to the whole chronological range of Byzantine history. Averil Cameron, The Anglo-Hellenic Review Gives readers new insights based on the latest research ... The wealth of illustrations helps to bring this lost civilisation vividly back to life. Contemporary Review A triumph... there is a deliberate attempt to get beyond the merely political to understand the deeper movements which sustained the empire. It deserves the warmest recommendation. Charles Freeman, History Today Full of insight and interest, clearly written and beautifully presented, this splendid book helps to open up a window into an extraordinary age. Michael Kerrigan, The Scotsman, A remarkable achievement ... Highly recommended not only for scholars and students of Byzantium but also for interested general readers. Robert J. Andrews, Library Journal

Editorial reviews

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)

Table of contents

Introduction ; 1. The Eastern Empire from Constantine to Heraclius (306 - 641) ; 2. Life in City and Country ; 3. New Religion, Old Culture ; 4. The Rise of Islam ; 5. The Struggle for Survival ; 6. Iconoclasm ; 7. The Medieval Empire (780-1204) ; 8. The Revival of Learning ; 9. Spreading the Word: Byzantine Missions ; 10. Fragmentation (1204-1453) ; 11. Palaiologan Learning ; 12. Towards a Franco-Greek Culture ; Chronology ; Special features on hierarchies, pilgrimage, commerce, and monasticism