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Read Byzantium The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire eBook » Paperback Ç reflectionslisburnltd ¸ Byzantium was one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever seen A dynamic cosmopolitan melting pot of East and West Christianity and paganism its empire lasted for oByzantium was one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever seen A dynamic cosmopolitan melting pot of East and West Christianity and paganism its empire lasted for o Too many people have this vague idea that in 476 the Roman Empire poofed out of existence taking with it all of its people most of its infrastructure and the Celts except for a few on the British Isles and then various Germans moved into the empty buildings converted to Christianity and just sat around doing nothing much except wait for the Renaissance to happen Maybe there's a vague awareness of the Muslim invasion of Iberia and possibly the Crusades but that's about itIn actual fact the Roman Empire had moved its capital from Rome to Byzantium redesigned and renamed Constantinople over a century and a half before and just continued to exist without interruption even as it lost control of the city that gave it its name They'd eventually reconuer Italy and lose it again and would continue to stick around as the Roman Empire for another millenniumObviously this book is about this It describes in impressive detail the transition from the classical Roman Empire to the medieval Christian Byzantium and the decay of its culture caused by conversion to that pernicious new religion; its rifts with the upstart bishops of Rome who felt they should really be in charge of this whole Christianity thing; how it provided Europe's most important line of defense against the Islamic Holy War first of the Arabs and then of the Turks; and its eventual destruction at the hands of traitorous Papists incessant civil wars and the Turks in roughly that orderDespite Western attitudes towards Byzantium both then and now its influence on the world around it cannot be overstated; everything from the symbolism of royalty to most Christian traditions to the shape of mosues to eating with forks was popularised by them At the same time it was a very alien civilisation with its eunuchs the third gender and its Roman and Greek traditions and its Orthodox Christianity Its complete disappearance without a clear successor state despite pretensions of Romania Moldavia and even Turkey only adds to the mystiueNot nearly enough people know anything about the second half of the history of the Roman Empire and the things they think they do know are often half remembered baseless caricatures by malicious twits like Montesuieu and William Lecky This book is a surprisingly excellent introduction that will certainly put to rest a whole host of misconceptionsAnd though it undoubtedly wasn't the intention it also illustrates very clearly the destructive effects of religion taken seriously

Judith Herrin É Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire pdf

Ver 1000 years Judith Herrin tells its extraordinary story afresh exploring aspects familiar and unfamiliar from the glorious church of Hagia Sophia to the secret of Greek F The story of the Byzantine Empire is a mystery to many who are otherwise knowledgeable about western civilization In recognition of that fact the author undertook this book with the hopes from providing an introduction to the Byzantine phenomenon The author successfully describes the 1100 year Byzantine civilization in 300 pages – no mean feat – by eschewing a standard chronological narrative of events in favor of a series of topical essays each addressing a different aspect of Byzantine society If you can get past the atrociously juvenile title the author’s writing is scholarly yet accessible However her endless bemoaning of history’s lack of appreciation for Byzantium uickly grows tiresome One cannot help but wonder if her frustration is not in fact kindled by her academic colleagues' insufficient appreciation for Byzantine studies Kissinger who famously said Academic fights are brutal than our fights in the real world because the stakes are so low would undoubtedly recognize an underappreciated specialist crying out for broader recognitionAs mentioned above the author does an admirable job of covering so much time in so little space and the book is not written as litany of great events let alone a military history Yet a few sentences here and there offering some detail into these matters would have gone a long way I wanted to know about the legendary walls of Constantinople and their final breach after a millennium of impregnability On all such details the book is silent Instead the book focuses almost exclusively on the cultural aspects of Byzantine history The reader will learn than he ever hoped to know about Byzantine currency and court life Indeed the author’s zest for Byzantium seems to grow out of her appreciation for its long history as a cultural crossroads that cross pollinated Islamic Greek and Latin influences throughout the Mediterranean With each turn of the page one cringes that the dreaded word diversity will rear its ugly head at any moment but that seems to be Byzantium’s greatest virtue in the author' estimation If so perhaps it has not been underappreciated at all though I think there is to be told about what was truly a remarkable and uniue civilizationStrangely in the final pages the author tackles Pope Benedict’s Regensburg lecture of 2006 The author can barely contain her contempt at Benedict’ use of the now famous uotation by Emperor Manuel II She rejects what she takes to be Benedict’s thesis – namely that whereas Latin Christianity synthesized ancient Greek reason and God’s revealed truth Islam by its very nature is incompatible with and unfriendly to reason and relies solely upon subservience to the revelation presented by the Prophet Muhammad It turns out that the Pope's error is made manifest by – uh oh – the diversity of Islamic expressions to be found throughout the Mediterranean over the years This odd detour at book’s end is actually revealing of one of the book’s other deficiencies – one that is perhaps unavoidable in such enterprises The author is unable to confront the Pope’s theological analysis on its own terms because for the skeptic theology is only sociology When faith is reduced to mere culture any history of events driven by people of faith can never hope to penetrate to the truth of the matter And so throughout the book the complicated and intensely theological tension between east and west is ultimately a cultural struggle and no And the Pope's reasoning is refuted by cultural indicators that in fact have little bearing on his actual point

book ´ The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire É Judith Herrin

Byzantium The Surprising Life of a Medieval EmpireIre from iconoclasm to eunuchs from the historian Anna Komnene to the humble fork In doing so she shows how Byzantium led Europe out of the dark ages and into the modern wor This is clearly a labour of love Herrin knows her stuff and is trying to communicate it to a broader audience Sometimes this results somewhat in insulting the general reader’s intelligence and yet at other times she gets deep into minutiae rather than covering the stuff that might really interest people — like the role of mutilation instead of assassination in political takeovers I wanted a lot of that and yet this one review explains it much thoroughly And yes that’s a very brief explanation but it’s than Herrin didByzantium is a fascinating empire and we do owe to it than we often believe Rome dominates our thoughts both in religion and in history — especially in Britain of course since we were ruled by Romans and then our entire state religion is based on a reaction to Roman Catholicism But Byzantium has much to teach us about the European past as wellHerrin definitely has a bias toward Constantinople and their way of worshipping and just about everything At times an apparent hostility to Roman Catholicism breaks through which is rather odd from a scholar and yet might have made the book interesting if it were a bit apparent — you have to choose which way to go and make it clearInteresting read but does get a bit bogged down in details and repetitiveReviewed for The Bibliophibian