Byzantium in Five Books: Introduction

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I hope this series of articles will prove of some interest.

In Byzantium in Five Books I will be featuring a series of works that I hold in special regard, and which cover a range of writing styles, topics, and approaches to Byzantine state history, culture, and society. The intention is not to compile some sort of best-of list, but instead to provide a short reading selection which provides accessible and reliable access to major themes and categories in Byzantine history.

My subjective criteria have been: range of subject matter; quality of writing - both in an academic and artistic sense; availability, and sheer 'reader appeal'. They are all works which I have found particularly useful; comprehensive on large scales, or perceptive and detailed on more small-scale subjects. They also have the shared quality of engaging the imagination.

I am very much aware this series will be a reflection of my own humble (and non-specialist) opinions. It also a forlorn task to boil down the great range of published material on Byzantium, even for non-specialist audiences. With this in mind I will also be featuring alternatives and "honourable mentions" for works which bear close comparison with those I have selected for special attention.

The works I will be featuring are:

  • Large Scale State History: A History of the Byzantine State and Society - Warren Treadgold
  • Society and Culture: The Byzantines - Gugliemo Cavallo (editor)
  • Art: Byzantine Style and Civilisation - Sir Steven Runciman
  • Narrative History: The Fall of Constantinople 1453 - Sir Steven Runciman
  • Primary Source in Translation: Fourteen Byzantine Rulers - Michael Psellos, translated by ERA Sewter.
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