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The Byzantine Empire





Books About the Byzantine Empire

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Book topics: Byzantium, Reference, Empresses, Theodosius, Justinian, Heraclius, Phrygian Dyansty, Macedonian Dynasty, Basil II, Comnenian Dynasty, Palaeologan Dynasty, Society, Art, Constantinople, War, After Byzantium, Fiction, Children's Books, DVDs, Roman Empire, Ottoman Empire, Crusades

The Byzantine Empire

Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization by Lars Brownworth. The astonishing saga of the emperors who ruled Byzantium, from Constantine, who founded his city in the year 330, to Constantine XI, who fought the empire's final battle more than a thousand years later.

Oxford History of Byzantium edited by Cyril Mango. Essays and illustrations portray the emergence and development of the Byzantine Empire from the fourth century to the mid-15th century.

History of the Byzantine State by Georgije Ostrogorski. Long recognized as the basic history of the Byzantine Empire, this book captures the full sweep, grandeur, and tragedy of Byzantium's rise and fall.

A History of Byzantium by Timothy Gregory. A concise narrative of Byzantine history from the time of Constantine the Great (AD 306) to the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

The Byzantine Empire by Robert Browning. An introduction to the Byzantine world. Browning rejects the traditional concept of decline and fall, seeing Byzantium as a changing and developing state that at some periods was the "superpower" of Europe.

A Concise History of Byzantium, 285-1461 by Warren T. Treadgold. Examines Byzantium's politics, military, and culture to explain the paradoxes of its long history.

A Synopsis of Byzantine History, 811-1057: Translation and Notes by John Skylitzes, translated by John Wortley. Covers the reigns of the Byzantine emperors from the death of Nicephorus I in 811 to the deposition of Michael VI in 1057, the only surviving continuous narrative of the late 10th and early 11th centuries. The author was a high official in the late 11th century.

The Emperor and the World by Alicia Walker. Exotic elements and the imaging of Middle Byzantine imperial power, 9th to 13th centuries C.E.

Byzantium: An Illustrated History by Sean McLachlan. Includes more than 50 photographs and maps, a timeline, a chronology of emperors, and a guide to Byzantine sites.

Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire by Judith Herrin. Examines the complex ceremonies of the imperial court, as well as chariot races, monastic spirituality, diplomacy, and literature.

The Palgrave Atlas of Byzantine History by John Haldon. This historical atlas charts key aspects of the political, social and economic history of the Byzantine Empire.

Books by John Julius Norwich

Byzantium: The Early Centuries by John Julius Norwich, edited by Elizabeth Sifton. A captivating account of the origins and early years of the Byzantine empire. 48 pages of illustrations, 16 in color. Maps.

Byzantium: The Apogee by John Julius Norwich. The second volume of Norwich's trilogy covers the three centuries after Charlemagne was crowned, up to the coronation of Alexius Comnenus. 32 pages of illustrations and seven maps.

Byzantium: The Decline and Fall by John Julius Norwich. The third volume of Norwich's trilogy; describes the end of the empire, and the fall of Constantinople in May 1453. With 32 pages of illustrations and 10 maps and tables.

A Short History of Byzantium by John Julius Norwich. Condensing Norwich's three-volume history, this overview captures the splendor and strangeness of Byzantine rule, marked by family intrigues, constant warfare, political and religious strife, and personal ambition. (Review © Amazon.com.)

General History of Byzantine Emperors

Emperor and Priest: The Imperial Office in Byzantium by Gilbert Dagron. The Byzantine emperor was sometimes also designated a priest. This book studies in detail the imperial union of "two powers," temporal and spiritual.

Imperial Byzantine Portraits by Constance Head. A study of portraits of all Byzantine rulers as depicted in paintings, sculpture, coins, and illuminated manuscripts.

History of Specific Periods

History of Later Roman Empire by John Bury. Published in two volumes, this work covers the Eastern empire from the death of Theodosius I to the death of Justinian. Available at Alibris.

The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor: Byzantine and Near Eastern History AD 284-813 translated by Roger Scott. Theophanes was a Byzantine abbot who fell victim to the Iconoclastic persecution. His chronicle provides a unique source for the history of empire and of the Persians, Arabs, Bulgarians, and other neighboring peoples. Difficult to obtain but may be available.

Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era, c.680-850: A History by Leslie Brubaker and John Haldon. Reinterprets the history of the period when the legitimacy of religious art was debated in Byzantium.

The Making of Byzantium, 600-1025 by Mark Whittow. Covers the last decade of the Roman empire as a superpower, the catastrophic crisis of the seventh century, and how the embattled Byzantine empire hung on in Constantinople and Asia Minor.

Byzantium: The Imperial Centuries AD 610-1071 by Romilly Jenkins.

The Byzantine Revival, 780-842 by Warren Treadgold. How the Byzantine Empire, led by a succession of extraordinary rulers, emerged from a long decline to reclaim its place as a leading state of the medieval world. From Alibris.

Byzantine Court Culture From 829 to 1204 edited by Henry MacGuire. Includes information about court costumes, ceremonies, palace gardens, and courtiers.

The Last Centuries of Byzantium, 1261-1453 by Donald M. Nichol. The Byzantine empire had to rebuild itself after dismemberment by the Fourth Crusade. This book narrates the empire's struggles for survival from 1261 until its final conquest in 1453.

Books About the Roman Empire
Books About the Crusades

Reference Books

Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium edited by Alexander P. Kazhdan. A three-volume, comprehensive dictionary of Byzantine civilization. The first resource of its kind, it features over 5,000 entries written by eminent Byzantinists, covering all aspects of life in the Byzantine world.

Encyclopedia of the Byzantine Empire by Jennifer Lawler. Over 1500 entries, from Adrianopolis to Zoe, on a broad range of topics.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium by John H. Rosser. Includes a chronology; overview of Byzantine civilization; a dictionary people, events, and important aspects of Byzantine culture; and a bibliography.

Byzantine Empresses

Books About Byzantine Empresses

Dynasties of Valentinian and Theodosius

Failure of Empire: Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century A.D. edited by Noel Lenski. The first comprehensive biography of Valens and account of his troubled reign.

Theodosius: The Empire at Bay by Stephen Williams and Gerald Friell. Theodosius I was the last Roman emperor to rule over both East and West. His reign was a turning point in the history of the late Roman Empire.

Law in the Crisis of Empire 379-455 AD by Tony Honore. The Theodosian dynasty and its quaestors.

Medieval Portraits From East & West by Eleanor Duckett. Biographies of 15 people, including 4th century Eastern emperor Theodosius II and his sister Pulcheria, who served as his regent. (No other Byzantine royals are profiled in this book.) Out of print, but available from Alibris.

Justinian I & Successors

Books About Justinian and His Dynasty

Emperor Heraclius

Heraclius, Emperor of Byzantium by Walter E. Kaegi. Evaluates the life and empire of the controversial and poorly understood emperor.

The Reign of Heraclius 610-641: Crisis and Confrontation by G. J. Reinink, Bernard H. Stolte, and Peter Van de Verhelst.

Phrygian (Amorian) Dynasty

The Emperor Theophilos and the East, 829-842: Court and Frontier in Byzantium During the Last Phase of Iconoclasm by Juan Signes Codoñer. Topics include the context in which Theophilos came to power, the continuous warfare with the Arabs, and the image of the emperor as a good ruler.

Macedonian Dynasty

Basil I, Founder of the Macedonian Dynasty by Norman Tobias. A study of the political and military history of the Byzantine empire in the ninth century.

The Reign of Leo VI (886-912): Politics and People by Shaun Tougher. Leo the Wise has been characterized as a careless and ineffectual emperor, but this book presents a more considered account of Leo and the politics of his age.

The Emperor Romanus Lecapenus and His Reign by Sir Steven Runciman. A study of 10th century Byzantium.

De Administrando Imperio by Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, translated by R. J. H. Jenkins. Written by a 10th century emperor, this is an excellent source of information about the empire's neighbors, the Slavs and Turks.

Fourteen Byzantine Rulers: The Chronographia by Michael Psellus. The death of Basil II in AD 1025 ushered in decades of turbulence, corruption, and incompetence. For the following half-century of extraordinary decline, our main source is Michael Psellus (1018-96). His vivid and forceful chronicle, full of psychological insight, both portrays and exemplifies the Byzantine way of life.

Sowing the Dragon's Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century by Eric McGeer. New translations of the Praecepta Militaria of emperor Nikephoros Phokas and the revised version included in the Taktika of Nikephoros.

Basil II

Basil II and the Governance of Empire, 976-1025 by Catherine Holmes. The first book-length study in English of the Byzantine emperor Basil II, who governed with both subtle persuasion and brute force.

The Legend of Basil the Bulgar-Slayer by Paul Stephenson. The reign of the Byzantine emperor Basil II (976-1025) has been considered a golden age, in which his greatest achievement was the annexation of Bulgaria. This book reveals that the legend of the "Bulgar-slayer" was created long after his death.

The Days of the Warlords by Paul A. Blaum. The struggles of two Byzantine warlords, Bardas Sclerus and Bardas Phocas, against emperor Basil II.

Byzantium in the Year 1000 edited by Paul Magdalino. Ten scholars from six countries reassess key aspects of the empire's politics and culture during the long reign of Basil II Bulgaroctonus.

Comnenian Dynasty

The Alexiad by Anna Comnena. The author of this classic history was the daughter of Alexius I. Her book covers her father's reign and the First Crusade.

Anna Komnene and Her Times edited by Thalia Gouma-Peterson. About women's literature in Byzantium and princess Anna Comnena.

The First Crusade: The Call from the East by Peter Frankopan. According to tradition, the First Crusade began at Pope Urban II's instigation. But what if the real catalyst was Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos?

Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus by John Cinnamus. Account of the reigns of John II and Manuel I, written by a secretary of Manuel I.

The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos, 1143-1180 by Paul Magdalino. This book, the first devoted to Manuel's reign for over 80 years, re-evaluates the emperor in the light of recent scholarship.

The Development of the Komnenian Army: 1081-1180 by John W. Birkenmeier.

Palaeologan Dynasty

Imperial Twilight by Constance Head. The Palaiologos dynasty and the decline of Byzantium.

The Early Palaeologan Renaissance 1261-C. 1360 by Edmund Fryde. How emperors and high officials revived the glories of ancient Greek culture after the recovery of Constantinople in 1261.

The Reluctant Emperor by Donald M. Nicol. A biography of John Cantacuzene, Byzantine emperor and monk, 1295-1383.

Manuel II Palaeologus (1391-1425): A Study in Late Byzantine Statesmanship by John W. Barker.

The Immortal Emperor by Donald M. Nichol. Biography of Constantine XI Palaiologos, the last Christian emperor of Constantinople and Byzantium. The book also discusses recent claimants to the Byzantine throne.

The Fall of Constantinople 1453 by Steven Runciman. This classic account shows how the fall of Constantinople in May 1453, after a siege of several weeks, came as a bitter shock to Western Christendom. To the Turks, victory guaranteed that their empire would last.

Books About the Ottoman Empire

Byzantine Court and Society

Flavours of Byzantium by Andrew Dalby. A study of the food that was eaten at the court of the Eastern Roman Empire at Constantinople in the Middle Ages.

Byzantine Dress: Representations of Secular Dress in Eighth- to Twelfth-Century Painting by Jennifer L. Ball. Examines how Byzantine clothes reflected, rank, wealth, and fashion.

The Perfect Servant: Eunuchs and the Social Construction of Gender in Byzantium by Kathryn M. Ringrose. Eunuchs were prominent in both the imperial court and the church, and uniquely suited for important roles in Byzantine life.

Daily Life in the Byzantine Empire by Marcus Rautman. Learn about Byzantine time-keeping, weddings, sports, games, skin care, humor, education, and more.

A History of the Byzantine State and Society by Warren Treadgold.

The Economic History of Byzantium edited by Angeliki E. Laiou and Charalampos Bouras. Covers the Byzantine economy from the 7th through the 15th century.

Books About Byzantine Women

Byzantine Art & Architecture

Byzantine Art and Architecture: An Introduction by Lyn Rodley. Covers the whole Byzantine period from the 4th to the 14th century by period. Illustrated with over 300 maps, plans, and halftones.

Oxford History of Art: Byzantine Art by Robin Cormack. Focuses on the art of Constantinople from 330 to 1453.

Art of the Byzantine Era by David Talbot Rice. A complete account of Byzantine art from the reign of Justinian to the fall of Constantinople.

Glory of Byzantium: Arts and Culture of the Middle Byzantine Era, A.D. 843-1261 edited by Helen C. Evans and William D. Wixom. A stunning, 604 page coffee-table artbook based on the exhibition of the art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557) edited by Helen C. Evans, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. This book, the first to focus exclusively on the last centuries of the Byzantine era, presents hundreds of objects in all media.

The Road to Byzantium: Luxury Arts of Antiquity by Andrei Alekseyev. Focuses on objects made for wealthy patrons from precious materials such as gold, silver and ivory.

Books About the Hagia Sophia

City of Constantinople

Istanbul: The Imperial City by John Freely. Tells the story of the city from its foundation to the present day.

Byzantine Constantinople: Monuments, Topography and Everyday Life edited by Nevra Necipoglu.

Books About Istanbul in Ottoman Times

Byzantine Military & Wars

Byzantium and Its Army 284-1081 by Warren Treadgold. The first general book on the Byzantine army in any language. The author traces the army from its reorganization under Diocletian (284-305) until its disintegration after the battle of Manzikert (1071).

Warfare, State And Society In The Byzantine World 565-1204 by John Haldon. Examines Byzantine attitudes toward war, effect of war on society and culture, strategy and tactics, and more.

Byzantium at War, AD 600-1453 by John Haldon. Tells the full story of the Byzantine Empire, from the days when it was barely clinging to survival until its last emperor died fighting on the ramparts.

The Late Byzantine Army: Arms and Society, 1204-1453 by Mark C. Bartusis. Examines in detail the use of the Byzantine army as an instrument of policy, and as an institution in itself.

Byzantine Tradition After Byzantium

Byzantium After Byzantium by Nikolae Iorga, translated by Laura Treptow. Argues that Byzantium did not die, but continued to influence European history up to the beginning of the 19th century.

Fiction About the Byzantine Empire

The High City by Cecelia Holland. Byzantine emperor Basil II's most trusted troops are foreign mercenaries, including the son of an Irish slave, who comes to the notice of the emperor's wife.

Empress of Byzantium by Helen Mahler. Novel about Eudocia, wife of Eastern emperor Theodosius II. Popular, but said to be inaccurate. Out of print, but available from Alibris.

Belt of Gold by Cecelia Holland. Novel set in 9th century Byzantium. Beneath the seductive opulence of Constantinople, evil deeds are brewing and the Empress Irene's throne is imperiled. Out of print, but available from Alibris.

Novels About Justinian I and Justinian II

Children's Books

The Byzantine Empire by Elsa Marston. Children's book.

Anna of Byzantium by Tracy Barrett. A young adult novel about Anna Comnena, Byzantine princess and historian.

In the Heroic Age of Basil II: Emperor of Byzantium by Penelope Delta. Fiction for children ages 9 to 12.

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Documentaries, Movies, and Music

These DVDs are formatted for North American audiences.

Byzantium: The Lost Empire. Documentary from the Discovery Channel. Pass through the gates of Constantinople, the eye of the world, where East still meets West. Explore the magnificent mosque of Hagia Sophia. Visit the treasury of St. Mark's in Venice, and see antiquities never before filmed for television. 3 hours, 29 minutes.

Documentary About Justinian
Videos & DVDs About the Roman Empire
Videos & DVDs About World Royalty

Byzantine Music


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