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A Short History of Byzantium de John Julius…
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A Short History of Byzantium (original: 1997; edição: 1998)

de John Julius Norwich (Autor)

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1,1102513,282 (3.89)31
"Norwich is always on the lookout for the small but revealing details. . . . All of this he recounts in a style that consistently entertains." --"The New York Times Book Review " In this magisterial adaptation of his epic three-volume history of Byzantium, John Julius Norwich chronicles the world's longest-lived Christian empire. Beginning with Constantine the Great, who in a.d. 330 made Christianity the religion of his realm and then transferred its capital to the city that would bear his name, Norwich follows the course of eleven centuries of Byzantine statecraft and warfare, politics and theology, manners and art. In the pages of A Short History of Byzantium we encounter mystics and philosophers, eunuchs and barbarians, and rulers of fantastic erudition, piety, and degeneracy. We enter the life of an empire that could create some of the world's most transcendent religious art and then destroy it in the convulsions of fanaticism. Stylishly written and overflowing with drama, pathos, and wit, here is a matchless account of a lost civilization and its magnificent cultural legacy. "Strange and fascinating . . . filled with drollery and horror." --"Boston Globe"… (mais)
Membro:vhl219
Título:A Short History of Byzantium
Autores:John Julius Norwich (Autor)
Informação:Vintage (1998), Edition: Reprint, 496 pages
Coleções:Owned
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A Short History of Byzantium de John Julius Norwich (1997)

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Mostrando 1-5 de 25 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
only bad thing is that the author passes over some important parts that should have been given more attention, even in this condensed version. Like the losses to Islam. ( )
  alent1234 | Dec 5, 2019 |
A bit of a heavy slog, partially due to the ancient habit of repeating names in ruling families--with some irony Constantinople was founded by Constantine I, also known as "the Great" and its final emperor was Constantine XI Paleologus. It would be unfair to say that the latter ruler lost Constantine to the Turks. By all accounts he did everything possible to save the remains of the empire and died courageously in its final day as a Christian city. But, as is the nature of monarchies the rulers between these Constantines included brave men and cowards, thrifty and wastrels, wise and foolish, abstemious and self-indulgent, honest and corrupt. One advantage that the Empire had in choosing rulers was that it was not entirely a hereditary monarchy. Ruling emperors could pass over an older son for a younger or bring in a favored nephew or son-in-law as a co-ruler and assumed heir. OTH this had the disadvantage that civil wars could break out if there were rival claimants who refused to step down gracefully. It also allowed for claimants proclaimed by the army to be seen as valid.
The history of Byzantium is also inevitability the history of Christian theology as the East and the West grew apart in interpretation of fine points of doctrine and wars were fought over the differing beliefs about the nature of Jesus. Later came the battles between the iconoclasts who wanted no physical representations of God or saints and the icon supporters, who eventually triumphed.
Good emperors tended to support the small landowners against the nobility, knowing that a healthy peasant class the the backbone of the army, But this was not always possible for an emperor who had natural affinity with a powerful noble family or needed support in a civil war or other conflict.
The Empire faced many problems through the centuries. Once the threat from the Persian Empire ended the religion of Islam united the southern peoples as a threat. From the west the city suffered from the mercantile rivalry of Venice and Genoa and from the depredations of Crusaders on their way to the Holy Land. In short, a long, complex and interesting history. However, like many histories this focuses exclusively on the power struggles at the top and with foreign powers. There is little about the everyday life of the people: how did they farm, what did they manufacture and trade; what was the justice system like, how did men and women of the different classes actually spend their lives? The work would also have benefited from several small maps within the text to help keep track of invasions and expansions. Cities and territories mentioned in the text were difficult to locate on the maps in the front of the book. I suspect the author or editors of thinking "who doesn't know where Thessalonika is.?' "Me sure."
  ritaer | Sep 1, 2019 |
Surprisingly, a history book one can read from beginning to finish that reads like a novel, while retaining enough factual information to be an evergreen reference book. Not that the one function doesn't intrude upon the other once in a while--there are pages where you will hunger for more details (and isn't this how we determine the next books we want to read?) and other pages where one's eyes begin to glaze over (all those Leo's, Matthew's, Constantine's and Nicholas' ... ARGH!). But a book in which I was sorely sorry to turn the last page.

I confess I am a JJ Norwich fan and have read (or am currently reading) several of his other books. (You know the question about whom you would like to be seated next to at a dinner party? He is my number one choice.) Although not trained as an academician (which appears to have been of concern to some readers), he is one of the best historians I have read. His sheer love of the subject is totally engaging, and is clearly based upon decades of research, and reading, and walking the very lanes, and visiting many of the locales that played a role in this rich history. Moreover, despite being the condensation of three large volumes, Norwich still managed to include many of those fascinating little tales and facts that add just the right punch to the text and stick in your memory. (The maps and dynastic charts are also especially helpful and I copied several to tuck into other reference books.)

If you have any reason to read about the history of Byzantium and its 1123 years and 18 days (330-1453) of wars and arguments, not only with its neighbours but also within its ruling families, wait no more. A treat awaits you. ( )
1 vote pbjwelch | Jul 25, 2017 |
This book is a fascinating look at the transition of the known world from the Roman to Byzantine Empire, spanning over 1000 years where murder, intrigue and war are everyday backdrops to life.

We begin with the creation of Constantinople, designated as the new capital of the Roman Empire. This decision would echo down through the centuries, dividing the Empire into East and West along religious and economic lines. Throughout this timeline Norwich provided an account of Byzantine Emperors who inherited the tradition of their Roman counterparts with marriage and the ever-present problems of heirs as a central concern of their lives.

It was interesting to see how people or events decades or even hundreds of years in the past could influence people, places and the decisions in the present.

One issue was that at times the book seemed at times to be overly detailed. This may be because this is a condensed version of an original trilogy. Instead of allowing the reader room to breathe or elaborating on events and their effects, the story just plows on with its unending list of dates and people. This invariably leads to confusion as in numerous families names are passed down through the generations, causing the reader to be unsure as to who did what when.

Ultimately though, the book is the story of the slow and sad decline of the Roman Empire. The transition of the capital gave the empire a new name but instead of expanding on the traditions and imperial ambitions of Rome, land, respect and wealth is slowly lost. Through mismanagement and poor-decision making by incompetent rulers who obtained power through inheritance or usurpation rather than by merit, the Byzantine Empire is only a frail shadow when Constantinople is finally overrun in 1453. ( )
  theduckthief | Dec 22, 2016 |
Having read John Julius Norwich's book "A Short History of Byzantium", I can only express my admiration for him as an author and as an historian. And I have no interest in reading the three volume work of Norwich's from which this "short" history was taken. 382 pages, 88 emperors, 1100 years of complicated history (the term "Byzantine" as a descriptor in our language does not come by accident), the ins and outs of the relationship between the Catholic and Orthodox Religions, the Holy Roman Empire and Byzantium, the Crusades - that is sufficient for my understanding!

But what a read! Norwich is an excellent writer. He interjects his own dry but humorous observations fairly regularly throughouit the book. And his prose can reach the heighths. The final chapter, describing the ultimate fall of Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire (such as it was at the time) to the Muslim Ottomans is worth the price of admission alone. But his ability to deal with the complexity of the interactions of nations, religions, politicians, common pepole and so many other elements in the mix of history at the time, and keep them straight and the reader still engaged is a monumental task that he pulls off I think quite well, by Jove! ( )
  BlaueBlume | Aug 29, 2016 |
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"Norwich is always on the lookout for the small but revealing details. . . . All of this he recounts in a style that consistently entertains." --"The New York Times Book Review " In this magisterial adaptation of his epic three-volume history of Byzantium, John Julius Norwich chronicles the world's longest-lived Christian empire. Beginning with Constantine the Great, who in a.d. 330 made Christianity the religion of his realm and then transferred its capital to the city that would bear his name, Norwich follows the course of eleven centuries of Byzantine statecraft and warfare, politics and theology, manners and art. In the pages of A Short History of Byzantium we encounter mystics and philosophers, eunuchs and barbarians, and rulers of fantastic erudition, piety, and degeneracy. We enter the life of an empire that could create some of the world's most transcendent religious art and then destroy it in the convulsions of fanaticism. Stylishly written and overflowing with drama, pathos, and wit, here is a matchless account of a lost civilization and its magnificent cultural legacy. "Strange and fascinating . . . filled with drollery and horror." --"Boston Globe"

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