A History of the Byzantine State and Society

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This is the first comprehensive and up-to-date history of Byzantium to appear in almost sixty years, and the first ever to cover both the Byzantine state and Byzantine society. It begins in A.D. 285, when the emperor Diocletian separated what became Byzantium from the western Roman Empire, and ends in 1461, when the last Byzantine outposts fell to the Ottoman Turks.

Spanning twelve centuries and three continents, the Byzantine Empire linked the ancient and modern worlds, shaping and transmitting Greek, Roman, and Christian traditions—including the Greek classics, Roman law, and Christian theology—that remain vigorous today, not only in Eastern Europe and the Middle East but throughout Western civilization. Though in its politics Byzantium often resembled a third-world dictatorship, it has never yet been matched in maintaining a single state for so long, over a wide area inhabited by heterogeneous peoples.

Drawing on a wealth of original sources and modern works, the author treats political and social developments as a single vivid story, told partly in detailed narrative and partly in essays that clarify long-term changes. He avoids stereotypes and rejects such old and new historical orthodoxies as the persistent weakness of the Byzantine economy and the pervasive importance of holy men in Late Antiquity.

Without neglecting underlying social, cultural, and economic trends, the author shows the often crucial impact of nearly a hundred Byzantine emperors and empresses. What the emperor or empress did, or did not do, could rapidly confront ordinary Byzantines with economic ruin, new religious doctrines, or conquest by a foreign power. Much attention is paid to the complex life of the court and bureaucracy that has given us the adjective "byzantine." The major personalities include such famous names as Constantine, Justinian, Theodora, and Heraclius, along with lesser-known figures like Constans II, Irene, Basil II the Bulgar-Slayer, and Michael VIII Palaeologus.

Byzantine civilization emerges as durable, creative, and realistic, overcoming repeated setbacks to remain prosperous almost to the end. With 221 illustrations and 18 maps that complement the text, A History of the Byzantine State and Society should long remain the standard history of Byzantium not just for students and scholars but for all readers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A vivid story of Byzantium's existence over the span of 1,100 years. . . . Drawing on the latest scholarship and written for both the general reader and the scholar, this work may well become the standard English-language history of Byzantium."—Library Journal

"Fluently written for the general reader—few will tire of its 850 pages of text—its coherent account reflects the most up-to-date scholarship."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

Library Journal
The last few years have seen a renewed interest in Byzantium (e.g., John J. Norwich's A Short History of Byzantium, LJ 4/1/97, and Treadgold's previous Byzantium and Its Army 284-1081, Stanford Univ., 1995). Byzantium's role in shaping and passing down to us the tradition, law and literature of the Greeks and Romans was vital to the rejuvenation of Western civilization. With this work the author (history, Florida International Univ.) has produced a comprehensive history of Byzantium that covers both state development and societal change. Working from original sources and modern works, he weaves social and political developments into a vivid story of Byzantium's existence over the span of 1100 years. His work differs from Norwich's literary narrative compilations by drawing on the latest scholarship. Written for both the general reader and the scholar, this work may well become the standard English-language history of Byzantium. Highly recommended.Robert Andrews, Duluth P.L., Minn.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804726306
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1997
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 1044
  • Sales rank: 1,355,029
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 2.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Warren Treadgold is Professor of History at Florida International University. He is the author of, most recently, Byzantium and Its Army, 284-1081 (Stanford, 1995).

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Table of Contents

Tables and Maps
Note on Transliteration
Introduction 3
Pt. I The Enlarged State and the Burdened Society
1 The Refoundation of the Empire, 284-337 13
2 The State Under Strain, 337-395 52
3 The Danger of Barbarization, 395-457 78
4 The Formation of Byzantine Society, 284-457 103
Pt. II The Interrupted Advance
5 The Eastern Recovery, 457-518 149
6 The Reconquests and the Plague, 518-565 174
7 The Danger of Overextension, 565-610 218
8 A Divided Society, 457-610 242
Pt. III The Contained Catastrophe
9 Two Fights for Survival, 610-668 287
10 The War of Attrition, 668-717 323
11 The Passing of the Crisis, 717-780 346
12 The Shrinking of Society, 610-780 371
Pt. IV The Long Revival
13 Internal Reforms, 780-842 417
14 External Gains, 842-912 446
15 The Gains Secured, 912-963 471
16 The Great Conquests, 963-1025 498
17 The Expansion of Society, 780-1025 534
Pt. V The Weak State and the Wealthy Society
18 Erratic Government, 1025-1081 583
19 Improvised Reconstruction, 1081-1143 612
20 Diminishing Security, 1143-1204 638
21 A Restless Society, 1025-1204 667
Pt. VI The Failed Restoration
22 The Successor States, 1204-1261 709
23 The Restored Empire, 1261-1328 735
24 The Breakdown, 1328-1391 760
25 The End of Byzantine Independence, 1391-1461 784
26 The Separation of Society from State, 1204-1461 804
Conclusion 847
App List of Rulers 857
Abbreviations 873
Bibliographical Survey 893
Endnotes 921
Index 971
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