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Cambridge Medieval History Vol 4 - The Eastern Roman Empire
     

Cambridge Medieval History Vol 4 - The Eastern Roman Empire

by J.B. Bury
 

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THE present volume carries on the fortunes of a portion of Europe to the end of the Middle Ages. This exception to the general chronological plan of the work seemed both convenient and desirable. The orbit of Byzantium, the history of the peoples and states which moved within that orbit and always looked to it as the central body, giver of light and heat, did indeed

Overview

THE present volume carries on the fortunes of a portion of Europe to the end of the Middle Ages. This exception to the general chronological plan of the work seemed both convenient and desirable. The orbit of Byzantium, the history of the peoples and states which moved within that orbit and always looked to it as the central body, giver of light and heat, did indeed at some points touch or traverse the orbits of western European states, but the development of these on the whole was not deeply affected or sensibly perturbed by what happened east of Italy or south of the Danube, and it was only in the time of the Crusades that some of their rulers came into close contact with the Eastern Empire or that it counted to any considerable extent in their policies. England, the remotest state of the West, was a legendary country to the people of Constantinople, and that imperial capital was no more than a dream-name of wealth and splendor to Englishmen, except to the few adventurers who travelled thither to make their fortunes in the Varangian guards. It is thus possible to follow the history of the Eastern Roman Empire from the eighth century to its fall, along with those of its neighbors and clients, independently of the rest of Europe, and this is obviously more satisfactory than to interpolate in the main history of Western Europe chapters having no connection with those which precede and follow.

Besides being convenient, this plan is desirable. For it enables us to emphasize the capital fact that throughout the Middle Ages the same Empire which was founded by Augustus continued to exist and function and occupy even in its final weakness a unique position in Europe—a fact which would otherwise be dissipated, as it were, and obscured amid the records of another system of states with which it was not in close or constant contact. It was one of Gibbon's services to history that the title of his book asserted clearly and unambiguously this continuity.

We have, however, tampered with the correct name, which is simply Roman Empire, by adding Eastern, a qualification which although it has no official basis is justifiable as a convenient mark of distinction from the Empire which Charlemagne founded and which lasted till the beginning of the nineteenth century. This Western Empire had no good claim to the name of Roman. Charlemagne and those who followed him were not legitimate successors of Augustus, Constantine, Justinian, and the Isaurians, and this was tacitly acknowledged in their endeavors to obtain recognition of the imperial title they assumed from the sovereigns of Constantinople whose legitimacy was unquestionable.

Product Details

BN ID:
2940012964618
Publisher:
Paul Dalen
Publication date:
06/06/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
1,153,192
File size:
824 KB

Meet the Author

John Bagnell Bury (16 October 1861 – 1 June 1927), known as J. B. Bury, was an eminent Irish historian, classical scholar, Byzantinist and philologist.

Bury was born and raised in Clontibret, County Monaghan, where his father was Rector of the Anglican Church of Ireland. He was educated first by his parents and then at Foyle College in Derry and Trinity College in Dublin, where he graduated in 1882 and was made a fellow in 1885, at the age of 24. In 1893 he gained a chair in Modern History at Trinity College, which he held for nine years. In 1898 he was appointed Regius Professor of Greek, also at Trinity, a post he held simultaneously with his history professorship.[1] In 1902 he became Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University.

At Cambridge, Bury became mentor to the great medievalist Sir Steven Runciman, who later commented that he had been Bury's "first, and only, student." At first the reclusive Bury tried to brush him off; then, when Runciman mentioned that he could read Russian, Bury gave him a stack of Bulgarian articles to edit, and so their relationship began. Bury was the author of the first truly authoritative biography of Saint Patrick (1905).

Bury remained at Cambridge until his death at the age of 65 in Rome. He is buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome.

Bury's writings, on subjects ranging from ancient Greece to the 19th-century papacy, are at once scholarly and accessible to the layman. His two works on the philosophy of history elucidated the Victorian ideals of progress and rationality which undergirded his more specific histories. He also led a revival of Byzantine history, which English-speaking historians, following Edward Gibbon, had largely neglected. He contributed to, and was himself the subject of an article in, the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica. With Frank Adcock and S. A. Cook he edited the Cambridge Ancient History, launched in 1919.

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