Short History of Byzantium

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9780670870905: Short History of Byzantium

Published to coincide with a major exhibition on Byzantium at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the spring of 1997, Byzantium tells the dramatic story of Byzantium, from its beginnings in A.D. 330, providing readers with a spirited, gripping, and original account of a great lost civilization and its magnificent artistic heritage. 24 pp. of illustrations, 8 pp. in full color. Size C. 432 pp. 20,000 print.

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Review:

The Byzantine Empire, one of its most eminent students reminds us, lasted "for a total of 1,123 years and 18 days," which is an astonishing duration matched by only a few others. 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--a "somewhat lurid background," as Norwich modestly declares in passing. Norwich is a master of the telling vignette. In one, he writes of imperial guards made up of "Anglo-Saxons who had left their country in disgust after Hastings and had taken service with Byzantium." Facing a Norman enemy in southern Italy, these Anglo-Saxons exacted terrible vengeance until the Normans rallied under the leadership of a fearless woman, one Sichelgaita, and massacred their enemy. Norwich's book abounds in similarly surprising and absorbing episodes.

About the Author:

John Julius Norwich was born in 1929. He was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto, at Eton, at the University of Strasbourg and, after a spell of National Service in the Navy, at New College, Oxford, where he took a degree in French and Russian. In 1952 he joined the Foreign Service, where he remained for twelve years, serving at the embassies in Belgrade and Beirut. In 1964 he resigned from the service to write. He is the author of histories of Norman Sicily, the Republic of Venice and the Byzantine Empire. He has written and presented some thirty historical documentaries on television, and is a regular lecturer on Venice and numerous other subjects.

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Norwich, John Julius
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