The Byzantine Empire

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by Charles W. C. Oman

The Byzantine Empire centered at the city of Constantinople grew from a small Greek colonial village into the capital of the Eastern Roman empire. Ultimately, Byzantium represented what remained of Roman power in late antiquity. Established as the seat of Constantine the Great in 328 AD, the empire grew and matured over the centuries, reaching its pinnacle in the sixth century during the reign of Justinian and his loyal general, Belisarius. In the process of empire building, Byzantium battled the Goths, the Germanic tribes, the Persians, the Lombards, and ultimately the Islamic armies of the Near East. Byzantium remained a buffer against Muslim expansion, and by the time the remnants of the empire and the city of Constantinople were finally conquered by the Ottomans in the fourteenth century, European states to the west were able to resist any further encroachment.

In tracing the empire’s history from its humble beginnings through its ascendancy and final decay, distinguished historian Charles W. C. Oman blends his engaging narrative style with his impeccable command of primary source material. Here, Oman dispels the misconception that the Byzantine court was one plagued by corruption and intrigue—a canard that added “Byzantine” to the English language; instead, Byzantium was one of the most stable governments of late antiquity. Never before reprinted in paperback, The Byzantine Empire is a model of concise popular scholarship.

382 pages

Published 2009