Anna Comnena (1083-1153) wrote "The Alexiad" as an account of the reign of her father, the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I. It is also an important source of information on the Byzantine war with the Normans, and on the First Crusade in which Alexius participated. While the Byzantines were allied to the Crusaders, they were nonetheless critical of their behaviour and Anna's book offers a startlingly different perspective to that of Western historians. Her character sketches are shrewd and forthright - from the Norman invader Robert Guiscard ('nourished by manifold evil') and his son Bohemond ('like a streaking thunderbolt') to Pope Gregory VII ('unworthy of a high priest'). "The Alexiad" is a vivid and dramatic narrative, which reveals as much about the character of its intelligent and dynamic author as it does about the fascinating period through which she lived.
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