Michael Angold's book is a clear, concise and authoritative history of the successor to Roman imperial power: the Byzantine Empire. Byzantium was a Greek polis on the Bosphorus that gained importance in 324 AD when it was re-founded by Constantine the Great and named Constantinople. One of the pre-eminent cities of the Middle Ages, Constantinople played a vital role in the emergence of the medieval order in which Byzantium, western Christendom and Islam became three distinct civilizations.
This book charts precisely the development and characteristics of Byzantine art and society. Angold begins in Constantinople, from which the new empire emerged, and examines the city in relation to the world of the early Middle Ages. He shows how the foundation and subsequent growth of the city altered the equilibrium of the Roman Empire and shifted the center of gravity eastwards; he describes the emergence of political factions and their impact on political life; analyzes the disintegration of the culture of late antiquity; and elucidates the reaction among Muslims and western Europeans to Byzantine iconoclasm.
Angold concludes with an account of the end of imperial Byzantium and its disintegration. His book is an excellent introduction to one of the most important, and least well known, of Europe's civilizations.
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