- Taschenbuch: 496 Seiten
- Verlag: Vintage; Auflage: 1. (29. Dezember 1998)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0679772693
- ISBN-13: 978-0679772699
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13,1 x 2,5 x 20,3 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 26 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 296.643 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
- Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen
A Short History of Byzantium (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 29. Dezember 1998
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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. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.
John Julius Norwich brings together the most important and fascinating events from his trilogy of the rise and fall of the Byzantium empire. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.Alle Produktbeschreibungen
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Not that I don't have a few bones to pick. Surely a historian who's able to write of these (to us) obscure people with such insight and empathy should know better than to repeat the silly slanders of Attila and the whole Hun nation we so often find in histories of this period? And I get more than a little impatient with him when he writes that the regimes of the various Empresses floundered because they lacked "a firm male hand." Norwich can come off on occasion as more than a bit of chauvinist.
But these are nitpicks.
We are used to thinking of the Byzantines (if we think of them at all) as those stern visages that glare back at us from their gloomy icons and chipped mosaics. Norwich breathes life into these two-dimensional images and reveals the humans behind them for the endlessly fascinating, enormously clever, and quicksilver people they must have been -- every bit as deserving of our historical attention as any of their better-studied contemporaries. Yet, he never glosses over their failings -- the duplicity, the endless scheming, the quickness to turn on each other, and yes -- the ferocious brutality as well, but made more palatable than it might have been by Norwich's deft touch, economic pen and wry humor.
And the Byzantines themselves? Do they emerge from these pages as heroes or villains? Some of both, certainly. But the same could be said (and may well be said) about us by the historians of the future. We can only hope they'll be as skilled at narration and as understanding of human nature as John Julius Norwich.
The reader is struck by the 1100 year long story, where the same cycle repeats itself, only the names change (and with 11 Constantines, and a few Justinians, Alexi's, and Basil's, the names don't change all that much). Alternately attacking the Bulgarians, bickering with the Pope, and defending against the Persians, the world facing Constantine I was not so different than the problems facing Constantine X.
What is never addressed, however, is the world around these emperors. What of the art, the philosphy, the science of these times? Twice in the history specific works of art are mentioned, in the Hagia Sophia and the St Saviour in Chora church. However, what remains of Byzantium is a remarkable record of souring architecture (the Hagia Sophia, in fact, was the world's grandest building for about a thousand years, from the 6th century when it was constructed to the 16th, when St. Peter's in Rome was domed). Instead, the reader wonders why there seemed to be no progress, no change, no enlightenment. Why is it that so powerful an empire produced so little innovation over so long a period? The empire fell, apparently, relying on the same technology used to fight the Persians a millenium before.
One is left with a dichotomy -- the immense power of a great empire and the weakness of it's innovation. The palace intrigue that we now term Byzantine seems to have sapped the energy of this culture -- every change of power met with a fresh round of adolescents blinded, every power struggle bringing the complete slaughter of untold villages.
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