A short history of Byzantium

Front Cover
Knopf, Mar 1, 1997 - History - 430 pages
15 Reviews
At a moment when the splendors of Byzantine art are being rediscovered and celebrated in America, John Julius Norwich has brought together in this remarkable edition the most important and fascinating events of his dazzling trilogy of the rise and fall of the Byzantine Empire. With wit, intelligence and an unerring eye for riveting detail, Lord Norwich tells the dramatic history of Byzantium from its beginnings in AD 330 when Constantine the Great moved the imperial capital from Rome to the site of an old Greek port in Asia Minor called Byzantium and renamed it Constantinople, to its rise as the first and most long-lasting Christian empire, to its final heroic days and eventual defeat by the Turks in 1453. It was a history marked by tremendous change and drama: the adoption of Christianity by the Greco-Roman world; the fall of Rome and its empire; the defeat by the Seljuk Turks at Manzikert in 1071; the reigns of Constantine, Theodosius the Great, Justinian and Basil II. There were centuries of bloodshed in which the empire struggled for its life; centuries of controversy in which men argued about the nature of Christ and the Church; centuries of scholarship in which ancient culture was kept alive and preserved by scribes; and, most of all, centuries of creativity in which the Byzantine genius brought forth art and architecture inspired by a depth of spirituality unparalleled in any other age. After more than fourteen centuries, the ever-dazzling brilliance of the mosaics of Ravenna and the ethereal splendor of the great church of St. Sophia in Istanbul still have the power to take one's breath away.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Norwich's writing style is easy to read. - Goodreads
Good compact introduction to a sprawling topic. - Goodreads
This book is not a bad introduction. - Goodreads

Review: A Short History of Byzantium

User Review  - Jessiqa - Goodreads

This book is shortened from Norwich's three-volume history. Though I majored in history in college, most of my classes, if they mentioned Byzantium at all, just barely touched on the empire. As an ... Read full review

Review: A Short History of Byzantium

User Review  - Robert Morris - Goodreads

I wish I had read the extended version. This is the abridged version of a three volume history. Norwich is a great storyteller, and does a fun job of rocketing us through the first 900 years or so of ... Read full review


Constantine the Great to 557
Ju1ian the Apostate 5 5765
The Fall of the West 595495 56

16 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1997)

John Julius Norwich is the son of the statesman and diplomat Alfred Duff Cooper (1st Viscount) and the Lady Diana Cooper. He was educated at Eton, Oxford and the University of Strasbourg. He is a prolific author of magisterial histories of Norman Sicily, the republic of Venice, and the Byzantine empire, of architecture and music, and has edited numerous titles.

Bibliographic information