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The Byzantine World

Byzantium or the Byzantine empire, was the eastern, Greek-speaking half of the Roman empire which survived the 'decline and fall' of the fifth century AD and flourished for another thousand years. Based on its capital city of Constantinople (now Istanbul), the empire originally covered the entire eastern half of the Mediterranean, from Egypt to the Balkans. In the seventh century, however, the Arab invasions robbed it of its eastern provinces, and confined it to what is now Turkey, Greece and the Southern Balkans.

Although politically less powerful after the Arab invasions, the empire went on to develop a unique visual and literary culture. The best known aspect of this culture is probably Byzantine religious art, with its mosaics, icons and frescoes of often quite exceptional craftsmanship and beauty.

The empire survived until 1453, when the Ottoman Turks finally captured Constantinople. Its legacy, however can still be seen in those countries which were influenced by its religious culture, particularly Russia, Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria.

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Further Reading:

  • ANGOLD, Michael, The Byzantine Empire, 1025-1204 (Longmans, 1997, 2nd ed.)
  • CAMERON, Averil, The Mediterranean World in Late Antiquity (Routledge, 1993)
  • LOVERANCE, Rowena, Byzantium (British Museum, 1994, 2nd ed.)
  • LOWDEN, John, Early Christian and Byzantine Art (Phaidon, 1997)
  • MANGO, Cyril, Byzantium: the Empire of New Rome (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1980)
  • MANGO, Cyril, The Oxford History of Byzantium (Oxford University Press, 2002)
  • MATTHEWS, Thomas F., The Art of Byzantium (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1998)
  • NICOL, D.M., The Last Centuries of Byzantium, 1261-1453 (Cambridge University Press, 1993, 2nd ed.)
  • NORWICH, John Julius, The Byzantium Trilogy: Byzantium: the Early Centuries, Byzantium: the Apogee and Byzantium: the Decline and Fall (Penguin, 1996) and published in condensed form as A Short History of Byzantium (Penguin, 1997)
  • OSTROGORSKY, George, A History of the Byzantine State, trans. J.M. Hussey (Blackwells, 1968, 2nd ed.)
  • RUNCIMAN, Steven, The Fall of Constantinople (Cambridge University Press, 1965)
  • TALBOT-RICE, David, Art of the Byzantine Era (Thames and Hudson, 1981)
  • WHITTOW, Mark, The Making of Orthodox Byzantium 600-1025 (Macmillan, 1996)

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