By Lars Brownworth
In advert 476 the Roman Empire fell–or quite, its western part did. Its japanese part, which might end up referred to as the Byzantine Empire, could suffer and infrequently flourish for an additional 11 centuries. although its capital might circulation to Constantinople, its voters spoke of themselves as Roman for the complete period of the empire’s lifestyles. certainly, so did its associates, allies, and enemies: whilst the Turkish Sultan Mehmet II conquered Constantinople in 1453, he took the identify Caesar of Rome, putting himself in a right away line that led again to Augustus.
For some distance too many differently traditionally savvy buyers, the tale of the Byzantine civilization is anything of a void. but for greater than a millennium, Byzantium reigned because the glittering seat of Christian civilization. whilst Europe fell into the darkish a while, Byzantium held quick opposed to Muslim growth, conserving Christianity alive. while literacy all yet vanished within the West, Byzantium made basic schooling to be had to either sexes. scholars debated the benefits of Plato and Aristotle and generally dedicated everything of Homer’s Iliad to reminiscence. Streams of wealth flowed into Constantinople, making attainable extraordinary wonders of artwork and structure, from extraordinary jeweled mosaics and different iconography to the nice church often called the Hagia Sophia that used to be a imaginative and prescient of heaven in the world. The dome of the nice Palace stood approximately 200 toes excessive and stretched over 4 acres, and the city’s inhabitants used to be greater than twenty occasions that of London’s.
From Constantine, who based his eponymous urban within the yr 330, to Constantine XI, who valiantly fought the empire’s ultimate conflict greater than 1000 years later, the emperors who governed Byzantium enacted a saga of political intrigue and conquest as miraculous as something in recorded historical past. Lost to the West is replete with tales of assassination, mass mutilation and execution, sexual scheming, ruthless greedy for strength, and clashing armies that soaked battlefields with the blood of slain warriors numbering within the tens of thousands.
Still, it was once Byzantium that preserved for us at the present time the good presents of the classical global. Of the 55,000 historical Greek texts in lifestyles at the present time, a few 40,000 have been transmitted to us through Byzantine scribes. And it used to be the Byzantine Empire that shielded Western Europe from invasion till it used to be able to take its personal position on the heart of the area degree. jam-packed with unforgettable tales of emperors, generals, and spiritual patriarchs, in addition to interesting glimpses into the lifetime of the normal citizen, Lost to the West finds how a lot we owe to this empire that was once the equivalent of any in its achievements, appetites, and enduring legacy.
From the Hardcover edition.