Emperor level



Decline of Medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor: Process of Islamization

by Speros Vryonis (1971)

Charting the titanic cultural transformation that turned Anatolia from a Roman heartland (and homeland of the Cappadocian fathers) into the springboard of the Turks, Vryonis (who died recently) adopts a rather elegiac tone as he addresses the last great contraction of Hellenism. Major themes include psychological affects of see-saw warfare, the absorption of Christians under latitudinarian dervish orders, and the rebuttal of myths such as the belief that the region was depopulated in the travails of war.

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Peasant Society in

Late Byzantine Empire

by Angeliki E. Laiou (1977)

Hardly the most glamorous of topics, one of the great Byzantinists (and of Pontic stock herself) – A. E. Laiou (d. 2008) – addressed (in her second published book) how the Byzantine peasantry fared in a period of feudalisation by burying herself in Athonite archives. Much of the research fed her later specialism in Byzantine economics, which led to her Economic History of Byzantium (2002) and perhaps the only enjoyably readable economics book in the world: The Byzantine Economy (2007).

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Byzantium as Viewed by the Arabs

by Nadia M. El-Cheikh (1992)


If Penn's Envisioning Islam points a torch on Muslims from a Christian direction, El-Cheikh's book reverses this formula and shows how Islam needed Byzantium to fill a hole in its own ideological tapestry rather than stand for itself. Observing centuries of contact, exchanges and warfare, the result is a whirlwind of rhetoric that lurches from loving the civilisation as a cultural brother (in a sea of philistines) to loathing it as the one potential state that could scupper the entire Islamic project.