The first to encounter Islam were neither the Germanic Latins of the West nor the Greek-speaking Romans of the East, but Levantine Christians who spoke the Aramaic dialect of Syriac. This book dismantles the polemics of all sides and picks up the long-neglected Syriac texts to build a new understanding of how Islam lay roots in the Near East.
Greek Emigres in the West
by Jonathan Harris (1995)
A revision of Harris' PhD thesis (which involved spending four years burying himself in Europe's dustiest archives) the result is a powerful snapshot of Byzantines in a post-Byzantine world. Its most powerful argument is that the Byzantines, far from being a proud and parochial lot stuck in grand, obsolete vision of the past, were content to up sticks, travel to the West and pick up new trades. Indeed, despite its deep quarry of colourful detail, the book's most rewarding parts deal with the Roman identity and how it was digested in the late medieval world.
Domestikos ton Scholon
Byzantine Rome: the Greek Popes
by Andrew J. Ekonomou (2007)
A well-written monograph on possibly the most neglected topic of Byzantium: the Eastern Roman popes, Ekonomou examines the influence of the New Rome on the "Dark Age" papacy. Highlighting how Byzantine immigrants brought customs and practices that were quickly absorbed by the papacy, the question murmuring from behind the curtain is: for how long can we speak of a single and undivided imperium Romanum christianum, and how much was the fiction becoming threadbare?
The Varangians of Byzantium
by Sigfus Blondal (2008)
Just as to be a Vaeringi (oath-takers) gave one a special allure in the eyes of the Norse, the topic of Varangians has an aura of romance in the Anglophone world that has never quite gone away. Whether dreaming of lost homes in the Crimea or fantasising about revenging the failed revenge of Dyrrahachium (1081), which was supposed to be revenge for Hastings, Blondal's book provides all the gem-like details and spins a good yarn along the way.