Didn’t know very much about Byzantium. Now i’ve read a book about it and know a few things.

Despite promising to tell me about the many aspects of a society, it was hard to come away feeling that what i really learned were the myriad ways that christianity can screw up a society. If it wasn’t internal wrangling over the worship icons, it was the external haggle with the church in Rome over the primacy of St. Paul, and liturgical baking methods. Yes, baking, they actually managed to argue over whether sacrament should consist of leavened or un-leavened bread. Nothing like worrying about liturgy when it comes to keep the invaders outside your walls…

On the upside, it is at least structured more creatively than a dash through the timeline, noting the changes at the heads of dynasties. The chapters detailing what is known about daily life for various section of society in the empire are the much needed asides from stretches of, “Constantine III was succeed to the throne by Leo IV” (honestly, he was, and ‘the Khazar’ no less!)


Wise words...

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