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Byzantium and the Crusades (Crusader Worlds) Paperback – August 15, 2006


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Product Details

  • Series: Crusader Worlds
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (August 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852855010
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852855017
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The Byzantine Empire was a diffident supporter of the Crusades' efforts to redeem Jerusalem from infidels. This tepidness of Christian solidarity over the more than two centuries of crusading provoked hostility in the knights and kings marching Constantinople's way, but the Byzantine emperors and their councillors had good reasons to be unenthusiastic about their visitors. Harris presents the Byzantine viewpoint in an unstuffy narrative well suited to the general reader, ascribing the conflict not to a West/East culture clash but to the pursuit of well-developed Byzantine ideology. This viewpoint rests on twin precepts of prestige: that Byzantium was the successor state to the Roman Empire, and that Orthodox Christianity was the universal creed of the faith. Recounting Byzantine policy to secure the crusaders' acknowledgment of Byzantine religio-political primacy, Harris enlivens the emperors or usurpers who conducted it, retrieving them from their flat portrayals as villains or saints in the source material. Assured and fluid, Harris perceptively narrates events in this tempting presentation for the history buff. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"a successful synthesis that will appeal to a wide anglophone audience, and will satisfy the needs of most undergraduates...well-written...provocative work...His argument is coherent and well-documented, and thus will convince his intended audience."
(Paul Stephenson, University of Wisconsin, Aldershot: Ashgate )

"a successful synthesis that will appeal to a wide anglophone audience, and will satisfy the needs of most undergraduates...well-written...provocative work...His argument is coherent and well-documented, and thus will convince his intended audience."
(, ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kirialax on July 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is, without a doubt, the standard easily accessible work on Byzantium and the Crusades. Sure, Ralph-Johannes Lilie's 'Byzantium and the Crusader States' may be more detailed, but it also a little more dated, and the $200 price tag will scare off all but the most serious students.

Harris seeks to present a history of the relationship between the Byzantine Empire and the crusaders, all the while keeping in the back of his mind the question of the Fourth Crusade and the sack of Constantinople. He starts off by outlining the two main theories behind the devastation in 1204. The first is a classical "clash of civilizations" theory that doesn't hold up to scrutiny, as Byzantium and the West had become increasingly involved with each over the past several centuries, and there was little trouble. The second is that the Fourth Crusade was just a series of unpredictable events. Although one of the main Latin sources for Fourth Crusade, Geoffrey de Villehardouin, is keen to have us believe just that, Harris makes a convincing argument for the ultimate failure of Byzantine foreign policy. He argues that although it was well-suited for dealing with un-sophisticated "barbarian" peoples and the Muslims, it was not able to adapt to a rapidly growing and advancing Christian West. He outlines the century before the crusades and places Byzantium in its proper context, and elaborates a little on the Byzantine impetus behind the beginning of the crusades.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JPS TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
First of all, "Byzantium and the Crusades" is a very good summary of the relations between the West and the Empire, mostly from the mid eleveenth century to 1204. It is clearly and well-written. However, in reality, the book stops at 1204. The last piece, made up of the two last chapters (Recovery and Survival) attempt to cover in only 20 pages the last two and a half centuries of Byzantium, with the last chapter being more of a conclusion rather than the story of the last decades of the Empire that outlived the Crusades, or even of its last couple of centuries. Another limitation is that this book is NOT the story of the relations between the Empire and the Crusader States and has comparatively little to say about them. For those wanting to learn about these relationships, you need to read Ralph Johannes Lilie's masterpiece on Byzantium and the Crusader States. In reality, this book, first published in 2003, a year before the 800th anniversary of the Fall of Constantinople to the Crusaders (and the year of the first attack) is essentially an attempt to explain how relations between the Empire and Western Christians and the papacy got to the point where the latter would capture and sanction the capture of the Empire's capital, the second Rome.

A second point is the author's thesis. He dismisses the two primary school of thoughts explaining the advent of the Fourth Crusade and the Fall of Constantinople in a rather off-handed way. The first theory is termed "a classic case of the clash of civilisations." It views the capture and the sack of Constantinople "as the culmination of mounting incomprehension, intolerance and hostility between, the two halves of the Christian world.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Wayne Swenson on January 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A lucid, highly interesting, and well-written account of the Byzantine Empire and it's relationships with the Crusades. Surprisingly, however, there are numerous grammatical and syntax errors in the book. Otherwise, an excellent history of this very thoughtful topic!
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Pete on November 26, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well written . Brings to life characters and events of the crusading period through a byzantine perspective . Very informative .
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