Another good blog on the Byzantine (or eastern Roman if you prefer) Empire. Note that those who lived in Constantinople – up to 1453 when it fell to the Turks – never thought they were living in the “Byzantine” empire (a later term) but the Roman empire.
I agree with this blogger that John Romer‘s TV series ‘Byzantium‘ is a good primer on the subject and he is a hugely enthusiastic presenter. I love the way he rolls the word ‘Byzantium’ in his mouth! Like a verbal boiled sweet.
But Lars Brownworth is also an excellent historical story teller and if you like this book – also download his podcasts on the Normans.
By the time the Templars were founded in 1118, the Byzantine empire had come to the end of a two hundred year recovery phase from the mid-ninth century – under the Macedonian dynasty – and were in to a more rocky patch. They were losing domains on their western and eastern flanks – the latter saw the Seljuk Turks making significant gains and inflicting a devasting defeat at Manzikert.
But the empire was still a force to be reckoned with – so much so that when the crusaders first took Jerusalem, some in the Islamic world thought these Christian invaders were Byzantine troops retaking the city.
Anyway – please read this book and tell me what you think.