Byzantium: The Apogee

Second volume: more of the same, equally entertaining and well-written, with the same caveats. Most monstrous character: Basil the Macedonian, who maneuvered himself from stable boy to imperial confidant to Michael III, murdered the emperor’s uncle (who had effectively been running the state), persuaded Michael to proclaim him co-emperor, then disabled the locks on his co-emperor’s sleeping quarters and had him murdered in his sleep. Most hideous atrocity: Basil II, after capturing in battle a Bulgarian army of 15,000, divided them into hundreds, and for each hundred had both eyes gouged out of 99 men but only one eye out of the hundredth, so that he could still lead his blind century back to the Bulgarian king. You could barely make this stuff up. Funniest insult (a high Byzantine official on the inhabitants of Rome): “vile slaves, fishermen, confectioners, poulterers, bastards, plebeians and underlings.” And so it goes on. All of the might and splendor described here took place in the interval, in English history, between Egbert of Wessex and the Norman conquest. That’s quite a perspective.

This entry was posted in read and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s