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The Cambridge Medieval History - Book XVI: The Decline and Fall of the Eastern Roman Empire

504 pages8 hours


 For over a thousand years, from the end of the fourth century to the middle of the fifteenth, the Byzantine Empire was the centre of a civilization equal to that of any age in brilliancy, certainly the most brilliant known to the Middle Ages, and possibly even the only real civilization which prevailed in Europe between the close of the fifth century and the beginning of the eleventh. While the barbarian states of the West were laboriously developing the elements of a new culture from the scanty remains of the Roman tradition, Byzantium—Rome’s successor, and imbued with the spirit and teachings of Hellenism—never ceased to be the centre of refinement and the home of a great movement in thought and art. Byzantium, indeed, was no mere transmitter of the tradition of antiquity. Contact with the East had modified her, and the influence of Christianity had left a deep imprint; and, contrary to a still widely-spread opinion, she was capable of originality and creation. Hellenism, Christianity, and the East met and combined in forming Byzantine civilization; and by the characteristic forms it assumed, by its superiority, as well as by the long and profound influence it exercised in both the Eastern and Western world, this civilization played a prominent part in the history of the Middle Ages, the history of thought, and the history of mankind...

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