Unrivalled Influence: Women and Empire in Byzantium

Princeton University Press
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Unrivalled Influence explores the exceptional roles that women played in the vibrant cultural and political life of medieval Byzantium. Written by one of the world's foremost historians of the Byzantine millennium, this landmark book evokes the complex and exotic world of Byzantium's women, from empresses and saints to uneducated rural widows. Drawing on a diverse range of sources, Judith Herrin sheds light on the importance of marriage in imperial statecraft, the tense coexistence of empresses in the imperial court, and the critical relationships of mothers and daughters. She looks at women's interactions with eunuchs, the in-between gender in Byzantine society, and shows how women defended their rights to hold land. Herrin describes how they controlled their inheritances, participated in urban crowds demanding the dismissal of corrupt officials, followed the processions of holy icons and relics, and marked religious feasts with liturgical celebrations, market activity, and holiday pleasures. The vivid portraits that emerge here reveal how women exerted an unrivalled influence on the patriarchal society of Byzantium, and remained active participants in the many changes that occurred throughout the empire's millennial history.

Unrivalled Influence brings together Herrin's finest essays on women and gender written throughout the long span of her esteemed career. This volume includes three new essays published here for the very first time and a new general introduction by Herrin. She also provides a concise introduction to each essay that describes how it came to be written and how it fits into her broader views about women and Byzantium.

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About the author

Judith Herrin is the Constantine Leventis Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Hellenic Studies at King's College London. She is the author of Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire, Women in Purple: Rulers of Medieval Byzantium, and The Formation of Christendom (all Princeton).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Mar 13, 2013
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9781400845217
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Europe / Greece
History / Europe / Medieval
Social Science / Women's Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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This volume explores the political, cultural, and ecclesiastical forces that linked the metropolis of Byzantium to the margins of its far-flung empire. Focusing on the provincial region of Hellas and Peloponnesos in central and southern Greece, Judith Herrin shows how the prestige of Constantinople was reflected in the military, civilian, and ecclesiastical officials sent out to govern the provinces. She evokes the ideology and culture of the center by examining different aspects of the imperial court, including diplomacy, ceremony, intellectual life, and relations with the church. Particular topics treat the transmission of mathematical manuscripts, the burning of offensive material, and the church's role in distributing philanthropy.

Herrin contrasts life in the capital with provincial life, tracing the adaptation of a largely rural population to rule by Constantinople from the early medieval period onward. The letters of Michael Choniates, archbishop of Athens from 1182 to 1205, offer a detailed account of how this highly educated cleric coped with life in an imperial backwater, and demonstrate a synthesis of ancient Greek culture and medieval Christianity that was characteristic of the Byzantine elite.

This collection of essays spans the entirety of Herrin's influential career and draws together a significant body of scholarship on problems of empire. It features a general introduction, two previously unpublished essays, and a concise introduction to each essay that describes how it came to be written and how it fits into her broader analysis of the unusual brilliance and longevity of Byzantium.

Byzantium. The name evokes grandeur and exoticism--gold, cunning, and complexity. In this unique book, Judith Herrin unveils the riches of a quite different civilization. Avoiding a standard chronological account of the Byzantine Empire's millennium--long history, she identifies the fundamental questions about Byzantium--what it was, and what special significance it holds for us today.

Bringing the latest scholarship to a general audience in accessible prose, Herrin focuses each short chapter around a representative theme, event, monument, or historical figure, and examines it within the full sweep of Byzantine history--from the foundation of Constantinople, the magnificent capital city built by Constantine the Great, to its capture by the Ottoman Turks.

She argues that Byzantium's crucial role as the eastern defender of Christendom against Muslim expansion during the early Middle Ages made Europe--and the modern Western world--possible. Herrin captivates us with her discussions of all facets of Byzantine culture and society. She walks us through the complex ceremonies of the imperial court. She describes the transcendent beauty and power of the church of Hagia Sophia, as well as chariot races, monastic spirituality, diplomacy, and literature. She reveals the fascinating worlds of military usurpers and ascetics, eunuchs and courtesans, and artisans who fashioned the silks, icons, ivories, and mosaics so readily associated with Byzantine art.

An innovative history written by one of our foremost scholars, Byzantium reveals this great civilization's rise to military and cultural supremacy, its spectacular destruction by the Fourth Crusade, and its revival and final conquest in 1453.

The Trojan War is the most famous conflict in history, the subject of Homer's Iliad, one of the cornerstones of Western literature. Although many readers know that this literary masterwork is based on actual events, there is disagreement about how much of Homer's tale is true. Drawing on recent archeological research, historian and classicist Barry Strauss explains what really happened in Troy more than 3,000 years ago.

For many years it was thought that Troy was an insignificant place that never had a chance against the Greek warriors who laid siege and overwhelmed the city. In the old view, the conflict was decided by duels between champions on the plain of Troy. Today we know that Troy was indeed a large and prosperous city, just as Homer said. The Trojans themselves were not Greeks but vassals of the powerful Hittite Empire to the east in modern-day Turkey, and they probably spoke a Hittite-related language called Luwian. The Trojan War was most likely the culmination of a long feud over power, wealth, and honor in western Turkey and the offshore islands. The war itself was mainly a low-intensity conflict, a series of raids on neighboring towns and lands. It seems unlikely that there was ever a siege of Troy; rather some sort of trick -- perhaps involving a wooden horse -- allowed the Greeks to take the city.

Strauss shows us where Homer nods, and sometimes exaggerates and distorts, as well. He puts the Trojan War into the context of its time, explaining the strategies and tactics that both sides used, and compares the war to contemporary battles elsewhere in the eastern Mediterranean. With his vivid reconstructions of the conflict and his insights into the famous characters and events of Homer's great epic, Strauss masterfully tells the story of the fall of Troy as history without losing the poetry and grandeur that continue to draw readers to this ancient tale.
Byzantium. The name evokes grandeur and exoticism--gold, cunning, and complexity. In this unique book, Judith Herrin unveils the riches of a quite different civilization. Avoiding a standard chronological account of the Byzantine Empire's millennium--long history, she identifies the fundamental questions about Byzantium--what it was, and what special significance it holds for us today.

Bringing the latest scholarship to a general audience in accessible prose, Herrin focuses each short chapter around a representative theme, event, monument, or historical figure, and examines it within the full sweep of Byzantine history--from the foundation of Constantinople, the magnificent capital city built by Constantine the Great, to its capture by the Ottoman Turks.

She argues that Byzantium's crucial role as the eastern defender of Christendom against Muslim expansion during the early Middle Ages made Europe--and the modern Western world--possible. Herrin captivates us with her discussions of all facets of Byzantine culture and society. She walks us through the complex ceremonies of the imperial court. She describes the transcendent beauty and power of the church of Hagia Sophia, as well as chariot races, monastic spirituality, diplomacy, and literature. She reveals the fascinating worlds of military usurpers and ascetics, eunuchs and courtesans, and artisans who fashioned the silks, icons, ivories, and mosaics so readily associated with Byzantine art.

An innovative history written by one of our foremost scholars, Byzantium reveals this great civilization's rise to military and cultural supremacy, its spectacular destruction by the Fourth Crusade, and its revival and final conquest in 1453.

This volume explores the political, cultural, and ecclesiastical forces that linked the metropolis of Byzantium to the margins of its far-flung empire. Focusing on the provincial region of Hellas and Peloponnesos in central and southern Greece, Judith Herrin shows how the prestige of Constantinople was reflected in the military, civilian, and ecclesiastical officials sent out to govern the provinces. She evokes the ideology and culture of the center by examining different aspects of the imperial court, including diplomacy, ceremony, intellectual life, and relations with the church. Particular topics treat the transmission of mathematical manuscripts, the burning of offensive material, and the church's role in distributing philanthropy.

Herrin contrasts life in the capital with provincial life, tracing the adaptation of a largely rural population to rule by Constantinople from the early medieval period onward. The letters of Michael Choniates, archbishop of Athens from 1182 to 1205, offer a detailed account of how this highly educated cleric coped with life in an imperial backwater, and demonstrate a synthesis of ancient Greek culture and medieval Christianity that was characteristic of the Byzantine elite.

This collection of essays spans the entirety of Herrin's influential career and draws together a significant body of scholarship on problems of empire. It features a general introduction, two previously unpublished essays, and a concise introduction to each essay that describes how it came to be written and how it fits into her broader analysis of the unusual brilliance and longevity of Byzantium.

Un libro imprescindible para todo amante de la historia: la mejor historia del Imperio bizantino publicada hasta el momento, desde la fundación de Constantinopla en 330 hasta su caída ante los ejércitos otomanos en 1453.

Durante mil años un extraordinario imperio hizo posible que Europa alcanzara la modernidad: Bizancio. El Imperio bizantino fue una sociedad audaz y resistente que combinaba, por un lado, la fe ortodoxa con el paganismo y, por el otro, la sabiduría clásica griega con el poder romano, para producir una civilización tan dinámica como poderosa, que plantó cara durante siglos al islam.

La fascinante obra de Judith Herrin descarta el enfoque cronológico de las historias habituales de Bizancio para dedicar cada uno de los capítulos a un tema concreto, como la arquitectura (con la construcción de Santa Sofía de Constantinopla), un conflicto religioso (la iconoclasia), sexo y poder (el papel de los eunucos), un personaje extraordinario (la historiadora Anna Kommene), un símbolo de la civilización (el tenedor) o una guerra expansiva (las cruzadas). Así logra una historia más amena y accesible del imperio desde la fundación de su magnífica capital, Constantinopla (el actual Estambul), en 330 hasta su caída ante los turcos otomanos en 1453.

Un panorama fascinante y detallado de las fuerzas y creencias vigentes durante el milenio medieval, este libro es también una contribución original a las obras de historia. Presenta los resultados de muchas investigaciones recientes, al tiempo que recrea la vida de Bizancio para el público general. Escrita en la tradición de la Ilustración, por fin acaba con los estereotipos y las caricaturas de la pasividad y la decadencia de Bizancio que popularizaron Montesquieu, Voltaire y Gibbon.

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