The book “Byzantium” by Peter Sarris is a position that tries to present the history and importance of the Byzantine Empire in a “compact” way. The book has 140 pages of content and is part of the “Short Introduction” series, in which outstanding specialists gathered around the University of Oxford try to explain the world and processes in an accessible way. The item was published by Wydawnictwo Uniwersytet Łódzkiego.
Peter Sarris is a professor of history specializing in Late Antique and Byzantine subjects. His achievements include many books and scientific articles devoted to history.
The author in this “compendium” focuses on many issues; the theme of the complicated fall of the Roman Empire and its elites is raised; transferring the centre of power to the Bosphorus; and finally the strengthening of the Christian faith, which became an important part of the later Byzantine Empire. There is also a description of the conflicts of the Romans with the Persians, the Byzantines with the world of Islam or divisions in the Church. In total, the author has divided the work into seven chapters, which systematically allow him to refer to subsequent important issues.
The publishing house of the University of Lodz took care of a very nice edition of the book. The book has taken a very compact form, which by no means causes problems in reading. There are also illustrations and maps in black and white. In addition, at the end, we get a list of bibliographies, recommended reading or a list of Byzantine emperors. The big plus – placing footnotes at the bottom of the page.
The book “Byzantium”, despite its small size, is a very interesting proposition for everyone who is interested or would like to better understand the process of the fall of the Roman Empire and the formation of a new state organism in Byzantium. The author in a very accessible way explains the complex processes occurring in and affecting the Roman state, and then the Byzantine state. We learn e.g. why so little attention is paid to Byzantium in school, and how complex politics was in late antiquity and the Middle Ages.
Certainly, the book is a great, and of great substantive value, proposition for the evening.