Sunday, September 23, 2018

All roads lead to Constantinople

A review of "Medieval Western Civilization and the Byzantine and Islamic Worlds" by Deno John Geanakoplos

This is a relatively good but basic book on medieval European history, probably intended for introductory college classes. The last chapter deals with the Italian Renaissance. The book does have one unusual trait. The author (a Greek-American scholar) treats the Byzantine Empire as an integrated part of European history, rather than as a peculiar sideshow. While I'm not a great admirer of the East Roman and Byzantine Empires, this approach is quite correct. It hardly comes as a surprise to learn that Geanakoplos was a leading scholar in Byzantine studies! If you already know a lot about medieval history, including its more Byzantine aspects, this volume probably contains little new information, but if you are a college student or very astute high school student, this might be just what you were looking for…

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