At its height, the Byzantine Empire ruled a sizeable chunk of the known world. They carried an unbroken descent from the ancient Romans down into the 15th century, and if it hadn’t been for the rise of Islam they could still be around today – a sobering thought when you consider how important their powerbase in the Middle East was to the 20th century’s economy. So it’s a bit sad that they’re so little known in the West today.
This short series of articles is my attempt to give a brief overview of this vast empire, in an accessible fashion. Brief being the operative word there – the Byzantine Empire covered between 800 and 2000 years, depending on who you talk to. There are many other more comprehensive sources out there, but my aim here is to give you a flavour of what the Byzantines were all about. Hopefully you’ll learn as much reading it as I had to learn to write it.
Part 1: Byzantium Begins
Part 3: Byzantine Politics
Part 5: The Plagues of Byzantium