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Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood: The Rise and Fall of Byzantium, 955 A.D. to the First Crusade

9780190253226
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In the second half of the tenth century, Byzantium embarked on a series of spectacular conquests: first in the southeast against the Arabs, then in Bulgaria, and finally in the Georgian and Armenian lands. By the early eleventh century, the empire was the most powerful state in the Mediterranean. It was also expanding economically, demographically, and, in time, intellectually as well. Yet this imperial project came to a crashing collapse fifty years later, when political disunity, fiscal mismanagement, and defeat at the hands of the Seljuks in the east and the Normans in the west brought an end to Byzantine hegemony. By 1081, not only was its dominance of southern Italy, the Balkans, Caucasus, and northern Mesopotamia over but Byzantium's very existence was threatened.

How did this dramatic transformation happen? Based on a close examination of the relevant sources, this history — the first of its kind in over a century — offers a new reconstruction of the key events and crucial reigns as well as a different model for understanding imperial politics and wars, both civil and foreign. In addition to providing a badly needed narrative of this critical period of Byzantine history, Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood offers new interpretations of key topics relevant to the medieval era. The narrative unfolds in three parts: the first covers the years 955-1025, a period of imperial conquest and consolidation of authority under the great emperor Basil "the Bulgar-Slayer." The second (1025-1059) examines the dispersal of centralized authority in Constantinople as well as the emergence of new foreign enemies (Pechenegs, Seljuks, and Normans). The last section chronicles the spectacular collapse of the empire during the second half of the eleventh century, concluding with a look at the First Crusade and its consequences for Byzantine relations with the powers of Western Europe. This briskly paced and thoroughly investigated narrative vividly brings to life one of the most exciting and transformative eras of medieval history.

Category:
Humanities
Cover:
Hardback
Edition Number:
1
ISBN:
9780190253226
Pages:
400
Author:
Kaldellis Anthony
Publisher:
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
Release Year:
2017

Anthony Kaldellis is Professor of Greek and Latin at The Ohio State University. Author of The Christian Parthenon: Classicism and Pilgrimage in Byzantine Athens (CUP 2009) and Hellenism in Byzantium: The Transformations of Greek Identity and the Reception of the Classical Tradition (CUP, 2007), among numerous others.

Table of Contents
Preface
Maps
Genealogies
Introduction: The Byzantine Empire in the Tenth Century
Romanía
Imperial governance
The army and war
Landed aristocracy
Anatolian magnates
Part I: CONQUEST AND CONSOLIDATION
"Avengers of Rome": The First Phase of Conquest in the East (955-963)
The cast of the conquest: The final years of Konstantinos VII (d. 959)
Turning the tide in the southeast
Southern Italy
A smooth succession: Romanos II
The conquest of Crete
The conquest of Cilicia (phase I)
The rise of Phokas
"The White Death of the Saracens": Nikephoros II Phokas (963-969)
The new regime
Failure in Sicily
The conquest of Cilicia (phase II) and Cyprus
The annexation of Taron
Declining popularity
Tension with Bulgaria
Tension in Italy with the German empire
Military victory, political failure: the final years
"A Mind Full of Cares, Brave in Danger": Ioannes I Tzimiskes (969-976)
The new regime
The defeat of the Rus' and Bulgaria
Eastern incursions: toward a new balance of power
An otherwise obscure reign
"From Spectator to Contestant": Basil II (976-1025), Part I
The new regime
The first rebellion of Bardas Skleros
The foreign policy of Lakapenos and Phokas, 979-985
The fall of Lakapenos and the rebellion of Phokas and Skleros
"Guarding the Children of New Rome": Basil II (976-1025), Part II
From status quo to peace in the east, 990-1001
The war against Bulgaria, 991-1003
The emperor and the "No One Ever Saw My Spear at Rest": Basil II (976-1025), Part III
The missing decade and conquest of Bulgaria, 1004-1018
Monitoring Aleppo, 1000-1025
The war with Abkhazia-Kartli and the last rebellion, 1021-1022
The apogee of Byzantine Italy
The end of an era
GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS: THE AGE OF CONQUEST
PART II: NEW ENEMIES AND THE RETURN OF POLITICS
"Intrigues of the Women's Quarters": From Macedonians to Paphlagonians
Konstantinos VIII (1025-1028)
Romanos III Argyros (1028-1034): The same insecurity
The debacle at Aleppo and the capture of Edessa
Diplomacy and dynastic instability
Michael IV (1034-1041): Family rule
Frontier integrity
The conquest, and loss, of Sicily
The Bulgarian revolt
The dramatic fall of Michael V (1041-1042)
"No Less Laws than Arms": Konstantinos IX Monomachos (1042-1055), Part I
Enter the Normans
1043: Trial by fire
Domestic initiatives (phase I)
The annexation of Ani
Enter the Pechenegs - the revolt of Tornikios
"Squaring the Circle": Konstantinos IX Monomachos (1042-1055), Part II
Enter the Seljuks - the Pecheneg wars
Domestic initiatives (phase II)
Italy on the brink and the Schism of 1054
Coping with new challenges
"With Sword Drawn": It All Comes to a Head, 1055-1059
Theodora (1055-1056)
Michael VI (1056-1057)
Isaakios I Komnenos (1057-1059): Fiscal reforms and the fall of Keroularios
Barbarians of the east and west
GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS: THE RETURN OF MULTI-POLARITY
PART III: COLLAPSE
"The Agony of a Virulent Poison": The Road to Mantzikert, 1059-1071
Konstantinos X Doukas (1059-1067): Domestic mispriorities
Frayed frontiers: Seljuks and Oghuz
The end of Byzantine Italy
Eudokia and the succession: Romanos IV Diogenes (1068-1071)
Chasing Turks
Mantzikert
Civil war
"Squeezed by the Pangs of Death": The Empire on the Verge, 1071-1081
Michael VII Doukas (1071-1078): The new regime
The state of the provinces
A Norman statelet in Asia Minor
Breakdown
Nikephoros III Botaneiates (1078-1081)
GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS: IMPERIAL COLLAPSE
EPILOGUE
A Byzantine History of the First Crusade
Crusading in broader perspective
The making of a surrogate Byzantine army
Restoring the Roman east
Guide to the ten most important narrative sources
Glossary
Bibliography
Index of Persons and Places
Restoring the Roman east

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