The book Byzantines: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire by Judith Herrin present a story that is based on the Roman Empire. The story revolves around a deadly uniformity of horrible immoralities which are caused by human weaknesses. In regard, the author tries to reveal how Byzantium city still influences social life today. He uses complex ceremonies, especially on the imperial court to illustrate the role of religion in our society. Additionally, the author outlines the development and rise of military and cultural supremacy which use their power to distract the rise of religion. For instance, he shows several Eastern people trying to defend Christianity by resisting the expansion of Muslim.
The author wants to reveal the religion, political, social, and cultural roles in the development and growth of the empire. The author outlines various ways religion played in the growth and rise of the empire. On the other hand, he explains how some religions lead to decline of the empire due to their application of military power to outweigh others (Herrin, 2009). This occurs when Arab Muslims are supported by the military force so as to take over the Byzantine city. For a period, the Orthodox Church had taken over the city, and thus, Muslim wanted to suppress their power. The thesis of the book is set on the controversial religion, political, and social conflict in the Roman Empire.
The author uses historical research and data from other sources to prove his argument. Throughout the book, the author uses specific data that events that took place in the city. For instance, according to the Herrin in 678, Muslims were accused of the introduction of more materials in the Byzantium as they try to influence the spread of their religion (Herrin, 2009). Additionally, the author critically illustrates how different themes are portrayed when various events are taking place in the city such as dance and entertainment programs. Application of maps at the end of the book clearly shows different regions which are associated with the setting and plot of the book.
Based on the book reference, the author has used secondary sources. Secondary sources are materials whose information was created by another person. At the end of the end of the book, Herrin has included a list of references. Most of these references are journal articles and books which are dealing with the content that is related to Byzantine.
The author has effectively used the sources because he has incorporated a large number of citation. All content that is extracted from other sources is cited. Citing is an essential way that the author uses to show where a certain content was removed. At the end of the book, the author has used several pages to indicate all citations that have been used. Additionally, all sources that are used in the book are available either for free or purchase. This gives readers a chance to review more on a certain concept if there is a need.
Based on the referencing style, the arrangement system is a problem. The author has not arranged sources on alphabetical order. Alphabetically style gives readers an easy way to search a certain reference which has been used in the book. However, in the book, the Byzantine Empire, one may be required to search one source after another because they are not systematically arranged. Additionally, the author has used the last pages to indicate all citation. This action may make it hard for the reader to search which sources have been used in certain content. However, the author has not addressed these issues.
In my perception, the book aims at explaining the social, religion, political, and cultural life of people in Byzantine. According to the first few chapters, the author focuses on social and cultural elements that occurred before the death of Justinian. Additionally, in chapter three, the author analyzes the Roman imperial custom (Herrin, 2009). In particular, the author focuses on how power was distributed in the city. Moreover, the author focuses on the political goals and the role of Roman law in the control of the empire. As such, the books have a vital influence in understanding the political and cultural system in the Roman Empire.
Byzantine Empire is a history book which covers a wide area of the Roman Empire. Therefore, most of its target audiences are historians, leaders, students, and much more. The book can be used by historians who want to understand more about the Roman Empire, particularly the Byzantine city and the Roman Empire. Leaders can also use this book to understand how the Roman Empire exercised its power. Additionally, the medieval period is a critical time that students are required to learn in the learning program. Therefore, application of this book can offer a background knowledge on the understanding of the development of this period (Herrin, 2009).
According to the content of the book, the author uses informative writing style. This kind of a book tries to explain in details about the subject matter. Regarding the book, the author tries to educate readers about the Byzantine Empire. Byzantine Empire is an essential concept in the world history. The book gives detailed information about the social, cultural, and political system of Byzantine. Therefore, the book gives readers a chance to understand more about the subject. Additionally, the structure of the book is also simple because it starts with an introduction then a body and finally a conclusion. The subject matter is well explained based on this structural format.
The foundation and decline of religions in the Byzantium Empire easy noticeable. The empire started as a religious center which was made of both Christianity and Muslims. From the beginning of the text, Christianity is seen as the dominant religion whereby the Orthodoxy Church has dominated most parts of the city. Later on, religious conflict arises. Each religion tries to outweigh the other. As such, crusades are introduced by Christianity so as to fight the influence of Muslims (Herrin, 2009). However, some crusades such as the fourth crusade were attacked to reduce their influence. These attacks significantly played a vital role in the decline of religion power in the empire.
The effective integration of ideas by the author is the most interest aspect in the book. From the beginning, Herrin offers a brilliant explanation of the history of the Byzantine Empire. He explains the ruling system as traditional based which strives to protect Christianity by reviewing the westward growth of Muslims (Herrin, 2009). All information is drawn from journal articles and other primary sources from both the political and social structure of the empire. For instance, Herrin has shown that Byzantine as an empire which respects religions by using arts to explain a certain religion concept. Additionally, the author has effectively demonstrated the role of the legal and education system in the growth of the empire. This information plays a vital role in understanding the growth and development of education in the world.
The role of Muslims in the book is not clearly explained. Islamic was the second largest religion that was practiced in the empire. In most parts of the book, the author tries to associate Islamic with bad behaviors such as war. There no specific roles that the author has used to explain the role of Muslim in the empire. Instead, he explains Islamic as a marginalized group which uses illegal actions to influence its growth. For instance, in the Westland, Muslims use Arabic military forces to fight Christianity (Herrin, 2009).
To sure the issue of Islamic is effectively handled, the author should have explained which role Muslims played in the empire. Most of the Roman laws were deducted from Christian principles. Therefore, engaging Muslim would try to create an equitable society. Despite being associated with bad behaviors, the author could have checked their outstanding characters which are portrayed by religion. Islam is highly known in the world. However, some of the people that are linked to the religion engage in illegal actions such as terrorism. These actions have influenced people to develop a negative attitude toward religion. Creating an equitable society is a critical way that can be used to overcome this issue. Herrin should have clearly shown different ways Muslim could have used to influence their members instead of using other external forces. This action could have helped readers to develop positive perception when one is engaging in a religion competition.
From the text, Herrin has effectively integrated social, cultural, political, and religious aspects to explain life in the Byzantine Empire. Religion has been a critical issue that is covered throughout the text. In Byzantine, religion influences the development of education and Roman laws. Schools based their curriculum on some religious aspects (Herrin, 2009). However, Political and religion greatly influenced the decline of the Byzantine Empire. The rise and conflict between religions influenced the introduction of armed forces which led to the decline of the empire.
The author has effectively supported his thesis by outlining the role of religion, political, and culture in the development and decline of the Byzantine Empire. All historical events revolve around these aspects. The author has used enough sources to support his argument. Most of these sources are journal articles and books that deal with information about the Byzantine Empire. This makes the text enough source to understand life in the Byzantine Empire.
The content of the book is so educative and attractive to read. Effective application of ideas and events makes the book to an essential aspect of learning the literature. Therefore, I would recommend the book to be used in a school setting because it offers a good knowledge about the development of education, especially during the medieval period. Additionally, the book could also be used by both religious and political leaders. Leaders may copy some of the characteristics which were used in the empire to handle current problems.
Herrin, Judith. Byzantium: the surprising life of a medieval empire. Princeton University Press, 2009.
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