Arnold Toynbee's "Constantine Porphyrogenitus and his World" is one of the most comprehensive studies of any single period of Byzantine history ever written. This massive book is 768 pages long and it includes five detailed thematic maps. The title clearly illustrates Toynbee's scope. He wanted to provide readers with a study of the person Constantine Porphyrogenitus and snapshots of a what Constantine's world was like.
"Constantine Porphyrogenius and his World" is divided into five separate parts:
Part 1 is a biography of ninth century Emperor Constantine Porphyrogeniuts.
Part 2 is a study of the East Rome Empire from the 700s to approximately the year 1000. In this section, Toynbee has written essays on trade, land ownership, taxation, the palace, Constantinople, the army-corps districts, autonomous city states, the army and the navy.
Part 3 is a study of foreign relations. In this section, Toynbee has written articles on the history of the age, Bulgaria, the Eastern Muslims, Armenia and the Caucasus, the peoples in the northern steppes, the western Europeans and diplomacy.
Part 4 is a study on Byzantine civilization from this era. Articles in this section include studies on the origins of Byzantine civilization, public administration, religion, aesthetics, and language.
Part 5 is a detailed study on Constantine Porphyrogenitus' own works. This includes essays on Constantine's interests, purposes and sources of information.
The books also includes annexes that look at the chronicles that recount the history of the period 813-959, an essay on two military texts "Strateghikon" and "Taktitka" and a study on the Paulicians and Bogomils.
Toynbee deserves credit for his precision in the terminology that he uses. He takes pains to avoid using latinized or anglicized forms for proper names and concepts from the time. Even if this approach has been followed by few Byzantine historians, Toynbee clearly defines and identifies the confusing terms that appeared in the historical sources. Toynbee also has done an excellent job at placing this history in its context. He concisely identifies the origins of the themes he is studying and many of the lasting effects of these themes.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is seriously studying Byzantine history or the history of the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries. "Constantine Porphyrogenitus and his World" would be of interest to anyone who is looking for a general introductory work on Byzantine civilization. Finally, this is by far the best study on the Emperor Constantine Porphrogenitus and if you want to learn about him, read this book.