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5.0 out of 5 stars The starting point, 12 July 2013
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JPS - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Byzantine Economy (Cambridge Medieval Textbooks) (Paperback)
This is probably the best starting point and introduction in English to the vast and complex set of topics covered under the sweeping title of "The Byzantine Economy." Surprisingly, given the amount of ground that needs to be covered, the two co-authors (Angeliki Laiou and Cécile Morrisson) - two of the world-wide specialists in the history of Byzantium in general, and its economic history in particular, have come up with a hugely valuable book.

Published as one of Cambridge's Medieval Textbooks, this 250 pages book (with another twenty once you add the bibliography) is a remarkable overview of the Empire's economic history over some ten centuries in only six chapters. The first one lays out the context, sets the scene and deals with the Empire's natural and human resources, mostly during Late Antiquity. The next four chapters, summarize once of the main periods: the Late Antique economy and the shift to medieval structures (sixth to eight century), "Restructuring, recovery and controlled expansion (eighth to tenth century), the Age of accelerated growth, which covers the next two centuries up to 1204, and the last chapter on decline, decay and demise, entitled "Small-state economics", which covers the last two to two and a half centuries of the ever shrinking Empire.

The high value of this relatively short book is that it summarizes - with full references for those needing or wanting more - all the main features and the main debates that have taken place about the economy of Byzantium. It also presents what is the current consensus, where there is one, or the elements that are still controversial, where there is none. All this is done is a clear and relatively simple and easy to understand style, although one of the author's is clearly not writing in her native language.

Clear, relatively brief and concise (historical debates are summarized, not presented at length and in all their excruciating details), and nevertheless quite comprehensive, this is a book that should be seen as a reference and a valuable resource for a wide range of readers. This is because it can be used as a starting point and a reference for all, whether students of Byzantium or general readers curious to learn more about Byzantium and its economy.

Both sets of readers will find all of the essentials in this book and references to go further should they wish to do so, without having to invest in a frightfully expensive three-tome piece of first-class scholarship published by Harvard. Both authors were also major contributors in this massive work (the Economic history of Byzantium), alongside over thirty over specialists worldwide.

For those still wanting more, the works of Michael Hendy (his 1985 "Studies in the Byzantine Monetary Economy, in particular, but also his earlier and later studies between 1970 and 1989 brought together in Ashgate Varorium Collected Studies) and Alan Harvey's Economic Expansion in the Byzantine Empire (900-1200) should do the trick. Both authors, together with a few others (such as Cécile Morrisson, Jacques Lefort and Jean-Pierre Sodini, for instance) have significantly contributed to better understanding of the shifts and economic changes that occurred throughout the long history of the Byzantine Empire.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to the Byzantine Economy, 5 Feb. 2013
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Cella Mauro - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Byzantine Economy (Cambridge Medieval Textbooks) (Paperback)
This book is not aimed at being the ultimate source about Byzantine Economy. It's aimed at making the reader, be him a college student or an amateur historian, aware of the latest developments in our understanding of this topic using the most up to date sources.
The book is unbelievably well researched and the bibliography alone is well worth the cover price: there's hardly a publication Laiou and Morrisson didn't consider while writing this book.
This book can help even the ordinary "layman" with an interest in Byzantine history better understand this important topic: how did the Empire collected taxes, what was produced in Byzantium, how did the Italian traders impacted the economy etc.

All in all an excellent book everybody with an interest in the history of Byzantium should consider owning.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Economic History of the Byzantine Empire, 9 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: The Byzantine Economy (Cambridge Medieval Textbooks) (Paperback)
An excellent summary of the research concerning the different economic eras of the eastern part of the Roman Empire that survived all the way through the Middle Ages.
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The Byzantine Economy (Cambridge Medieval Textbooks)
The Byzantine Economy (Cambridge Medieval Textbooks) by Cécile Morrisson (Paperback - 20 Sept. 2007)
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