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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent !!!, 31 Mar 2014
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This review is from: John Skylitzes: A Synopsis of Byzantine History, 811-1057: Translation and Notes (Paperback)
This is a great book! The basic narrative of Skylitzes is followed by detailed notes made by Cheynet. In this way the book is a combination of a narrative of the "classical" middle period of Byzantium and a detailed encyclopedia of byzantine stydies. Cheynet's notes correct Skylitzes when he's wrong, complete him when he's superficial and provide a detailed prosopographical information about the historical persons mentioned by Skilitzes (origins, career, other known relatives etc).

The narrative begins with the defeat of emperor Nikephoros I in Bulgaria and ends with Isaac Komnenos' revolt and his rise to the imperial throne. The byzantine "Golden Age" of the three soldier-emperors (Nikephoros Phokas, John Tzimiskes and Basil II) are roughly in the middle of the narrative. This gives the narrative a first phase of ascendancy (811-1025) followed by a second phase of slowly increasing decadence that was the result of Basil's "poisonous legacy": a very large empire difficult to handle, with substantial numbers of traditionally non Byzantine populations who along with the more traditionally Byzantine ones resented the tax reforms imposed on them by Constantinople.

The narrative describes the wars between the Byzantines and the Arabs/Saracens in both Asia, Crete and Sicily, the long series of wars with "the other Balkan empire", that is the Bulgarian empire, which can be devided in a first phase of Bulgarian ascendancy that culminates with the reign of Tsar Simeon, followed by the byzantine conquest of the eastern half of the Bulgarian empire during the reigns of Nikephoros Phokas and John Tzimiskes and by the definitive subjection of the entire Bulgarian empire during the reign of Basil "the Bulgar-slayer", immediately after the end of the series of civil wars he had in Asia with the rebel general Bardas Skleros.

Skylitzes also describes the gradual weakening of the Byzantine hold in south Italy and the arrival of new enemies like the Pechenegs in the Danube and the Seljuk Turks in Vaspurakan.
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John Skylitzes: A Synopsis of Byzantine History, 811-1057: Translation and Notes
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