Fourteen Byzantine Rulers

By Michael Psellus, E.R.A. Sewter (translator),

Book cover of Fourteen Byzantine Rulers: The Chronographia of Michael Psellus

Book description

This chronicle of the Byzantine Empire, beginning in 1025, shows a profound understanding of the power politics that characterized the empire and led to its decline.

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Why read it?

2 authors picked Fourteen Byzantine Rulers as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I love this book because it is the personal memoirs of a Byzantine statesman, Michael Psellus (c.1022-c.1080), who lived through the dramatic reversal of fortune of the mid-eleventh century. He tells the story through the lives of the emperors and empresses who ruled during his lifetime. To appreciate Psellus’ work, it is better to skip the first two biographies which are largely based on hearsay, and to start with the account of Romanos III (1028-1034). As the author himself says ‘I both saw Romanos and on one occasion actually talked to him.’

As Psellus rose through the ranks of the…

From Jonathan's list on Byzantium from superpower to downfall.

This is a combination of a history and a memoir by the finest Byzantine scholar, who was also a leading politician during a time of Byzantine power, prosperity, and ultimately decline in the eleventh century.  Psellus was a talented writer who wrote here about what fascinated him most: Byzantine court politics. An attentive student of human nature and how it could be manipulated, Psellus cultivated emperors, officials, generals, palace servants, and everyone else connected with the court, not just out of ambition to become rich, famous, and powerful, but also because he loved to play the political game and played…

From Warren's list on understanding the Byzantine empire.

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