The following two books have been of invaluable service in researching the conversion of Constantine the Great (especially Eusebius’s account found in Maas), as well as theology, everyday life, and imperial edicts from the fourth century until the Muslim invasions of the seventh.

Lactantius. De Mortibus Persecutorum, J. L. Creed, ed. & trans. Oxford: Clarendon, 1984.

Maas, Michael. Readings in Late Antiquity. London: Routledge, 2003.

For the reign of Julian the Apostate I drew heavily on his principal biographer:

Ammianus Marcellinus. The Later Roman Empire (A.D. 354–378), W. Hamilton, ed. & trans. New York: Penguin Classics, 1986.

as well as:

Wright, Wilmer C. Julian: Volume III. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003.

The latter is a collection of letters and polemics that the emperor wrote throughout his public life, from first donning his armor in Gaul to leaving for his ill-fated Persian campaign in 363.

Procopius was of immense assistance in researching the reign of Justinian, both the official “Buildings” and “Wars” and of course the scandalous “Secret History.”

Procopius. Buildings. H. B. Dewing, ed. & trans. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002.

Procopius. History of the Wars: The Persian War Books 1 & 2. H. B. Dewing, ed. & trans. New York: Cosimo Classics, 2007.

Procopius. History of the Wars: The Vandalic War Books 3 & 4. H. B. Dewing, ed. & trans. New York: Cosimo Classics, 2007.

Procopius. The Secret History. G. A. Williamson, ed. & trans. London: Penguin Classics, 1966.


This time period covers the Byzantine “dark ages” where literary sources become somewhat scarce. Fortunately the “Chronicle of Theophanes” sheds some much-needed light. This work by a ninth-century monk describes the rise of Heraclius and the empire’s struggle for survival amid religious dissension and external attack. The two major epochs of the period—the Iconoclastic controversy and the rise of the Macedonian dynasty—are detailed in Alice-Mary Talbot’s wonderful translations of Leo the Deacon and Eight Saints’ Lives.

Talbot, Alice-Mary. Byzantine Defenders of Images: Eight Saints’ Lives in English Translation. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, 1998.

Talbot, Alice-Mary. The History of Leo the Deacon: Byzantine Military Expansion in the Tenth Century. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, 2005.

Turtledove, Harry. The Chronicle of Theophanes. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982.


For the period from the First to the Fourth Crusades, I have depended on the lively eyewitness accounts provided by Anna Comnena, John Kinnamos, Michael Psellus, and Niketas Choniates for the Eastern perspective, and on Joinville and Villehardouin for the Western.

Choniates, Niketas. O City of Byzantium: Annals of Niketas Choniates. Trans. Harry J. Magoulias. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1986.

Comnena, Anna. The Alexiad. London: Penguin Classics, 1969.

Kinnamos, John. Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus. C. M. Brand, ed. & trans. New York: Columbia University Press, 1976.

Psellus, Michael. Fourteen Byzantine Rulers. London: Penguin Classics, 1966.

Shaw, M. R. B. Joinville and Villehardouin: Chronicles of the Crusades. New York: Penguin, 1963.


The secondary sources that have been most helpful can be broken down into two groups—those that are overviews of Byzantine history and those that deal with specific periods. In the former category I have made most use of Warren Treadgold’s exhaustive history and Lord Norwich’s three-volume set. Timothy Gregory’s work has also been important, and, of course, Edward Gibbon—though with a certain amount of salt. In the latter category, for the period of the Crusades, I was assisted by Jonathan Harris’s work, and for the early Macedonian Dynasty by the great Steven Runciman. In detailing the final moments of the empire I am indebted to Roger Crowley and especially Donald Nicol for his excellent study on Constantine Dragases.

Crowley, Roger. 1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West. New York: Hyperion, 2005.

Gibbon, Edward. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. 6 vols. New York: Random House, 1993.

Gregory, Timothy E. A History of Byzantium. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005.

Harris, Jonathan. Byzantium and the Crusades. London: Hambledon Continuum, 2006.

Nicol, Donald M. The Immortal Emperor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Norwich, John Julius. Byzantium: The Apogee. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004.

Norwich, John Julius. Byzantium: The Decline and Fall. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003.

Norwich, John Julius. Byzantium: The Early Centuries. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989.

Runciman, Steven. The Emperor Romanus Lecapenus and His Reign. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1929.

Treadgold, Warren. A History of the Byzantine State and Society. California: Stanford University Press, 1997.

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