Byzantium by Michael Angold
Byzantium was a Greek "polis" on the Bosphorous that gained importance in 324AD when it was re-founded by Constantine the Great and named Constantinople. One of the pre-eminent cities of the Middle Ages, Constantinople played a vital role in the emergence of the medieval order in which Byzantium, western Christendom and Islam became three distinct civilizations. This book charts the development and characteristics of Byzantine art and society. The author begins in Constantinople, from which the new empire emerged, and examines the city in relation to the world of the early Middle Ages. He shows how the foundation and subsequent growth of the city altered the equilibrium of the Roman Empire and shifted the centre of gravity eastwards; he describes the emergence of political factions and their impact on political life; analyses the disintegration of the culture of late antiquity; and elucidates the reaction among Muslims and western Europeans to Byzantine iconoclasm.