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Old November 16th, 2012, 09:04 AM   #1
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Nevra Necipoglu's ''Byzantium, between the Ottomans and the Latins''


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I was looking through my local university's bookshelves about Byzantium and I stumbled upon this. The goal of the book is to understand 3 places within the late Byzantine Empire (Thessalonike, Constantinople and the Morea) by their political and social environment, in relation to the Ottomans, the Venitians and other latins. I recommend this book to anyone interested in late Byzantine society.

Being unfamiliar with late byzantine social and political history, I found the book to be dense but always interesting. Though, Necipoglu never forgets to put the essential facts in front of the reader and never misses a chance to cross sources. Necipoglu's force resides in her ability to translate a change in political autority to a change of behavior in major factions within the city by using sources about individuals or communities. The examples given are always nuanced with great concern.

In the case of Thessalonike, Necipoglu follows the populace, the monasteries, merchants, upper class magnates, the oppressed and the rest within a wider context of changing political rule (Venitian, Byzantine, Ottomans, and thus in different intervals) and shows that these groups do not all share a single trajectory.

This book goes on to show the Byzantium's last breaths were not so black and white as historians once thought. It is not surprising to see that some side with the Ottomans, some with themselves, some with Byzantium and some with the Venitians. Put within a wider context, what seems like ''Ottoman invasions'' lose their sense of coercitive domination, free violence, and negation of prosperity. Pretty good book in my view.
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