|Title||:||Justinian II of Byzantium|
|Number of Pages||:||195 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Justinian II of Byzantium Reviews
Forty years on much of Constance Head's work here is quite dated. However, it remains the only historical biography of the reign of the Byzantine emperor Justinian II. Head's goal in this book beyond providing a narrative is to rescue Justinian from the tyranny of the source material. The two main sources in Greek for his life, the later chroniclers [[ASIN:0812211286 Theophanes]] and Nikephoros are virulently hostile to Justinian. Head's goal is to present in the format of popular history an argument that Justinian, despite his faults, was in fact a competent and determined statesman. Although much of this book is simply a narrative of Justinian's life, the core of it is based on why Theophanes and Nikephoros have this particular attitude. She does an admirable job given the material available to her at the time of writing. The tale told is lively and interesting. It is easy to read, and the short chapters mean you can glance at the book for only a few moments and yet still finish a chapter. The physical book itself is quite interesting. When I removed the dustcover, I found that Justinian's monogram was embossed on the front cover which was a nice touch. Despite being a popular history, the publisher allowed the use of footnotes, something that too many books for strictly academic audiences these days still do not have. The problem with the book is its age. While one can pick it up for a decent read on Justinian's life and his empire, much of Head's scholarship is extremely dated. Even if she was citing material from the late 1960s it would be considered dated today, but many of her references at this point are now a century old. So long as this book is just enjoyed for its narrative and careful use of the sources, it is a perfectly good book. Readers should be aware, however, that it is not a good place to find out what scholars think of the 'Farmer's Law' in Byzantium today, though.
Constance Head did some outstanding research into the life of the infamous Justinian II, producing a much more nuanced picture of the "nose-less" emperor than we typically see. She broadened her sources from the usual Chronicle of Theophanes and Nikephoros, into papal records in Rome, sources in Ravenna, and Arab accounts. Her explanations behind his initial overthrow by the usurper Leontios, and the drive that he must have had to finally regain the throne 10 years later despite a terrible facial disfigurement lead me to believe that Justinian's reputation may have been trashed over the years. I don't know where the historical research has gone in the forty-five years since this book was published, so maybe there's more information available.If you're interested in learning more about this much-maligned emperor, this would be a great place to start.