Byzantium occupies an uncertain place in European history. Though often misconstrued as a vanished successor to the classical world, Byzantium belongs in the mainstream history of Europe and the Mediterranean; its impact is still felt throughout the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The Byzantines introduces the reader to the complex history, ethnicity and identity of the Byzantine empire.
The Byzantine world was also where early Islam and Christianity met, and the Byzantines engaged with and existed alongside Muslims, from the Arabs in the seventh century to the Ottoman Turks in the fifteenth. During its long history the size and shape of the Byzantine empire underwent many dramatic changes, and the pluralist world of late Byzantium was very different from that of the eastern Roman empire when Constantinople was founded in the fouth century AD. The world around it also changed dramatically during that time, yet Byzantine identity was both tenacious and distinctive. The tension between change and continuity in Byzantine society is one of the main themes explored in this book.