CONSTANTINOPLE: Birth of a City by Harold Lamb


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Phoenix-like, the city of Constantinople rose from the ashes of Byzantium. Unlike conservative imperial Rome, Constantine saw the implications of stagnation and decay in the Western towns, the weeds springing up in the paving of Roman roads in disuse. From his recording of the founding of the Eastern center of the Roman Empire on the ruins of Byzantium, author Lamb skims briefly through succeeding rulers to a more rounded and expository view of the accomplishments of Justinian as emperor and law-giver. Dominant personalities shaping a city have occupied Harold Lamb's interest before, in The City and the Tsar. The implications of Justinian's reign for our own time, with his abstraction and codification of the hopeless mass of legal records into a cogent Corpus Juris are treated fully. The turbulent personal lives of Constantine, whose son and wife died by his command, and Justinian, whose marriage to Theodora, a one-time prostitute, was a coup of strategy and patience, are as fully treated as the military stratagems of Justinian and his general Belisarius. For historical scholars and researchers this offers readable information on Constantinople between the decay of the western Roman Empire and the sixth century.

Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 1957
Publisher: Knopf