Byzantine History

Gibbon: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Edward_Emily_GibbonThe History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon is an influential enlightenment account of Roman history from the peak of prosperity under the Antonine Emperors in the second century CE. Originally published in six volumes between 1776 and 1789, the later books bring the story all the way up to the fall of Constantinople in the fifteenth century, taking in the rise of Islam and the Crusades on the way.

Although his methods were soon overtaken by new standards of historical criticism emanating from Germany, Gibbon's preference for primary sources was notable by the standards of his own day. Then and later, most controversy attached to his assessment of the role of Christianity in Rome's decdine. More recently, scholarship of the period now known as Late Antiquity has defined itself against the image of the Dark Ages which Gibbon helped to popularise.

Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire at Amazon

Free online texts
Gutenberg: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, edited by H.H. Milman. 
Internet Archive: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Vol I | Vol II, edited by J. B. Bury (1914). EPUB, MOBI, PDF and TXT formats.
University of Adelaide: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, with Notes by the Rev. H.H. Milman. EPUB, HTML and MOBI formats.
Wikisource: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Multiple editions, though each currently incomplete. HTML and other formats.

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Michael Psellos: Chronographia

Michael_PsellosThe Chronographia (Greek: Χρονογραφία) by Michael Psellos is a history of the Byzantine Empire in the century from 976 CE by Michael Psellos, who was himself an active courtier and political advisor during the latter part of this period. His chief interest is in the character of individual rulers, which he considers in fourteen biographies of individual emperors and empresses, from Basil II 'The Bulgar-Slayer' to Michael VII Doukas.

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Free online texts

English translations

Documenta Catholica Omnia: Chronographia, translated by E.R.A. Sewter (1953). PDF format.

Fordham University Medieval History Sourcebook: Chronographia, translated by E.R.A. Sewter (1953). HTML format.

Greek texts

Internet Archive: The History of Psellus, edited by Constantine Sathas (1899). PDF, EPUB, DJVU, Kindle and other formats.

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Anna Comnena: The Alexiad

Alexios_I_KomnenosThe Alexiad (Greek: Ἀλεξιάς) by Anna Comnena, is a history of the Byzantine Empire during the reign of her father Alexios I Comnenus from 1048-1118. Written in around 1148, it is significant as an important source for the period leading up to the First Crusade, and as one of the earliest historical works by by a woman.

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Free online texts
English Translations

Fordham University Medieval Sourcebook: The Alexiad, translated by Elizabeth A. Dawes (1928). HTML format.

Wikisource: The Alexiad, translated by Elizabeth A. Dawes. HTML and other formats.

York University: The Alexiad, translated by Elizabeth A. Dawes. PDF format.

Greek texts

Greek Wikisource: Αλεξιάς. HTML and other formats.

Internet Archive: Anna Comnena Vol I (edited by Schopen). | Vol II (edited by Reifferscheid). Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae.

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Jordanes: Getica

The Getica otherwise known as the The Origin and Deeds of the Goths (Latin: De Origine Actibusque Getarum) is a mid-sixth century Latin work by Jordanes, apparently intended as a summary of a lost work on the Goths by Cassiodorus.

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Free online texts

Gutenberg: The Origin and Deeds of the Goths, trans. Charles C. Mierow. multiple formats.

Internet Archive: The Gothic History of Jordanes, translated by Charles Mierow (1915). Multiple formats.

The Latin Library: Iordanis De Origine Actibusque Getarum. Latin text, HTML format.

Northvegr: The Origin and Deeds of the Goths, trans. Charles C. Mierow. HTML format.

University of Calgary: The Origin and Deeds of the Goths, trans. Charles C. Mierow. HTML format.

Wikisource: The Origin and Deeds of the Goths, trans. Charles C. Mierow. HTML format.

Other Resources

Georgetown University: The Aims of Jordanes, by James J. O'Donnell, Historia, 31(1982) 223-240.

Wikipedia: Getica.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Tacitus: Germania - The first major account of the Germanic peoples.

Orosius: Seven Books of History Against the Pagans - used as a source by Jordanes.

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Procopius: The Wars of Justinian

By Meister von San Vitale in Ravenna - The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain
Justinian and his retinue.

The Wars of Justinian (Greek: Ὑπὲρ τῶν πολέμων λόγοι, Hypèr tōn polémon lógoi; Latin: De Bellis) by Procopius of Caesaria is a major source for the history of the Byzantine Empire in the mid-sixth century CE. The first two books deal with campaigns against the Sassanids (The Persian War) . Books three and four cover Belisarius' campaign against the Vandals in North Africa (The Vandal War). The remaining books record the struggle to regain Italy from the Ostrogoths (The Gothic War).

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Free online texts

Gutenberg: History of the Wars, Books 1 & 2 | Books 3 & 4 | Books 5 & 6. Translated by H.B Dewing. Multiple formats.

Loebulus. L048 - Procopius I: History of the Wars, Books 1-2. (Persian War) |  L081 - Procopius II: History of the Wars, Books 3-4. (Vandalic War) |  L107 - Procopius III: History of the Wars, Books 5-6.15. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Greek and English.

Wikisource: History of the Wars, translated by H.B. Dewing. Multiple formats.

Other resources

Duke.edu: The Dates of Procopius' Works: A Recapitulation of the Evidence, by J.A.S. Evans (1997).

Encyclopedia Iranica: Procopius.

RobertGraves.Org: Count Belisarius and Procopius’s Wars, by Peter G. Christensen, Gravesiana: The Journal of the Robert Graves Society, Vol.IV, No 1 (2014).

Procopius.net: History of the Wars (Excerpts) - notable extracts including sections 'on the racing factions' and 'the Roman silk industry'. (Site down as of Nov 18. See the Internet Archive).

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Procopius: The Secret History.

Jordanes: Getica.

Ancient Greek resources: Learn to read Greek classics in the original.


Procopius: The Secret History

By Petar Milošević - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41207671
The Empress Theodora and attendants

The Secret History (Greek: Ἀπόκρυφη Ἱστορία Apókryphe Historía, Latin: Historia Arcana) by Procopius of Caesarea is a scurrilous account of events at the Byzantine court of Justinian and Theodora in the mid-sixth century CE.

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  Free Online Texts

Documenta Catholica Omnia: Historia Arcana. Greek text, PDF format.

Gutenberg: The Secret History of the Court of Justinian. English text, multiple formats.

LacusCurtius: The Secret History, Translated by H.P. Dewing. HTML format.

Medieval History Sourcebook: The Secret History, translated by Richard Atwater. HTML format.

Perseus: Historia Arcana (Anecdota). Greek text, edited by Michael Krascheninnikov. HTML and XML formats.

Sacred-Texts.com: The Secret History, translated by Richard Atwater (1927). HTML format.

University of Adelaide: The Secret History of the Court of Justinian. English translation, multiple formats.

Wikisource: The Secret History, Translated by H.P. Dewing. HTML format, downloadable via bookcreator.

Other Resources

Suda Online: Procopius.

Wikipedia: Procopius.

Wiksource/Catholic Encyclopedia (1913): Procopius.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Procopius: The Wars of Justinian.

Ancient Greek resources: Learn to read Greek classics in the original.