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Constantinople/Byzantium

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Margaret
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Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
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Postby Margaret » Mon November 8th, 2010, 6:33 pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shield-of-Dardania View Post
Anyone knows anything with Basileios II in it?
If that's the same person as Basil II, then I believe The High City by Cecelia Holland features him, though it's not the first in its series. Not read it myself.


I enjoyed The High City. I haven't read any of the other novels in that series and found it worked perfectly well as a standalone novel, though it does make me curious to read the others. I've posted a review at HistoricalNovels.info.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Mon November 8th, 2010, 8:24 pm

Basil II appears in Rosemary Sutcliff's YA novel, Blood Feud, which is about the creation of the first Varangian Guard.

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Shield-of-Dardania
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Postby Shield-of-Dardania » Fri November 12th, 2010, 7:45 pm

Thanks SPB, Margaret & Annis.

Yes, I believe 'Basil' is the anglicised shortform of the Greek 'Basileos', which someone explained to me is a quite common Greek name (of that time), which in turn derived from 'Basileius', which meant 'king' or 'emperor'.

So his full official regal name, I was told, was actually Basileius Basileios.

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The Czar
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Location: Nashville TN

Postby The Czar » Tue August 2nd, 2011, 8:50 pm

I have recently gotten in to this period of history, which I knew little to nothing about. I'll make two recommendations, both, unfortuantely, hard to find. I had to get them from a college library I have alumni rights to.

Byzantium by Michael Ennis - Wow. This was a great book. How the heck have I gone this long, and studied so much history, and never heard the story of Harald Hardrada? This young prince of Norway is driven from his home with his identity a deadly secret, spends time in the Kievan Rus, where, by Ennis' account, he dallys with the Grand Prince's daughter, for which he is sent on a suicide mission down the river to Constantinople. Once there, he joins the Varangian Guard (a group of Norsemen who guard the Emperor) and is involved with numerous intruiges and tumults. He ultimately regains the Norweigian throne and is ultimately defeated and killed at the battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, which so weakend the British forces that allowed William the Conqueror to earn his sobriquet.

I just thought, after reading... what would have happened if he had won (which apparently he was very close to doing)? I might be speaking Norweigan today instead of English! A truly amazing story and a great look into the deadly, decadant court of the Byzantines.

Count Belisarius by Robert Graves - I am only barely started on this one, and already loving it.

I want to read more on this period!
Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results.
_______________________________________________
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli

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Shield-of-Dardania
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Postby Shield-of-Dardania » Fri September 2nd, 2011, 5:54 am

If my memory still serves me correctly, the very first edition of the Varangian Guard was a wedding gift from Vladimir the Great of Kievan Rus, newly converted brother-in-law of Emperor Basileios (Basil II), a dowry of sorts for the hand of Princess Anna, younger sister of Basileios.

Since the wedding took place around 988, and Harald Hardrada (born 1015) would have been in his youth, perhaps late teens, when he first went to Kievan Rus, the Grand Prince would likely have been Yaroslav the Wise, son of Vladimir, whose own father was a Varangian himself.

I's just thinking, could Yaroslav have perhaps seen Harald, an out-and-out and maybe distantly related Varangian prince, as a potential threat to his own Kievan Rus throne?

Harald may have lost his own battle, but he probably paved the way for his son to win. The son named William. :D

I think I'll go look up that Ennis book.

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Shield-of-Dardania
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Postby Shield-of-Dardania » Fri September 2nd, 2011, 6:01 am

sorry, repeated post, deleted.

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Fri September 2nd, 2011, 7:40 am

Yaroslav gave his daughter Elizabeth to Harald in marriage - perhaps he saw that as a way of keeping an eye on him - keep your enemy close and all that!

Byzantium is written in the grand, romantic epic style. Excellent stuff, with the best fictional account of the Battle of Stamford Bridge I've read. Harald was from of a culture which believed that a man's immortality lay in fame- the record of his brave and bold deeds. There's a wonderful story told by Adam Williams in his post History and a Good Story about how Harald made sure his deeds would be remembered the way he wanted. Here's an extract:

"Harald was also a poet, and the subject matter was himself. Apparently, even as he was wielding an axe at Stamford Bridge, seeing his army die around him, he had behind him a scribe – and as he was fighting what he knew was his last battle he was composing verses about his own death, because he wanted to get the record straight. Lopping off heads, he composed a stanza, and then had the scribe repeat it back to him. He thought it infelicitous and composed another (this as he was plucking arrows from his pectorals). Now THERE is a dedicated historical novelist!"

Another addition for the Constantinople list is CC Humphrey's recently published novel, A Place Called Armageddon, about the 1453 Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks. I'd added a few comments about it here.
Last edited by annis on Fri September 2nd, 2011, 8:11 pm, edited 7 times in total.

Carla
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Postby Carla » Fri September 2nd, 2011, 7:56 pm

"annis" wrote:Byzantium is written in the grand, romantic epic style. Excellent stuff, with the best fictional account of the Battle of Stamford Bridge I've read. Harald was from of a culture which believed that a man's immortality lay in fame- the record of his brave and bold deeds. There's a wonderful story told by Adam Williams in his post History and a Good Story about how Harald made sure his deeds would be remembered the way he wanted. Here's an extract:

"Harold was also a poet, and the subject matter was himself. Apparently, even as he was wielding an axe at Stamford Bridge, seeing his army die around him, he had behind him a scribe – and as he was fighting what he knew was his last battle he was composing verses about his own death, because he wanted to get the record straight. Lopping off heads, he composed a stanza, and then had the scribe repeat it back to him. He thought it infelicitous and composed another (this as he was plucking arrows from his pectorals). Now THERE is a dedicated historical novelist!"


One of Robert Low's characters composes a verse on his own death in The Whale Road. I thought he was making it up!
PATHS OF EXILE - love, war, honour and betrayal in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria
Editor's Choice, Historical Novels Review, August 2009
Now available as e-book on Amazon Kindleand in Kindle, Epub (Nook, Sony Reader), Palm and other formats on Smashwords
Website: http://www.carlanayland.org
Blog: http://carlanayland.blogspot.com

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Fri September 2nd, 2011, 8:13 pm

I wonder about that scribe- he must have been an intrepid sort :) I hope he got danger money!

Carla
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Postby Carla » Sat September 3rd, 2011, 8:24 am

"annis" wrote:I wonder about that scribe- he must have been an intrepid sort :) I hope he got danger money!


If he was the one who wrote the eventual saga he presumably survived :-)
PATHS OF EXILE - love, war, honour and betrayal in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria

Editor's Choice, Historical Novels Review, August 2009

Now available as e-book on Amazon Kindleand in Kindle, Epub (Nook, Sony Reader), Palm and other formats on Smashwords

Website: http://www.carlanayland.org

Blog: http://carlanayland.blogspot.com


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