What is your first impression of Istanbul, or the old Constantinople? A conquered city with a sad history? A corrupt empire that lasted longer than it should have? (it’s funny and sad to see so many of such empires that still exists today.) This book gives you a peak into Byzantine — an empire that once was the protector of Christianity, the most prosperous place on earth, the beacon of civilization compared to the barbaric west overrun by Germanic tribes. This will be reversed by the collapse of Byzantine and later the Ottoman empire.
The main theme I see from the Byzantine empire is that it never solved the successor problem unlike the British empire. And because so many things relies on an able emperor, everytime one dies, the empire turns into a battle royale playground where the most powerful fights for becoming the next emperor. And because there’s such a tradition, the ruler can never release more power to the bureaucracy — who knows who will use that power to plot against the emperor?
Would recommend if you’re into history.