Category: Uncategorized

Saladin the Strategist is Out!

I’m proud to announce that Saladin the Strategist: How the Crusaders Lost the Holy Land is finally out! You can purchase it on Amazon. This is the initial release – maps and annotations are not yet included. If you purchase it now for the discounted price, your Kindle version will automatically update when the full […]

Read more
Saladin Intro

Introduction to “Saladin the Strategist”

An excerpt from Saladin the Strategist: How the Crusaders Lost the Holy Land, a military history of the great Muslim general. Available on Amazon now. As the year 1185 drew to a close, a long train of horses, camels, and men trudged through the rainy cold of the upper Mesopotamian plain. The army’s mood was […]

Read more
Money of Account

Money of Account: How Commerce was Conducted in the Middle Ages

How did merchants deal with the bewildering array of currencies that circulated in the Middle Ages? The Venetian grosso, Byzantine hyperpyron, French livre, Florentine florin—all circulated widely, yet all had different values and subdivisions. How did they make sense of it all? They used a concept called money of account. Money of account is a […]

Read more

What Is the Hauran? A Small Region of Major Importance

Photos of the eastern Mediterranean from space present an image of sharp contrasts. The coastal plain—just a few dozen kilometers at its widest—is a verdant strip, hemmed in by the coastal ranges and irrigated by the region’s winter rains. The mountains in turn cast a rain shadow on the interior: green vegetation and white snowcaps […]

Read more

Byzantium’s Eastern Frontier: The Most Sophisticated Defensive System of the Middle Ages

Below is the transcript for the History Network Podcast episode “Byzantium’s Eastern Frontier”. You can listen to it here, or on iTunes or Spotify. The episode was based on this Twitter thread. The Byzantines, the subjects of the Eastern Roman Empire, were great survivors. They outlasted their cousins in the west by a thousand years, […]

Read more
Accursed Tower

Book Review: The Accursed Tower

The Sultan of Sultans, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, al-Malik al-Ashraf, the powerful, the Dreadful, the Punisher of Rebels, Hunter of Franks and Tartars and Armenians, Snatcher of castles from the hands of Miscreants, Lord of the Two Seas, Guardian of the Two Pilgrim Sites, Khalil al-Salihi. So began the announcement from the Mamluk […]

Read more
Italian Wars

New Book: “The Art of War in Italy, 1494-1529 (Critical Edition)”

We are proud to announce the publication of F.L. Taylor’s 1920 classic Art of War in Italy, 1494-1529 on the birth of Early Modern warfare during the Italian Wars. It is available to US readers here (international rights pending). Below is the editor’s preface: The Italian Wars opened with the roar of French cannons that brought medieval […]

Read more

Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire, Ten Years Later

As a young lieutenant in the Marine Corps, not yet in the fleet, I was given lots of advice on briefing higher-ups. Most of it was what you would expect: give only the most relevant facts up front. Deliver them with confidence. And never, ever try to bullshit when you’re not sure of something. This […]

Read more
Was Heraclius Armenian

Was Heraclius Armenian? A Look at the Sources

The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming book. It is often claimed with varying degrees of certainty that Heraclius was of Armenian origin. Yet the evidence for this is strikingly thin, amounting to two ambiguous sentences from so many sources. Theophylact Simocatta The first quote comes from Theophylact Simocatta’s history of the Roman-Sasanian War […]

Read more
Fall of Byzantium

“Midway Through the Plunge”: Byzantine Emporia’s First Book

We are happy to announce the upcoming release of our first book, titled Midway Through the Plunge: John Cantacuzenus and the Fall of Byzantium. It is based on the “Fall of Byzantium” series of articles (read it here) about the trials and tribulations of the Byzantine Empire in the middle of the 14th century. This […]

Read more

Who Were the Nabataeans? Masters of the Incense Trade

Their buildings, to they extent that they can be called such, confuse the eye at first. Their superficial form is pure Greco-Roman classicism: columns, porticoes, and all. But the rock from which they are carved evokes an earlier, more primitive age. These are the famous monuments of Petra: creations of the Nabataeans, an Arab people […]

Read more
Mayan ruins guatemala

Science Reveals New Depths to Mayan Cities in Guatemala

National Geographic covers an astounding discovery in northern Guatemala. Researchers used special techniques have been used to survey an archaeological site in northern Guatemala has revealed a vast complex of cities home to some million people. Using a revolutionary technology known as LiDAR (short for “Light Detection And Ranging”), scholars digitally removed the tree canopy […]

Read more
Roman road

Roman Road Discovered in Western Turkey

A 55-kilometer stretch of an ancient Roman road has been discovered in western Turkey. The road connected Smyrna (modern Izmir) on the coast with Manisa, an inland town. An archaeologist working on the project observed: It is noteworthy that the road is as solid as the first day it was built. Our examination showed that large […]

Read more
Rome Through Chinese Eyes

Rome Through China’s Eyes

recently-translated ancient Chinese text sheds light on international relations in the 3rd century AD. A Roman delegation, sent by Marcus Aurelius, reached the Chinese court in 166, followed by several others over the next century. The court official Yu Huan, writing in the 3rd century, spoke with some of the Romans on these later expeditions, and recorded a fair account: (more…)

Read more