Midway Through the Plunge: John Cantacuzenus and the Fall of Byzantium, based on the “Fall of Byzantium” series of articles (read it here), is about the trials and tribulations of the Byzantine Empire in the middle of the 14th century. This was the reign of Emperor John VI Cantacuzenus: the empire, which had been under foreign rule less than a century before, was shakily trying to restore its past glory.
Fortune would not be cooperative. Byzantium was pummeled from without by devastating blows—natural disaster, plague, and invading armies. From within, it was afflicted with the perennial maladies of domestic strife, scheming, and venomous court politics. Amidst these storm gales, John Cantacuzenus had the unenviable task of mending the fragile Byzantine state even as it crumbled in his hands.
The reign of Cantacuzenus is not just a gripping story, but it teaches a lot about history and human nature. He and his contemporaries lived in a world almost unfathomable to our modern eyes, in which everything was collapsing around them. The old order was falling apart, but would a new order arise to take its place? Evil seemed to be sweeping across the whole world. Horrific reports of the Hundred Years’ War and the Black Death arrived from the west; in the east, storm clouds gathered as the Turks began to show their true strength. Surely the End Times were near.
Against this gloomy backdrop unfolded a crackling tale with lots of color. The future was uncertain, but the people of the time did not give into despair; they instead faced the future and fought manfully to save their civilization. Above all, Midway Through the Plunge is about this interaction between fate and human action. How much could those individuals affect history, and how were their actions in turn constrained by events? If the Byzantine Empire was mostly doomed by that point, what was the significance of anyone’s effort? Although we know the ultimate fate of the empire, Midway Through the Plunge ends in a spirit of hope for anyone who loves Byzantium.
File is delivered in MOBI and pdf format.