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She surpasses this barrier masterfully, and this is mainly due to her extensive training in rhetoric. Her education is the reason why she is still being studied today and she will probably always remain one of my favorite historical people. An enthralling account of the reign of Alexios 1 by his daughter Anna. Following the collapse of the Roman Empire's eastern frontier after the battle of Manzikert, a series of ineffectual emperors and a civil war made matters worse.

Out of the chaos rose the young general Alexios who brought stability back to the empire but also laid the seeds for later problems by favouring his own family and supporters for high positions in the imperial bureaucracy. With hindsight we can see that his worst err An enthralling account of the reign of Alexios 1 by his daughter Anna. With hindsight we can see that his worst error was on calling for help to the pope in Rome. What started as a request for a few thousand knights ended up becoming the first Crusade. Western knights with their own agendas passed through the empire,captured Jerusalem, and carved out their own kingdoms in the holy land.

It was Probably Bohemond more than any of the other leaders who was responsible for creating the reputation for duplicity that has haunted the Empire down to our own time. This is a primary source for the events of the first crusade. But is important because it is the only account written by a woman who set out to glorify the reign of her father.

This is an important book for understanding the 11th century eastern Roman Empire and its relations with the wider world on the edge of transformation which would ultimately sweep their world away. Nov 30, Hank rated it really liked it Shelves: favorites. It's kind of hard to "review" primary sources. Put it like this: The Alexiad is large and dense, seems relatively well-researched, and while undoubtedly biased she's writing about her dad, people deserves to be called a "history" or at least a "biography" rather than a panegyric a document or speech extolling the virtues of someone or something.

The Sack of Constantinople, 1081

And to be fair, it's hard not to get personal when you were taking your father's pulse at his dying bedside spoilers! It's a crucial look into a It's kind of hard to "review" primary sources. It's a crucial look into a pivotal era in the history of Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East: Byzantine power resurgent, the beginning of the crusades, the Seljuq dynasty and the Sultanate of Rum, power struggles within the Orthodox Church, tensions ethnic, religious, political between Byzantine Rome and Western European powers And while it certainly is dense, it's not overly difficult to read unless you're really in need of some easy prose - maybe that has more to do with the translation than anything, but we ought to give Anna some of the credit.

This is an epic tale that narrates the campaigns that Alexios I Komnenos carried out against the numerous enemies that the Byzantine Empire had. This book was written by Anna, his daughter, and is the continuation of the work called "Material for History" that was initiated by her husband Nikephoros Bryennios the Younger soldier, statesman and writer , and was completed in the year , naming it "The Alexiad".

This work is one of the main sources on the history of the Byzantine Empire. It is w This is an epic tale that narrates the campaigns that Alexios I Komnenos carried out against the numerous enemies that the Byzantine Empire had. It is worth noting that Anna was a woman of great intelligence and culture, showing an erudition in Byzantine literature, history, geography, mythology, philosophy, theology, astronomy and medicine. Certainly she was one of the best educated women of her time. The fact of having written this work made her one of the first Western women historians.

Aug 25, Alexander Van Leadam rated it liked it. Reading the Alexiad can be great fun, provided one has the patience and perseverence to soldier through the muddled geography, chronology and endless details of Alexius's campaigns. Despite the obvious hagiographic propaganda, a clear picture emerges of a competent, intelligent emperor who succeeds against all odds: the empire is a mess, threatened by enemies from all sides. What also emerges is an appealing portraint of an author with many biases but also a unique position to observe and record Reading the Alexiad can be great fun, provided one has the patience and perseverence to soldier through the muddled geography, chronology and endless details of Alexius's campaigns.

What also emerges is an appealing portraint of an author with many biases but also a unique position to observe and record events. Anna manages to convey historical events with a recognizably personal voice that goes beyond style: she was not only part of the history and an active participant an almost modern woman but also a conscious historian. This makes the Alexiad more interesting than a personal memoir. Unfortunately this work breaks down towards the end, devolving into a stream-of-consciousness apology by the author for her muddled recollections of her father's latter reign and demise.

Up until that point, aside from pointless references to Homer and other Classical writers, reinforced with a somewhat jumbled chronology of events and misplaced details, Anna actually writes a compelling and engaging narrative. A re-read is in order for me personally. Dec 03, CiCi rated it really liked it. Excellent account of Byzantine involvement in The Crusades.

Apr 01, Josh Derrick rated it liked it Shelves: worlds-that-were.

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Fairly dry, but it had its moments. Alexius, despite his daughter's protestations to the contrary, is certainly put on a pedestal by this work. That is not to say that this emperor is not impressive: the Alexiad portrays his reign as a never ending series of attacks from every border of the Empire. Byzantium could have fell in , and it is because of Alexius that it didn't. Dec 01, BDT rated it really liked it.

Richly detailed for such an old firsthand account of a turbulent time in Byzantine history. For all its faults, it is an important work, documenting a pivotal time in world history. Jun 13, Arthur Ralston rated it it was amazing. A must read for those who are interested in Byzantine empire. Were all early christian doctrine were formulated Oct 21, Nicholas Whyte rated it liked it. Gibbon is as so often unfairly scathing about this book, saying that "an elaborate affectation of rhetoric and science betrays on every page the vanity of a female author".

It's not that bad, but it's not that great either; if you're not especially interested in the events of the late eleventh century and early twelfth century at that end of the Mediterranean, you can skip it in good conscience. I did take several things away from it. First off, the importance of the Norman invasion of Sicily and Calabria: Anna is completely obsessed with Robert Guiscard and especially his son Bohemond, who starts off as a thorn in the side of the Byzantine empire, conquering chunks of Albania, Macedonia and northern Greece, and ends up ruling Antioch after the success of the First Crusade.

Bohemond is an rather impressive figure see especially Anna's description in Second, as a lapsed historian of science, I was interested in Anna's account of these things. She has quite a long rant 6. So she actually favours both astronomical knowledge and superstitious grounds for decision-making, and it's a bit surprising to me that she doesn't buy the combination.

The Alexiad by Anna Comnena, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

Third, towards the end she starts reflecting on the fact that she is writing the history because she is effectively locked away from the rest of the world in a convent and has nothing else to do, and also on how she reconstructed the sequence of events from first-person accounts of her own relatives and of former soldiers who had become monks. It's a rather welcome glimpse of how the history book was actually written, and also makes one feel sorry for this talented woman who fell out with her younger brother and so was banished from public life.

Sep 04, Filip rated it liked it. As century Byzantine histories go, this is a heavy read with its repetitions and religious invocations. And yet it's also fascinating because this history written by Byzantine princess Anna Comnena born in the purple, as she won't let you forget provides a unique insight in the history of Byzantium seen from within.

There are always wars going on, be it with the Turks, the Normans encroaching from Southern Italy or even the Crusaders.

From this history, it transpires that many crusaders were just keen to conquer any territory, Byzantine or Saracene. I came away from this book with a deeper understanding of the various nuances of the word 'Byzantine': religiosity bordering on fanaticism, cruel palace intrigues I lost count keeping track of how many people got their eyes gouged out when they fell out of favour and shrewd double-timing diplomacy in a turbulent world.

If everyone still looked at outside culture through the eyes of Disney and was conservative enough to wage wars based on religion, then perhaps they would be able to relate to Anna Komnene's depiction of her father's "magnificent" rule of the Byzantine Empire. However, Book XI shows interesting details that are historically significant, as is the text itself when discussing the crusades.

At times she is questioning even religious practices of the outsiders. You would think that with how disconcerted she is with foreigners and their weaponry she would avoid describing how to reproduce them. All in all historically sound, but it is inherently infused with the political agenda of Anna. Dec 15, Rachel rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction , historical.

At times this got kind of boring, but Anna was extremely talented at describing the events that happened. I felt really sad for her at the end as describes how Alexius died I'm not hiding this since in biographies the person always dies at the end. I especially love how she humanized her father, instead of making him appear not human but just an amazing emperor. Throughout the book it was obvious how much she loved and looked up to him. It was surprising to me because I always hear about how r At times this got kind of boring, but Anna was extremely talented at describing the events that happened.

It was surprising to me because I always hear about how royal children are sent away to be fostered by someone else and not raised by their parents. I also really loved reading about Anna's grandmother and mother. The only thing I don't like is all the notes. I really didn't need to be told every time there was a lacuna Also, it got on my nerves how everyone tried to force Christianity onto people who were not christian.

But other than that it was an interesting book. Written in the 12th century by the daughter of Emperor Alexios I, this is an amazing look at the history and attitudes of the Roman Empire of the time. Anna Komnene was a remarkable woman and her history is a must read for anyone interested in the era.

This is not a polished history as we are used to reading today. Anna is quite partisan, and writing mostly from memory about even that were decades in the past. But still engrossing and fun. Keep two bookmarks handy; as the extensive end notes in e Written in the 12th century by the daughter of Emperor Alexios I, this is an amazing look at the history and attitudes of the Roman Empire of the time.

Keep two bookmarks handy; as the extensive end notes in each book really help clarify the main text. Family trees and a glossary help the read understand the various titles used. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Readers also enjoyed. About Anna Comnena. Anna Comnena. From earliest childhood Anna was in daily contact with the leading figures of the Empire.

Through her social position and own interest, she obtained an education in literature and philosophy giv The Byzantine historian Anna Komnene, Latinized as Comnena December 1, — was the eldest child of the Emperor Alexios I Komnenos and Irene Doukaina, and is considered the first female historian. Through her social position and own interest, she obtained an education in literature and philosophy given to few women in the Middle Ages.

Disappointed in her hopes to be named heir to her father instead of her brother John, and again by not having her husband Nikephoros Bryennios named as Emperor, Anna conspired with her mother against her brother to gain her husband the throne but ultimately failed after her husband's refusal to cooperate. After Bryennios' death in she and her mother were exiled to a remote monastery to live out the rest of their lives. The book also contributes to understanding of the female mentality, mindset, and perception of the world during Byzantine times. Adapted from the author biography in the Penguin edition of The Alexiad and Wikipedia Books by Anna Comnena.

Trivia About The Alexiad. No trivia or quizzes yet. Quotes from The Alexiad of An Maybe it would be better to change one's nature into something that lacks all feeling, rather than be so sensitive to evil. Had that been possible, these calamities would in all probability have turned me to stone.

I, having realized the effects wrought by Time, desire now by means of my writings to give an account of my father's deeds, which do not deserve to be consigned to Forgetfulness nor to be swept away on the flood of Time into an ocean of Non-Remembrance; I wish to recall everything Welcome back. Display Options. In other projects Wikimedia Commons Wikipedia. This page was last edited on 17 June , at By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Although Anna Komnene explicitly states her intention to record true events, important issues of bias do exist.

Throughout the Alexiad , emphasis on Alexios as a "specifically Christian emperor," morally, as well as politically laudable, is pervasive. Frankopan frequently compares Alexios' treatment in the text to the techniques of the hagiographical tradition, while contrasting it with the generally negative portrait or outright absence of his successors John II and Manuel I. This distaste extends to the Turks and Armenians. Despite these issues, George Ostrogorsky nevertheless emphasizes the importance of the Alexiad as a primary document. The main theme of the Alexiad is the First Crusade, and religious conflict.

The Alexiad was originally written in Greek in around , and first edited by Possinus in Anna Komnene explicitly describes herself in the text and openly acknowledges her feelings and opinions for some events, which goes against the typical formatting of historiography. Anna Komnene's writings are a major source of information on her father, Alexios I of the Byzantine Empire. She regarded the crusaders, whom she refers to as Celts, Latins and Normans, as uneducated barbarians. Some historians believe her work to be biased because of her feelings towards the Crusaders, and how highly she regarded her father.

There has been much debate as to whether the Alexiad was in fact written by Anna Komnene herself, with one scholar saying that the text gives very few comments that would suggest the author's gender or any other aspect of their background, aside from a few explicit mentions.