The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire

The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire

Book - 2009
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Harvard University Press

In this book, the distinguished writer Edward Luttwak presents the grand strategy of the eastern Roman empire we know as Byzantine, which lasted more than twice as long as the more familiar western Roman empire, eight hundred years by the shortest definition. This extraordinary endurance is all the more remarkable because the Byzantine empire was favored neither by geography nor by military preponderance. Yet it was the western empire that dissolved during the fifth century. The Byzantine empire so greatly outlasted its western counterpart because its rulers were able to adapt strategically to diminished circumstances, by devising new ways of coping with successive enemies. It relied less on military strength and more on persuasion—to recruit allies, dissuade threatening neighbors, and manipulate potential enemies into attacking one another instead. Even when the Byzantines fought—which they often did with great skill—they were less inclined to destroy their enemies than to contain them, for they were aware that today’s enemies could be tomorrow’s allies. Born in the fifth century when the formidable threat of Attila’s Huns were deflected with a minimum of force, Byzantine strategy continued to be refined over the centuries, incidentally leaving for us several fascinating guidebooks to statecraft and war.

The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire is a broad, interpretive account of Byzantine strategy, intelligence, and diplomacy over the course of eight centuries that will appeal to scholars, classicists, military history buffs, and professional soldiers.

Book News
Impressive in scope and engagingly written, this volume presents a coherent, knowledgeable account of Byzantine military organization, history, arts of war, naval warfare, and its varied enemies over time. Rather than a chronological history, the material is divided into accounts of specific topics, events, and enemies, giving the reader a feel for the context of the time, whether in terms of the Bulgarians, dynastic marriages, the relationship of religion and rule, or the methods used by Justinian to establish the empire. Throughout, Luttwak zeroes in on Byzantine strategy in military matters, describing how they thought of themselves and others, and how their reactions to various situations showed a long view and a willingness to negotiate rather than confront. The chapters on military manuals expand these concepts, which are then demonstrated in action in the chapter on the 7th-century battles of Heraklios against the Persians. Belknap Press is an imprint of Harvard U. Press. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009
ISBN: 9780674035195
Branch Call Number: 355.03354 L9783g 2009
Characteristics: xi, 498 p. : maps ; 25 cm


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Mar 24, 2018

Byzantine empire was the master of the indirect strategy given they were a weak, but civilized polity surrounded by too many enemies.
They used diplomacy & bribe enemy's personnel for intelligence or for the long game. Small limited battles the norm.


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