The Grand Empire No One Knows
People frequently ask me why I wrote Emperor’s Eyes.
The Byzantine Empire is one of the greatest empires the world has known. It lasted for over a thousand years (from around 395 to 1453) and at one point was the richest entity in the world.
The name “Byzantine” was a moniker imposed on the empire by foreigners. These people called themselves “Romanoi”: they were Romans. Wasn’t their empire the eastern half of the Roman Empire, that which remained intact after the western portion fell to invaders in 476 AD?
The carried on many of the traditions the ancient Romans and Greeks held. However, the heart of the empire was deeply Orthodox Christian.
The world’s first hospitals were founded in Constantinople, the Byzantine capital, at the end of the fourth century AD. A sophisticated medical system was established that required physicians to serve a designated period of time for a small stipend each year in the hospitals. Thereafter, the physicians could charge their usual rates. The surgeons performed hernia repairs, extracted kidney stones from bladders, and performed various eye surgeries. There were women doctors who specialized in gynecology and obstetrics, Byzantine physicians knew Hippocrates and Galen well and surpassed them. Their knowledge was shared with the Muslim world after Muslim armies conquered Palestine, Syria, and Egypt. The great Muslim physicians Avicenna and Rhazes built their knowledge on top of the knowledge Byzantine physicians knew.
Yet in most college introductory European history classes the Byzantine Empire is merely touched upon or totally neglected.
Read Emperor’s Eyes and get a taste of this magnificent empire.