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The History

The History

Michael Attaleiates

Translated by Anthony Kaldellis and Dimitris Krallis

ISBN 9780674057999

Publication date: 11/19/2012

In 1039 Byzantium was the most powerful empire in Europe and the Near East, controlling the Balkans south of the Danube and all of Asia Minor into Armenia and Syria. By 1079 it had become a politically unstable state half the size, menaced by powerful enemies on all sides. The History of Michael Attaleiates is our main source for this astonishing reversal, and offers a gripping narrative of the foreign and civil wars of those years. Attaleiates was a highly placed legal and military official of the empire with first-hand knowledge of the events he describes. He knew many of the emperors and includes an eyewitness account of the battle of Mantzikert (1071), where the Seljuk Turks crushed the Byzantine armies and opened the door for the permanent Turkish conquest of Asia Minor. He also provides vivid narratives of civil unrest and decries the corruption and economic exploitation of his society, looking to the heroes of the Roman Republic for models of nobility.

Michael Attaleiates’ History has never before been translated into English. The present translation, based on the most recent critical edition, makes the text accessible through its notes, maps, and glossary of Byzantine terms.


  • This history is the most useful account of Byzantium's critical fall from a major empire to a state struggling for survival. The English translation follows the original Greek as faithfully as 11th-century Greek could allow. The translators have taken some minor liberties in order to make the reading easier to follow.

    —T. Natsoulas, Choice


  • Anthony Kaldellis is Professor and Chair of the Department of Classics at The Ohio State University. He is the author of many books, including The Christian Parthenon, Hellenism in Byzantium, and The Byzantine Republic, which have been translated into French, Greek, and Russian.
  • Dimitris Krallis is Assistant Professor of Hellenic Studies at Simon Fraser University.

Book Details

  • 656 pages
  • 5-1/4 x 8 inches
  • Harvard University Press