JOHN BAGNELL BURY (1861–1927)
A History Of The Later Roman Empire : From Arcadius To Irene (395 A.D. to 800 A.D.) (1889)
"There is no period of history which has been so much obscured by incorrect and misleading titles as the period of the later Roman Empire. It is, I believe, more due to improper names than one might at first be disposed to admit, that the import of that period is so constantly misunderstood and its character so often misrepresented. For the first step towards grasping the history of those centuries through which the ancient evolved into the modern world is the comprehension of the fact that the old Roman Empire did not cease to exist until the year 1453. The line of Roman Emperors continued in unbroken succession from Octavius Augustus to Constantine Palaeologus." (Preface)
The Life Of St. Patrick And His Place In History (1905)
"Perhaps the scope of this book will be best understood if I explain that the subject attracted my attention, not as an important crisis in the history of Ireland, but, in the first place, as an appendix to the history of the Roman Empire, illustrating the emanations of its influence beyond its own frontiers ; and, in the second place, as a notable episode in the series of conversions which spread over northern Europe the religion which prevails to-day. Studying the work of the Slavonic apostles, Cyril and Methodius, I was led to compare them with other European missionaries, Wulfilas, for instance, and Augustine, Boniface, and Otto of Bamberg. When I came to Patrick, I found it impossible to gain any clear conception of the man and his work. The subject was wrapt in obscurity, and this obscurity was encircled by an atmosphere of controversy and conjecture. Doubts of the very existence of St. Patrick had been entertained, and other views almost amounte to the thesis that if he did exist, he was not himself, but a namesake. It was at once evident that the material had never been critically sifted, and that it would be necessary to begin at the beginning, almost as if nothing had been done, in a field where much had been written.
The justification of the present biography is that it rests upon a methodical examination of the sources, and that the conclusions, whether right or
wrong, were reached without any prepossession. For one whose interest in the subject is purely intellectual, it was a matter of unmixed indifference what answer might be found to any one of the vexed questions. I will not anticipate my conclusions here, but I may say that they tend to show that the Roman Catholic conception of St. Patrick's work is, generally, nearer to historical fact than the views of some anti-Papal divines." (Preface)
"In the general plan of the book, it appears from the preface (p. viii), Professor Bury has undertaken to exemplify his theory of historical narrative—to make "an effort in the art of historiography". The body of the work is cast in the form of a literary biography, and the narrative is burdened as little as possible with learned discussions. Critical and illustrative material is rigidly banished to the appendixes, which are approximately equal in extent to the text. By this method the author is able to tell a straightforward story with very little digression or confusion. The style, too, though rather compact and severe, is lucid and readable." (F. N. Robinson, The American Historical Review, 04/1906)
The Ancient Greek Historians (1909)
Includes Ancient Greek terminology and literary fragments.
"This volume consists of the Lane Lectures which I had the honour of delivering at Harvard University in spring 1908, under the auspices of the
Classical Department. They are printed very nearly as they were originally written, though some of my kind hearers, if they should glance through, may detect a good many passages which were omitted in the Lecture Hall. The book amounts to a historical survey of Greek historiography, down to the first century B.C., and such as it is, I dedicate it to Mr. Gardiner M. Lane, who founded the lecturership some years ago in the interests of humanistic study." (Preface)
A History Of The Eastern Roman Empire: From The Fall Of Irene To The Accession Of Basil I (A.D. 802-867) (1912)
"The history of Byzantine civilization, in which social elements of the West and the East are so curiously blended and fused into a unique culture, will not be written for many years to come. It cannot be written until each successive epoch has been exhaustively studied and its distinguishing characteristics clearly ascertained. The fallacious assumption, once accepted as a truism, that the Byzantine spirit knew no change or shadow of turning, that the social atmosphere of the Eastern Eome was always immutably the same, has indeed been discredited ; hut even in recent sketches of this civilization by competent hands we can see unconscious survivals of that belief. The curve. of the whole development has still to be accurately traced, and this can only be done by defining each section by means of the evidence which' applies to that section alone. No other method will enable us to discriminate the series of gradual changes which transformed the Byzantium of Justinian into that—so different in a thousand ways—of the last Constantine.
This consideration has guided me in writing the present volume, which continues, but on a larger scale, my History of the Later Boman Empire from Arcadius to Irene, published more than twenty years ago, and covers a period of two generations, which may be called for the sake of convenience the Amorian epoch." (Preface)
A History Of Freedom Of Thought (1913)
"IT is a common saying that thought is free. A man can never be hindered from thinking whatever he chooses so long as he conceals what he thinks. The working of his mind is limited only by the bounds of his experience and the power of his imagination. But this natural liberty of private thinking is of little value. It is unsatisfactory and even painful to the thinker himself, if he is not permitted to communicate his thoughts to others, and it is obviously of no value to his neighbours. Moreover it is extremely difficult to hide thoughts that have any power over the mind. If a man’s thinking leads him to call in question ideas and customs which regulate the behaviour of those about him, to reject beliefs which they hold, to see better ways of life than those they follow, it is almost impossible for him, if he is convinced of the truth of his own reasoning, not to betray by silence, chance words, or general attitude that he is different from them and does not share their opinions. Some have preferred, like Socrates, some would prefer to-day, to face death rather than conceal their thoughts. Thus freedom of thought, in any valuable sense, includes freedom of speech." (Chapter 1)
The Idea Of Progress: An Inquiry Into Its Origin And Growth (1920 Edition)
"We may believe in the doctrine of Progress or we may not, but in either case it is a matter of interest to examine the origins and trace the history of what is now, even should it ultimately prove to be no more than an idolum saeculi , the animating and controlling idea of western civilisation.
The present attempt to trace the genesis and growth of the idea in broad outline is a purely historical inquiry, and any discussion of the great
issue which is involved lies outside its modest scope. Occasional criticisms on particular forms which the creed of Progress assumed, or on arguments which were used to support it, are not intended as a judgment on its general validity." (Preface)
The Hellenistic Age: Aspects Of Hellenistic Civilization (1923) with Barber, Eric Arthur (1888–1965) Bevan, Edwyn Robert (1870–1943) & Tarn, William Woodthorpe (1869–1957)
Includes Ancient Greek terminology.
History Of The Later Roman Empire: From The Death Of Theodosius I To The Death Of Justinian (A.D. 395 To A.D. 565) (1923)
A phrase in Ancient Greek is included in the Preface.
"The first of these two volumes might be entitled the "German Conquest of Western Europe", and the second the "Age of Justinian". The first covers more than one hundred and twenty years, the second somewhat less than fifty. This disparity is a striking illustration of the fact that perspective and proportion are unavoidably lost in an attempt to tell the story of any considerable period of ancient or early medieval history as fully as our sources allow. Perspective can be preserved only in an outline.
The present work does not cover quite half the period which was the subject of my Later Roman Empire, published in 1889 and long out of print, as it is written on a much larger scale. Western affairs have been treated as fully as Eastern, and the exciting story of Justinian's reconquest of Italy has been told at length." (Preface)
"In this magnificent and learned work Professor Bury recurs to the field where he first won his spurs as a historian. His Later Roman Empire (2 vols., London: 1889) was the first attempt in recent years to write a history of that critical period of civilization, which saw the break-up of the Roman orbis terrarum and the rise of Germanic kingdoms in its place. In the earlier work he carried the narrative to the downfall of Irene (802 A.D.); and he continued the narrative in 1912 in a third volume entitled The History of the Eastern Roman Empire, covering the period from 802 to 867 A.D. The present volumes cover but 160 of the 407 years treated in his youthful production. The increase in bulk is to be accounted for, in part, by the fact that he discusses certain points which had been passed over lightly in the previous volumes (e.g., Justinian's activities in Italy and the rise of the western Germanic kingdoms), and partly by the large amount of work which has been done in different portions of the field, as the large and detailed bibliography (II, 437-453) amply testifies. Professor Bury's reputation as a historian needs no comment. His name warrants thorough knowledge of the sources and wide but sure range of vision over vast and complicated historical processes." (Robert P. Blake, The American Political Science, 11/1923)
Suggest and discuss books to read (all languages welcome!)
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