The Byzantine Empire, fragmented and enfeebled by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, never again recovered its former extent, power and influence. It revived when the Byzantines in exile reclaimed their capital city of Constantinople in 1261. The Last Centuries of Byzantium: 1261-1453, by Donald M. Nicol, narrates the history of the restored Empire from 1261 to its conquest by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. It describes its struggles for survival, against the Christians of the west who longed to retrieve the prize of Constantinople; against the continuing occupation of Greece and the Aegean islands by French, Genoese and Venetian colonists; against the growing might of the Turks in Asia Minor; against the expansion of the Serbian Empire in the Balkans; and against the suicidal squabbles among its own ruling families. Its tenacity was revealed in a lively cultural and religious revival in the fourteenth centrury, but as an institution it succumbed to a long process of attrition as the Turks overran its provinces in Asia and Europe and finally its capital city. First published in 1972, the book has been completely revis- ed, amended and in part rewritten, with its source references and bibliography updated to take account of new scholarly research on this last period of Byzantine history.
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