The Byzantine Empire: From Attila to the 4th Crusade

Edward N. Luttwak

in The Practice of Strategy

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199608638
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731754 | DOI:
The Byzantine Empire: From Attila to the 4th Crusade

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The Byzantine Empire—the de facto continuation of the Roman Empire—lasted more than twice as long as its Western counterpart, which dissolved in the fifth century. Its endurance—approximately 800 years—is all the more remarkable because it was favoured neither by geography nor by military dominance. In Chapter 3, Edward Luttwak asserts that the Byzantine Empire relied less on military strength than on persuasion—to recruit allies, dissuade threatening neighbours, and manipulate potential enemies into attacking one another. The Byzantines had a grand strategy, even if it was never stated explicitly, and applied it so consistently that one might refer to it as the Byzantine ‘operational code’. Luttwak concludes that a key to the Byzantines' success was that military strategy was subordinated to diplomacy instead of the other way round, and used mostly to contain or intimidate rather than to attack or defend with full force.

Keywords: Byzantine empire; war; campaigns; strategy; diplomacy; alliances; persuasion; ‘operational code’; Constantinople; religious conviction

Chapter.  14621 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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