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The Practice of StrategyFrom Alexander the Great to the Present$
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John Andreas Olsen and Colin S. Gray

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199608638

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199608638.001.0001

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The Byzantine Empire: From Attila to the 4th Crusade

The Byzantine Empire: From Attila to the 4th Crusade

(p.57) Chapter 3 The Byzantine Empire: From Attila to the 4th Crusade
The Practice of Strategy

Edward N. Luttwak

Oxford University Press

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

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