I’ve lived most of my life in the Washington, D.C. area, raising my family and working a day job. WIth my lifelong love of history and historical fiction, I often thought about writing a novel, but bookstore shelves looked crammed with an abundance of stories taking place in England or ancient Rome, which I knew best and would have been my preferred subjects. I wanted to write about something no one else had written about.
It was about a dozen years ago that I first started learning about the Byzantines when I happened upon John Julius Norwich’s book, A Short History of Byzantium. The Byzantines – exotic, resilient, dynamic and long overlooked – intoxicated me. What started with one short book became an obsession, filling my house with many histories involving every aspect of the Byzantines – but only a few historical novels about them. In time, I realized exciting stories filled their thousand-year history, aching to be told, and I began writing.
The image above is a photograph I took at St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy. The four horses pictured were the quadriga of horses that sat upon the main gates at the Hippodrome in Constantinople for centuries. The horses were there with a chariot and charioteer, since lost. If you look closely at the horses, you can see where they wore their harnesses. The horses were taken from Constantinople by the Venetians following the Fourth Crusade in 1204, and have remained in Venice (aside from a brief period in Paris, courtesy of Napoleon Bonaparte) ever since. See my blog for more photos.
The horses on the exterior of St. Mark’s are replicas. The originals, pictured here, are now in a small museum above the St. Mark’s narthex, or porch, placed there for protection from the effects of pollution.
I can be found on Facebook most often in the Roman & Byzantine History Group, as well as History of the Byzantine Empire, Rome Not Byzantium Group, and others having to do with the Byzantines and medieval history. Also, I’m on Twitter, @byzyeileen, tweeting about Byzantine history, books, and art.