The Age of Justinian: The Circumstances of Imperial Power (Roman Imperial Biographies) Hardcover – 18 Apr 1996
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"The work is properly approached as a textbook for students of the period ... [I]t is a solid piece of scholarship."
-"Virginia Quarterly Review
From the Back Cover
The Age of Justinian (527-565) marks the transition between Late Antiquity, when the norms of the classical world still survived, and the Byzantine period, which featured a Christian state that left little or no space for outsiders. While Justinian considered himself the restorer of the Roman Empire, his contemporaries saw him as an innovator who consciously willed change. J.A.S. Evans examines not only the history of this great emperor, but also the environment in which he lived. The Age of Justinian looks at the social structure of the empire, and the neighbours that surrounded it. It also chronicles the theological issues, which split the empire and left even deeper divisions after Justinian's death, in spite of his best efforts to settle them. At the end, Justinian found himself facing forces which were too strong even for a man with his determination. But, for all that, we are left with a sense of admiration for the great emperor and his wife, Theodora. Their aims were high and they presided over a period of brilliance. They belonged to a unique moment of history, and in the problems they encountered and the forces they faced, we can dimly recognize some that are with us to the present day.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Following on from a shortish section on the early years of Justinian, there follows a chronological narrative of the reconquest of Vandalic Africa and Ostrogothic Italy. Only in the penultimate section do we find a more thematic approach with consideration of theological developments, Justinian's codification of the law, economics and commerce, and attitudes towards 'outsiders' (Jews, Samaritans, pagans and heretics).
A final short chapter covers "the final years" and Evans' own conclusions. He sees Justinian's later years as something of a sad decline both personally and in the consequences for the empire, though puts much of the blame for continued decline on his successors Justin II, Tiberius Constantine, Maurice and Phocas.
This book does indeed serve as an excellent introduction to the subject. Evans is careful to not slavishly follow the fashionable opinions and 'received wisdom' of other historians, and while his ideas may not be radical as such, and nor are they different just for the sake of being different, they deserve close consideration.
The second quality that I found n this book was the trouble and care taken in assessing both the context in which the reign began and its aftermath. At some 270 pages of text, the book is not too long to discourage a general reader. Almost 100 pages are dedicated to setting the scene, that is describing what Evans terms "The Imperial Environment" or, perhaps even more accurately, "the empire which Anastasius left behind". The care with which the "starting point" is described is worthy of praise, especially since the author manages to present an excellent overview while not overburdening the general reader with too much detail. The last section of the book ("The Final Years") describes Justinian's last decade, the reign of his immediate successor and assesses his reign.Read more ›
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