The Empire That Would Not Die: The Paradox of Eastern Roman Survival, 640–740

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, Apr 5, 2016 - History - 418 pages

The eastern Roman Empire was the largest state in western Eurasia in the sixth century. Only a century later, it was a fraction of its former size. Surrounded by enemies, ravaged by warfare and disease, the empire seemed destined to collapse. Yet it did not die. In this holistic analysis, John Haldon elucidates the factors that allowed the eastern Roman Empire to survive against all odds into the eighth century.

By 700 CE the empire had lost three-quarters of its territory to the Islamic caliphate. But the rugged geography of its remaining territories in Anatolia and the Aegean was strategically advantageous, preventing enemies from permanently occupying imperial towns and cities while leaving them vulnerable to Roman counterattacks. The more the empire shrank, the more it became centered around the capital of Constantinople, whose ability to withstand siege after siege proved decisive. Changes in climate also played a role, permitting shifts in agricultural production that benefitted the imperial economy.

At the same time, the crisis confronting the empire forced the imperial court, the provincial ruling classes, and the church closer together. State and church together embodied a sacralized empire that held the emperor, not the patriarch, as Christendom's symbolic head. Despite its territorial losses, the empire suffered no serious political rupture. What remained became the heartland of a medieval Christian Roman state, with a powerful political theology that predicted the emperor would eventually prevail against God's enemies and establish Orthodox Christianity's world dominion.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Goldilocks in Byzantium
1
A Framework for Collapse
26
Chapter 2 Beliefs Narratives and the Moral Universe
79
Chapter 3 Identities Divisions and Solidarities
120
Chapter 4 Elites and Interests
159
Chapter 5 Regional Variation and Resistance
193
Chapter 6 Some Environmental Factors
215
Chapter 7 Organization Cohesion and Survival
249
A Conclusion
283
Abbreviations
297
Notes
301
Glossary
357
Bibliography
363
Index
411
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2016)

John Haldon is Professor of Byzantine History and Hellenic Studies at Princeton University.

Bibliographic information