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Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe

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At the end of the fourth century, as the power of Rome slowly faded and Constantinople was established as the capital of the Roman Empire in the east, a new city was rising in the west. In 402 the western Emperor Honorius settled in what was then a small but well defended provincial city on the Adriatic coast. This town was Ravenna, and it was to be home to the rulers of what remained of the western empire until it fell to the Lombards in 751.

Successive emperors filled Ravenna with exceedingly impressive secular and ecclesiastical buildings (many of them still standing) and the imperial court attracted scholars, teachers, lawyers, inventors, craftsmen and spiritual leaders. For over three centuries it (rather than Rome) became the meeting place of Greek, Latin, Christian and barbarian cultures, and played a critical role in the development of a medieval European identity.

Yet the city at this remarkable period has never benefited from an authoritative and accessible history. Judith Herrin's book explains what made Ravenna such a brilliant and vital centre during the fifth to eighth centuries. Readers unfamiliar with the audacious world of Late Antiquity will find the book a compelling introduction to the period, while those who know it will find it brought to life in the history of a single city.

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Reviews for Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire (-)

Others in recent years have made worthy efforts to interest us in the Byzantine achievement, but none has made it live in quite the way that Herrin does ... Free from portentousness and pretentiousness, she doesn't insist on her subject's importance or relevance: the freshness and enthusiasm of her book is its real point. Not just an important work of scholarship but a delight to read, this study works a minor miracle in raising Byzantium, Lazarus-like, from its dusty grave. (Michael Kerrigan Scotsman)

She presents Byzantium as a vibrant, dynamic, cosmopolitan reality which somehow escaped the constraints of its official ideology (Economist)

About the Author:

Judith Herrin won the Heineken Prize for History (the Dutch 'Nobel Prize') in 2016, for her pioneering work on the early Medieval Mediterranean world, especially the role of Byzantium, the influence of Islam and the significance of women. She is the author of Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire, The Formation of Christendom, devoted to the Mediterranean world from the mid-sixth to the mid-ninth century A.D., A Medieval Miscellany and Women in Purple. She worked in Birmingham, Paris, Munich, Istanbul and Princeton before becoming Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies at King's College London, from which she retired in 2008. Judith has published many scholarly articles, excavated in Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, and was on the editorial board Past and Present, for many years serving as Vice-Chair, from 2000-2013.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780691153438: Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe

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ISBN 10: 0691153434 ISBN 13: 9780691153438
Publisher: Princeton University Press, 2011
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9780241954454: Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe

Penguin, 2021
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Book Description Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. WINNER OF THE 2020 DUFF COOPER PRIZEA TLS, SPECTATOR AND TELEGRAPH BOOK OF THE YEAR 'Magisterial - an outstanding book that shines a bright light on one of the most important, interesting and under-studied cities in European history. A masterpiece.' Peter Frankopan 'A wonderful new history of the Mediterranean from the fifth to eighth centuries through a lens focussed on Ravenna, gracefully and clearly written, which reconceptualizes what was "East" and what was "West".' Caroline Goodson 'A masterwork by one of our greatest historians of Byzantium and early Christianity. Judith Herrin tells a story that is at once gripping and authoritative and full of wonderful detail about every element in the life of Ravenna. Impossible to put down.' David FreedbergIn 402 AD, after invading tribes broke through the Alpine frontiers of Italy and threatened the imperial government in Milan, the young Emperor Honorius made the momentous decision to move his capital to a small, easy defendable city in the Po estuary - Ravenna. From then until 751 AD, Ravenna was first the capital of the Western Roman Empire, then that of the immense kingdom of Theoderic the Goth and finally the centre of Byzantine power in Italy.In this engrossing account Judith Herrin explains how scholars, lawyers, doctors, craftsmen, cosmologists and religious luminaries were drawn to Ravenna where they created a cultural and political capital that dominated northern Italy and the Adriatic. As she traces the lives of Ravenna's rulers, chroniclers and inhabitants, Herrin shows how the city became the meeting place of Greek, Latin, Christian and barbarian cultures and the pivot between East and West. The book offers a fresh account of the waning of Rome, the Gothic and Lombard invasions, the rise of Islam and the devastating divisions within Christianity. It argues that the fifth to eighth centuries should not be perceived as a time of decline from antiquity but rather, thanks to Byzantium, as one of great creativity - the period of 'Early Christendom'. These were the formative centuries of Europe.While Ravenna's palaces have crumbled, its churches have survived. In them, Catholic Romans and Arian Goths competed to produce an unrivalled concentration of spectacular mosaics, many of which still astonish visitors today. Beautifully illustrated with specially commissioned photographs, and drawing on the latest archaeological and documentary discoveries, Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe brings the early Middle Ages to life through the history of this dazzling city. Seller Inventory # AAZ9781846144660

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Book Description Hardcover. Condition: new. Hardcover. At the end of the fourth century, as the power of Rome slowly faded and Constantinople was established as the capital of the Roman Empire in the east, a new city was rising in the west. In 402 the western Emperor Honorius settled in what was then a small but well defended provincial city on the Adriatic coast. This town was Ravenna, and it was to be home to the rulers of what remained of the western empire until it fell to the Lombards in 751. Successive emperors filled Ravenna with exceedingly impressive secular and ecclesiastical buildings (many of them still standing) and the imperial court attracted scholars, teachers, lawyers, inventors, craftsmen and spiritual leaders. For over three centuries it (rather than Rome) became the meeting place of Greek, Latin, Christian and barbarian cultures, and played a critical role in the development of a medieval European identity. Yet the city at this remarkable period has never benefited from an authoritative and accessible history. Judith Herrin's book explains what made Ravenna such a brilliant and vital centre during the fifth to eighth centuries. Readers unfamiliar with the audacious world of Late Antiquity will find the book a compelling introduction to the period, while those who know it will find it brought to life in the history of a single city. Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. Seller Inventory # 9781846144660

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