Politics and Empire in the Late Roman World
F. K. Haarer
ARCA 46. ISBN 978-0-905205-43-4. xii+351 pp. Cloth. 2006.
When Anastasius I came to the throne in 491, the Late Roman Empire was in severe difficulty. Internal instability, exacerbated by the dominance of the unpopular Isaurians in Constantinople, resulted in a struggling economy, hostile relations with Persia, the abandonment of Italy to a barbarian king, and doctrinal schisms. Anastasius, an elderly statesman with long experience as an administrator and economist, turned his attention first to the Isaurians, ousting them from the imperial capital and defeating them in their homeland; he could then focus on streamlining the administration, improving the economy, and securing peace and stability on the borders. At his death he left three hundred and twenty thousand pounds of gold in the imperial treasury, a sum crucial for funding the ambitious and grandiose projects of his successor Justinian.
Anastasius I. Politics and Empire in the Late Roman World systematically explores the complex interlocking reforms of Anastasius and examines the governance of the late fifth-century empire. After a first background chapter, the Isaurian revolt is handled in detail in chapter 2. Chapters 3 and 4 highlight the use of diplomacy in foreign policy: in the east, relations with the Arabs before the outbreak of war with Persia; in the west, the attempt to establish a modus vivendi with Theoderic and to strengthen ties with the Franks and Burgundians. Anastasius' religious policy, which failed to heal the rift between the Chalcedonians and monophysites and bring doctrinal unity to the empire, is the subject of chapter 5. In chapter 6, by contrast, his most successful achievements are foregrounded: aspects of administration, economy and legislation including tax reforms, the coinage reform, agrarian legislation, army reforms and control of the factions. Projects of the imperial building programme are described in chapter seven. Seven Appendixes discuss inter alia the primary sources, and the panegyrics of Priscian and Procopius. The book includes maps, a bibliography and indexes. Latin and Greek are given in the original and in translation; sources from other languages are quoted in English.
This book will interest professional ancient historians and students of ancient history, particularly of the later Roman Empire.
F.K. Haarer studied Classics and Byzantine Studies at St. Hilda's College, Oxford. She is currently a Lecturer in Classics at King's College London.
Klio 90 (2008) 245-8 (Mischa Meier). “H. hat ein wichtiges Buch zu einem wichtigen, lange vernachlässigten Kaiser vorgelegt. Es bleibt zu hoffen, daß ihre materialreiche Arbeit der Forschung neue Impulse verleihen wird.”
Phoenix 62 (2008) 232-4 (Hugh Elton). “There are numerous strengths to the work, including the frequent quotation and translation of primary sources, the consideration of events before and after Anastasius’ reign, and the deep understanding of the complex theology and theological politics of the period.”