Late antiquity

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So-called Barberini diptych from the 6th century with the representation of either Anastasios I or (more likely) Justinian as the triumphator omnium gentium .

Late antiquity is a modern term for the age of transition from antiquity to the early Middle Ages in the Mediterranean and the Middle Ages , whereby the more recent research also considers the adjoining cultural areas, especially Sassanid Iran .

Although the exact time delimitation of late antiquity is controversial in research, the beginning of this transition period is usually the assumption of government of the Roman emperor Diocletian in 284 AD. The end is the subject of scientific discussion. As a rough framework for the end of the epoch can be considered that the late antiquity in the west of the Roman Empire lasted at least until the deposition of the last emperor in Italy in the year 476, in more recent research, however, the end period is more the incursion of the Lombards into Italy in the year 568 considered. In the east of the empire, the epoch extends either to the death of the Eastern Roman emperor Justinian in 565 or to the Arab expansion in the 7th century. In some cases, the time frame in the cultural-historical context and with regard to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Near East is extended into the late 8th century, this model being referred to as long Late Antiquity . In this sense, current research has moved away from understanding the beginning and end of late antiquity as a rigid chronological structure and rather looking at different lengths of (regionally different) transition periods.

The designation of the epoch as late antiquity has the advantage of being applicable to the entire Mediterranean area, while the early Byzantine term, which is also used, only aptly characterizes the east. In the course of the late late antiquity, East / Byzantium went through a process of transformation and last had to accept great territorial losses in the 7th century. The second great power of late antiquity, the neo-Persian Sassanid Empire , which had been Rome's great rival for four centuries ( Roman-Persian Wars ), even went under with the death of the last Persian great king in 651. The west of the Roman Empire, on the other hand, was divided into a number of factually independent territories as early as the 5th century, which recognized the imperial sovereignty for a long time; the last Western Roman emperor in Italy was deposed in 476. Late antiquity continued in the west until the 6th century.

An outstanding event of this epoch is the triumphant advance of Christianity and the associated slow disappearance of pre-Christian cults and traditions. In art and literature, the replacement or reshaping of classical Greco-Roman forms and themes with Christian influences creates a unique, characteristic style that also has oriental influences. Late antiquity is also under the sign of the reform of the army and administration by Diocletian and Constantine , the cementing of the sacred position of the emperor, completed under Justinian , the " migration of peoples " and, as a result, the transformation of the western part of the Roman Empire into the Germanic one -Romanic world that would shape the European Middle Ages.

Late antiquity forms the last section of antiquity , which no longer belongs to “classical” antiquity, but cannot yet be assigned to the Middle Ages . It is characterized by the juxtaposition of ancient traditions and Christian-Germanic transformation. Instead of a decline as in the past, one speaks today of a transformation of the ancient heritage for the years from around 300 to 600 and emphasizes the lines of continuity (“continuity theory”).

Late antiquity has an independent cultural-historical profile with a multitude of mutual influences. In this sense, the late ancient world, which stretched from the Mediterranean to Central Asia , was shaped by diverse and dynamic developments. Overlapping trade networks connected the late ancient empires of Rome and Persia directly or indirectly with Central Asia, India and the Chinese cultural area , whereby not only goods but also technical, cultural and religious ideas were exchanged. In more recent research, attention is paid to developments beyond the Mediterranean in the Middle East (especially with regard to Persia) and in Central Asia, but also in the South Arabian region .

The term late antiquity has established itself in research since Max Weber ; however, the cultural historian Jacob Burckhardt had already used the turn of late antiquity in 1853 , which was adopted by the Austrian art historian Alois Riegl at the end of the 19th century .

Time limit


The temporal delimitation of late antiquity - like epochs in general - is the subject of historical-scientific discussion and to a certain extent arbitrary. The centuries between Diocletian and Mohammed represent a transition period in which it is difficult to set clear cuts. Not all research directions weight the various political, art, cultural and religious historical factors of gradual change equally. There are also considerable regional differences; in the eastern Mediterranean, ancient structures undoubtedly lasted longer than, for example, on the Rhine or in Britain. The year 284 AD (assumption of rule by Diocletian) is usually given for the beginning, but the time of Constantine with its religious reorientation can also be considered a decisive turning point. On the other hand, the end of late antiquity is largely open, since different approaches are possible depending on the teaching opinion and research interests; most of the dates discussed are between AD 476 and 641, but later dates have also been suggested. Overall, it has proven to be more sensible to assume transition periods in the different regions rather than rigid annual figures.

The question of the "end of antiquity"

In older research, the end of antiquity was often equated with the deposition of Romulus Augustulus and the actual end of the Roman Empire in the west in AD 476, for example by Otto Seeck , who wrote an influential account of late antiquity (for a significantly later At the same time, Wilhelm Enßlin and Ernst Kornemann argued early on ). This idea can only be grasped in the sources, for example in Marcellinus Comes , but only a good 40 years later. Today it seems more than questionable whether the people of the year 476 also saw it as a turning point: From then on there was no longer an emperor in Ravenna, but this only meant that the rights of rule in the west were now passed to the second Roman emperor in Constantinople . Justinian still wanted to actually realize these claims. In today's research, the year 476 is therefore usually no longer as important as it used to be (see for example Alexander Demandt , Heinz Bellen, Jochen Martin , Mischa Meier , Hartmut Leppin or Hartwin Brandt in German-speaking countries ).

Justinian, mosaic from San Vitale in Ravenna. The emperor is considered one of the most important rulers of late antiquity.

In German-language research on ancient history , the end of Justinian's reign in 565 is generally chosen as the decisive turning point. Justinian was still clearly in the tradition of the ancient Roman emperors, which is clear, among other things, in his universal conception of rule. He was also the last emperor whose mother tongue was Latin , and he also pursued a policy that was aimed at restoring the empire within its old borders ( Restauratio imperii ), which in some cases even succeeded. The last great move of the late antique " migration of peoples ", the Lombards invasion of Italy, took place in 568, only three years after Justinian's death, so that the 560s marked a clear turning point for the entire Mediterranean area. This results in the years from 284 to 565 as the currently most common limitation of the epoch in (German-speaking) research. They had already been suggested in humanism , especially by Carolus Sigonius in his Historiae de occidentali imperio a Diocletiano ad Iustiniani mortem published in 1579 .

Quite a few historians, especially in the Anglo-American region, put the end of the era much later, with the Arabs invading the Mediterranean (see also the so-called Pirenne thesis ). This assessment of the importance of the Arab advance is undoubtedly justified for the East, but hardly for the Frankish Empire, because Pirenne's assumption that Islamic pirates destroyed the ancient “unity of the Mediterranean world” as a cultural and economic area is speculative and is now generally considered to be refuted . On the other hand, the fact that contacts between East and West were still very close at the beginning of the seventh century is hardly disputed today; and since Ostrom had to largely withdraw from the west after the Persian and Arab invasions from around 610 onwards, these were at least indirectly significant for the west. The last ancient monument on the Roman Forum is the column of the Eastern Roman emperor Phocas (602–610). The Arab expansion represented a massive turning point for the Eastern Roman Empire, as the empire was now essentially limited to Asia Minor and the Balkans and, under external pressure, also got rid of many ancient Roman traditions within. The late Roman phase of the Eastern Empire thus ended under Emperor Herakleios (610–641). Accordingly, many researchers consider 284 and 641 to be the epoch boundaries of late antiquity.

In general, in the Anglo-American region, with its particularly strong emphasis on the eastern Mediterranean, there is a tendency to set the end of antiquity at the earliest with the end of Justinian's reign, for example John Bagnell Bury (somewhat idiosyncratic Arnold Hugh Martin Jones 602 with the death of the emperor Maurikios ). The last two volumes of the new Cambridge Ancient History cover the years from 337 to 600; the Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire covers the period from (roughly) 260 to 641. In the new edition of her standard work The Mediterranean World in Late Antiquity , published in 2011, Averil Cameron even covers the period up to 700 (the first edition from 1993 had chosen 600 as the end point) . Proponents of these approaches, which mostly focus on questions of cultural history, often speak of a long late antiquity , which lasted around 200 to 800. In terms of political history, however, this approach is hardly tenable.

An extension of the epoch up to 632/641 does in fact make sense for Ostrom and is increasingly gaining acceptance, since, as I said, the decisive turning point was not made until the arrival of the Arabs (see Islamic expansion ). The Arab troops not only conquered the Roman Orient at that time, but also destroyed the Neo-Persian Empire of the Sassanids . The Sassanid Empire was an important power factor throughout late antiquity as the second major power alongside Rome and is supported by a growing number of ancient historians (such as Josef Wiesehöfer , Erich Kettenhofen , Udo Hartmann , Andreas Luther , Henning Börm , Geoffrey B. Greatrex , Zeev Rubin or Michael Whitby ) was included in the exploration of the epoch (see also Roman-Persian Wars ).

If one only looks at the Roman West, 476/80 still represents an important turning point - regardless of whether the contemporaries felt the end of the Western Empire as a turning point or not - but the time of Theodoric the Great is more likely to be seen Antiquity as counting to the Middle Ages , so it is almost impossible to pinpoint an exact date. Ancient culture in Italy can be traced at least up to the Lombards invasion of 568: the court in Ravenna was not abolished until 554, and the Western Roman Senate did not even disappear from the sources until the beginning of the seventh century. In a similar way, the early Merovingians built on the ancient legacy. Clovis (482–511) attached great importance to Roman honorary titles and recognition by the emperor. One has to speak of a transitional phase that lasted for different lengths of time depending on the region.

In Gaul, the transition of the Franks to Christianity under Clovis and his successors, in Italy the incursion of the Lombards as a whole marked the beginning of the Middle Ages in these regions. The problem can also be reversed: Many medievalists who deal with the early Middle Ages (e.g. Friedrich Prinz , Hans-Werner Goetz , Walter A. Goffart , Patrick J. Geary , Chris Wickham , Peter J. Heather , Herwig Wolfram , Ian N. Wood , Roger Collins, and others) “backwards” to late antiquity to explain the changes in the early Middle Ages. Late antiquity belongs primarily to the area of ​​responsibility of ancient historians , but while they are more interested in the continuation and slow phasing out of ancient structures, medievalists and Byzantinists naturally pay more attention to those developments that began during this period. The direction of view and questions differ accordingly.

The problem is ultimately based on the fact that late antiquity was an era of upheaval and new beginnings and accelerated transformation in various regional areas. On the one hand there was still a strong continuity to antiquity, on the other hand the world of the Middle Ages was already emerging. This was associated with late antiquity primarily through the interlocking of society with the Christian church. From a cultural point of view, the access to most of the classical traditions that still existed in late antiquity can be seen as an important difference to the later period. Late antique literature based on classical models ( Boëthius , Cassiodor , Gorippus , Prokopios of Caesarea , Agathias ) still flourished in the 6th century . The medieval world, with its much smaller division of labor, no longer had the capacity to preserve all of classical education, so that many works in the Latin West were lost and educational institutions also fell into disrepair from the 7th century onwards. The aforementioned lower division of labor also led to a lower standard of living and the loss of many special skills that (late) ancient society still had and which Byzantium still had in principle. However, recent research has shown that one has to look at the individual regions and that the early Middle Ages were by no means a pure period of decline.

The existence of Byzantium in an "intact late antiquity"

The Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire existed in a relatively intact "Late Antiquity" until the fall of Constantinople in 1453, as the ancient tradition was less radically torn down in the east than in the west. The inhabitants of the empire continued to see themselves as “Romans” (whereas “Byzantines” is a modern term). The Byzantine therefore and many archaeological this culture space denote approximately the same period of time that applies to the bottom of the Western Roman Empire as late antiquity, in Ostrom also as frühbyzantinisch . For the east of the empire both terms are practically synonymous.

However, despite greater continuity, the differences between the states in the fourth to sixth centuries and the subsequent Middle and Late Byzantine period were also very significant in Eastern Stream. The 7th century was a time of decisive change. In the Eastern Empire, in addition to the Arab expansion , the final displacement of the Latin official language by Greek under Emperor Herakleios is to be regarded as a significant turning point.

The attacks by the Arabs also led to the fall of the late ancient Senate aristocracy and a considerable decline in ancient education. In addition, the extensive military and economic collapse of the empire after 636 brought with it the definitive end of the classic cities ( poles ) that had shaped the Mediterranean region since the archaic era. Finally, the development of the Byzantine thematic order also meant a clear break with the late Roman tradition in the administrative area. All this leads many researchers to speak of the "Byzantine" empire of the Middle Ages only from this time of accelerated change, when late antiquity came to an end .

Historical floor plan

Requirements: The time of the imperial crisis in the 3rd century

The so-called imperial crisis of the 3rd century (235–284 / 5) had destabilized the Roman Empire. Inside, civil wars flared up again and again, because the Roman monarchy, the principate , which went back to Augustus , had already proven to be increasingly unstable since the death of Commodus in 192. From the outside, the empire was also increasingly exposed to the danger of a multi-front war since the 220s: Due to the almost simultaneous establishment of the Persian Sassanid Empire , the great enemy Rome in the east (see Roman-Persian Wars ), as well as the formation of large tribal Germanic associations in the Rhine region ( gentes like the Alemanni and Franks ) the foreign policy situation in Rome became more complicated.

The Romans lost their military initiative in about 240 - for the first time in centuries - the Sassanid Empire is generally considered to be more powerful and aggressive than the Parthian Empire , which it replaced; however, this conventional view has also been questioned in part in recent research. The Persian king Shapur I achieved several successes in the course of his campaigns; the greatest was certainly the victory over Emperor Valerian in 260, who was even taken prisoner in Persian, in which he also died.

What is certain is that the military security of northern Mesopotamia, annexed by Septimius Severus , was a permanent problem for the Romans over the next four centuries. The necessary relocation of units from the Rhine and Danube to the Orient also worsened the situation on the northern border of the empire. Because the clout of the new large Germanic associations was higher than that of the smaller tribal groups of earlier times; In addition, aggressive, hardly Romanized groups from the interior of Germania seem to have immigrated here as early as the late 2nd century. On the Danube, the Goths and Sarmatians , among others, threatened the Roman Balkans. In the 250s and 260s, the Goths, Herulers and Borans undertook raids as far as Greece and (by ship) to northern Asia Minor. An important source for these events are the (fragmentary) descriptions of Dexippos .

The deteriorated geopolitical situation of the Roman Empire made it necessary to enlarge the imperial army; The financing of this measure in turn made a more intensive use of resources - above all tax increases - necessary. The Severans (193–235) had already massively increased the pay of the army in order to ensure the loyalty of the troops and thus greatly increased the financial needs of the state. At the same time the reputation of the empire declined. Since 235 the military emperors had had to look for ways to overcome these problems. Internally, the central administration was partially unable to act, and parts of the empire were temporarily detached (see Gallic Empire and Palmyra ). The temporary loss of the oriental provinces in particular turned out to be problematic, especially since Persia continued to represent a potential threat.

Coin with the portrait of Emperor Aurelian

Again and again, individual army departments had proclaimed their own emperors; these usurpers then waged civil wars with the reigning princeps , which further weakened the defensive power of the empire against external enemies. Overall, it is controversial whether the internal conflicts and civil wars produced a military weakness that made the temporary successes of Rome's external enemies possible in the first place, or, conversely, whether the external threats caused the internal problems of the empire - since the two were inextricably linked hardly give a clear answer. However, since 268 the emperors had slowly succeeded in mastering the crisis (which by no means had affected all areas of the empire equally). From 270 on, the rule of the central government over the entire empire could be forcibly restored, and then the external borders were also stabilized again, as the Roman troops were no longer bound by constant civil wars. It turned out to be more difficult to permanently consolidate the severely shaken authority of the empire.

In the three centuries since the establishment of the Roman monarchy by Augustus (27 BC), the state organization of the empire had essentially remained the same; It was not until the late 250s that the soldier emperors had been looking for new approaches here, often improvising. The emperors Gallienus , Aurelian and Probus , who gradually consolidated the Roman Empire again, but were not yet able to overcome the monarchy's crisis of legitimacy, set the course.

Despite all the foreign and domestic political problems during the so-called imperial crisis, the symptoms of the crisis should not be exaggerated. For while some parts of the empire were hit hard by the events that followed, others continued to prosper. In this sense, individual symptoms of the crisis must not be generalized and overestimated - especially since it is questionable whether even at the height of the crisis around 260 one can speak of a real existential threat.

Diocletian - Stabilization and Reform

When Diocletian came to power, the Roman Empire entered its late phase. Diocletian, basically a soldier emperor himself, now endeavored to further stabilize the Roman state and to reform it systematically. In doing so, he took up numerous approaches that had already been developed by his predecessors in response to the crisis. With its reforms, research traditionally and with good reason ends the principate , since in many ways they signified a new beginning, although at the same time they by no means represented a complete break with the past. The measures were formative for the following three centuries; the structures created by Diocletian and Constantine (see below) were only abandoned at the end of antiquity.

Map of the Roman Empire at the time of the First Tetrarchy, from 293 AD

Thus, under Diocletian, there was a fundamental reform of the administration, greater centralization and bureaucratization. This also made itself felt in a more restrictive tax system. The provinces were made smaller. The civil sector was fundamentally separated from the military. This principle was then adhered to until the end of the era. The empire was also divided into dioceses in order to guarantee better administration. The Capitatio-Iugatio system (essentially a combination of poll and property tax that was regularly estimated) was created to make it easier for the state to calculate taxes. At the same time, a currency reform was tackled, but it was unlikely to be a resounding success.

The central element of the army reform was the division into a field army ( Comitatenses ) and a border army ( Limitanei ) with the aim of making breakthroughs at the border easier to intercept with the mobile army (the separation between them was probably not as strict as research long assumed). These reforms should prove their worth overall and put an end to the chaos that still prevailed in some cases in the time of the soldier emperors and strengthen the border defense on the Rhine and Danube . In the east, Rome now also asserted itself against the Sassanids, who were defeated by Diocletian's Caesar Galerius in 297/298 and forced to a peace that was unfavorable for them and which lasted until 337.

However, Diocletian had less success with the tetrarchy (rule of four) system of government he had devised , which provided for two senior emperors ( Augusti ) and two junior emperors ( Caesares ) and was also religiously cemented by artificial adoption by the gods: For example, Diocletian himself took who was still the determining figure in this system, the nickname Iovius (about = protégé and descendant of the god Jupiter ). The exaltation and sacral legitimation of the empire was obviously intended to compensate for the loss of reputation and authority it suffered during the imperial crisis. This approach was later to be taken up by Constantine under completely different - Christian - auspices.

It is presumed that the demonstrative attachment of the emperors to traditional cults was a reason for the implementation of the last great persecution of Christians , which began in 303. After more than four decades of factual tolerance, this attack hit the communities hard and surprisingly. However, the church structure had already proven to be so solid that it could no longer be destroyed by persecution. In addition, the measures seem to have been implemented with all severity only in the east of the empire. In 311 Galerius finally ended the persecution of Christians in an edict of tolerance and sanctioned the practice of the Christian religion.

The dissolution of the tetrarchy after Diocletian's voluntary resignation in 305 showed that its system ultimately could not prevail against the dynastic idea that Constantine the Great in particular was intensely propagating. The Diocletian concept of a multiple empire, on the other hand, was to prove itself: apart from between 361 and 364, there was always more than one emperor ( Augustus or Caesar ) in the Roman Empire until 476/80 .

Constantine the Great and the breakthrough of Christianity

Constantine the Great , son of the tetrarch Constantius Chlorus , prevailed in the bloody power struggle that broke out shortly after Diocletian's resignation. In 306, after his father's death , he was proclaimed emperor by his father's soldiers in York , but was not accepted by the other tetrarchs. First, Konstantin fought against Maxentius , the son of the tetrarch Maximian , who had also opposed the Diocletian order and controlled Italy. In the course of the power struggle between Constantine and Maxentius, there was finally the battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 , which the former won. With this, Constantine had won the west of the empire for himself.

From 324 Constantine was the sole ruler of the Roman Empire (with his sons as Caesares ), after he had eliminated his last rival Licinius , with whom he had still come to an understanding in 313, in two wars. Constantine then continued to develop Diocletian's reforms. In the administration he created new court offices, converted the praefectus praetorio into the highest civil official and introduced additional taxes. In the military field, the office of magister militum ( army master ) and the final division of the army into a movement and a border army go back to him. Under his rule, the most far-reaching step taken by a Roman emperor since the founding of the principate by Augustus took place : the promotion of Christianity , which had only been persecuted years before, as a state-recognized and even privileged religion ( Constantine Turn ). It was said that the sign of the cross appeared to him even before the battle of the Milvian Bridge, and that it was under this sign that he achieved his subsequent victory. From 324 he implemented this new religious policy across the empire.

Constantine's relationship to Christianity - which he by no means made the state religion - is still controversial in research. One can perhaps best call him a follower of the Christian God and a promoter of Christianity, without this having to say anything about his relationship to the other cults; however, some researchers emphasize the emperor's personal religiosity. Pagans, however, could continue to practice their cults and had access to high and highest state offices, although Christians were now often preferred. Research disagrees above all with regard to the motives behind the changed religious policy. Several historians assume that the emperor's commitment to the new faith arose from religious-personal, not political motives and should therefore be taken seriously. Others, on the other hand, see Constantine's turn to Christian monotheism as a more rational decision, namely a flanking measure that should legitimize his striving for sole power and put the precarious Roman monarchy on a more solid foundation: just as there is only one God, so should there be only one emperor on earth. It is also possible that both aspects played a role. In any case, it is certain that Constantine raised his sons in the Christian faith, gave the church rich gifts and strengthened the power of the bishops. He also secured the Rhine and Danube borders, was able to put the Goths in their place and signed a treaty with them in 332. In terms of foreign policy, the empire was in better shape under him than it had been since the early 3rd century.

Another future-pointing event in his reign was the establishment of a new residence: Constantinople , the "city of Constantine", the New Rome , which was inaugurated in 330, developed into the capital of the eastern part of the empire in the following decades. This shifted the focus to the east, to the economically stronger half of the empire. Shortly before the start of a planned campaign against the Sassanid Empire, Constantine died near Nicomedia . As was by no means unusual at the time, he was baptized shortly before his death.

The end of the Constantinian dynasty

Julian's Sassanid campaign

After the death of Constantine in 337, a bloody power struggle broke out that decimated the Constantinian dynasty (see Murders after the death of Constantine the Great ). Constantine's son Constantius II , emperor in the east since 337, finally asserted himself as sole ruler in 353 after defeating the usurper Magnentius in a very costly civil war. Magnentius had previously murdered Constantius' brother, Constans , in 350 . The third surviving son of Constantine the Great, Constantine II , had already died in 340 fighting against Constans. After his victory, Constantius II first installed his cousin Gallus as Caesar , and after his execution his brother Julian in 355 (see below). The emperor promoted the Homeusians in the so-called Arian dispute . However , he was unable to bridge the gap within the imperial church that had arisen as a result of the Christological dispute .

Constantius II was quite successful in stabilizing the borders, although the battles against the Persians under Shapur II , which had been going on since 338 , were changeable for both sides (victory of the Romans at Singara 344, Persian major offensive 359). For the period from 353 to 378, we have the last great historical work of antiquity written in Latin, the imperial history of the Roman officer Ammianus Marcellinus . His work, however, is not entirely free from partisanship, especially for Julian, the cousin and Caesar of Constantius. He was also very popular with the Gallic army he led, so that tensions soon arose between him and Constantius. Julian, who had at least temporarily secured the Rhine border, was proclaimed Augustus by the troops in Paris in 360 , and only the natural death of Constantius in November 361 saved the empire from a new civil war.

The new autocrat Julian was active (361-363), the highly educated and literary, later Christian polemicists called Julian the Apostate ( "Julian the Apostate"), as he after his accession to power in 361 short of a renaissance of paganism initiated. However, this had no lasting success, especially since Julian's attempt to create a unified pagan state church from the many cults in order to push back Christianity failed. After the death of Emperor Julians on a campaign against the Sassanids in 363, which was also one of the greatest military operations of late antiquity, Christianity remained the dominant religion.

All subsequent emperors were Christians, including Julian's direct successor, Jovian, who ruled for only a short time . He was able to make peace with the Persians after his predecessor's unsuccessful campaign. The territories around Nisibis conquered under Galerius fell back to the Sassanids in the peace of 363 ; this established a boundary in Mesopotamia that was generally acceptable to both sides and lasted until 591. The East was now Christianized more and more, but the West, largely pagan before Constantine, opened up more and more to Christianity, even if a number of serious internal church crises occurred in the period that followed. Already in the time of Constantine there was a dispute over the Donatists and the Arians, later the problem of Monophysitism arose in the East . However, “paganism” persisted until the end of late antiquity, although it has been on the decline since the 4th century (see below “Religious developments outside Christianity”).

In terms of foreign policy, the Reich no longer came to rest. On the Rhine and along the Danube it was harassed by Teutons and later by the Huns , while in the east the danger from the Sassanids persisted. Despite the setback in 363, the Romans did not initially lose the military initiative - a paradigm shift was not to take place until 378 .

From Valentinian I to the death of Theodosius the Great

Europe with the main movements of the "great migration". However, this conventional reconstruction is controversial on many points; For example, the Scandinavian origins of the Goths are now generally considered fiction.

Since Emperor Valentinian I (364 to 375), who succeeded Jovian in 364, the empire has been ruled by two emperors each. Apparently, otherwise, they were unable to cope with the external threat. Valentinian deployed his brother Valens (364 to 378) in the east and devoted himself intensively to border defense. He succeeded in stabilizing the Rhine and Danube borders in the long term and recorded several military successes. Meanwhile, revolutionary changes were taking place in the east.

In the 70s of the 4th century, the so-called " migration of peoples " began in Europe. In this context, it should be noted that, in contrast to older research, reference is made today to the problem of the term “ migration of peoples” and the associated historical image. Not whole peoples "migrated", it was rather differently sized, heterogeneously composed warrior groups that grew together into associations over time and finally claimed a certain identity of their own.

The Huns , a heterogeneous group of warriors from Central Asia (the Hun was probably a prestige name for groups from the Eurasian steppe region and was later used by some Eastern Roman historians as a generic ethnographic term for very different equestrian peoples from the steppe region), initially overran the Alan empire at the Caspian Sea and around 375 destroyed the Goths ( Greutungen ) Ermanarichs in today's Ukraine . They then pushed other groups, including the Danube Goths ( Terwingen ), to the west.

The Goths under Fritigern , who fled from the Huns across the Danube , were initially taken in by the empire, but then revolted due to insufficient supplies. They inflicted a crushing defeat on the Eastern Emperor Valens on August 9, 378 in the Battle of Adrianople , in which Valens was also killed. This defeat was already interpreted by some contemporaries as a sign of the decline of Rome, and this view is widespread to this day. Even if some researchers now contradict it, it can be stated that the defeat of 378 probably ushered in a military turnaround in the medium term: From then on, the empire hardly tried to keep the barbarians under control by means of loss-making preventive and retaliatory wars, but the emperors now always set more often on the payment of tributes embellished as aid money to Teutons, Huns and Persians.

Immediately after the Adrianople disaster, Rome's situation in the east was dramatic. Gratian (375 to 383), the eldest son of Valentinian I and emperor in the west since his death in 375 , installed Theodosius , who came from Hispania and whose father had been a successful general, as emperor in the eastern part of the empire in 379 . Theodosius then took on the difficult task of at least temporarily stabilizing the east of the empire. In 380 he declared Catholic Christianity to be the official denomination of the empire in the Edict Cunctos Populus and had this confirmed in an ecumenical council the following year. In 382 he signed a treaty with the Goths. They could stay in the empire and should serve the emperor as contractually bound soldiers ( foederati ), but were allowed to remain autonomous and did not become Roman citizens. According to some researchers, this Gothic treaty, which is controversial in content and meaning, paved the way for the formation of the Germanic empire within the empire, but initially stabilized the very delicate situation in the east, as Theodosius was now able to dispose of sufficient troops again.

In 387, a treaty with Persia followed in relation to the old bone of contention Armenia , which had been controversial between the two great powers for centuries. Rome received about a fifth, Persia the rest of the country (the so-called Persarmenia ). Both sides were obviously satisfied with this solution, because apart from two brief conflicts (421/22 and 441) there was peace between the Romans and the Sassanids up to 502. The Persians were also bound by attacks by Hunnic groups on other fronts. The calm on the Euphrates front should be a major reason why the eastern half of the empire could survive the fifth century. In addition, Theodosius pursued a formally anti-pagan policy (which, however, was very moderate in its implementation), for which the Christians later gave him the nickname the great .

Depiction of Theodosius I on a Roman coin

In the west, meanwhile, events had rolled over: Gratian, who had led several successful campaigns against the Alamanni , was murdered in Lyon in 383 as a result of a soldiers' uprising in Britain that had quickly spread to the mainland . Theodosius was initially able to come to an agreement with the usurper Magnus Maximus , but finally defeated and executed him in 388 at the Battle of Poetovio . Thereupon he handed over rule in the west to 17-year-old Valentinian II , Gratian's younger brother. The young emperor had little to counter the actual power of the master of the West, the Franconian Arbogast . He found a violent end in 392 through murder or (more likely) suicide.

After several weeks without Western Augustus , the pagan-minded Arbogast finally had the court official and rhetorician Eugenius elevated to emperor; Although Christian himself, he pursued a relatively tolerant policy towards the Old Believers. This can also be seen in connection with the so-called dispute over the Victoria Altar. Theodosius did not want to accept the usurpation of Eugenius, so he marched west again, where he was able to crush Eugenius' army in the bloody battle of Frigidus in early September 394 . Eugenius was executed, whereupon Arbogast took his own life. Only in retrospect was this civil war reinterpreted as a religious conflict. Nevertheless: Paganism, which Theodosius had already severely impaired in several laws in 380/381 and forbidden by further law in years 391 and 392, thus received the final political fatal blow or basically lost all hope of official toleration. However, there was to be a considerable, albeit steadily decreasing, number of non-Christians in the Roman Empire for at least another 200 years.

Theodosius effectively unified the empire again for a short time before, after his surprising death under his sons Honorius (in the west) and Arcadius (in the east) in 395, the empire was effectively divided into a final division . Contemporaries did not perceive this division of rule, which just happened to be the last in a series, as a special turning point, as people had long been used to having several emperors side by side. And in fact, the principle of imperial unity continued to be emphasized: it was not the Roman Empire that had been divided, but rather the rule over the indivisible empire had again, as under Valentinian I, been divided between two brothers. Arcadius acted as the senior Augustus . In 395 they remained loyal to the multiple empire common since Diocletian.

The principle of imperial unity should never be officially given up. The laws of the emperors were valid throughout the entire empire, and the western consul was recognized in Eastern Europe until the consulate was extinguished under Justinian (541), as was the eastern consul in the western empire. Nevertheless, since 395 there has in fact been a slow cultural and administrative divergence between the two halves. Soon after 400 the West was obviously in a worse economic position than the East.

From the division of the empire in 395 to the conquest of Rome in 410

The Roman Empire at the time of Theodosius I's death in AD 395

A period of relative peace began in the east, which was only disturbed by the occasional fighting on the Danube Front ( Huns and Teutons ) and 420-422 and 441 by two short wars against the Sassanids . It was only in the second half of the 5th century that the Eastern Empire had to turn to defending its borders again. Economically, the east continued to be the stronger part of the empire and could still mobilize large sums of money. The Eastern Roman diplomacy evidently also succeeded in “redirecting” several waves of attack to the west. However, it is very questionable whether Ostrom consciously sacrificed the West; rather, the events belong in the context of temporary conflicts between the two imperial courts: if, on the other hand, there was peace between the halves of the empire, the east repeatedly helped the west.

Above all, in the east the influence of the army masters, who were often of barbaric descent, was partly contained and finally pushed back. Arcadius (395 to 408) and his son Theodosius II are traditionally not considered particularly capable rulers, but the administration of the empire continued to function relatively smoothly. The conflict over possession of the Illyricum that broke out at the beginning of the reign of Arcadius with the Western Empire was settled, and the long reign of Theodosius, who ruled the east from 408 to 450, ensured stability.

On the other hand, the western empire could no longer rest. The western emperor Honorius (395 to 423) had for a while, urged by the powerful army master Stilicho , considered taking military action against the eastern empire in order to enforce claims to sovereignty over the entire empire. When the imperial border on the Rhine collapsed at the turn of the year 406/407 (see Rhine crossing from 406 ) and entire tribal associations gained access to the western empire (such as Vandals and Suebi , later also Burgundians ) and Alans , he had to refrain from doing so. It is unclear and controversial whether the foreign warriors fled from the Huns or, as some sources claim, were called into the country by the Romans themselves. What is certain is that since 406 the internal conflicts in the western empire led to new civil wars. In 408, Stilicho was overthrown and killed with the knowledge of his son-in-law Honorius. But since the emperor was unable to actively take over the government himself, the crisis continued to escalate. On the one hand, people at the imperial court fought for influence on the weak ruler, on the other hand, military leaders of Roman and non-Roman origin tried to gain influence in the empire by force.

From then on, the West experienced a cycle of financial, economic and political decline, which reduced the defensive strength of the empire, and the ensuing raids that led to economic losses that made it even more difficult for the emperors to pay soldiers. Threatened by Teutons and Huns, torn by civil wars, always exposed to the danger of a coup by a master and partly ruled by incompetent emperors, the Western Roman government gradually lost control of its most important provinces. In Britain several usurpers rose one after the other (see Marcus and Gratian ), most recently Constantine III. (about the same time as Jovinus ), who in the years after 407 led the rest of the still existing British field army to Gaul (but smaller units were very likely left behind on the island), where it fought with the Germanic tribes and loyal western Roman soldiers who had invaded Gaul Troops was wiped out. The few associations that remained on the island are likely to have disbanded in the course of time, when the island was in fact left to its own devices, which is why Britain rebelled against Roman authority in 409. Local Romano-British dominions ( Sub-Roman Britain ) formed, but few details are known. The Anglo-Saxons who immigrated in the course of the 5th century pushed the Romano-British back further and further into the 7th century. Anglo-Saxon dominions were now formed, but individual Romano-British areas were able to retain their independence (such as Wales and today's Cornwall ).

Since it was increasingly difficult to finance one's own troops, in western Rome one had to resort to much cheaper foederati , i.e. warriors from outside the empire who were considered allies and were only indirectly subject to Roman orders. This was a consequence of the increasing loss of reputation and resources of the imperial government in the west. One of these commanders of foederati was the Goth Alaric , who had previously been active in the Eastern Empire, partly on his own, partly as an ally of Stilichos. Above all, Alaric wanted to fight for the allocation of land for his men in order to secure a permanent supply for the warrior association. When negotiations with the Western Roman Emperor Honorius failed, Alaric was forced to take a radical step.

At the end of August 410 Rome was sacked by Alaric's Visigoth troops. Although the city was no longer the main seat of government of the western empire, it was still an important symbol of the entire empire. This three-day, systematic pillage was a beacon - for the Old Believers this was an unmistakable sign that the gods wanted to punish the kingdom for turning away from the old faith. Augustine of Hippo then wrote his great work De Civitate Dei (“On the State of God”) as a direct response to this reproach, and Orosius also tried to prove that the catastrophe had nothing to do with the new religion, but that it was the Romans under the Christian emperors, on the contrary, going even better than before. It is certain that the reputation of the Western Roman government was seriously damaged by the events. The more recent research emphasizes more and more that the looting was not about a conquest of Rome by foreign barbarians, but about events that belong more to the context of a civil war in which Alaric and his foederati were involved.

The fifth century in the western and eastern empires

The collapse of the western empire

The collapse of the Rhine border in 406 had paralyzed the western empire for several years, even if the Germanic warrior groups (which now mainly appeared under the leadership of army kings or active ) were still primarily concerned with integration into the empire and with reliable income were interested.

At times, up to six emperors were competing for power in the West at the same time, and the Western Roman emperor's loss of power continued to advance. Control of some of the most important provinces of the empire was lost to the Western Roman Emperor Honorius, who had resided in Ravenna since the end of 402 , but initially (with the exception of Britain) not yet permanently. Because from 411 succeeded under the army master and brief later emperor Constantius III. a preliminary stabilization. This one after the other unscrupulously prevailed against his rivals and brought Honorius and the central government under his control. In 421 he forced his own emperor to rise and then prepared for civil war against Theodosius II , who saw him as a usurper. The Visigoths had been defeated and settled in Aquitaine in 418 , they fought as mercenaries against Bagauden on behalf of the emperor , later also inflicted a heavy defeat on the Suebi and fought on the Roman side in 451. Not until 469 were they to break the foedus with Rome.

Solidus , minted 437 to celebrate the wedding of Valentinian III. with Licinia Eudoxia , the daughter of the Eastern Roman emperor Theodosius II. On the reverse, the three of them are shown in wedding clothes, Theodosius behind the bride and groom and taller, which is supposed to illustrate his superior position. On the front Valentinian III. In profile.

After the surprising death of Constantius III. (421) and Honorius in 423 there were again internal turmoil and usurpation , until the Eastern Emperor Theodosius II. His young cousin Valentinian III. sent with troops to Italy and installed as the new emperor of the west at the end of 425.

In the middle of this apparent recovery phase, however, the next catastrophe fell: The Association of Vandals crossed from Spain to Africa under their rex Geiserich 429 and conquered Carthage in 439, breaking a foedus . Geiseric wrested the richest province of the Western Empire from the grip of the Western Roman central government, which then effectively only ruled over Italy, Dalmatia and Noricum as well as parts of Gaul, Hispania and Mauritania, taking advantage of renewed internal Roman power struggles. All attempts to win back Africa , which is vital for the West , were in vain. Thus Westrom lost most of its income, and Geiserich also had a power base with Cartage that enabled him to intervene in the domestic politics of the empire. 442 one had to recognize one's position through a new foedus . In addition, around 440 Britain had been lost to a rebellion by Anglo-Saxon federations that had been brought into the country a few years earlier by usurping provincials. However, the Roman administrative order on the island had already been dissolved after the bulk of the Roman field army had been withdrawn at the beginning of the 5th century.

Approximate extent of the Hun Empire under Attila or the tribes dependent on the Huns

The new strong man in Ravenna, the magister militum and patricius Aëtius , who had prevailed in a bloody power struggle in 433 thanks to Hunnic military aid, could stop the decline of central power, but not reverse it.

The threat posed by the powerful Huns, Attila , who had established a loosely structured empire on the central Danube, basically affected the west and east, from which Attila extorted urgently needed funds. Economically, the Huns were always dependent on these forced Roman tribute payments in order to use these means to tie their own followers to the ruler. Up to 450 Attila mainly attacked Eastern Rome and through his hegemony over many barbaric gentes Western Rome had given him a short break. For the time of Attila, the most important narrative source is the (only fragmentarily preserved) work of Priskos , who himself traveled to the Hun court as a member of an Eastern Roman embassy in 449. In 451 Attila intervened in Western Roman power struggles at the request of the Augusta Honoria and attacked Aëtius in Gaul; there the army master was able to repel him in the battle on the Catalaunian fields . Significantly, however, Aëtius had to rely heavily on mostly Visigoth foederati . The regular Western Roman army, which could hardly be financed because of a lack of funds, was already disappearing; she suffered heavy losses in battle, which could no longer be made up. Attila led an unsuccessful campaign in Italy in 452, but the power of the Huns was already in decline.

The power struggle between himself and Aëtius for control of the West ended with Attila's death in 453. The patricius seemed to be at the height of his power. At the end of 454, however, Valentinian III, the last emperor of the Theodosian dynasty, personally killed the overpowering army master in order to free himself from his influence and to take over the government himself again. Soon afterwards the emperor himself had to pay for this murder with his own life: he was murdered in March 455 by former followers of Aëtius. Subsequently, a new civil war broke out, in which Geiseric also intervened, who, summoned by the enemies of the new emperor Petronius Maximus , sacked Rome in May 455 . The loosely built empire of the Huns dissolved after the Battle of Nedao 454/55.

The subsequent emperors in the west were all luckless and more like shadow emperors, although some energetic rulers such as Majorian or Anthemius tried hard to regain the initiative. But the real power in the western empire finally rested with the leaders of the armies instead of the civil administration. The relationship between the army masters and the emperors had been characterized by increasing interaction since the division of the empire, which increased the influence of the army masters. The high military in the west eventually succumbed to the "temptation of power". In the Eastern Empire, on the other hand, the emperors should succeed in bringing the military back under imperial control (see below).

From 456 to 472 the magister militum per Italiam Ricimer actually ran the business of government in Westrom . He was responsible for the deaths of at least two emperors who opposed him; In 472 there was a real civil war between him and Anthemius, in which the emperor was defeated by the army master. Ricimer was also able to record some minor successes in the defensive battle of West Rome. However, a large, joint operation of the western and eastern empires against Geiserich failed in 468, which in 474 led to the de facto recognition of the North African vandal empire by Ostrom. Around 469, the Visigoths finally dissolved the formal relationship of dependency on the emperor, after they had previously established a state within a state, largely in agreement with the Gallo-Roman aristocracy. The gentes gradually took the place of the crumbling western Roman central power, without this - at least according to researchers such as Walter Goffart - initially seeming to have had noticeable consequences for the population of the areas. The exact modalities of the settlement (did the foederati receive land or only a share of the tax revenue?) Are still being discussed in research.

In the decades from 450 onwards, the Visigoths gradually took possession of the greater part of Hispania , while the Franks established themselves in the Belgica in northern Gaul . The Roman administrative structures were initially taken over because the generals of the federated troops were dependent on them in order to be able to collect the annona militaris for their warriors. They did not want to destroy the Roman state, but instead wanted to take the place of the Roman army with their troops.

With the deposition of the usurper Romulus Augustulus on September 4, 476 by Odoacer , the leader of the federated troops in Italy, the Western Roman Empire was de facto extinguished . The last legitimate emperor of the west, however, was Julius Nepos , who only died in Dalmatia in 480. The western empire, however, had hardly been economically viable since the loss of Africa , even if one should perhaps not underestimate the importance of the collapse of imperial rule in Italy. The time of multiple empires was over, as the West no longer needed its own Augustus : the powerless emperors in Ravenna had recently had a rather destabilizing effect. It was difficult to foresee around 480 that Italy, North Africa and southern Spain would once again briefly succeed in uniting the Eastern Empire in the 6th century.

Copy of a lost seal ring with the portrait of Childerich I and the inscription CHILDIRICI REGIS ("[possession] des rex Childerich")

In northern Gaul, however, supported by the remains of the Rhine army and perhaps in alliance with the Frankish king Childerich I , a Gallo-Roman empire remained until 486/87, which was ruled by Aegidius (and possibly briefly after him by Paul ) and Syagrius . The latter, albeit Romans, like Odoacer and other military leaders, seems to have been raised by his army to rex , de facto independent territorial lord, in view of the erosion of the power of the western Roman central government . After his defeat by Clovis I , the Frankish administrator of the Roman province of Belgica secunda , he was inherited in this role. The Merovingian Clovis then succeeded in integrating his mostly “barbaric” soldiers into civil Gallo-Roman society; this meant the beginnings of the Franconian Empire (see below).

In order not to be considered a usurper himself, Odoacer officially recognized the Emperor of the East as his master. The kings of the other “barbaric” federate empires on western Roman soil now also saw the eastern Roman emperor as their nominal overlord. Indeed, Constantinople did not lose sight of the West in the decades that followed.

Ostrom: stability in difficult times

The east of the empire, economically richer and more stable than the west, defended itself far more successfully from the external threat. Above all, the central government succeeded (despite some problems) in maintaining control of the Reich and the army, unlike in the West. The influence of the army masters could be contained, especially since in Constantinople the senate, the patriarch and the circus parties remained politically relevant factors. Unlike the west of Rome, the east was not weakened by endless civil wars; only after 470 did a crisis phase emerge, but it was overcome.

During his long reign, Emperor Theodosius II (408 to 450), from 424 onwards, increasingly advocated the idea of ​​the unity of the Imperium Romanum and also ensured that the Codex Theodosianus of 438 became valid throughout the empire. As senior Augustus , he basically claimed the last word on questions relating to the West. In 425, for example, he had troops relocated to the west in order to claim Valentinians III against the usurper John . enforce. Two short wars with the Sassanids 421/22 (against Bahram V ) and 441 (against Yazdegerd II ) as well as conflicts with the Hun ruler Attila on the Danube border did not pose an existential threat to the Eastern Empire.

Emperor Markian (450 to 457), who had succeeded Theodosius II in 450 (without the consent of Valentinian III), refused Attila the tribute that had to be paid since 447. Markian secured both the Danube border and the desert border in Syria and southern Egypt against hostile tribes. Furthermore, he operated a very successful financial policy. The dogmatic unity he was striving for in religious policy did not succeed, however. On the contrary: the Council of Chalcedon in 451 deepened the rifts between the Monophysite Church in the oriental provinces and the Orthodox Church in Rome and Constantinople.

In terms of foreign and domestic politics, the Eastern Empire was doing relatively well in the second half of the 5th century, despite some problems. As I said, Attila directed his attacks in 451 against the Western Empire - probably also because the Hun knew that the Eastern Roman Balkan provinces had already been devastated and bled out. The other provinces of the east were not within reach of the Huns or Teutons, since the strong fortress Constantinople controlled the Hellespont and prevented a transfer from Europe to Asia; In order to maintain his rule based on success, Attila almost inevitably had to move west. In view of the repeated attempts to help Constantinople, which was militarily bound in the Balkans and in particular on the Persian front, modern research has now generally dropped the traditional accusation that Oststrom had deliberately surrendered the West to the barbarians: at least in the years 410 , 425, 441, 452, 456, 468 and 472 sent the Eastern Emperor armies to the west to intervene there or to help their co-rulers; but all these attempts failed.

On the Roman eastern border, peace could be kept from 441 to 502 with the Sassanids, who themselves fought against nomadic invaders on their northeast border ( Iranian Huns ), which was a great relief, since the government in Constantinople was therefore able to rely on the income of the rich Orient provinces could fall back. The Eastern Empire, pacified both internally and externally, and therefore more economically efficient and more densely populated, was therefore able to hold its own in contrast to the Western Roman Empire. Apparently, the state managed to make far better use of its resources early on. In the fifth century, eastern government revenues were many times that of western ones.

Medallion from Senigallia with the portrait of the Ostrogoth king Theodoric the Great.

Emperor Leo I (457 to 474) also eliminated the mighty army master Aspar in 471 , who had tried to achieve a similarly dominant position as Aëtius or Ricimer in the west. With this liberation, Leo succeeded in significantly expanding the eastern emperor's room for maneuver in relation to the military. Quite a few “barbaric” soldiers in Eastern Roman service were subsequently slain, and from then on the emperors relied more heavily on members of the Reich for recruiting. Most of them came from the areas that were least Romanised, but were generally loyal.

Zeno (474 to 491), who was an Isaur himself , was able to improve the situation of the Eastern Roman Empire, not least with the help of soldiers from this people, who were considered to be semi-barbaric. He thus laid the foundation for the supremacy that the emperors of the following century were to occupy in the Mediterranean region. On the other hand, the legitimacy of his rule was controversial to the end, which is why his reign was marked by civil wars and usurpation attempts (see Basiliscus and Illus ) and only stabilized towards the end. In terms of ecclesiastical politics , the edict ( Henotikon ) issued in 482 did not bring the hoped-for end to the theological disputes in the Eastern Empire.

In the Balkans, the emperor was also confronted with the danger posed by groups of Gothic warriors. In 488 Zeno signed a treaty with Theodoric , the rex of the Ostrogoths , and in 489 sent him to Italy with his Gothic foederati . The background is, however, controversial despite apparently clear statements from the sources. In any case, the emperor benefited in that he diverted a potential danger while Theodoric gained access to new and rich settlement land. Theodoric, who was later called “the great” because of his achievements, managed to bring the entire country under his control within four years. In 493 he murdered Odoacer and from then on ruled formally as the emperor's governor in Italy, although he pursued a very independent policy. In the Ostrogoth Empire , however, the Roman administrative practice was retained and the Senate continued to be honored, while the country's cultural heyday was late (see also Boëthius ).

The Eastern Mediterranean World in the Sixth Century: Eastern Roman Hegemony

Anastasios I (491 to 518) freed the Eastern Roman state shortly before 500 from the influence of the Isaurians and otherwise proved to be an energetic emperor. Due to a wise economic policy and consolidated finances, Anastasios bequeathed to his successors the most formidable state treasure in Roman history (allegedly 320,000 gold pounds). He successfully fought against usurpation attempts, such as the Staurotheis uprising of the often troubled circus parties in Constantinople in 512 and the revolt of Vitalian in 513. In his religious policy he emphasized the differences to the papal position. Unlike his predecessors and successors, the emperor sympathized with the Monophysites , but did not take any active action against the Chalcedonian Christians. In the east, Ostrom was again at war with Persia since 502, when heavy fighting broke out over Amida . In 506, a temporary armistice could be concluded with Kavadh I , which lasted even 20 years. In the west, the Germanic rulers seem to have largely accepted the at least formal suzerainty of Constantinople, although certain tensions remained; this applies above all to the relations with the Ostrogoth Empire in Italy.

Emperor Justin I (518 to 527) ended in 519 the Akakian schism that had separated the churches of Constantinople and Rome for about 30 years. However, through this rapprochement with the West, he intensified the conflict with the Monophysites. Furthermore, tensions with the Ostrogoth Empire increased, especially since the Goths were Arian Christians. Justin supported the action of Ella Asbeha , the Negus of Aksum , in the South Arabian region. In the east, however, war broke out again with Persia in 526 after the Iberian king Gurgenes asked Justin for help. The war lasted until 532 after Justin's death.

The late antique world around 560 AD: Eastern Current at the height of its power.

Justin's nephew and successor Justinian (527-565), who is regarded as one of the great rulers of late antiquity, came to power in 527. His reign is particularly well documented due to the very rich sources (historical works, legal texts and archaeological finds, etc.), whereby the works of Prokopios of Caesarea are to be emphasized, especially his histories in eight books. The Nika uprising that broke out in 532 was brutally suppressed, after which there was no longer a threatening domestic trial of power. Justinian had been pursuing an apparently large-scale restoration policy since 533/34, which aimed at reclaiming former western Roman areas. This attempt to restore the empire was granted only limited, but initially astonishing success: with North Africa (annihilation of the Vandal Empire), Italy (conquest of the Ostrogoth Empire) and southern Spain (conquest of some Visigoth areas) the core areas of the empire were between 533 and 552 again subjected to Roman rule. This was mainly due to the achievements of Justinian's able generals ( Belisarius , Sittas and Narses ). However, important parts of Italy, which had only been conquered after hard fighting in the Gothic War , were lost to the Lombards when they invaded Italy in 568. In addition, the empire has been hit by a devastating plague epidemic since 541 , which apparently led to a demographic and - as a result - an economic crisis. In the east, Justinian (after a peace treaty had been reached in 532) had to defend himself again from 540 against the Persians, whose king Chosrau I developed into a great opponent of the emperor and from 540 onwards several times advanced into eastern Roman territory. The Persian War tied up considerable forces and was to last until 562 - and flare up again ten years later.

Mosaic depicting Emperor Justinian.

Nevertheless, the culture of late antiquity experienced a final climax under Justinian. Domestically, at the beginning of his reign the emperor relied on Tribonianus (who died in 542 as a result of a plague) and John the Cappadocian (who fell out of favor in 541). Until her death in 548, his wife Theodora was one of the emperor's inner circle of advisers, whereas Prokopios polemicized in his secret story. Justinian personally took care of religious policy, but several of the difficult theological problems could not be solved, so that the implementation of a uniform Christian creed for the entire empire was not successful. The emperor also pursued a vigorous building and legal policy (see Corpus iuris civilis ). The codification of Roman law carried out on his orders proved to be a permanent achievement and the imperial claim to power was also accepted by most of the remaining Germanic empires (possibly with the exception of the Frankish king Theudebert I ). When Justinian died in 565 after 38 years of reign, Ostrom was the supremacy of the Mediterranean world regardless of all symptoms of crisis. However, Justinian's restoration policy had ultimately strained the resources of Eastern Europe to the limit, especially since the empire now had to secure a significantly larger area of ​​rule, which was noticeable militarily and fiscally.

The Roman-Persian border at the time of Justinian's death in 565.

Justinian's successor was his nephew Justin II (565 to 574/78), who took over empty coffers and an empire exhausted by wars and waves of plague. The cultural life in the east experienced an increasing change during this time and the empire soon went its own way than the west after Justinian, who was the last Roman emperor to have Latin as his mother tongue. A series of internal reforms slowly made the empire lose its Roman character. In addition, there was the steadily increasing external pressure. Between 540 and 630, Ostrom found himself in an increasingly dogged war with the Sassanid Empire, which was only interrupted by two short periods of peace (562 to 572 and 591 to 602) (see Roman-Persian Wars ). In 572 war broke out again after Justin refused to pay due tribute and general tensions arose. The Eastern Romans had already made contact with Sizabulos , a ruler of the Kök Turks , which resulted in a temporary alliance that did not have the desired effect and broke up after 576.

The war with Persia was tough, costly resources and was fraught with setbacks. Justin II proved to be no match for this , so that Tiberios I (574/78 to 582) in his role as Caesar actually took over the business of government at the end of 574 , although Justin still functioned formally as the superior emperor until 578. During his reign, the Romans were able to record a victory over the Persians in the Battle of Melitene in 575/76, in which Chosrau I was almost taken prisoner, but the war situation remained otherwise unchanged. Peace talks between the emperor and Chosraus son and successor Hormizd IV brought no result. On the northern edge of the Black Sea, Ostrom was also involved in a brief marginal military conflict with the Gök Turks under Turxanthos . Due to the critical situation on the eastern border, Tiberios endeavored in the Balkans to prevent conflicts with the powerful Avars through diplomacy and payments. The Avars had fled westward from the Gök Turks and founded an empire with a focus on today's Hungary. Meanwhile, groups of Slavs , who lived largely under Avar suzerainty, were already advancing into Greece. Internally, like Justin II before him, Tiberios pursued opponents of the decisions of the Council of Chalcedon, but the religious division in the empire persisted.

Solidus of Maurikios

The successor to Tiberios came in 582 Maurikios (582 to 602), who had previously fought quite successfully as a general on the Persian front. The last preserved historical work of late antiquity is available for his reign, the histories of Theophylactus Simokates . The Persian War was still going on at this point and neither side achieved decisive success. However, Maurikios was able to conclude a favorable peace with Persia in 591 after he helped the refugee Persian king Chosrau II to the throne against the usurper Bahram Chobin - a unique event in Roman-Persian history. Maurikios also acted against the Avars and Slavs in the Balkans after they had become a constant threat to Eastern Europe. In 582 the strategically important Sirmium fell to the Avars, but after the end of the Persian War, the now released Roman troops could be deployed in the Balkans, where the Romans achieved several victories. However, the Balkan provinces were largely lost only a few years later (see Land grabbing of the Slavs in the Balkans ). The exarchates were set up to secure the Eastern Roman possessions in the west . Domestically, Maurikios was just as hostile to the Monophysites on religious issues as his predecessors. Due to largely empty coffers, he also pursued a rigorous and very unpopular financial policy.

The Eastern Mediterranean World in the Seventh Century: The "Fall" of the Old World

The Roman-Persian border area at the time of Chosraus II.

The peace between Eastern and Persia concluded in 591 lasted only a good decade. In 602, Emperor Maurikios was murdered in a coup and the officer Phokas came to power, who is portrayed in most sources as an unpopular ruler. The Persian great king Chosrau II , one of the most colorful Sassanid rulers, used the murder of his patron Maurikios as an excuse to invade Roman territory. From 603 to 628 the "last great war of antiquity" ( James Howard-Johnston ) raged , which - in contrast to all previous Roman-Persian wars - brought the East to the brink of extinction. From 603 to 619 the Sassanids conquered Syria, Egypt (the breadbasket of Eastern Europe and the province with the highest tax revenue) and parts of Asia Minor.

The Eastern Empire seemed to be on the verge of collapse, especially since the Persians were now apparently determined to permanently incorporate the conquered territories into their empire. Only with great effort finally succeeded Herakleios (r. 610–641), who had overthrown Phocas in 610 and is considered one of the most important Eastern Roman-Byzantine emperors, to initiate a successful resistance from 622 onwards. In a series of campaigns in the east, the emperor and his troops penetrated deep into Persian-occupied territory. He also managed to forge an alliance with the Kök Turks , who now threatened the Sassanids in their core Iranian areas. The Persians, whose Avar allies had besieged Constantinople in 626 in vain, were defeated in the battle of Nineveh at the end of 627 . The victory had less military than political consequences, for Chosrau II now panicked; he was dethroned in February 628 by his son Kavadh II and murdered shortly afterwards. Chosrau's successors now entered into peace negotiations with Herakleios, and the Sassanids evacuated the occupied territories by 630, thus restoring the status quo ante of 602, while Persia sank into internal turmoil by 632.

Solidus of Herakleios with his sons Constantine III. and Heraklonas .

Herakleios celebrated the victory, the dimensions of which he probably exaggerated (he had merely restored the borders of the empire with great effort, but could not take any additional territories from the Persians), but his triumph did not last, especially since the fighting had apparently been relentless. Internally, the emperor's attempt to settle the theological disputes in the empire between the Monophysites and the followers of the Orthodox Church with the formula of monotheletism he favored failed. Furthermore, the financial and economic situation at the end of the war was critical. In the meantime, the state and culture of the empire, which had become increasingly Graecised , increasingly turned into medieval Byzantium.

The Eastern Roman Empire, militarily and economically exhausted by decades of fighting, could do little to counter the expansion of the Arabs that began in the 30s of the 7th century . The East Romans were defeated by the Muslims in the Battle of Jarmuk in 636 and again lost their eastern and southern provinces in the following years, but this time for good. A contemporary text impressively sums up the mood in which many saw the end of the world approaching:

From the ocean, from Britain, Hispania, Francia and Italy to Hellas, Thrace, Egypt and Africa, Roman boundary stones and the statues of the emperors could be seen up to our days, because at God's command all these peoples were subject to them. But now we see the Roman Empire shrunk and humiliated.

Syria and Egypt were conquered by the Arabs up to 642, and lastly in 698 the Eastern Roman Carthage fell . The richest eastern Roman provinces were thus withdrawn from Constantinople's control. The loss of Egypt, the breadbasket of the empire and the province with the highest tax revenue was particularly critical. Ostrom found itself in a desperate defensive battle in the following decades, so that the emperors had to leave the West largely to itself. Around the middle of the 7th century (but not under Herakleios, as the older research assumed), due to the incessant defensive battles, the thematic order in which military and civil tasks were bundled came into being. Cultural life also changed: Many cities went under, others were transformed into much smaller, fortified settlements - the kastron was now the only urban center of life in many parts of the empire.

The Islamic expansion (today's national borders are shown)

Constans II (641 to 668) continued the defensive battles against the caliphate that had begun under his grandfather Herakleios. In 655, the Roman fleet was defeated by the Arabs at the Battle of Phoinix , who now threatened the maritime lifeblood of Byzantium. Konstans could not stop the further advance of the Arabs, but he could hold the front in east Asia Minor, even though Armenia was lost. The emperor concluded an armistice with Muʿāwiya I in 657/58 when a civil war raged in the caliphate. However, after Muʿāwiya had won the civil war in 661, the latter resumed attacks against Byzantium. Konstans, who had also acted against the Slavs in Greece, moved the seat of government to Syracuse in Sicily in 662/63 , but this remained an episode that ended with his death in 668.

The Romans / Byzantines succeeded in the following period to repel the attacks on Constantinople 674 to 678 (this was probably not a real siege) and the siege of the capital 717-718 ; this was the last serious attempt by the Arabs to destroy the Byzantine state. In the 8th century, Byzantium was supposed to successfully go on the offensive again under the emperors of the Syrian dynasty , although the so-called iconoclast broke out almost at the same time . When the situation had stabilized again in the late eighth century, the late ancient Eastern Era had finally become medieval Greek Byzantium , which could hold its own for centuries.

The Persians on the other hand (weakened by the war of several years with Ostrom and the ensuing turmoil from 628 to 632) were crushed by the Arabs in 638 and 642; many noble families then turned away from the ruling dynasty and came to terms with the attackers. The last great king Yazdegerd III. was murdered in 651, with which the Sassanid Empire ceased to exist. The Arabs then advanced to the borders of India and Central Asia.

The dualism of the two great powers Rome and Persia, which had shaped the whole of late antiquity, had come to an end together with the epoch. The old world order in the Mediterranean region and the Middle East, which had existed throughout late antiquity between Eastern Europe and Persia, was thus destroyed. As a result of the Arab conquests, this was replaced by a new order in which the caliphate took the place of the Sassanid Empire and had to fight against eastern Byzantium for its pure existence.

However, elements of late antique culture remained alive both in the West and especially in the East. In the Umayyad period , splendid hunting castles were even built in the late antique architectural style (such as Chirbat al-Mafjar north of Jericho and Qasr al-Heir al-Sharqi in Syria). For a long time, Christians who were familiar with the effective late Roman administrative practice were active in the administration of the caliphate empire. They also held high-ranking posts such as the influential Sarjun ibn Mansur and his son, who later became known as John of Damascus . It was not until around 700 that Christians were largely ousted from the administration.

The West in the Late Late Antiquity: From the Ancient World into the Middle Ages

The global territorial situation in AD 500

In the course of the sixth century there was a slow transformation in the west towards a Germanic-Romance world. In Britain, however, Roman culture perished soon after it was conquered by the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, which were originally called into the country as federates by the Roman population after the withdrawal of the imperial troops around 407. Only in Wales were Latin inscriptions still used in the 6th century. The Tolosan Empire of the Visigoths , named after the capital Tolosa ( Toulouse ) , which has spread to all of Hispania since the late 5th century, is in many ways an example of the symbiosis of late Roman society and Germanic rule. The Visigoths lost most of Gaul to the Franks in 507 and largely withdrew to the Iberian Peninsula. The capital now became Toledo ( Toledan Empire ). Their empire, however, was overrun and wiped out in the early 8th century by the Muslims pushing north. The Vandal Empire, founded by Geiseric in North Africa, flourished in the 5th century, but then came under increasing pressure from Moorish tribes and fell victim to an attack by an Eastern Roman army under Belisarius in 533 .

In Italy, the Ostrogoth Theodoric the Great continued to lead his empire according to the Roman model, but the Ostrogothic empire disappeared around the middle of the 6th century in the course of the Restauratio imperii initiated by Justinian I (see Gothic War ). When the Lombards then conquered large parts of Italy in 568, this was the last post-imperial establishment of an empire on western Roman soil and at the same time the end of the great "great migration". The Western Roman Senate disappeared from the sources around the year 600. Only one of the first Germanic empires was founded in the end, the Franconian Empire of the Merovingians , which emerged at the end of the 5th century and was initially based on structures from late antiquity. The Frankish king Clovis I was baptized in the year 498 and thus assumed the Roman inheritance in Gaul. The history of the Franconian Empire already flows smoothly into the Middle Ages, so that it is difficult to set a clear line here (see also Gallo-Roman culture ).

Denarius with the image of the Merovingian Chlothar I , who is considered to be the last late antique Frankish king.

As a rule , the Germanic reges continued to accept Eastern Roman sovereignty for a long time . They tried to get imperial recognition and the bestowal of Roman titles. A symbol that only the emperor and the Sassanid great king were truly sovereign monarchs was, among other things, the privilege of stamping the image of the ruler on gold coins. In the sixth century this was accepted by most of the German kings. They just put their own portrait on the silver coins. Only the Merovingian king Theudebert I had gold coins minted with his portrait. All of this only changed fundamentally when the emperors had been too weakened by the attacks of the Persians and Arabs from around 600 to continue active in the West. Long-distance trade in the Mediterranean then rapidly decreased in importance in the 7th century; Whether this was a direct or indirect consequence of Islamic expansion is still a matter of dispute in research. In any case, the Arab invasions finally destroyed the unity of the Mediterranean world, which was admittedly only conditionally given (see also Islamic expansion and cf. Pirenne thesis ). Contacts between Constantinople and the West also loosened noticeably. Around 700, however, new trade routes emerged and, contrary to the older doctrine, there was already a not inconsiderable economic boom in the late 8th century. In the Mediterranean region, too, there was evidence of a lively exchange of goods between the Latin-Christian empires, Byzantium and the Caliphate during this period.

The early Middle Ages slowly took shape in the following decades. In the west, there was a gradual cultural decline, as can be seen, among other things, from the decline in written form and the decline of several cities. Often ancient documents were only saved in monasteries such as Cassiodor's Vivarium , whereby the focus was usually on the preservation of Christian works. Several regions of the former empire fell back into an almost complete lack of tradition, although there were great regional differences. In the more recent research it is also emphasized that there were lines of continuity.

Antiquity and classical civilization never completely disappeared in the Middle Ages, although there was ultimately an undeniable, in some cases dramatic, loss of cultural assets and a decline in material culture, which, however, differed from region to region and occurred earlier in the West than in East Stream. In Italy, southern Gaul and Hispania, ancient elements were also more present for a long time; lay writing was relatively widespread in several Italian cities. A significant decline did not set in until the 7th century. In the late 8th and early 9th centuries, however, the west turned more to the ancient heritage and tried to preserve it (see the so-called Carolingian Renaissance ).

Above all, the church acted as a mediator of the (admittedly now Christianly handed down and often filtered) ancient education, whereby one relied primarily on Isidore of Seville and Martianus Capella . There was a clear reorientation of education (away from the classical Paideia and towards biblical content), but at the same time this brought about a relative cultural uniformity in the early medieval world. This uniformity, of course, extends almost only to those testimonies of the late antique Christian-monastic “high culture” that later centuries found worthy of tradition.

On the other hand, the continued existence of the important dioceses is often not even guaranteed for the subsequent period. Cologne has a gap in its list of bishops between around 400 and the middle of the 6th century. Nevertheless, the material and economic ancient culture seems to have lived on in some places in the north, for example in Trier , longer than this darkness of history would suggest. The fact that many Roman place names remained in use is a sign of continuity. The Middle Ages did not rise from this relative obscurity at the same time everywhere. The Franconian Middle Ages with the founding of the Merovingian Empire and dynastic consolidation on the foundations of the late Roman administrative structures began very early. Roman cities further north and northeast, however, often had a different fate. So is Vienna (Late Antique Vindomina or Vindomana ) recently at Jordanes named in his Gothic history and only 881 of the city (now Wenia ) again mentioned.

In the context of more recent studies it becomes clear how relatively limited the creative power of the successor empires in the Latin West was compared to other great empires of this time. This also applies to the Carolingian Empire, which was after all the most powerful rulership in the West since the fall of West Rome, which is already clear from a simple example: In 792, Charlemagne ordered the construction of a 3 km long canal in Middle Franconia, which spanned the Rhine and Connected the Danube. However, the construction work soon got stuck, so that in 793 the construction was canceled. In contrast, in 767 much more extensive construction projects in Byzantium (where water pipes were repaired over a distance of more than 100 km) and in the Caliphate ( round city of Baghdad , whose construction over 100,000 workers were involved) succeeded without major problems. In the China of the Tang Dynasty, on the other hand, a canal around 150 km in length was built according to plan in 742/43. All of these empires had universal claims to rule, similar to the Carolingian empire after Charles' coronation as emperor in 800; however, the resources and the creative leeway based on them were much more limited in the case of the Carolingians. The new empires in the West simply no longer had the resources at their disposal that the late ancient Roman state could still easily mobilize.

The late ancient world outside the Orbis Romanus

Late antique Persia - Rome's rival in the east

Shapur's triumphal relief near Naqsch-e Rostam: Emperor Philip Arabs kneels in front of the Persian king (on horseback); Emperor Valerian stands next to Shapur, who has grabbed his arm as a sign of imprisonment.

Besides Rome, the second great power of late antiquity was the neo-Persian Sassanid Empire (named after the ruling dynasty of the Sāsānids). It extended over large parts of the present-day states of Iran , Iraq and Afghanistan as well as several neighboring peripheral areas.

Persia was Rome's great rival in the east, militarily and culturally highly developed. After the first Sassanid king, Ardashir I, overthrew the Parthian Empire in 224/26 and asserted himself in the west in the first battles against the Romans, the royal power was comparatively strengthened, although the powerful noble families from the Parthian period were still very influential. There was a return to older Iranian traditions, in which connection the religion of Zoroastrianism played an important role and propaganda was skilful. Since Shapur I , the late ancient Persian kings propagated an at least formally universal claim to rule ( šāhān šāh [ king of kings ] of Ērān and Anerān ), which should not least have a stabilizing effect inwardly. Above all, however, the Sassanids acted more aggressively than the Parthians against Rome.

The Persians succeeded especially during the reign of Shapur I (240 / 42-270), who even captured Emperor Valerian in 260 , Shapur II (309-379), Chosrau I (531-579) and Chosrau II. (590–628) to successfully assert themselves militarily against Rome (see Roman-Persian Wars ), whereby aggressions certainly emanated from both sides and the Romans under Herakleios in the "last great war of antiquity" (603 to 628) retained the upper hand in the end . Apart from armed conflicts - these dominated the mutual relations except in the comparatively peaceful 5th century, in which there were only minor conflicts - there were also numerous peaceful contacts between Romans and Persians, which influenced each other in many ways.

Depiction of a hunting scene with Chosrau I (Sassanid depiction of the 7th century), Cabinet des Medailles, Paris

Late antiquity Persia was not a barbaric neighbor of Rome, but an empire on a par. In diplomatic dealings, the metaphor was used by the “two brothers” with regard to the emperor and the Persian šāhān šāh or by the two “eyes of the world” to emphasize the political and military equality of both empires. Persia was an important link between East and West for four centuries, with important trade routes connecting the West with Central Asia, China and India (see also India Trade ). In recent research, an overarching consideration of the network of connections between the Mediterranean world, Persia and Central Asia opens up new perspectives.

To make matters worse for Persia in addition to the conflict with Eastern Europe was the threat from the steppe peoples of Central Asia, such as the Iranian Huns and later the Kök Turks , who threatened the Persian northeast border (see the following chapter). Ērān stood in this context against Hrōm / Rūm (Rome) and Tūrān (steppe region in Central Asia).

In addition to the Iranian highlands, the rich lower Mesopotamia was particularly important for the Sassanid Empire, where most of the tax revenues were collected and whose agricultural production was an important economic factor. The Persian kings resided splendidly in Seleukia-Ctesiphon , where a splendid court culture developed. Several of them acted as cultural promoters. In the oriental tradition ( Tabari , Firdausi , Nezami and others) are rulers like Bahram V (who was considered a great warrior, hunter and lover) and Khosrau I (who was nicknamed Anuschirwan ["with the immortal soul"] and from him Name is derived from the Arabic name Kisra for king) famous and known up to modern times. The empire had an effective administration, headed by the Wuzurg-Framadar . Although almost nothing of Middle Persian literature has survived, the later Perso-Arab tradition based on it shows how rich it must have been. Reports describe how in the throne room of Chosraus I, in addition to the king's throne, there were also three ceremonial throne chairs for the emperor of Rome, the emperor of China and the khagan of the Turks, if they were to come as vassals to the king of kings. In addition to the (at least formal) claim to supremacy formulated in this way, this also illustrates the political, cultural and economic horizon of the Sassanid Empire at this time. In terms of religious policy, Zoroastrianism was the predominant religion (but not the state religion), but large Christian minorities also existed and in the late Assanid period Christians were occupied in the closest court circle, especially since the Assyrian Church of the East was not disloyal to the monarchy.

The downfall of the Sassanid Empire in the course of the Arab conquests from 636 to 642/51 was primarily a consequence of the weakened royal power after the end of a long war against Ostrom in 628. Chosrau II had previously brought the Romans to the brink of defeat when From 603 Persian troops had conquered Syria, Egypt and large parts of Asia Minor and even threatened Constantinople in 626, before the counter-attack under Emperor Herakleios and attacks by the Turks on the steppe border led to the overthrow and murder of Chosrau. Persia had to evacuate the conquered territories and was considerably weakened by subsequent internal power struggles. After 628 perennial turmoil broke out, the last great king Yazdegerd III. had no more time to sufficiently consolidate his position when the attacks of the Arabs against Persia in 636 began. He was murdered in 651, his sons fled to the court of the Tang emperors (see Peroz of Persia ).

Persia, however, retained much of its cultural heritage, with Islamization (as in Christian Syria and Egypt) dragging on for a long time. In contrast to most of the other peoples conquered by the Arabs, the Persians retained their language, and several powerful aristocratic families who had come to terms with the Arabs in time and of necessity retained their position for centuries. Sassanid traditions in the field of culture and administrative practice (which in turn were often shaped by older ancient oriental elements) later had a great influence on the Umayyads , the Samanids and especially the Abbasids .

Central Asia and the Far East: Equestrian Peoples and the Chinese Great Power

Central Asia with the Tarim Basin (right) and the course of the Silk Road (yellow)

Central Asia was not first or only in late antiquity a region that (which must be particularly emphasized) was extremely diverse politically, economically, culturally and religiously. In addition to (semi) nomadic groups of different equestrian peoples , who at least superficially ruled their extensive steppe empires (although the very heterogeneously composed associations only had a limited lifespan due to their very loose structure), there were city-states and other, more regional rulers of settled cultures. The different landscapes ranged from fertile zones to steppes and desert regions with oases to huge mountain ranges such as the Hindu Kush .

A fundamental problem in reconstructing the history of Central Asia in late antiquity is the lack of narrative sources. In stark contrast to the extensive historiography of events in the West, historians from late antiquity only rarely report on Central Asia, and even the brief remarks are often second-hand, although there are more comprehensive Chinese reports in addition to the descriptions by Western historians. There is no independent historiography from the Central Asian region, while hardly anything has survived from Middle Persian literature; only a few later Perso-Arabic authors contain isolated information that seems to be based on older models. Coins, archaeological and epigraphic findings and fragments of texts offer an insight into the history of Eastern Iran and Central Asia, where dramatic changes occurred in the course of late antiquity, but many of these events are only recognizable in their basic features.

Coin depicting the last Kushano-Sassanid ruler Bahram Kushanshah (middle of the 4th century).

The Persians not only had to deal with the Roman Empire in the west, but also had to repeatedly fend off aggressive nomad groups on the northeast border of the Sassanid Empire to Transoxania / Sakastan , which often also represented a great threat. The once powerful Kushana empire no longer posed a serious threat in the 3rd century, which is why the Sassanids were able to establish a kind of viceroyalty in the east of their empire to protect the border ( Kuschano-Sassanids ). Then, however, new attackers appeared in Transoxania in several waves from the middle of the 4th century.

At first it was about the Chionites , who bound Shapur II in a lengthy conflict with considerable forces (see Grumbates ); various other groups subsequently appeared in Transoxania. The groups of (semi) nomadic equestrian peoples following the Chionites are referred to in research as Iranian Huns , but they cannot be equated with the Huns that appeared in the west around 375 (the name Huns probably served as a "prestige and transference name" for various groups and did not represent an exact ethnic name). These were the Kidarites , who are probably closely related to the Chionites and inherited their inheritance, as well as the Alchon (who expanded to northern India in the early 6th century and severely destabilized the Gupta Empire ), who ruled only regionally in Kabulistan Nezak and especially the mighty Hephthalites .

It was the time of the "great invasion" from which the region suffered considerably. It can certainly be seen as a parallel to the threat to Rome from invaders such as the so-called Great Migration or the almost permanent endangerment of the Chinese northern border by steppe peoples (such as the southern Xiongnu , who were settled as mercenaries, but both under Liu Cong in the years 311 and 316 Chinese capitals of the Jin Dynasty sacked). However, there are only scattered written sources, found text fragments or brief descriptions by Western historians, for example Ammianus Marcellinus (on the Chionites), Priskos (on the Kidarites) and Prokopios of Caesarea (on the Hephthalites).

While the Alchon and the Nezak probably did not come into closer contact with the Persians, the Chionites, Kidarites and especially the Hephthalites repeatedly forced the Persian kings to campaign in the east, which did not always end victorious for the Sassanids and sometimes tied up considerable forces. Bahram V was able to assert himself in the 420s, but his successor Yazdegerd II had trouble stabilizing the border. Peroz I, in turn, was able to finally crush the Kidarites, but was defeated by the newly emerging Hephthalites and even fell in 484 fighting against them. While the Chionites and Kidarites represented a constant but still manageable threat, the Hephthalites were a far more serious and better organized enemy. Not only did they inflict military defeats on the Persians, they even interfered in Persian domestic politics through internal battles for the throne. According to Prokopios of Caesarea, the Hephthalites also had a fairly effective ruling structure with a king at their head and were apparently no longer nomads after their conquests in Bactria and Transoxania.

Nezak coin

The Persians were forced to set up a special military command to defend the north-eastern border, whose commander ( marzban ) bore the title of kanārang and had his seat in Nishapur . A fundamental problem for the Persians in this context was the constant threat from the semi-nomads. Different groups took turns, if one opponent was eliminated, a new one often soon appeared on the scene. Just as the Chionites were replaced by the Kidarites and these were replaced by the Hephthalites, the latter appeared as new and dangerous opponents of the Persians after the destruction of the Hephthalite empire around 560 by the Persians and Kök Turks . Like other equestrian peoples, all of these groups were dependent on booty or tribute payments to cover their livelihoods and to stabilize their own rule. This area of ​​tension in the relationships between equestrian peoples and the neighboring, more affluent sedentary societies is also referred to as the "endemic conflict".

The Persians had to avoid a two-front war under all circumstances (in the west against Rome and in the northeast against the steppe peoples) and therefore always paid great attention to the development on their northeast border, but also to securing access to the Caucasus through border fortresses. Nevertheless, Persia faced the dilemma of a two-front war in the late 6th and then again in the early 7th centuries, when the Turks became temporarily Roman allies in the 570s and then during the Persian War of Herakleios with their attacks (coordinated with the emperor) decisively contributed to the Persian defeat in 627/28.

Important trade routes ran through Central Asia, although the so-called Silk Road no longer had its old meaning. The invasions of the Iranian Huns played a major role in this, which led to the economic decline of Bactia and an economic shift. Archaeological findings confirm the economic and sometimes also the cultural decline of Bactria, but also the economic and cultural prosperity of Sogdia , which became increasingly important under new rulers. The new overland routes between China, Central Asia, Persia and then on to East Current avoided many of the old, now dilapidated regions, including Bactria. Meanwhile, a large part of the Indian trade was carried out mainly via the sea route (see following section), with the Persians being very active. Nonetheless, overland trade never came to a complete standstill and was growing in importance again. In this context, the Sassanid Empire played an important role as a transit country; Thus the Persians kept a strict watch over the lucrative middlemen in Chinese silk and denied Sogdian traders direct access to the Persian and ultimately the Eastern Roman market (see also Maniakh ). The Sogdian traders represented the interests of the Kök Turks, who for some time at the end of the 6th century received 100,000 bales of silk a year as Chinese tribute payments.

Constantinople was perfectly aware of the importance of Central Asia. This applies both politically and economically. Roman diplomacy, which was by no means always successful, had since Justinian endeavored to win allies in the steppes north of the Black Sea and further to Central Asia; first the Avars , then the Kök Turks (their delegation, led by the influential Sogdier Maniakh, first made contact with Emperor Justin II ), but this did not succeed in the long term, not least because of the different interests. An important testimony to this is the detailed and reliable report by the Menander Protector about the Eastern Roman embassies to the Turks in Sogdia ( Zemarchus undertook the first in the summer of 569).

The Kök Turks played an important role in Central Asia after breaking the power of the powerful Rouran tribal federation in 552 . Their empire stretched over a vast territory from the Aral Sea to Manchuria and comprised very different population groups. It had been divided into two khaganates (one western and one eastern) since around 582 : in the west there were often clashes with the Sassanids, while the Turks in the east threatened the Chinese imperial border. Rulers such as Sizabulos and Tardu appear in both Western and (later) Oriental and Chinese sources, although many questions remain unanswered due to the limited number of sources. Apparently the khaganate, whose two rulers were dependent on booty and prestige to secure their rule, was not very stable like many other steppe empires. In 630 the eastern khaganat was conquered by the Chinese, and in the middle of the 7th century the western khaganat virtually dissolved. In 682, however, the Turks rose against their Chinese overlords and recaptured large parts of their first empire in Central Asia and Mongolia. In the following fight against the Arabs, however, the previously newly established western khaganate collapsed again, with the Turkish door shells becoming an important factor of power for a few years. The eastern khaganate, weakened by fighting against Arabs and Chinese as well as internal conflicts, went under in the 740s after the Turks were defeated by the Uyghurs .

Scene of a gentlemen's banquet on a wall painting in the Sogdian Punjakent

Sogdia was a region with several economically important city-states in the oases and a cultural melting pot. For a long time, the region was politically under the control of the various nomadic groups that had collapsed, and from the 2nd half of the 6th century under the rule of the Kök Turks. In contrast to Bactria, foreign rule was not oppressive for the Sogdians and did not hinder their economic and cultural activities. Rather, Turks and Sogdians interacted quite intensively and apparently even largely in harmony with one another. Sogdians played an important role in the administration of the Kök Turkish Empire and were also entrusted with important diplomatic missions, as the example of the Maniakh mentioned above shows. The Turkish military power also ensured the further development of the Sogdian trade and the flourishing of the Sogdian culture, as demonstrated by archaeological research. Sogdia benefited considerably from the new overland route between China and the West mentioned above, especially since regional traders on site now largely had the trade in their own hands. After the Kök-Turkish Empire died out, the Sogdians retained a leading position in the Uighur Empire.

In the neighboring regions of Kabulistan and Zabulistan , after the end of the Nezak in the middle of the 7th century, the dynasty of the Turk Shahi ruled , which in turn was replaced in the 9th century by the Hindu Shahi , who promoted Buddhism and Hinduism .

Akshobhya in his eastern paradise with a cross of light, a symbol of Manichaeism.

Religious and cultural diversity was a hallmark of late ancient Central Asia, where Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians , Christians , Manichaeans and polytheists lived. While the Roman Empire was strongly influenced by Christianity and Persia by Zoroastrianism since the 4th century, the religious orientation in many parts of Transoxania was apparently open. Christian communities of the Assyrian and Nestorian Churches sprang up in Central Asia, India, and in the late 8th century even in China (see Nestorian Stele ). Manichaeism also spread rapidly along the Silk Road; in the second half of the 8th century it even became the dominant religion in the Uighur Empire. Both Christians and Manichaeans rely on active missionary activity. Sogdians, on the other hand, played an important mediating role in relation to Buddhism in Central Asia.

As the Muslim Arabs expanded their expansion into Central Asia, they encountered bitter resistance from Sogdian regional rulers (see Dēwāštič and Ghurak ), Turkish tribal groups, and the Turk and later Hindu Shahi. This resistance was broken only after some time; In the region around Kabul, the rulers there offered resistance well into the 9th century. One of the rulers in Kabul even went so far as to emphasize his efforts to defend himself against the caliphate by calling himself Phrom Gesar , the Roman emperor, while at the same time seeking help from China. The Islamization of Iran and Central Asia was by no means a quick process.

Chinese campaigns against the Western Turks in the 7th century.

From the 7th to the middle of the 8th century, another great power was active in Central Asia with the Chinese Empire of the Tang Dynasty . The Tang emperors had not only secured the unity of the state of China after a long period of political turmoil following the fall of the Jin dynasty (after the previous, short-lived Sui dynasty had restored it), the Tang period was also political, economic and cultural represents a new high phase in Chinese history. The economic ties with Central Asia were of great importance to China; in the west, during the Roman Empire, the Chinese were at least vaguely known as Seres (“silk people”, after the expensive Chinese luxury product). In addition, political developments in Central Asia often also affected Chinese interests. This had led to diplomatic contacts with Persia; From the 5th century at the latest, Sassanid embassies are attested, first to the Northern Wei Dynasty and then to the Sui and finally the Tang Dynasty. The Chinese sources refer to Persia as Bosi or Po-ssu , and the connections seem to have been good overall.

With the fall of the Sassanid Empire and the advance of the Arabs, the political conditions changed fundamentally. China maintained a wide range of economic and political contacts with Central Asia and acted as a second regulatory power to which various sides sent calls for help. For a short time the Chinese supported the Persian prince Peroz , who had saved himself at the Chinese imperial court; possibly even a residual Sassanid empire persisted in the southern Hindu Kush for some time. The Chinese now expanded directly into Central Asia to protect their own interests - not only from the Arabs, but also from their older enemy, the Turkish khaganate, which threatened China on the western and northern borders. As early as the middle of the 7th century, the Chinese had consolidated their position in the Tarim Basin and created the "General Protectorate of the pacified West"; China's influence of power soon extended into Sogdia.

Tang China around 700

The Chinese sources report how the Turkish khaganate effectively collapsed, weakened by Arab attacks and internal conflicts, from which the Chinese benefited significantly. In the middle of the 8th century, however, the Chinese sphere of power collided directly with the rapidly expanding caliphate. In 751 the Chinese suffered a defeat in the Battle of the Talas , which resulted in a reorientation. The Chinese now consolidated their existing western bases, but no longer actively intervened in Central Asia. The caliphate, in turn, was also keen to consolidate the new world empire, which in the meantime had been shaken by the overthrow of the ruling Umayyads by the Abbasids (the rebellion in eastern Iran began), while the An Lushan rebellion broke out in China at almost the same time , which nearly led to the fall of the Tang Dynasty.

In addition to the Caliphate and China, the powerful Kingdom of Tibet also pursued interests in Central Asia and acted as a Chinese rival. This led to military clashes between the Chinese and Tibetans in the second half of the 7th century, which resulted in a temporary withdrawal of the Chinese from the Tarim Basin. The military conflicts between Tibet and China, both of which were also about the control of trade routes, continued in the late 7th century, with the Chinese suffering some serious defeats. However, internal power struggles in Tibet in the 690s led to a decline in the position of power that the Tang emperors were able to use. In the early 8th century the Tibetans became active again and at times allied themselves with the Türgesch. With the withdrawal of China from Central Asia, Tibet was able to expand its position of power again for some time.

The Western Indian Ocean in Late Antiquity: Maritime Trade and Regional Power Politics

The area of ​​the Indian Ocean already represented a trading area connected by maritime trade routes in antiquity, the connections of which extended over the Red Sea to the Mediterranean world . Since Hellenism there have been very intensive trade contacts between the west and the Indian Ocean, which intensified during the Roman Empire . For this Roman-Indian relations is Periplus of the Erythraean Sea is of particular importance.

Trade routes to the Periplus Maris Erythraei from the 1st century AD.

The trade route for Greco-Roman traders by sea continued in the early and high imperial times from the ports of Myos Hormos and Berenike on the Red Sea via Adulis ; it then went along the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula to the ports on the Indus and further down the Indian Malabar coast , later even to Sri Lanka . Branches of the sea trade routes also ran into the Persian Gulf (whose importance for ancient trade is often underestimated) and down the East African coast ( the port of Rhapta in Azania is mentioned in the Periplus ). The free passage through the Red Sea into the Indian Ocean was therefore of decisive importance for the Roman Indian trade .

In some late antique sources, the entire area south or east of the Red Sea is referred to as India or "outer India", in contrast to the actual subcontinent, the "inner India". The imported goods from the Indian Ocean area - in addition to India, the South Arabian area should be mentioned - were mainly luxury goods, especially spices (including black pepper), silk from the "land of the Serer " (China, see previous) Section), plants, precious stones, pearls and ivory; Ceramic products, glassware and textile products were exported to India. Roman traders had to raise huge sums of money for the luxury products desired in the empire.

The Indian trade was evidently a lucrative business for the Roman traders, despite all the costs and risks. The extent and importance of the trade should not be underestimated, although the products were of course primarily intended for customers with corresponding purchasing power. Despite the great distances, the ancient trade in India, with its increasing networking of different areas, represented an early form of globalization within the framework of the conditions at that time, as recent research emphasizes. In this sense, the ancient world was more multi-centered than is expressed in older research.

The rather intensive trade between Rome and India was initially in decline in connection with the imperial crisis of the 3rd century and the rise of the New Persian Sassanid Empire in the 3rd century, with traders from Palmyra playing an increasingly important role in the 3rd century. The port of Berenike was still used, although archaeologically there is also evidence of a decline, Myos Hormos seems to have largely lost its importance; matching Roman coin finds in India from the later 3rd century (in contrast to earlier coinage) are in fact not available.

Late antique trade routes in the western Indian Ocean

In late antiquity, the Roman Indian trade recovered. However, Roman traders were now confronted with new competition, as Persian and Aksumite traders were active in the western Indian Ocean, as proven by coin finds. The Sassanid Empire not only controlled the Iranian side of the Persian Gulf, Persian troops had made relatively early advances to Bahrain and as far as Mazun , so that Persian influence extended to southern Arabia. On the desert border between Rome and Persia, both sides relied in part on Arab allies: Ostrom on the Ghassanids , Persia on the Lachmids .

Persian middlemen had managed, through agreements with local traders in India and Sri Lanka, to de facto monopolize the Indian trade. This was not only true for spices, the silk trade was largely in their hands and gave them an advantage, which is why the Sassanids refused to open their market to Sogdian silk traders (see previous section).

The Persian pre-eminence in Indian trade in late antiquity was certainly also favored by the geographical proximity, especially since the Persians were possibly able to block the sea route to the Persian Gulf (later also to the Red Sea, see below) and partly the land routes. The Persians apparently also maintained trading bases in the Indian region, with Persian Christians appearing to have been particularly active. Persian traders were not only active in South Arabia and India, but also traveled the East African coast and possibly even reached Southeast Asia; the late ancient world from the Mediterranean to India and East Asia was thus intertwined in the 6th century.

In this context, the commercial interests of Eastern and Persia had a concrete impact on power politics, because they fueled the latently always existing conflict points between the two late ancient great powers (see Roman-Persian Wars ). In this context, the Eastern Roman intervention in favor of the Christian empire of Aksum in southern Arabia around 525 (see below) can be seen, as important trade routes ran between east and west here. The importance of the Red Sea was underestimated in this context by researchers for a long time, as it was often insufficiently perceived only as an appendage of the ancient Mediterranean, which has changed fundamentally in the last few decades.

In addition to the Sassanid Empire, three centers of power in the western Indian Ocean around 500 were politically significant: the Empire of Aksum on the Horn of Africa, Himyar in southern Arabia and the Gupta Empire on the Indian subcontinent.

Approximate expansion of the Aksumite Empire in the 4th century.

The kingdom of Aksum in what is now Ethiopia and Eritrea has been Christian since the time of King Ezana in the middle of the 4th century due to the missionary work of Frumentius . The kings of Aksums had coins minted and inscriptions put up as reports of the deeds. Aksum profited greatly from the Indian trade and also exported goods (such as ivory and slaves). The port of Adulis , not far from the capital Aksum , was an important transshipment point and Aksum's gateway to the late antique trading network. This emerges from the report of Kosmas Indicopleustes , who traveled to this area in the 6th century and possibly even further to India.

The Aksumite rulers, who bore the title Negus , were quite expansive and not only expanded their sphere of rule in East Africa, but were also present in South Arabia , especially since both cultural areas were closely related to one another. In the 4th century, the Kingdom of Himyar with the capital Zafar in what is now Yemen secured supremacy in southwest Arabia after it had conquered the rival empires of Saba and Hadramaut . Aksum strove to always exercise political influence in Yemen. The background to this was the trade routes that also ran there, which were extremely profitable for both Aksum and Himyar. In this context, there were repeated tensions between the two competing empires. In addition, the rulers of Himyar had professed Judaism since the end of the 4th century and the Aksumite kings saw themselves as patrons of the Christian communities there.

King Caleb's coin

The simmering conflict broke out into an open conflict between Aksum and Himyar in 525. The Himyar King Yusuf Asʾar Yathʾar had cracked down on Christians and massacred Christians in 518 or (more likely) 523 in Najran . In retaliation, the Negus Ella Asbeha ( Kaleb ) prepared a punitive expedition, with the above-mentioned trade policy issues also likely playing a role in the background. Ella Asbeha also secured the support of Justin I, the then Eastern Roman emperor. The Eastern Romans provided transport ships with which the Aksumite troops crossed into Yemen in 525 and defeated the Himyars.

Ella Asbeha left an Aksumite garrison in Himyar, but its commander Abraha rose against the Negus himself to be king in Himyar. Abraha was able to hold his own against his old master and undertook several successful campaigns, but his advance against Mecca in the year of the elephant (547 or 552) failed. He died after 558, whereupon two of his sons succeeded him as ruler for a short time. However, the Persians occupied Yemen around 570 and were able to assert themselves there for the next few decades. This meant a decisive shift in power in the South Arabian region, which was now under Persian hegemony. Persia was thus able to block access not only to the Gulf, but also to the Red Sea. Ostrom suffered a severe setback.

However, around 630 the Persian possessions in Arabia fell to the Muslim Arabs. The empire of Aksum was able to retain its position of power in the Horn of Africa for the time being, but its sea connections were interrupted and the Christian kingdom was largely isolated.

The Gupta Empire at the height of its power

Several empires existed in India in late antiquity, the largest and most important of these being the Gupta Empire , which at the height of its power ruled most of the subcontinent except the south. The Gupta period is considered by many historians to be a golden time in India, in which classical literary works were written in Sanskrit and art flourished. But there are also more skeptical assessments, as archaeological studies indicate that several cities were deserted in the Gupta period or show hardly any signs of construction activities, which speaks against a general economic and cultural boom.

The origin of the Guptas is obscure. In any case, around 300 they succeeded in establishing a rule in Magadha . The first significant ruler was Chandragupta I , who ruled around 330. He succeeded in marrying a Licchavi princess, which gave the Guptas legitimacy and helped to stabilize their political position; he then confidently assumed the title maharajaadhiraja ("Upper King of the Great Kings "). His son and successor Samudragupta is considered to be one of the great conquerors in Indian history and, during his 40-year reign, expanded the Guptas' territory considerably in several campaigns. Pataliputra was conquered and the Guptas also advanced south. Samudragupta imitated his father's claim to imperial rule. He emphasized the claim to supremacy over large parts of the subcontinent by accepting the title Chakravartin , with which, according to Hindu tradition, he presented himself as a world ruler . At the end of the 4th century, the Guptas also managed to form an alliance with the rival Vakataka dynasty. The Guptas ruled the Gangestal and parts of the Deccan directly, but in other parts of northern India there were still tribes and petty empires, some of which were vassals, but some only recognized the supremacy of the Guptas, while northwest India (with the remnants of Kushana rule ) and southern India outside their domain.

Alchon coin depicting King Khingila

Like Rome and Persia, the late antique Gupta empire was confronted with an intensified threat situation at its borders. In the middle of the 5th century, invaders appeared in the northwest, referred to in Indian sources as Huna (s) (Huns). These were parts of the Iranian Huns (see previous section), who turned from their new centers of rule in what is now Afghanistan to the south or south-east.

Kumaragupta I died in 455 fighting the invaders, his successor Skandagupta was also involved in defensive battles during his reign. The Hunas were nevertheless able to establish themselves in Gujarat at the end of the 5th century . This group of Hunas was the Alchon . Their king Toramana undertook a renewed invasion of the Gupta empire at the beginning of the 6th century, with the Alchon at times advancing as far as Magadha, but finally being repulsed. Toramana's son Mihirakula is said to have acted particularly brutally and is portrayed very negatively in Indian sources, especially since he initiated the persecution of Buddhists . In research he was even referred to as the "Attila of India". The brunt of the attacks fell on the Aulikaras, originally vassals of the Guptas who ruled Malwa . Like other local rulers, these took advantage of the Guptas' increasing loss of power and expanded their own area of ​​rule. The Aulikaras prince Yasodharman succeeded in defeating Mihirakula in 528 and forcing him to retreat to Punjab .

The Alchon were ultimately not to recover from this setback, but the Guptas could no longer consolidate their rule. The invasion of Hunas had been hit hard a factor in the collapse of the Gupta empire mid-6th century, its economy, which benefited from trade with Ostrom. However, the empire had already been weakened by structural defects and had overstretched its powers.

Sociocultural floor plan

Cultural life

Council of Gods. Illustration to Virgil's Aeneid in a 5th century codex ( Vergilius Romanus ).

Contrary to what research based on classicist ideals often assumed earlier, for a long time late antique literature hardly showed any signs of qualitative decline. With the extensive conversion of book production from papyrus to parchment around 400 (the scroll was only completely superseded in the late 6th century), certain authors whose works were not copied were excluded from further transmission. In the East, however, the continuity of classical education never completely broke off even in the early Middle Ages (see Loss of Books in Late Antiquity ). In the late antique Latin and Greek literature, important works were created well into the 6th century. Their authors were the bearers of an elite culture, whose classical education ( paideia ) was a sign of class and was cultivated. This was especially true for the Greek-influenced Eastern Empire. In addition to Christians, pagan authors also wrote during this period. Until about 600 ancient literary traditions were hardly torn down, but new ones were established at the same time.


In the area of Latin historiography, the Res gestae of Ammianus Marcellinus (around 395) stand out, although he came from the mainly Greek-speaking East. Ammianus wrote an imperial story in 31 books, which covered the period from 96 to 378, of which the last 18 books have been preserved. It is the last great and preserved Latin historical work of antiquity, which in terms of quality can absolutely compete with the major classical works of the republic and early imperial times. In the area of ​​Latin historiography, in the period between Tacitus and Ammianus, however , the focus was primarily on emperor biographies (following Suetonius , Marius Maximus and the historia Augusta, which was probably created around 400 and which was very controversial ), and short history abstracts (so-called breviaries ) . In addition to and after Ammianus, Virius Nicomachus Flavianus , Sulpicius Alexander , Renatus Profuturus Frigeridus and, in the early 6th century, Quintus Aurelius Memmius Symmachus also wrote Latin histories in the classical tradition in the late 4th and early 5th centuries , but these have been lost. Apart from the work of Flavianus, at least short fragments have survived. Also worth mentioning are some other local Latin historical works that were not without significance, such as the historiola of Maximus of Saragossa and the historiola of the Secundus of Trento .

Furthermore, other terse Latin historical works and chronicles were created. With regard to the already mentioned breviary , which used the so-called Enmann Imperial History as an important main source , Aurelius Victor , Eutropius and the Epitome de Caesaribus should be mentioned in particular . In the middle of the 6th century, Jordanes wrote a Historia Romana and his well-known Gothic story ( Getica , based on the lost Gothic story of Cassiodorus ). Numerous chronicles were also created , such as those of Hydatius von Aquae Flaviae , Prosper Tiro of Aquitaine , Chronica Gallica , Victor of Tunnuna and John of Biclaro as well as (the Greek-speaking) Chronicon Paschale .

The Greek historiography flourished throughout the empire and in late antiquity. Even during the time of the so-called Imperial Crisis in the 3rd century (Greek-language) historical works were evidently written, although only fragments of these have survived. From the histories of Eunapios of Sardis (who also wrote a collection of biographies of philosophers) as well as of the more reliable historical works of Olympiodorus of Thebes , Priscus and Malchus of Philadelphia , only fragments (some of them quite extensive) have survived. You and other authors wrote important historical works in the classical tradition in the 5th century. Zosimos wrote his Historia Nea around 500 with recourse to Eunapios and Olympiodoros; qualitatively, however, it did not match its predecessors. In the early 6th century Eustathius of Epiphaneia wrote a world chronicle that is now lost. The most important Greek historian of late antiquity was certainly Prokopios of Caesarea , the great chronicler of Justinian's time. He wrote 8 books of histories about Justinian's wars as well as a history of his buildings and a polemical secret story . The ancient historiography of Agathias , Menander Protektor and finally Theophylactus Simokates was cultivated in Eastern Era until the early 7th century, before it was finally extinguished in the course of the decline of ancient civilization as a result of the defensive struggles of Eastern Era against the Arabs (see Byzantine historiography ).

In addition, there are fragments of other Greek-language works whose authors were in the classical tradition, for example by Praxagoras of Athens , Helikonios of Byzantium , Candidate , Theophanes of Byzantium , John of Epiphaneia and John of Antioch .

In late antiquity, several church histories emerged , some of which were based on valuable secular sources. In addition to the "father of church historiography " Eusebios of Kaisareia , who wrote in the time of Constantine, the subsequent sequels of Socrates Scholastikos , Sozomenos and Theodoret should be mentioned. Church historiography in the Greek East continued to flourish into the late 6th century. For example, Philostorgios (whose work has only survived in fragments), (pseudo-) Gelasios by Kyzikos and Euagrios Scholastikos wrote corresponding works.


The most important late antique poet in Latin was Claudian (like Ammianus Marcellinus) from the east of the empire , who was active around 400. The last Latin epic poet of rank was then Gorippus that in the 6th century, the stylistically close to Virgil oriented work Johannis wrote. In Gaul and Spain, poetry strongly influenced by rhetoric, such as that of Ausonius, flourished for a long time . Sidonius Apollinaris , who came from a noble Gallic senatorial family, wrote eulogies and letters that give a detailed insight into the final phase of Gallo-Roman culture . About a hundred years later, the work of Venantius Fortunatus marked the transition from late antique to early medieval Latin poetry.

Medieval illustration of Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius
Prose and philosophy

A multitude of important works by both Christian and pagan authors emerged in late ancient Latin literature . In this context, it is completely wrong to assume that Christian authors despised or tried to suppress the classical education that rested on the works of Pagan authors. Rather, late antiquity shows numerous classically educated Christian authors to whom the old educational ideal was still important.

The Christian rhetorician and apologist Lactantius stands with his Latin works at the beginning of late antiquity. It should with Jerome , Ambrose of Milan , Augustine of Hippo and St. Gregory the Great , four more famous Latin church fathers follow. Christian philosophy, especially with the writings of Augustine and the consolation of the philosophy of Boethius, produced works of world literary rank. The works of Orosius should also be mentioned . The famous and highly educated rhetorician Marius Victorinus converted to Christianity in 355 with great attention and then devoted himself to commenting on the New Testament. In many cases, literature also set itself the goal of replacing the classical Roman texts with equivalent Christian counter-designs, such as Prudentius with his work Psychomachia . But new forms were also created (such as the hymns of Ambrose and the works of Arator ). In return, representatives of the "old" education tried to preserve and collect them in philological work, but Christians were also involved. Around 600, Isidore of Seville , the last great Latin scholar of late antiquity, collected the knowledge of antiquity that was still accessible to him and conveyed it in the basics of the medieval world.

The representatives of the old education included, for example, Quintus Aurelius Symmachus and the Symmachus circle, to which Virius Nicomachus Flavianus and Vettius Agorius Praetextatus , Donat , Servius and Macrobius are to be counted . The North African Martianus Capella made a last attempt after 470 to summarize the pagan-Roman knowledge in a great divine allegory . The absolute truth claim of Christianity, however, had a lasting influence on tradition. In the east of the empire, the (Latin) speakers Libanios and Themistios deserve special mention.

In the area of Neoplatonism a wealth of philosophical, mostly Greek-language works emerged well into the 6th century. In addition to Plotinus (which, strictly speaking, does not belong to late antiquity in terms of time), Porphyrios , Proclus , Iamblichus of Chalkis , Olympiodorus the Younger , Isidorus and Damascius should be mentioned here . The great Aristotle's commentary by Simplikios (around 550) is considered to be the last significant achievement in ancient philosophy. After Justinian I closed the Platonic Academy in 529, pagan philosophy slowly came to an end. In Harran , however, still held for a long time a pagan philosophical school, and the school of Alexandria existed until the early 7th century. The last late antique philosopher is the Christian Stephanos of Alexandria .

Syrian literature

Syrian literature in particular produced several important works in late antiquity (see, for example, Aphrahat , Ephrem the Syrians , Isaac of Nineveh , Sergios of Resaina and Jacob of Edessa ), with Syrian scholars also acting as translators and mediators of ancient knowledge among the later Arab masters deserved. With regard to the quite numerous historical works, the chronicle of (pseudo-) Joshua Stylites and the Anonymus Guidi, which contains valuable material, should be mentioned; The lost chronicle of Theophilos of Edessa seems to have had a special aftereffect .

Art and culture in the late antique transformation process

The book ( Codex ) increasingly prevailed over the scroll , and new types of construction emerged, such as the Christian basilica , which adopted and continued older forms. While the number of new public buildings slowly declined overall (also due to the disappearance of the local elites, who had previously perpetuated themselves through foundations of useful buildings), the number of church buildings has naturally increased since the Christianization of the empire. In addition to local aristocrats, governors and bishops, the emperors also acted as builders. The highlight was undoubtedly the Hagia Sophia , the new building of which Justinian had commissioned with its huge dome and was the last great achievement of ancient architecture. Mosaic art was also important in late antiquity , even if simpler forms dominated art as a whole (compared to "classical antiquity"). However, there is currently a consensus among most researchers that these changes should not be referred to as a fundamental “decline” in artistic performance.

The de-individualized, frontal style of representation that has dominated the fine arts since around 300 (compare, for example, the emperor portraits of Caracalla with those of Valentinian II or Leo I ) is often explained with an oriental influence. While the level of craftsmanship of the works in the imperial residences and often also in the provincial capitals was largely maintained until the 6th century, from an archaeological perspective a decline in material culture from around 400 onwards can hardly be denied. Often one was no longer able to restore dilapidated or destroyed buildings from older times in their old beauty; evidently there was a lack of the relevant knowledge in many cases in the flat country. And although inscriptions were still used in the 5th and 6th centuries, especially in the west outside the metropolises, these were generally far from the standard of earlier centuries. Apparently, the educated, affluent elite of late antiquity had shrunk compared to earlier centuries.

This mosaic from the imperial palace in Constantinople (5th / 6th century) illustrates the high level that the visual arts in the metropolises could maintain for a long time.

In the west, a process of transformation and amalgamation began as early as the 5th century, which slowly led to the transition to the early Middle Ages through the emergence of “barbaric” empires on the soil of the empire. This process came to an end in the early 7th century at the latest. However, the Teutons did not try to eradicate Roman culture, as the Roman administrative practice of Theodoric the Great or the legal practice of the Visigoths shows. This also applies to other areas: Researchers like Philipp von Rummel , Guy Halsall or Michael Kulikowski now also represent the thesis that many apparently “barbaric” elements of material culture and clothing are in fact new developments that came from the Roman Empire itself and a new one characterized the military elite, which also included Romans. On the other hand, there were also educated people who came to terms with the new masters in the West, as the examples of Bishop Avitus of Vienne , the doctor Anthimus or the poet Venantius Fortunatus show.

Yet the boundaries were fluid. Significantly more elements of ancient culture were preserved in the east than in the west. Even under Justinian it was possible to enjoy a well-founded rhetorical and literary education even in smaller cities. The education system of late antiquity usually had three levels (elementary instruction, grammar and rhetoric), with the educational ideal being strongly conservative.

Overall, the regional differences were considerable. For Italy, for example, the second Gothic War (since 541) and the incursion of the Lombards in 568 were of particular importance, for Britain the Anglo-Saxon invasion around 440 and for Syria, which was very prosperous for a long time, not until the 7th century. At the latest when the Persians and Arabs broke into the Roman Orient at the beginning of the 7th century, the cultural unity of the Mediterranean world (see Islamic expansion ), which had shaped antiquity over the centuries since the establishment of the Roman Empire, was destroyed. Ancient culture also flowed into the Arab-Muslim world and had a lasting impact on it.

Languages ​​in East and West

In the West, Latin had almost completely gained acceptance. The Greek-speaking areas in Italy and Sicily disappeared, knowledge of Greek also declined noticeably in the upper class from around 400 onwards. Only after the conquests of Justinian I was there a renewed Graecization of some regions. In some areas of the West, other languages ​​besides Latin had survived. B. British and Basque . However, whether the church father Augustine around 400 really meant the old Semitic language of the Carthaginians when he said that Punic was still spoken in North Africa is controversial.

The Latin language of the West began to change during late antiquity. While high-level works were still being written in classical Latin in the sixth century, the common people developed dialects that would become the basis of the later Romance languages.

In the east (where Syriac and Coptic were spoken in large areas ) Greek had been the predominant lingua franca since Hellenism . In the army, at the court, in the administration as well as in Moesia and Illyria , Latin was spoken here for a long time (on the other hand, it is disputed whether there was a continuity of the Latin language in Dacia ). In the 4th century Libanios even complained about the tendency of many Eastern Romans to be trained in Latin instead of Greek rhetoric , as this meant better opportunities for advancement at the time. In general, however, from around 400 onwards, the prevalence of the second language of education (Greek in the west, Latin in the east) in the upper classes declined, although in the east it can be proven that under Justinian in many cities there was a solid education in Latin literature and language. In addition, around 550 there was still a significant Latin minority among the inhabitants of Constantinople, as shown in particular by grave inscriptions. With the conquests of Justinian, Latin-speaking areas, including Italy, North Africa and southern Spain, were temporarily reintegrated into the empire. At that time, important Latin works were also produced in the East ( Priscian , Gorippus , Jordanes , Maximianus ). But when the later Pope Gregory the Great was ambassador in Constantinople in the late 6th century, he was already struggling with communication problems: in his letters he complained that many of the people he spoke to had only an imperfect command of Latin.

Theophylaktos Simokates , however, reports that around 595 under Maurikios, Eastern Roman generals were still giving their speeches to the troops in Latin. It was not until Herakleios that Greek was raised to the sole official and command language in the East. Since then, the language barrier has also widened the gap between Byzantium and the West, especially since the emperors lost control of almost all Latin territories (with the exception of parts of Italy) a little later. The Greek of the Middle Byzantine period was already very different from ancient Greek in many ways (pronunciation and grammar).

Corporate structure

Since Emperor Caracalla granted Roman citizenship to all free residents of the empire in 212 ( Constitutio Antoniniana ), the once important distinction between citizens and non-citizens has disappeared. The late antique society was now basically divided into the small group of the honestiores or potentes (the "powerful") and the rest of the population, the humiliores . This distinction was particularly important from a legal point of view, since the potentes had to expect far milder penalties.

The senators represented a particularly privileged group among the potentes . Since Constantius II , the senate of Constantinople enjoyed the same privileges as that of Rome . In the past it was often assumed that the aristocrats had withdrawn to their country estates, but the existence of palatial townhouses has now been proven. The senators were again divided into different ranks ( clarissimi , spectabiles and illustres ), which were still important under Justinian. Their social prestige was still enormous, and they saw themselves as a “better part of humanity” ( pars melior humani generis , Symmachus epist. 1,52). The diversification of the senatorial rank was not least due to the fact that more people rose into the senatorial elite in the 4th century. At the same time, a new regional senate nobility was established in Gaul (see Gallo-Roman senate nobility ), which exercised local influence until the 6th / early 7th century.

Even the ancient republican offices of the cursus honorum ( tribunate , praetur , consulate ) retained a certain attraction for a long time despite their real powerlessness and persisted into the 6th century. Unlike in the past, however, the clothing in these positions of honor was no longer the key to admission to the Senate: in late antiquity, membership of the senatorial rank had become hereditary. When the number of senators grew too large by 450, the clarissimi and spectabiles were deprived of their right to participate in Senate sessions. The Senate thus effectively became an assembly of the highest active and former imperial officials, from then on it had barely more than 100 actual members and represented the secular imperial elite.

This early 6th century bust shows an Eastern Roman aristocrat (perhaps Anicia Iuliana ) with a scroll symbolizing her paideia .

A decisive boost in the Christianization of officials and educational institutions took place after the death of the last non-Christian emperor Julian Apostata , in the period between the 60s and 90s of the 4th century. The Senate in Rome was more and more "Christianized" in the course of the later 4th century, even if pagans still represented a not insignificant group in it at least until the beginning of the 5th century. In quite tense relationships between antiquity and Christianity, the appropriation and change of pagan cultural assets took place by educated Christian people. Apparently the landowners and the urban upper class were proselytized. Christians can be identified as viri clarissimi , especially among those who have been promoted from the provinces or among other beneficiaries of imperial protection; the social climbers were probably hardly committed to pagan traditions. Conversely, there were still some high dignitaries in the east and west in the 5th century who could openly pose as followers of the old religion; for example the praefectus urbi of the year 402, Caecina Decius Albinus, or Messius Phoebus Severus , the consul ordinarius of the year 470. This only became impossible in the 6th century when the accusation of paganism had become a political instrument of war.

In the 4th century the term " knighthood " disappeared and was replaced by new social categories such as perfectissimi etc. The local aristocracy that curiales ( curiales ), experienced in the opinion of the older research since the 3rd century a slow decline. The main reason was increasing government pressure and the resulting high financial burden on these urban elites, who held honorary administrative posts and were responsible for collecting taxes in their communities. According to this, many curials tried to evade their obligations by becoming clerics, entering into imperial services or retreating to country estates ("curial flight"). The small circle of the really powerful and rich now dominated the politics of the respective hometowns, while the curiales lost more and more importance at this level. Recently, however, another explanation for the so-called “curial flight” has been accepted in research: It was precisely the rise of the wealthiest curiales into the imperial aristocracy, which allowed other, poorer landowners to take their place. Accordingly, curials did not try to evade increasing tasks, but instead used the opportunities for social advancement, for example in imperial or church services. The increasing weakness of the local Curiae would then have been a side effect of the social advancement of its wealthiest members.

The extent of the private wealth pooled in the hands of a few aristocrats seems to have been much greater in the West than in the East. That may have been a reason for the higher tax revenues in the Eastern Empire, since the powerful could evade their financial obligations quite easily. While the western empire went under, not least because of a lack of money, the rich Italian senate nobility also came to terms with the Goths and only lost their economic basis around the middle of the sixth century. The upper class was proud of their status and their classical education ( paideia ), which was still considered a sign of class and finally disappeared with it (in the west in the sixth, in the east only in the seventh century). Several authors (Christians as well as pagans) complain about the moral decline of the upper class and their wastefulness, whereby similar accusations have been made since the late Republican period.

In late antiquity, attempts were made to cement the social hierarchy through official measures. Numerous imperial laws stipulated that the sons should be bound by the profession and the status of the father. In the principate it was almost a matter of course to inherit the ancestral profession. The actually increased social mobility does not seem to have been significantly reduced by these measures, which were apparently intended to turn back the clock. On the contrary: social mobility was very high in late antiquity; in more recent research it is even considered to be the highest in all of Roman history. Emperor Justin I was a simple farmer's son who made it to the top of the state. By changing the law, he also made it possible for his nephew Justinian to marry the former actress Theodora (actors were considered dishonorable and were equated with prostitutes ), who in turn rose to Augusta as Justinian's wife in 527 . Despite legal restrictions, the real, in the sources tangible effects of these changes on society were arguably less dramatic than often assumed in older research, which was also too much guided by modern terminology. The whole of antiquity knew “no individual freedoms from the state, only privileges of individual groups in the state”.

In the everyday culture of the larger cities, but especially in Constantinople itself, the circus parties played a not unimportant role. However, some of them were also involved in urban unrest. In the cities, tradespeople were compulsorily grouped together in cooperations ( collegia ) who had to take on public tasks ( munera ) free of charge . In addition to the obligations of the curiales (see above), these tasks were an important basis for securing the infrastructure in the empire.

How the role of slaves is to be classified remains controversial in research, but it can be assumed that there was no real break with the previous practice. The slavery seems to have continued to play a significant role, in the opinion of recent research but also should not be overestimated (see the section economy).


In hardly any other point is the paradigm shift that has taken place in the assessment of late antiquity as evident as it is with regard to the economic history of these centuries. Whereas in the past one assumed a general decline, most researchers today, on the contrary, emphasize the prosperity of many areas.

The Mediterranean was an important political and economic link. For a long time the east fared much better economically than the west, also due to the fact that the most important industries and trade centers were in the east. The Silk Road also ended there and there was a lively trade exchange with Persia and on to Central Asia and indirectly to China, with Sogdian traders playing an important role ( see above ). The Roman trade contacts reached across the Red Sea to the empire of Aksum (Christianized in the 4th century) in today's Ethiopia , to southern Arabia and India ( see above ), while the trade connections via Persia to Central Asia and further to China were controlled by the Sassanids . In the more recent research, in addition to the trade in goods (mainly luxury goods came from the East, such as silk and spices such as pepper), the associated exchange of ideas via the late antique trading networks of Eurasia is emphasized.

Roman attempts to push back Persian influence in the Horn of Africa or to set up new trade routes independent of the Sassanids (see Theophilus the Indians and Ella Asbeha ), however, failed. Persian traders dominated the Indian trade in the Indian Ocean, for which Ceylon was an important trading center . The late Roman gold standard , the solidus , remained the standard in the Mediterranean region until the High Middle Ages and also played an important role in long-distance trade. According to modern estimates, several million of these coins were in circulation in the late ancient empire; poorer Romans could live on about 3 solidi per year. In addition, the Sassanid silver drachm was widespread in the Orient ; it was taken over by the Arabs in the 7th century. The late antique trade network extended from the Mediterranean to far into the Asian region and at least indirectly linked distant areas.

In the west of the empire there was a certain decline in population, but this did not begin in full force until the 5th and 6th centuries, while conditions in the 4th century were probably even more favorable than in the time of the soldiers' emperor. The big cities, especially Rome , Carthage , Trier , Constantinople , Antioch and Alexandria , were in bloom for a long time and only fell into disrepair in the west after the Germanic conquests, in the east even later. Westrom experienced, however, due to or intensified by the endless wars, in the 5th century (regionally very differently pronounced) economic decline. In addition, the richest areas (especially North Africa) were now beyond the reach of the imperial government in Ravenna.

Mosaics like this one from the 6th century (Lin on Lake Ohrid, Albania) testify to the prosperity in the provinces of that time.

The so-called Justinian Plague , an epidemic that struck the entire Mediterranean region from 541/42 onwards and claimed countless victims, was of hardly overestimated importance for economic and demographic development . It was, as has only recently been established, the bubonic plague . In 2019, an international team of researchers succeeded in finally finding Yersinia pestis in a grave dated to the 6th century in Edix Hill, England, which at the same time documented the occurrence of the late ancient epidemic in Britain for the first time.

In recent research, thanks to advances in scientific research, reference is made to the sometimes dramatic changes in this phase of late antiquity. In terms of environmental history , the period from around 150 to 400 was already marked by a deterioration in the climate, which led to increased aridity and droughts in the Eurasian steppe and thus represented another reason for nomadic groups (such as the Huns) to spread out. There were further climate deterioration (for the period of about 536 by the end of the 7th century Late Antiquity Little Ice Age and Late Antique Little Ice Age ) with all the associated consequences (falling temperatures and worsened living conditions). Plague waves and volcanic eruptions played a part in this (with the corresponding environmental consequences), which had considerable consequences for the population and the economy.

The second Gothic War (541–552) also marked a turning point for Italy. The protracted, merciless fighting ruined the former heartland of the empire. The city of Rome, for example, which around 530 still had around 100,000 inhabitants, only barely escaped complete destruction. In spite of everything, Italy still seemed to the Lombards to be a worthwhile destination in 568. The fact that there was still loot to be found there after more than 30 years of war and plunder shows above all how rich the peninsula must have been before.

Even in late antiquity, the Roman Empire was like a collection of cities with their surrounding areas. Civitates, with their urban center and local autonomy, covered most of the Roman Empire: The Notitia Galliarum lists around 400 a total of 122 administrative units in Gaul, of which only 8 are not civitates ; and about 900 poleis are attested to Eastern power under Justinian . For the cities throughout the empire, however, the 4th century represented a turning point: Constantius II expropriated most of the civitates and poleis in order to gain direct access to the taxes to be paid; the imperial treasury ( res privata ) now administered the former property of the cities, which until then had administered their area fiscally. In 374, Valentinian I stipulated that a third of the respective income should be made freely available to the civitates , who in return took over the administration of the lands. Some of the cities were also transferred to collecting taxes again in the following period. In 536 Justinian tried to strengthen the cities and their councils again, but by the end of the 6th century the process in which most of the poleis and civitates had largely lost their administrative and economic independence was over. Wherever there were still curials , they were mostly under the supervision of imperial officials.

Greco-Roman ecumenism more or less equated “civilized” life with life in the city. At the time of Justinian, Constantinople was the most important city in the Mediterranean with a good 500,000 inhabitants (before the outbreak of the plague). Some areas of the empire - such as Egypt or Palestine - experienced an economic boom in the 6th century. The apparent decline of the curiales and the erosion of local self-government must therefore not simply be equated with a general crisis of the cities. In many cities in the East, private donors of large buildings can still be identified under Justinian. Apparently the local elite in the cities had not disappeared, but now exercised their influence in a way that left fewer traces in the sources than before.

The view, partly held in older research (AHM Jones), that the late antique economy had too few producers and too many consumers, has now been called into question. The assumption that people suffered from a steadily increasing fiscal burden, as the complaints in the sources in particular suggest, seems to be refuted by papyrus finds and archaeological excavations. In any case, it cannot be assumed that there will be a general economic crisis throughout late antiquity. Depending on the time and place, the conditions were in some cases fundamentally different and, especially in the east, much more favorable than in the west. This was not least due to the fact that it was much easier to maintain inner peace and repel attackers. In many rural regions of Eastern Europe, such as northern Syria, the 6th century was therefore a high point in terms of population density and prosperity that has not yet been reached again. The particularly wealthy and influential Apions family in Egypt, whose history is well documented, was apparently able to run very lucrative businesses.

The private wealth was distributed among a relatively small and affluent upper class (see above), who liked to retreat to magnificent country estates, which was previously interpreted as an indication of the beginning of feudalization , but at the same time remained present in the cities. On the other hand, the majority of the population was considered “poor”, which only basically meant that one could not live from one's benefices or property, but had to work for one's livelihood. Therefore, this idea of ​​a simple subdivision into “poor” and “rich” hardly does justice to the complex reality, even though in the sources - as in all times - the accusation of extravagance is raised against the social elite.

In the country, the tenants of the large landowners were usually bound to the piece of land to be worked, the so-called clod bond (see colonate ). This measure should secure the cultivation of the soil and thus guarantee the state stable income. A general, empire-wide impoverishment of the small farmers and their fundamental displacement by the colonies cannot be established. In the countryside, especially in Gaul , there were isolated uprisings by the so-called Bagauden , the causes of which are controversial. Perhaps it was a response to Germanic raids. All in all, including urban revolts, we know of fewer cases of social unrest for late antiquity than for the earlier phases of Roman history.

Slaves continued to be ubiquitous and their possession was probably not a privilege of wealthy people; Even families with a medium income did use slaves, in some cases even colonies had them. The meaning of the slaves varied greatly in the different provinces. While slaves were used extensively in agriculture in Italy, Sicily and Hispania since the early imperial period, their importance was much less in Egypt, for example, as more free workers were employed there. In Africa and Asia Minor the vast majority of workers were also free. Overall, slaves seem to have been used less on large estates.

Empire and administration

In the late Roman Empire, at least since Diocletian, the emperor claimed a sacred position, not unlike that of a viceroy of God on earth (more on this in the article Emperor ). Since Diocletian, portraits and coins have often lost the individual traits of the rulers compared to the emphasis on the rapture and the sacred nature of their office. Between Constantine and Phocas almost all emperors (with a few exceptions such as Julian and Johannes ) were clean-shaven. The increasingly exaggerated court ceremony reached its completion under Justinian; The parallels to the Sassanid court are striking, but are interpreted differently in research. Nevertheless, one cannot speak of an “oriental dictatorship”, because in fact the late ancient emperors had no more powers than their predecessors - rather less. In addition, the influence of several emperors by military masters, influential court staff and administrators as well as by church dignitaries, especially in the West, should not be underestimated. Some emperors had also come to the throne at a very young age and were thus under the influence of their advisors.

Portrait bust of the Eastern Roman Emperor Leo (today in the Louvre )

The late ancient ruler was still bound by the ancient Roman principle of duty of care, and new emperors continued to be raised by acclamation. Even if the importance of dynastic thinking grew and at least the emperor's sons, if any, could hardly be ignored, the empire was still not formally hereditary. In order to secure the succession of relatives, attempts were usually made to give them a share in power as co-emperor (e.g. Justinian through Justin I). In addition, the rule of law was by no means suspended, as was often suggested in older research with the concept of dominance . Rather, numerous decrees in the codes show that the emperors were still bound by the law as such (see, for example, the statement in the Codex Iustinianus , 1.14.4), because they would have forfeited their legitimacy through openly illegal actions and risked usurpation - so like Emperor Phocas , who executed numerous aristocrats and was finally overthrown in 610. It is also noticeable that the rulers after Theodosius I became palace emperors ( principes clausi ) for over two centuries who - with the exception of Majorian - no longer led armies into battle themselves. In the east, the Augusti only rarely left Constantinople.

A common practice in late antiquity was the appointment of a co-emperor ( Caesar ) alongside the main emperor ( Augustus ) or the separation of the domain between two Augusti , such as between Valentinian I and Valens. However, the unity of the empire remained unaffected, since the laws of an emperor were also valid for the other half of the empire. According to contemporary ideas, the empire basically remained a monarchy in spite of the multiple empire, in which the highest-ranking ruler, the senior Augustus , only allowed the others to participate in his empire. After Theodosius I's death in 395, the administrative division increasingly became a factual one. However, the idea of ​​an imperial unity remained lively and effective well beyond the end of the western empire, and the rise of a new Augustus of the West and thus a renewal of the multiple empire was discussed again and again until the 7th century .

Inside, there was a trend towards greater centralization of administration. Above all, Constantine created numerous new court offices. From Diocletian onwards , everyone who was in the service of the emperor was formally considered a soldier ( miles ); Civilian activities were now also a militia , which is why the officials mostly wore military cloaks ( chlamys ) and soldiers' belts ( cingulum ). In addition, they were pro forma assigned to a military unit when they were hired ; For example, under Emperor Justinian, the writers of the praefectus praetorio Orientis were officially assigned to the Legio I Adiutrix . Only the consuls and prefects of Rome and Constantinople still wore the toga in public appearances in the 6th century . The venerable consulate , which had barely held any real power since Augustus , remained in place until 542, but no longer had any political influence.

The actual division of civil and military power, which was previously unknown in Rome, is a typical phenomenon of late antiquity and was not gradually abandoned until the 6th century. The civil hierarchy of the militia officialis since Diocletian and Constantine was essentially the following: The Praetorian prefects (singular: praefectus praetorio ) were directly subordinate to the emperor . The prefectures administered by these were divided into dioceses headed by vicars and which in turn consisted of provinces. In Italy this system persisted until the Ostrogoths , in the East even until the 7th century. The basic unit of administration remained the city ( polis or civitas ) until the 6th century , although the traditional urban offices have lost their importance since the 4th century and urban autonomy has been increasingly restricted in the course of the epoch (see above).

The administrative division of the Roman Empire after 395.

The imperial court was the center of manorial activity , just as administration and court can hardly be separated. The late Roman court ( comitatus ) comprised a large number of officials ( militia palatina ), the most important of whom belonged to the court councilor ( consistorium ). The most important functionaries included the magister officiorum , the head of administration, the comes sacrarum largitionum , who was responsible for the imperial finances, and the praepositus sacri cubiculi . The latter was usually a eunuch and headed the imperial household, which often enabled him to control access to the emperor. The quaestor sacri palatii was the head of the imperial chancellery. He was usually a lawyer as he was also charged with drafting imperial laws. He also published imperial edicts and kept the copies. People who had distinguished themselves in important positions were sometimes also awarded the high honorary title of patricius .

Since the 5th century, the Spatharius has also been recorded as one of the commanders of the bodyguard at the court, although it was not necessarily a military man, as the example of Chrysaphius shows, the influential eunuch at the court of Theodosius II. In the sense of a "sword-bearer “This office existed in a modified and enhanced form (for example as a commander or governor) at the Germanic-Romanic royal courts of the time of the Great Migration.

As in the Principate , the emperor was always threatened by the danger of possible usurpation . By awarding posts and honorary titles, the emperors could try to play different aristocrats against each other in order to gain freedom of action themselves.

The bureaucracy increased overall in late antiquity, as did tax pressure. However, this factor was overestimated by older research, because compared to modern ideas, the late Roman state can also be regarded as clearly under-administered. The problems arose more often from too little than from too much administration. Although the Reichsadministration comprised around 400 about three to four times as many employees as during the Principate, there were a good 60 million inhabitants for every 30,000 “civil servants”; an administration that is weakly staffed by modern standards. Each member of the administration was therefore responsible for over 2000 people on average. In addition, the administration was in fact much less hierarchical than it would appear on a superficial examination, especially since not only local structures remained, but also the old right of every free citizen to turn to the emperor directly, bypassing all instances, right up to the end was not touched. Furthermore, the imperial administration worked mainly in the cities (on which the government was dependent for the execution of central tasks such as tax collection and police violence), but it was hardly present in the countryside. In addition, there were overlapping competencies that hindered effective administrative work, but were also intended to ensure a certain mutual control.

Legislation continued to be the exclusive prerogative of the emperor, but he was advised by learned jurists. The lower jurisdiction was exercised by the cities and the governors of the provinces. Since Constantine the Great there have also been episcopal courts whose judgments cannot be widely appealed to secular courts, but his successors severely curtailed the powers of the episcopal courts. The legal collection of the Codex Theodosianus originated in the 5th century, but the Corpus iuris civilis from the 6th century, which was received in the Middle Ages and modern times, was of central importance . A law of Justinian ( Cod. Iust. 1,27,1) that has been preserved is due to knowledge of the costs of civil administration: The praefectus praetorio of Africa , newly appointed by the emperor in 534 , had a total of 396 employees who received a total of 4172 solidi annually during the prefect himself received almost twice as much, namely 7,200 solidi , which corresponded to a quarter of the total budget of his prefecture. The same law shows that the annual salary of a North African provincial governor under Justinian was 448 solidi ; he had 50 employees each, who earned a total of only 160 solidi . In addition to the regular salary, however, there were sometimes very large sums of money that supplicants had to pay as lubricants; as long as this type of corruption did not exceed a certain level, it was not perceived as offensive but was taken for granted.

In the west, Rome finally lost its central position as the imperial residence soon after 300, but not its position as the symbolic capital of the empire. The emperors have long resided closer to the endangered borders, for example in Trier or Sirmium . In the west, first Milan , and finally Ravenna , which had long been considered impregnable due to its geographical location, became the capital of the western empire (emperors such as Valentinian III and Anthemius resided temporarily in Rome). In the Eastern Empire, on the other hand, the emperors resided permanently in Constantinople from Theodosius I , after Antioch had been the ruler's seat there at first .

The late Roman army

Emperor Honorius (with the labarum ) in the costume of a late Roman officer. Ivory diptych from 406 AD

The late Roman army also changed. Even under the Severans (193–235), the organization and equipment of the Roman troops essentially followed the pattern that had been in use since Augustus at the latest . The finds on the Harzhorn battlefield discovered in 2008 , which can be dated to the time after 228, include pila , caligae and parts of helmets typical of the imperial era . But in the defeats that the Roman army suffered against the Goths and Sassanids in the years between 244 and 260 , as well as in the context of a long chain of civil wars (see Imperial Crisis of the 3rd Century ), many legionaries lost their lives; entire units were wiped out and not set up again. Around 260, Emperor Gallienus in particular carried out far-reaching reforms: command of the legions was now withdrawn from the senators, who were replaced by professional soldiers, the proportion of cavalry was significantly increased and the tactical units in which the infantry operated were reduced.

The armor of the foot soldiers gradually became lighter in the course of the 3rd and 4th centuries in order to make the troops more mobile. The pilum disappeared, the gladius was replaced by a long sword. That these new legions were able to cope with the changed requirements is proven by the fact that from 268 onwards the Roman army lost almost no important battle against external enemies: The Goths, Franks and Alamanni were repulsed, and parts of the empire were forcibly reintegrated into the empire; and finally in 282 they even managed to plunder the Sassanid capital, Ctesiphon . A defeat Galerius suffered against the Persians in 297 was compensated for in the following year by winning the Battle of Satala . Especially in the east, the Romans had to carry out sieges far more frequently than before because of the strong Persian fortresses; like their Sassanid opponents, the imperial troops therefore became experts in siege engineering ( poliorketics ).

The measures that the soldier emperors had taken were systematized and continued by Diocletian. The army was finally divided into a march ( comitatenses ) and a border army ( limitanei ) around 300 . The older view that the latter were militarily almost worthless militiamen is now increasingly being questioned; the difference between mobile and border armies is likely to have been smaller in practice than earlier research assumed. Especially in the west, the Roman army was increasingly "barbarized" by the constant admission of Teutons (at least this is the traditional view, which is now disputed). However, the sources give virtually no evidence that the barbarians in the regular army would have been disloyal as long as they were receiving their pay. All in all, there were now even fewer rebellions than during the Principate , and the military capabilities were basically retained: a resolutely led Roman army was able to defeat numerically superior barbarian armies in the 6th century. The central difficulty was rather to cover the immense costs associated with the maintenance of the regular imperial troops in the long term. This succeeded far better in east current than in the west. Recruiting problems seem to have been the exception rather than the rule; the relevant laws were mostly enacted during sudden bottlenecks after high losses. In principle, the soldier profession was now (like many others) hereditary, but Justinian found that there were usually enough volunteers available.

A problem was posed by the federates fighting under their own leaders , which became more and more important, especially in the West, because they were far cheaper than regular units, but at the same time could not be controlled by the emperor more and more. Presumably, when the Visigoths settled in Aquitaine, they were allowed to collect “their” share of the tax revenue themselves. In Westrom this process finally culminated in the de facto self-dissolution of the regular army in the 5th century, since in the west the financial means for the maintenance of regular troops that should have controlled the Federation were missing. The Germanic troops now took the place of the Western Roman army, and their leaders eventually took over the role of the state, which in their view had in the end become superfluous. At the same time, from around 400, private domestic troops emerged in East and West, entertaining generals or even wealthy private individuals, the so-called bucellarii . Some researchers suspect that the bloody battle on Frigidus 394, in which Theodosius I defeated the usurper Eugenius , marked a turning point in this context . At that time not only did countless Germanic auxiliary troops from both sides died, but the best units of the regular Western Roman army also died. Apparently these could no longer be replaced, although the army strength at the time of Theodosius I's death was still relatively high. However, several units had to be re-established in the west in the following time, which was probably at the expense of the quality of these new units. After that, the emperors in western Rome were much more dependent on the use of barbaric federations than the emperors in the east, which diminished their influence. By the middle of the 5th century at the latest, power in the West was in the hands of the military of Roman and non-Roman origins, and the leaders of the allied federations gradually became de facto independent territorial lords in the face of the agony of central power.

A page from a medieval copy of the Notitia dignitatum .

While the salary of the troops was incumbent on the civilian officials, the military hierarchy ( militia armata ) of the late antique empire looked roughly as follows: only the emperor (or the emperors) was subordinate to the army master , the magister militum (or the magistri militum , because there were usually several, at least in Ostrom). This might well have considerable political power, as the end times of the western empire shows, where the army masters finally largely controlled the emperors, while in the eastern empire it was possible to curtail the political role of the army master's office.

Then came the comites (singular: comes ) and the local commanders in the provinces, the duces (singular: dux ). The emperors also had a bodyguard; When the protectores and scholae had sunk to a pure parade force, the excubitores were founded in Ostrom around 460 as a powerful elite unit. The strict separation of the military from the civilian sector was only given up around 600. In the exarchates that the Eastern Roman emperors established in Carthage and Italy in the late sixth century, both areas were reunited. In the army itself the importance of cavalry, especially armored riding ( kataphraktoi ), increased more and more; Although this increased the costs and effort for the individual soldier, it increased mobility considerably. Armored riders and mounted archers therefore played an even greater role than the infantry from the 5th century onwards.

The troop strength of the late Roman army is controversial in research, as the sources are also not clear. Overall, the number of legions under Diocletian was increased (to about 60), but at the same time their troop strength decreased. Instead of the old nominal strength of 6,000 men, only 1,000 served in a legion, and this number was in fact rarely reached. As a result, the legion continued to decline in size and eventually disappeared completely, even if units so designated under Emperor Maurikios are mentioned here and there.

Lactantius writes that Diocletian quadrupled the strength of the army ( De mortibus persecutorum , 7.2). However, this representation is not very credible, since Lactantius probably simply applied the scheme of the tetrarchy to the army. In any case, in the 4th century the army strength should have been around 400,000 men, which is slightly higher than in the early and high imperial period. According to the Notitia dignitatum , the nominal strength was around 400 at around 600,000 men. Agathias then calculated a target strength of 645,000 (5,13,7) around 570. How he came to this estimate is unclear, but he must have included the defunct western army. According to his statements, only 150,000 men (5.15) served in the Eastern Roman army at the time of Justinian . However, this number is presumably set far too low (Agathias probably only counted the comitatenses ). Research tends to assume double strength. That would have made Justinian's army about the same size as Augustus' .

Overall, the army strength of the late Roman army was increased, but it was hardly sufficient in view of the diverse tasks, especially since it was often tied to the borders. Therefore, it does not seem surprising that most of the late antique military operations were carried out with comparatively few men. This is also due to the fact that from the later 4th century the importance of the infantry within the comitatenses declined: For logistical reasons, cavalry armies were generally smaller than those consisting primarily of infantry. Emperor Julian's campaign against the Sassanids was one of the largest military operations of late antiquity with around 65,000 men (the sometimes significantly higher figures in the sources are less likely).

Overall, the largest Roman armies were mostly deployed on the eastern border. 40 years after Julian, Stilicho operated in the west with only about 20,000 men, while Belisarius 533 pulled a little more than 15,000 elite soldiers against the Vandals , after three years earlier he had led well over 30,000 fighters against the Sassanids. In 503, Emperor Anastasios I mobilized over 50,000 men to repel a Persian attack, and in the 550s Roman armies with a good 30,000 soldiers each operated in Italy and in the Caucasus. Occasionally, much larger associations could be set up in the Orient, but their effectiveness was usually limited. The imperial army, which faced the Arabs in 636 and was annihilated, may have numbered tens of thousands. It was only around this time that the organization of the army in Eastern Stream was fundamentally changed in view of the military crises, and the late Roman army subsequently became the completely differently structured Byzantine army .

The church

The church, which had efficient administrative structures (see also Old Church ), consolidated its position in late antiquity. Already Constantine the Great had promoted the Church, so that they now also had economic power they used among other things for the arms supply. State privileges also made it interesting for the upper class of the empire, and since infant baptism had been the norm since the 4th century, while apostasy (apostasy) was soon threatened with death, it was finally hardly possible to free oneself for or to decide against Christianity. However, despite or because of the increasing power of the new religion, several controversies soon arose within the church: Less paganism , which was still active in the 5th and 6th centuries (albeit in an increasingly weaker form), than theological differences (especially regarding the nature of Christ) within the church made the inner consolidation difficult (see First Council of Nicaea , Arianism , Nestorianism , Monophysitism ). Even the five ecumenical councils of late antiquity could not reach an agreement here.

Areas with strong Christian communities around AD 325
The spread of Christianity around AD 600

The role of the emperor as patron of Christianity has been emphasized since Constantine, as has the sacred Christian aura of the empire. In this sense, the emperor played an important but not unproblematic role in late antique Christianity. It must be noted that at that time religious questions were not only discussed by a small group of theologians, but that this discussion was also conducted with passion in the lower classes of the population. After all, it was about the personal salvation of the individual. Anyone who adhered to a false teaching, his soul was lost. Establishing the “orthodox” point of view was therefore of crucial importance for all believers. In addition, there were unsettling events such as the short-term pagan renaissance under Emperor Julian or the shock of the sack of Rome in 410, to which Augustine of Hippo , Orosius and others reacted in literary terms. Up to the end of the epoch (and especially in the East beyond) theological disputes, which were mostly inextricably linked with questions of power, played a decisive role in history.

Oldest known depiction of Augustine in the tradition of the author's image (Lateran Church, 6th century).

With Christianity becoming the religion of the emperor and empire (the Imperium sanctum ) and Christ the cosmocrator , who was thought of as a kind of heavenly emperor, it had to adapt to the world and underwent a massive transformation. Among other things, it became necessary to justify violence theologically, since the now Christian empire also continued to fight military conflicts. Augustine in particular therefore developed a theological justification for war based on the old Roman conception of the bellum iustum . In addition to this distance from the early Christian commandment to love one's neighbor, the increasing secularization of the clergy and the rapidly growing wealth of the church aroused many astonishment and opposition. Only in the last few years has research increasingly pointed out that in the 4th century there were still no clear ideas of what exactly “being a Christian” actually constituted - that is the direction that represented the strict exclusivity of Christianity, first of all was only one of many currents, while in the beginning there were many people who were only Christians among others .

In late antiquity, the office of bishop of Rome also developed into papacy . The decisive step in this direction was taken by Gregory the Great , who came from a noble family and at the same time can be regarded as the last late antique doctor of the church and the first medieval pope.

It is wrong to believe that paganism suddenly disappeared with the Constantinian turning point , although it has increasingly lost its influence since then. Despite the anti-pagan legislation of the emperors Gratian and Theodosius I, it remained for a long time on the flat land (neither emperor took any serious action against pagans either), especially in the west, and large parts of the educated aristocracy were still attached to it although recently Alan Cameron has questioned some older assumptions. Around 400, however, there were probably just as many Christians as pagans, although the Christianization took place differently from region to region. The cities were more Christianized, while development progressed more slowly in the countryside: missionaries were slain several times in Gaul and Italy if they wanted to prevent peasants from making sacrifices for the gods of the harvest, and in the early 6th century the pagan Zosimos was able to write a work of history, in which he blamed the Christians for the decline of Rome. The last officially tolerated pagan temple, the famous Isis sanctuary of Philae , was not closed until Justinian around 537. Under Emperor Tiberios I , there was a pagan revolt in Syria in 579, and it was not until 599 that Pope Gregory the Great had the numerous Old Believers in Sardinia forced to baptize through torture and imprisonment. Even the Arab conquerors in the 7th century still encountered Eastern Roman regions and cities that were still shaped by the old polytheism.

At the same time, quite a few people adhered to both Christianity and the ancient cults, thereby disregarding the Church's claim to absoluteness. It is often assumed that at that time the cult of Mary and the veneration of saints represented Christian concessions to the polytheistic inclinations of the majority, who demanded correspondences for the ancient mother goddesses (Isis, Cybele) and their own gods for certain problems and areas. Quite a few former non-Christians are likely to have consciously or unconsciously retained elements and ways of thinking of the old cults even after their conversion. From around 400 at the latest, the pagans represented an ever smaller minority, but the old religions left clear traces in Christianity.

In the east, more precisely in Egypt , monasticism began with Antony the Great towards the end of the 3rd century , which slowly spread throughout the empire towards the end of the 4th century. In addition, Pachomius was particularly important for the development of the monastery . The years between about 300 and 600 were marked by the appearance of the "Holy Men" (Peter Brown), charismatic individuals who were highly regarded as pillar saints and hermits , especially in Ostrom . Presumably this phenomenon represented a reaction to the increasing secularization of Christianity, which was the price for the alliance with the Roman state (see above). In contrast to the West, individual holy men in the East managed at times to seriously question the authority of the bishops.

The strengthened position of the church was also expressed by the fact that more and more capable people decided against civil service and in favor of service in the church, especially since clergy had enjoyed important privileges such as tax exemption since the 4th century. These included the ambitious and energetic Ambrosius , who managed to influence the emperors Gratian and Theodosius I, and at the end of the epoch Gregory the Great .

Outside the empire, Christians were relatively numerous in Persian Mesopotamia, as well as in the Caucasus. The empire of Aksum was Christianized in the 4th century (see Ezana ) and has since formed one of the fulcrum of Roman diplomacy in this area. There were also Christian communities in southern Arabia. The Christianization of the Teutons, however, mostly took place through their adoption of the Arian creed (see, for example, Ulfila ), even if in many cases they converted to Catholicism later; an exception were the Franks, who apparently converted directly to the Catholic faith.

The church, which slowly developed into the imperial church in the 4th century, saved at least parts of ancient knowledge from the Middle Ages (although at the same time it was partly to blame for the disappearance of unpopular writings). When the Roman army and the Roman civil servants gradually disappeared in the west, the church remained and in the 5th / 6th centuries. In the 19th century, it increasingly took the place of the state that was no longer functioning there.

Religious developments outside of Christianity

In late antiquity, not only did Christianity achieve the breakthrough to become the dominant religion in the Roman Empire, but also new beliefs emerged and established ones developed further.

Coin of the Emperor Probus (276–282) with Sol Invictus on the quadriga
This ivory diptych with the inscription
SYMMACHORVM depicts a priestess of Bacchus making a bloodless sacrifice around AD 390 .

“Paganism” (the term is problematic because it is polemical and general, in research one therefore often speaks of “pagan” or “traditional” cults) remained a living force at least until the late 4th century, which still resisted Christianization performed. In the dispute over the Victoria Altar , which the Roman city prefect Quintus Aurelius Symmachus and Bishop Ambrosius of Milan fought in 384, the conflicting positions of Christians and pagans were once again symptomatically expressed. For Christian scholars, the pagan deities were demons who had been exposed and overcome by Christianity and who deserved no tolerance. In 391 the practice of pagan practices was finally forbidden, and around 400 the victory of Christianity was then inevitable, but in the 5th century some pagan intellectuals were still hoping for a renaissance of the pre-Christian religion.

However, Alan Cameron has recently questioned several older theses regarding the pagan elites in the 4th century and the idea that there was a closed group in this elite that advocated “traditional values” (which often enough also apply to Christians were of importance) called "myth". According to Cameron, there was no much-invoked "pagan revival" in the late 4th century and many cultural values ​​that are equally important to Christians have facilitated the conversion of the pagan elite. Conversely, researchers like Anthony Kaldellis have formulated the thesis in recent years that even in the 6th century many members of the Eastern Roman elite, including important intellectuals such as Prokopios of Caesarea , were in truth not Christians, but Kaldellis was unable to assert himself .

In any case, even around 600 the old cults had by no means disappeared everywhere (see above), although they were now in fact without political significance. What all these religions had in common was that they lacked the exclusive rights of monotheism; so a worshiper of Mithras or Isis did not deny the existence of other gods even if he did not worship them. Unlike the Christian church, these religions were not organized centrally, but rather represented a syncretistic variety of different beliefs. In addition to the cults that can be counted as part of the traditional Roman religion , the mystery cults from the East were of particular importance (for more details see there ). The cult of the sun god also enjoyed considerable popularity; So Constantine the Great was also a follower of Sol for a long time. In addition, Mithras had a large number of followers, especially in the Roman army ; Mithras and Sol were often connected to one another: The main temple of Sol Invictus Mithras in Baalbek was only destroyed by fire under Justinian I. Syncretism and Neoplatonism also had a special meaning for late antique paganism, although there was often no strict distinction between philosophy and religion.

"Paganism" persisted for a long time, especially among the rural population. The (incorrect) derivation of the expression paganus (non-Christian) from “country dweller” was therefore already common in antiquity . But parts of the Senate aristocracy and various philosophical circles also remained pagan for a long time; however, the number of pagans decreased significantly from the 4th century (see the section on the church). However, there were quite a few contacts between the Old Believers and the Christian world of thought, which also influenced one another; one reason for this was that newly converted Christians brought ideas and thought patterns from their earlier religion into the new one. So it is not surprising that the Christians, influenced by the ideas expressed in the sun cult, soon saw in Jesus the "sun of righteousness". The veneration of Mary , which was still unknown to early Christianity, evidently developed in late antiquity, particularly under the influence of the Roman cults of Isis and Cybele .

Before the beginning of late antiquity, the gnosis was a not unimportant religious movement with a complex origin that had spread across the entire Mediterranean region at its zenith in the 2nd to 3rd centuries AD . Early Christianity and Gnosis initially developed largely independently of one another, until they first came into contact in the first quarter of the first century. Then in the second century there was a partial synthesis between Christianity and Gnostic positions.

Manicheans from a manuscript by Khocho , Tarim Basin .

Manichaeism is a special phenomenon of late antiquity . It was founded in the 3rd century by the Persian Mani , who made use of aspects of various religions (such as Christianity, but also Zoroastrianism (see below) and Buddhism ). Manichaeism was a dualistic book religion (good and bad, light and darkness are considered to be involved in an eternal struggle), which soon developed into an influential denomination and was initially promoted in Persia. The new faith found followers from Spain to Central Asia , but some of them were subjected to persecution in the Roman Empire and Persia. Augustine followed this religion before converting to Christianity. Soon afterwards, “Manichaeans” became a synonym for “heretics ” for Christian theologians and retained this meaning into the Middle Ages.

In the Persian Sassanid Empire , where Christians (who represented a not insignificant minority) as well as Jews and Manichaeans lived, the predominant religion, favored by the great kings , was Zoroastrianism . However, many aspects of this religion are controversial in research, as most of the evidence is from post-ancient times. It is also not completely clear whether Zoroastrianism can be called a real "state religion", as was often done in older research. Recent research tends towards a more cautious assessment, since other cults were usually tolerated by the Sassanids. Nevertheless, Zoroastrianism (or Mazdaism) was the most influential religion in Iran until the onset of Islam. This changed the existence of numerous Christian communities in the west of the empire just as little as the religious-social revolutionary movement of the Mazdakites , which shook the empire in the decades around 500.

The Jews suffered in late antiquity continue under the terms of the Diaspora . Most Roman emperors were not really hostile to the Jews (despite various derogatory remarks in the legislation), at least as long as public order was not affected. However, there were considerable tensions between Jews and non-Jews. Several Christian emperors restricted Jewish religious practice or prohibited the building of new synagogues . Nevertheless, Judaism remained the only permitted non-Christian religion in the Roman Empire after 391/92 . The Christian emperors also followed the tradition of Caesar and Augustus and insisted on certain protective regulations for Jews; however, they were exposed to isolated attacks. As early as 429, the institution of the "Patriarch of the Jews" was abolished and Palestine was divided into four provinces. However, the church (theoretically) strictly refused to accept forced converts. The Samaritans , a Jewish splinter group that repeatedly fought conflicts with the central Roman authority and, especially under Justinian, were involved in bloody battles with imperial troops, posed a special problem (see Julian ben Sabar ).

Islam , too , which developed in the cultural-historical context of late antiquity, has its roots in the religious thought of this time and was strongly influenced by Christianity and Judaism, as well as probably by Zoroastrianism. The extreme position of some scholars (including Karl-Heinz Ohlig ; Christoph Luxenberg ) who consider the Koran to be the translation of a late ancient Syrian lesson and Islam in its origins to be an anti-Trinitarian Christian heresy that only became independent around 800 Religion developed and was not founded by a prophet named Mohammed has been the subject of controversy for a number of years, but has not yet caught on.

Overall, the general religious trend in early late antiquity towards henotheism or monotheism was unmistakable, from which Christianity profited considerably. With its message of salvation, this also offered a tempting alternative, especially since the church was active in charity. Even the last pagan emperor of the entire empire, Julian , admired this aspect and tried in vain to also incorporate it into his (perhaps) planned “pagan state church”. The traditional cults were ultimately unable to cope with the missionary impetus since the massive state promotion of Christianity since Constantine. Its long existence as a minority religion warns, however, against denying the old cults any vital force - this perhaps corresponds more to the view of the Christian victors than to reality. However, Alan Cameron recently justified the view in detail that paganism after Constantine had increasingly lost its influence and was no longer a vital force by the end of the 4th century, even before the Theodosian legislation.


  • 284: Diocletian takes office . Reich reform and successful stabilization of the borders.
  • 285: Maximian's appointment as Caesar .
  • 286: Maximian is appointed Augustus in the West.
  • 293: Constantius Chlorus is raised to Caesar in the west, Galerius in the east ( Roman tetrarchy ).
  • 298: Galerius achieves an important victory over the Sassanids , which leads to considerable territorial gains for the Romans in the peace of Nisibis .
  • May 1, 305: Diocletian's resignation, which also forces Maximian to take this step.
  • 306: Death of Constantius Chlorus. Constantine the Great is proclaimed emperor in York . Collapse of the tetrarchical order.
  • 308: Imperial Conference of Carnuntum , which, however, does not bring a lasting solution.
  • 311: Galerius officially tolerates Christians in the east of the empire ( Nicomedia Edict of Tolerance ).
  • October 28, 312: Battle of the Milvian Bridge ; Constantine's victory over Maxentius and experience of conversion.
  • 313: Milan Agreement : The Christians are officially tolerated by Licinius and Constantine.
  • 324: Constantine ruled after the victory over Licinius in the battle of Chrysopolis .
  • 325: First Council of Nicaea .
  • 337: Baptism and death of Constantine in Achyrona, a suburb of Nicomedia . This is followed by a series of murders that decimate the Constantinian dynasty. In 338 Constantius II receives the eastern part of the empire, his brothers Constans and Constantine II the west.
  • 337/38: Between Rome and Persia fighting broke out again , which dragged on for years. In 350 there was a ceasefire, which was broken by the Persians in 359.
  • 340: Constans is sole ruler in the west, but is killed in 350 by Magnentius .
  • around 350: Appearance of the Chionites in the northeast of the Persian Empire, the threat from nomadic attackers increases again.
  • 351: Victory of Constantius II at Mursa over the usurper Magnentius. After the suicide of Magnentius in 353, Constantius II became sole ruler.
  • 361: Emperor Julian moves against Constantius, who dies before the clash and allegedly named Julian as his successor. Last renaissance of paganism.
  • 363: Julian's death during his Persian campaign. Jovian succeeds him and concludes a peace treaty with the Sassanids, through which the territories conquered under Galerius fall back to Persia.
  • 364: Valentinian I becomes emperor. He successfully waged campaigns against the Teutons on the Rhine and installed his brother Valens as emperor in the east.
  • From 375: start of the “ migration ” in the narrower sense. The Huns destroy the Ostrogoth empire in southern Russia. Gratian becomes emperor in the west.
  • 376: Danube crossing of the Goths and admission into the Roman Empire.
  • 378: Battle of Adrianople . Strategic mistakes lead to the annihilation of most of the Eastern Roman army and the death of the Valens.
  • 379: Gratian installs Theodosius as emperor in the east.
  • 382: Treaty of the Goths. Theodosius settled the Danube Goths as federates on Roman soil.
  • 388: Theodosius executes the usurper Magnus Maximus, who was able to assert himself in the West after the murder of Gratian in 383, and transfers Valentinian II to the West.
  • 384: Dispute over the Victoria Altar .
  • 392: Valentinian II dies under unclear circumstances, Eugenius is made emperor in the west by Arbogast .
  • 394: Theodosius marches to the west and throws down Eugenius' rise in the bloody battle of Frigidus . This also means the final triumph of Christianity. One last time, the unity of the Reich was actually realized.
  • January 17, 395: Death of Theodosius the Great and subsequent “division of the empire”. His son Arcadius receives the east, his other son Honorius the west. In the period that followed, there were latent tensions between the two parts of the empire, as the courts were fighting over priority. Raids by mutinous Goths under Alaric I in the Balkans .
  • New Year's Eve 406/407: Rhine crossing from 406 and collapse of the Rhine border. Germanic groups move to Gaul and Spain in large numbers (according to some researchers, this happened a year earlier).
  • 408: Murder of Stilichos . The conflicts in the western empire escalate.
  • August 24, 410: Alaric's warriors sacked Rome . End times mood in the western empire.
  • 418: Settlement of the Visigoths as Roman Federation in Aquitaine .
  • around 420: increasing attacks by nomadic groups on the northeast border of the Sassanid Empire ( Iranian Huns ).
  • 439: Carthage is captured by the Vandals under Geiseric and with it the province of Africa is lost for almost 100 years .
  • 451: The Huns invade the west of the Roman Empire. The master of the west, Aëtius , stops Attila in Gaul.
  • 455: The Vandals sacked Rome.
  • 468: A joint action by western and eastern Roman troops against the Vandal Empire fails catastrophically.
  • 476: Deposition of Romulus Augustulus by the Germanic Odoacer. End of the Western Roman Empire.
  • 480: Death of the last western emperor recognized by Ostrom, Julius Nepos .
  • 482–511: Clovis I founded the Merovingian Franconian Empire .
  • 493-526: The Ostrogoth Theodoric the Great rules Italy.
  • 527–565: Emperor Justinian rules over Ostrom.
  • 529: Closure of the Athenian Academy and foundation of the Benedictine order ( Monte Cassino Monastery ).
  • 533: Recapture of North Africa by Eastern Roman troops .
  • 535–552: Italy was retaken by imperial armies.
  • 540: Chosrau I. breaks the peace with East Stream, beginning of a decades-long struggle between East Stream and Persia, interrupted by short periods of peace.
  • 541: Outbreak of the plague in the Mediterranean region.
  • 552: Southern Spain is retaken by Eastern Roman troops.
  • 554: Justinian's abolition of the Western Roman court.
  • 568: The Lombards invade Italy. End of the Migration Period.
  • 572: Another outbreak of the war between East Current and Persia; the Romans establish contact with the Turks in Central Asia ( Sizabulos ); the war lasted until 591.
  • Around 580: Beginning of the Slavic conquest of the Balkans.
  • 602 / 3–628: Last war between Eastern Stream and the Sassanids. Chosrau II initiates the conquest of the eastern provinces of Eastern Europe, but Emperor Herakleios finally succeeds in defeating the Persians.
  • Around 625: In Ostrom, Greek finally replaces Latin as the official language.
  • 632: Death of Muhammad and beginning of Islamic expansion .
  • 636: The battle of Jarmuk leads to the loss of the Roman Orient ( Syria and 642 Egypt ) to the Arabs .
  • 651: Assassination of the last Sassanid great king: End of the Persian Empire.
  • 662/63: Emperor Konstans II temporarily moves the Eastern Roman residence to Sicily .
  • 693: In the areas conquered for Islam, new coins are minted for the first time, now with Islamic motifs. Soon after, Greek was officially replaced by Arabic as the official language .
  • 698: Carthage falls to the Arabs.
  • around 700: After conquering Iran, the Arabs begin the attack on Central Asia, where they have been bitterly resisted for decades
  • 711: Fall of the Visigoth Empire in Spain, end of the Heraclean dynasty in Byzantium
  • 750: The Abbasids overthrow the Umayyads in the Caliphate .
  • 751: Deposition of the last Merovingian Childerich III. in the Franconian Empire. In the same year the Battle of Talas (end of the Chinese expansion into Central Asia) occurs and the Lombards conquer the Exarchate of Ravenna .
  • 800: Charlemagne is crowned emperor.

See also

Portal: Antiquity  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the subject of antiquity


Source overview

The sources for late antiquity are probably the best in all of antiquity , mainly due to the rather rich “monumental” sources. However, we do not have a consistent historiography; Especially for the 5th century, the literary sources let us down quite often, so that the history of events in entire regions such as Britain or Hispania is largely in the dark at this time.

Only a few more well-known examples are given below; Reference is also made to the section on the socio-cultural outline and the article on late ancient historiography and byzantine historiography .

The Greek-speaking profane historians were - as in the high imperial era - mostly oriented in the classical style, ie they avoided terms that could not be found in their models (especially Herodotus and Thucydides ); For example, the Goths were referred to as “ Scythians ” based on classical ethnography , and the Sassanids were often referred to as “ Medes ”. This also led to the fact that even Christian profane historians avoided using Christian terms as much as possible. Prokopios (see below) therefore pretended that he had to explain everyday terms such as “presbyter” or “monk” to his readers. The endeavors of the Greek historians to orientate themselves largely on the ancient models and to imitate them linguistically ( mimesis ), not infrequently led to anachronisms and dissimilar expressions. Stylistically, this historiography was mostly on a high level, although the selected classical art prose sometimes blocked the view of what was actually happening (for example by deliberately basing the description on well-known scenes from Herodotus or Thucydides).

The most important Latin narrative source is Ammianus Marcellinus (4th century), as well as the works of Prokopios of Caesarea (6th century) , written in Greek, represent an excellent source for the end of antiquity. Both of them can certainly relate to the "classical" authors measure up. Profane historical works have also been preserved by Jordanes , Agathias and Theophylaktos Simokates , among others ; The Christian universal history of Gregory of Tours should also be mentioned (who was also based on works lost today, see Sulpicius Alexander and Renatus Profuturus Frigeridus ). The traditional books of the New History of Zosimos are also useful, but problematic . The fragments of other historians are also important, of which Priscus is the most important; in addition, Eunapios of Sardis , Olympiodoros of Thebes , Malchus of Philadelphia , Candidus and Menander Protektor should be noted.

The so-called epitome , the short version of a historical work, was also popular in late antiquity (see, for example, Aurelius Victor , Epitome de Caesaribus and Eutropius ; see also Enmann's Imperial History ). The Anonymus Valesianus is, despite the brevity of the text, an important source. Later Middle Byzantine historians (e.g. Theophanes and Johannes Zonaras ) also provide some important information, especially since they have drawn on some of the lost late antique works.

In addition, there are several church histories in late antiquity , which are of different value and in some cases also provide detailed information about political history. Probably the most important is that of Eusebius of Caesarea , who is the "father of church history". In addition, the church histories of Theodoret , Socrates Scholastikos , Sozomenos , Euagrios Scholastikos , John of Ephesus and the (only preserved in excerpts) of Philostorgius are to be mentioned. The theological writings are also important, for example the works of Ambrose and Augustine .

In late antiquity, several Christian chronicles were created, some of which provided important information in a literarily simple form. This genre was founded by Eusebius of Caesarea and Hieronymus , who found numerous imitators and followers; for example Hydatius von Aquae Flaviae , Marcellinus Comes , Johannes Malalas , the Chronicon Paschale , the (only fragmentary preserved) Chronicle of John of Antioch , the Chronicle of Victor of Tunnuna and his successor John of Biclaro or the Chronica Gallica . In addition, among other things, Syrian - such as the church history of John of Ephesus or the Chronicle of Joshua Stylites - and Armenian works, such as the historical work of (pseudo-) Sebeos . Some poems or epics also contain valuable information (see, for example, Gorippus for the Justinian period or the works of George of Pisidia for the time of Herakleios). Furthermore, speeches such as those of Libanios , Synesius of Cyrene , Symmachus , Themistius and the Panegyrici Latini as well as an abundance of documents (the best collection from antiquity) should be mentioned. The letters and eulogies of Sidonius Apollinaris represent an important source for the end of late antiquity in Gaul . In addition, there is the chronograph from 354 .

The Notitia dignitatum (a kind of state manual) offers a great deal of information about the late antiquity (civil as well as military) administration. The work De Magistratibus by Johannes Lydos also provides important details on the late Roman administration. Then there is the Codex Theodosianus from 438 and the famous Corpus iuris civilis (the name is not contemporary, however) from the sixth century. Although the number of inscriptions in place had rapidly collapsed in the course of the later 3rd century, about a fifth (approx. 50,000) of the Latin epigraphic evidence known today comes from late antiquity. After 380, however, the number and quality of secular inscriptions in the Latin West decrease massively again, without the reason for this being clear; in the Greek East, however, a similar thing can only be observed after 565.

Coin finds are also important (especially in the context of Sassanid history and the history of Central Asia in late antiquity) and numerous papyri and, last but not least, especially in the last few decades, the archeological findings . It is precisely in this point that it is problematic that historians and archaeologists often have fundamentally different views of late antiquity due to the sources they primarily analyze. For while many historians in recent years, based on text sources, have drawn an increasingly favorable picture of the epoch characterized by continuities and speak less of sharp breaks and decadence and more of transformation (see below), many archaeologists point out, starting from the material sources instead, towards phenomena of decay, which would have affected Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt only late, but the western Mediterranean region all the earlier and all the more violently. From an archaeological perspective, it is therefore still not uncommon to understand late antiquity as a period of economic and technical decline. So far it has not been possible to resolve this contradiction between material and written sources satisfactorily, to offer an alternative interpretation and to create a picture of the epoch that is as consistent as possible and that does justice to both the historical and the archaeological findings. This has therefore been identified by scholars such as Chris Wickham as a central challenge for current research on late antiquity.

Notes on editions and translations

Most of the historical works mentioned above (especially Ammianus and Prokopios) are available in relevant editions and translations, which are listed in the respective articles (see also the Tusculum Collection and the Loeb Classical Library ). The two most important series of translations on late antiquity at the moment are the small and fragmentary Historiker der Spätantike (edition of the original text with German translation and commentary) and Translated Texts for Historians (English translations and commentary).

The fragments of the most important works of Greek history that have survived in fragments are available in two editions with an English translation by Roger C. Blockley . Other fragmentarily preserved Greek historical works are also considered in Brill's New Jacoby (there with English translation and commentary). The (significantly fewer) fragments of the late antique Latin historical works are now available in an edition with an English translation provided by Lieve Van Hoof and Peter Van Nuffelen.

The online database Clavis Historicorum Antiquitatis Posterioris (CHAP) , where information on editions, translations and secondary literature can be found , now offers an overview of all known late antique historical works .

Maas offers a fairly broad collection of excerpts from sources:

  • Michael Maas: Readings in Late Antiquity. A sourcebook. 2nd Edition. Routledge, London / New York 2010.

State of research

One of the most famous buildings of late antiquity: the Hagia Sophia in today's Istanbul (built from 532 under Justinian). The minarets were only added after the Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453 .

Research into late antiquity has long been considered problematic, as already mentioned, due to the relatively fluid border to the Middle Ages. In older research the view was held that late antiquity was an age of moral and cultural decline ( decadence theory according to Edward Gibbon : Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire ; also Voltaire : Essai sur les mœurs et l'esprit des nations ; Association of late with wilting , decay ). This doctrine was still prevalent in the 19th century. Even Otto Seeck took this view in his famous masterpiece story of the downfall of the ancient world .

This very negative assessment of late antiquity, which was not least due to an idealization of “classical” antiquity, has, however, in the opinion of most researchers, now become obsolete and has not been cited in more recent representations for years; however, it is still widespread in popular science presentations and in film. The fact that the late ancient state was a “coercive state” is largely rejected in recent research. The studies of John B. Bury (see, among other things, his standard work History of the Later Roman Empire , 2 volumes, 1923), Edward A. Thompson and others prepared the ground for a reassessment of this era, which was no longer understood as a decay. AHM Jones ' Later Roman Empire also represents an important preparatory work , which is an important starting point for dealing with the epoch to this day.

The view that late antiquity was marked by decadence and the fall of the Roman Empire is largely rejected in recent research and no longer appears as a factor even in designs that emphasize the end of the Western Empire (Heather, Ward-Perkins) . Rather, the vitality of the epoch is often emphasized - above all, but not only in the Eastern Roman area. Complaints in various sources about alleged moral decline, especially in the upper class, can hardly be generalized, especially since such things have existed at all times. However, compared to the so-called “classical antiquity”, many interests changed in late antiquity or activities shifted to areas that were more typical of the Middle Ages, which was one of the reasons for the derogatory judgment of the older research.

The decisive paradigm shift in research on late antiquity took place in the 1970s. At that time, Peter Brown in particular drew attention to the “metamorphosis” or “transformation” of the ancient world in this time in very influential works, whereby he mainly devoted himself to the cultural and religious changes as well as the eastern Mediterranean; Averil Cameron and others soon followed this approach (see also Transformation of the Roman World ). Since the late 1980s, this direction has dominated research on late antiquity worldwide. Instead of the Later Roman Empire , the focus was now more generally on the Late Antiquity . Overall, the interest of ancient historical research in late antiquity has increased enormously in the last few decades. Three international specialist journals - L'Antiquité Tardive (since 1993), Journal of Late Antiquity (since 2008) and Studies in Late Antiquity (since 2017) - are only devoted to the period between 300 and 700. In the Anglo-Saxon region in particular, many are taken for granted earlier Assumptions and judgments have been challenged. The centers of current research into late antiquity are also France and Germany, with the international exchange in this area being unusually high. The image of the era, which can still be found in most school books (“late Roman decadence”), has very little in common with what is currently represented at universities.

However, the justified emphasis on continuities and the cultural aspect by the “Brown School” must not be forgotten that the transformations of the “ Migration Period ” were in many respects associated with violence, destruction and economic decline; Bryan Ward-Perkins and Peter J. Heather emphasized this in their representations, which read in part like an alternative to the proponents of the reinterpretation around Peter Brown and Averil Cameron: According to Ward-Perkins, one should not concentrate solely on phenomena of the history of ideas but must also pay attention to economic development and material culture; From an archaeological point of view, the change during the 5th and 6th centuries was all in all a change for the worse and a "disappearance of comfort" (see above). Both - Ward-Perkins and Heather - admit, however, that antiquity in the Roman East, which only experienced economic decline after 600, lasted significantly longer than in the West, where in the fifth century external aggressors brought about an “end of civilization “(Ward-Perkins) had come. In recent times, environmental history has also been taken into account, as scientific research was able to determine some dramatic changes in late antiquity (such as climate deterioration in the period from 150 to 700 and the associated falling temperatures, droughts and poorer living conditions).

Research has so far failed to reach consensus on many points. One of the most heatedly discussed questions is the process that led to the extinction of the empire in the West. The Pirenne thesis is now also finding supporters again, albeit with new arguments. Many of the old explanations have since become untenable, but it has often not yet been possible to replace them with convincing alternatives. The closer one deals with late antiquity, the more obvious the impossibility of simple answers and general statements becomes.

In recent times, research has often looked at developments in the large period from approx. 300 to 800, without this period being used as a periodization for late antiquity as such. Rather, the close connection between the transition at the end of antiquity to the early Middle Ages should become clear, as already mentioned by Franz Georg Maier ( The Metamorphosis of the Mediterranean World , 1968) and, for example, Peter Brown (who even considered the period from 200 to 800, although this model also as " long Late Antiquity ") and now Chris Wickham ( Framing the early Middle Ages and The Inheritance of Rome ).

In this context, what happened in the Eurasian area in the first millennium - the emergence of the late Roman Empire with all the upheavals associated with it, the "migration of peoples", the confrontations with Persia, the emergence of the Islamic world and the Romance-Germanic world in the west of the former empire - increasingly viewed in a temporal and spatial context.

It is true that Peter Brown had not only had the Mediterranean world as a reference point, but also Persia and partly Central Asia. This trend has only recently intensified. In addition to the Mediterranean region and the Middle East (especially with regard to the New Persian Sassanid Empire), Central Asia and the Arab region (especially southern Arabia) receive more attention in research and are no longer viewed as mere peripheral areas of the late ancient world. The overview work by Johannes Preiser-Kapeller , who examines the links in the Eurasian-African region in the context of a long late antiquity (300 to 800), goes consistently in this direction . In a current methodological overview article, Mark Humphries, among others, pleaded for such a “global perspective” with regard to a consideration and evaluation of late antiquity.

The research literature has meanwhile reached a size that can hardly be managed, whereby the amount of new publications in the last few years (decades) makes the older overviews outdated very quickly. The articles in the Companion edited by Rousseau and in the Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity offer a brief overview . The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity , published in March 2018, is a bundling of the current state of research.


Technical dictionaries and journals

The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity , published in March 2018, offers numerous relatively concise articles on all aspects of late antiquity, but based on the latest research. The Oxford Classical Dictionary in the 5th edition ( Oxford Classical Dictionary Online ) is now focused more on the late antiquity than in previous editions.

Other important specialist lexicons are, above all, the Reallexikon für Antiquity and Christianity , the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium , the corresponding articles in Pauly-Wissowa (although no longer reflecting the current state of research, many articles - especially in the newer volumes and supplementary volumes - are still there helpful) and Der Neue Pauly . With regard to secular persons, The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire is fundamental.

Special mention should be made of Antiquité tardive (1993ff.), Journal of Late Antiquity (2008ff.) And Studies In Late Antiquity (2017ff.), As well as the journal Millennium (2004ff.).

Older representations

Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is still worth reading , even though this classic work from the late 18th century in no way reflects the current state of research.

The most comprehensive German presentation comes from the pen of the historian Otto Seeck . However, it is strongly shaped by his social Darwinist basic view and also in parts completely out of date.

  • Otto Seeck: History of the fall of the ancient world . Improved edition. 6 volumes, Stuttgart 1921, reprints Darmstadt 1966 and 2000.

Two other works of older date, which are still useful today and which were also worked entirely from the sources and, even if they are partially outdated, are still considered standard works, were written by Ernst Stein and John B. Bury.

  • Ernst Stein : History of the late Roman Empire . Volume 1, Vienna 1928.
    Stein, who was considered a Jew under the Nuremberg Laws and had to flee from the Nazis, then refused to have his work published again in German. There is, however, a French translation that also includes a second, posthumously published part: Histoire du Bas-Empire . Edited by Jean-Rémy Palanque . 2 volumes, Paris / Brussels / Amsterdam 1949 (volume 2) and 1959 (volume 1), reprinted in 1968.
  • John Bagnell Bury : History of the Later Roman Empire. From the death of Theodosius I. to the death of Justinian . 2 volumes, New York 1958 (reprint of 1923 edition). Bury's work is the most detailed English account of political history between 395 and 565 and is still very useful today, especially due to its proximity to the sources.

Modern representations

The secondary literature on late antiquity is extremely extensive, which is why only a selection can be mentioned below. Attention is drawn to the bibliographies of the relevant works (especially the relevant volumes of the Cambridge Ancient History ) and to the references in the articles referred to in the text.

Overview representations
  • Douglas Boin: A Social and Cultural History of Late Antiquity. Wiley, Hoboken (NJ) 2018.
  • Glen Bowersock , Peter Brown, Oleg Grabar (Eds.): Late Antiquity. A Guide to the Postclassical World. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 1999, ISBN 0-674-51173-5 .
    (Excellent, easy-to-read overview of the current state of research on late antiquity [from the point of view of the "Peter Brown School"] with a very useful lexicon section.)
  • Peter Brown : The World of Late Antiquity AD 150-750. New York 1971, multiple reprints, ISBN 0-393-95803-5 .
    (Influential and well-written presentation, which above all emphasizes the cultural metamorphosis of the late ancient world and is particularly aimed at interested laypeople.)
  • Averil Cameron et al. (Ed.): The Cambridge Ancient History . 2nd, newly designed edition. Vol. 12, 13 and 14, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1998ff.
    (Important modern overview presentation. There you will also find further literature, mostly of more recent date.)
  • Averil Cameron: The Mediterranean World in Late Antiquity AD 395-700. 2nd Edition. Routledge, London / New York 2011, ISBN 978-0-415-57961-2 .
    (Understandable and informative thematic overview, which does not start until Theodosius I's death.)
  • Nicola Di Cosmo, Michael Maas (Eds.): Empires and Exchanges in Eurasian Late Antiquity. Rome, China, Iran, and the Steppe, ca. 250–750. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2018.
  • Alexander Demandt : The late antiquity (= handbook of ancient science . Volume III.6). 2nd Edition. CH Beck, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-406-55993-8 .
    (Newly revised, relatively extensive overview, which, however, by no means always includes current research. This is the basis for a shortened and slightly modified special edition, but without comments: History of Spätantike . Munich 2008; critical review in Sehepunkte ; positive review by H. -Soz cult).
  • Peter Dinzelbacher , Werner Heinz: Europe in late antiquity. WBG / Primus, Darmstadt 2007.
    (Beautifully illustrated presentation on intellectual and cultural history.)
  • Hugh Elton: The Roman Empire in Late Antiquity. A Political and Military History. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2018, ISBN 978-1108456319 .
    (current overview of political history)
  • Scott Fitzgerald Johnson (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity. Oxford University Press, Oxford et al. 2012.
    (Current and quite comprehensive handbook with extensive bibliography.)
  • Arnold Hugh Martin Jones : The Later Roman Empire 284-602. A Social, Economic and Administrative Survey. 3 volumes consecutively numbered, Oxford 1964 (reprinted in two volumes, Baltimore 1986).
    (The best modern representation, worked entirely from the sources. A modern classic, even if it is difficult to read and not structured chronologically.)
  • Reinhold Kaiser : The Mediterranean world and Europe in late antiquity and early Middle Ages (= New Fischer World History . Volume 3). S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2014, ISBN 978-3-10-010823-4 .
  • Jens-Uwe Krause : History of Late Antiquity. An introduction. UTB, Tübingen 2018, ISBN 978-3-8252-4761-4 .
  • Jens-Uwe Krause: The late antiquity (284 to 565 AD). In: Hans-Joachim Gehrke , Helmuth Schneider (Hrsg.): History of antiquity. A study book. 4th, enlarged and updated edition. Metzler, Stuttgart et al. 2013, p. 429ff., ISBN 978-3-476-02494-7 .
    (Concise, excellent summary of recent research.)
  • AD Lee: From Rome to Byzantium Ad 363 to 565. The Transformation of Ancient Rome. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh 2013.
  • Scott McGill, Edward Watts (Eds.): A Companion to Late Antique Literature. Wiley-Blackwell, Hoboken, NJ 2018.
  • Mischa Meier : History of the Great Migration. Europe, Asia and Africa from the 3rd to the 8th centuries. CH Beck, Munich 2019, ISBN 978-3406739590 .
    (The current and most comprehensive presentation of the Great Migration Period.)
  • Stephen Mitchell: A History of the Later Roman Empire. AD 284-641. 2nd revised edition. Blackwell, Oxford et al. a. 2015, ISBN 978-1-118-31242-1 .
    (Relatively up-to-date and balanced overall presentation.)
  • John Moorhead: The Roman Empire divided. 2nd ed. Routledge, London / New York 2013.
  • Rene Pfeilschifter : Late Antiquity. The one God and the many rulers. CH Beck, Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-406-66014-6 .
  • Johannes Preiser-Kapeller : Beyond Rome and Charlemagne. Aspects of the global interweaving in the long late antiquity, 300–800 AD. Mandelbaum Verlag, Vienna 2018.
    (Global historical overview of the interrelationships in the Eurasian and East African region in the context of a “long late antiquity”. Discussions at H-Soz-Kult von Lutz Berger , Stefan Esders and Marcus Bingenheimer .)
  • Friedrich Prinz : From Constantine to Charlemagne. Development and change of Europe. Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf a. a. 2000, ISBN 3-538-07112-8 .
    (Well-written account of a Medievalist, which mainly works out the continuities and breaks of late antiquity towards the Middle Ages and focuses on the West.)
  • Philip Rousseau (Ed.): A Companion to Late Antiquity. Blackwell, Malden (Massachusetts) et al. 2009.
    (Good overview of numerous areas; the volume contains 39 relatively brief articles by mostly younger scientists as well as an extensive bibliography that also takes into account non-English research literature.)
  • Peter Sarris : Empires of Faith. The Fall of Rome to the Rise of Islam, 500-700. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2011.
    (Introduction to the Transformation of the Late Roman and Early Medieval World.)
  • Chris Wickham : The Inheritance of Rome. A History of Europe from 400 to 1000. Allen Lane, London et al. a. 2009, ISBN 0-7139-9429-0 .
    (Current presentation of the change in the Mediterranean world in the transition to the early Middle Ages.)
Literature on specific issues
  • Henning Börm : Westrom. From Honorius to Justinian. 2nd Edition. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2018, ISBN 978-3-17-033216-4 .
    (Current overview of the west of the late antique Roman Empire . Review of the 1st edition by H-Soz-Kult .)
  • Glen Bowersock: The Cradle of Islam. Mohammed, the Koran and the ancient cultures. CH Beck, Munich 2019, ISBN 978-3406734014 .
  • Glen Bowersock: Empires in collision in Late Antiquity. Brandeis University Press, Waltham (MA) 2012.
  • Peter Brown: The Origin of Christian Europe. CH Beck, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-406-44023-1 (original edition The Rise of western Christendom , Oxford 1995, 2nd revised and expanded edition, Oxford 2003).
    (An easily readable standard work on cultural history; the second English edition also has a scientific apparatus.)
  • Alan Cameron : The Last Pagans of Rome. Oxford University Press, Oxford / New York 2011.
    (Comprehensive and up-to-date study on the transformation of the pagan elites and the respective milieu in the Christian empire in the 4th century, with some new interpretations.)
  • Klaus Girardet : Empire, religious policy and the law of state and church in late antiquity. Habelt, Bonn 2009, ISBN 978-3-7749-3469-6 .
  • John Haldon: Byzantium in the Seventh Century. The Transformation of a Culture . 2nd Edition. Cambridge 1997.
    (Standard work on the changes that made the late ancient Eastern Roman Empire into Byzantium of the Middle Ages.)
  • Guy Halsall: Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376-568 . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2007.
    (Excellent, up-to-date overview of the migration period, but which almost exclusively focuses on the history of the West and primarily blames internal factors for the end of this part of the empire. Discussion in points of view.)
  • Kyle Harper: The Fate of Rome. Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire. Princeton University Press, Princeton 2017, ISBN 978-0-691-16683-4 .
    (environmental history; review in Sehepunkte)
  • Douglas Haug: The Eastern Frontier. Limits of Empire in Late Antique and Early Medieval Central Asia. IB Tauris, London / New York 2019.
  • Peter J. Heather : The Fall of the Roman Empire. A New History. London 2005, ISBN 0-333-98914-7 .
    (Heather cites the break-in of the barbarians (similar to Ward-Perkins) and above all the Huns as the main reason for the downfall of West Rome; he again emphasizes the importance of the year 476 as the epoch year for West Rome (not for East Rome). Review of the books by Heather and Ward-Perkins (BMCR 7/2005) ; discussion at H-Soz-Kult)
  • Peter Heather: Rome Resurgent. War and Empire in the Age of Justinian. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2018.
  • James Howard-Johnston : Witnesses to a World Crisis. Historians and Histories of the Middle East in the Seventh Century. Oxford 2010.
    (Comprehensive and important study of the events of the 7th century and related sources.)
  • Arnold Hugh Martin Jones, John R. Martindale, John Morris: The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire . 3 volumes (volume 3 in two parts), Cambridge 1971–1992.
    (An important prosopographic reference work covering the period from approx. 260 to 641 AD.)
  • Jens-Uwe Krause, Christian Witschel (eds.): The city in late antiquity - decline or change? Files from the international colloquium in Munich on May 30 and 31, 2003 (= Historia. Individual writings. Issue 190). Steiner, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-515-08810-5 .
  • Luke Lavan, William Bowden (Ed.): Theory and Practice in Late Antique Archeology. Brill, Leiden et al. 2003, ISBN 90-04-12567-1 .
  • AD Lee: Was in Late Antiquity. A social history. London 2007.
  • Josef Lössl, Nicholas J. Baker ?? - Brian (Ed.): A Companion to Religion in Late Antiquity. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken (NJ) 2018.
  • Gabriele Marasco (Ed.): Greek and Roman Historiography in Late Antiquity. Fourth to Sixth Century AD Brill, Leiden et al. 2003.
    (Comprehensive overview of late antique historiography, albeit somewhat problematic.)
  • Jochen Martin : Late antiquity and migration of the peoples (= Oldenbourg outline of history. Volume 4). 4th edition. Unchanged reprint of the 3rd, revised and expanded edition 1995. Oldenbourg, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-486-49684-0 .
    (Brief description of the time up to Justinian, with a research section and a comprehensive bibliography.
  • Jean-Marie Mayeur, Luce Pietri, Andre Vauchez and others: The history of Christianity, antiquity. Vol. 2 and 3, special edition, Freiburg i. B. 2005, ISBN 3-451-29100-2 .
    (Very detailed description of the history and culture of Christianity; the German translation of this work, which was originally published in French, has in part been completely revised and updated.)
  • Roland Steinacher: Rome and the barbarians. Peoples in the Alpine and Danube region (300–600). Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2017, ISBN 978-3-17-025168-7 .
  • Bryan Ward-Perkins: The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2005, ISBN 0-19-280564-9 .
    (A readable representation of the end of the Western Roman Empire, which, in contrast to W. Goffart and P. Brown, understands this process as a brutal turning point, triggered by Germanic invasions, and argues in particular with the archaeological findings.)
  • Michael Whitby: Rome at War. AD 293-696. Osprey, Oxford 2002, ISBN 1-84176-359-4 .
    (A short but informative and richly illustrated account of the late Roman warfare.)
  • Chris Wickham: Framing the Early Middle Ages. Europe and the Mediterranean, 400-800. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2005, ISBN 0-19-926449-X .
    (Comprehensive and multiple award-winning economic and social history presentation.)
  • Herwig Wolfram : The Roman Empire and its Teutons. A story of origin and arrival. Böhlau, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2018.

Web links

Wiktionary: Late Antiquity  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. See, for example, the definition in The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity . Volume 1. Oxford 2018, pp. VI – VIII and the articles in Scott Fitzgerald Johnson (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity. Oxford et al. 2012.
  2. See introductory Scott Fitzgerald Johnson: Preface: On the Uniqueness of Late Antiquity. In: Scott Fitzgerald Johnson (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity. Oxford et al. 2012, pp. XI ff.
  3. ^ Max Weber, Sociology - World History Analyzes - Politics , Stuttgart 1968, p. 58 (first published in 1909); Jacob Burckhardt, The time of Constantine the Great , Leipzig 1853, p. 313. Cf. Alexander Demandt : Die Spätantike . 2nd edition Munich 2007, pp. XVII and 587f.
  4. See also Mischa Meier: Ostrom – Byzanz, Spätantike – Mittelalter. Reflections on the “end” of antiquity in the east of the Roman Empire. In: Millennium 9, 2012, pp. 187-253.
  5. Cf. Arnaldo Marcone: A long late antiquity? Considerations on a controversial periodization . In: Journal of Late Antiquity 1, 2008, pp. 4-19.
  6. For the classification of Persian history in the context of late antiquity, see for example Touraj Daryaee: The Sasanians and the Late Antique World . In: MIZAN 3 (2018).
  7. On the history of Byzantium cf. introductory inter alia Falko Daim (Ed.): Byzanz. Historical and cultural studies manual (Der Neue Pauly, Supplements, Vol. 11). Stuttgart 2016; Ralph-Johannes Lilie : Byzantium - The second Rome. Berlin 2003.
  8. On the transition from the late Roman to the Byzantine Empire, cf. the fundamental work by John F. Haldon: Byzantium in the Seventh Century. The Transformation of a Culture. Cambridge 1997. See now also John F. Haldon: The Empire That Would Not Die. The Paradox of Eastern Roman Survival, 640-740. Cambridge, Massachusetts 2016.
  9. On the Imperial Crisis, see now Klaus-Peter Johne (Ed.): The time of the soldiers' emperors . 2 vols. Berlin 2008.
  10. See generally David S. Potter: The Roman Empire at Bay. AD 180-395. London et al. 2004, p. 217 ff.
  11. For the discussion, see Henning Börm: A Threat or A Blessing? The Sasanians and the Roman Empire. In: Carsten Binder et al. (Ed.): Diwan. Festschrift for Josef Wiesehöfer, Duisburg 2016, p. 615 ff.
  12. ^ Gunther Martin : Dexipp of Athens. Edition, translation and accompanying studies. Tübingen 2006, supplemented by Christopher Mallan, Caillan Davenport: Dexippus and the Gothic invasions: interpreting the new Vienna Fragment (Codex Vindobonensis Hist. Gr. 73, ff. 192v-193r). In: The Journal of Roman Studies 105, 2015, pp. 203–226 and Gunther Martin, Jana Grusková: "Dexippus Vindobonensis" (?). A new manuscript fragment for the so-called Herul invasion of the years 267/268. In: Wiener Studien 127, 2014, pp. 101–120.
  13. Udo Hartmann: The Palmyrene Partial Kingdom. Stuttgart 2001.
  14. See Klaus-Peter Johne, Udo Hartmann: Crisis and Transformation of the Empire in the 3rd Century. In: Klaus-Peter Johne (Ed.): The time of the soldiers' emperors. Volume 2. Berlin 2008, p. 1025ff., Especially p. 1031ff
  15. ↑ For general information on the following history of events see (mainly due to the proximity to the sources, but also the detailed description) the overview works by Stein [in German up to 476, in French up to 565], Seeck [up to 476], Bury [395 to 565] and Jones [shorter than the others, but close to the sources: 284 to 602], to which no further reference is made; however, they are not infrequently outdated in individual questions and no longer suitable for an overall picture of the epoch. Recent overview presentations: Douglas Boin: A Social and Cultural History of Late Antiquity. Hoboken (NJ) 2018; Alexander Demandt : The late antiquity. Handbook of Classical Studies III.6 . 2nd edition, Munich 2007; Hugh Elton: The Roman Empire in Late Antiquity. A Political and Military History. Cambridge 2018; Reinhold Kaiser : The Mediterranean World and Europe in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Frankfurt am Main 2014; AD Lee: From Rome to Byzantium Ad 363 to 565: The Transformation of Ancient Rome. Edinburgh 2013; Stephen Mitchell: A History of the Later Roman Empire. AD 284-641. 2nd ed., Oxford u. a. 2015; Rene Pfeilschifter: Late Antiquity. The one God and the many rulers. Munich 2014; Cambridge Ancient History , 2nd edition, Cambridge 1997-2005, volumes 12 to 14. In addition, reference is made to the relevant biographies of the emperors.
  16. Overview with further literature in Alexander Demandt: Die Spätantike. 2nd edition Munich 2007, p. 57ff .; Stephen Mitchell: A History of the Later Roman Empire. 2nd edition Oxford u. a. 2015, p. 51ff .; Rene Pfeilschifter: Late Antiquity. The one God and the many rulers. Munich 2014, p. 18ff.
  17. See Henning Börm : Born to be Emperor. The principle of Succession and the Roman Monarchy . In: Johannes Wienand (Ed.): Contested Monarchy . Oxford 2015, p. 239 ff.
  18. Overview with further literature in Alexander Demandt: Die Spätantike. 2nd edition Munich 2007, pp. 75ff .; Stephen Mitchell: A History of the Later Roman Empire. 2nd edition Oxford u. a. 2015, p. 66ff .; Rene Pfeilschifter: Late Antiquity. The one God and the many rulers. Munich 2014, p. 47ff. See also, among others: Timothy D. Barnes : Constantine. Dynasty, Religion and Power in the Later Roman Empire. Chichester 2011; Bruno Bleckmann : Constantine the Great. Reinbek 1996; Noel Lenski (Ed.): The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Constantine. 2nd edition Cambridge 2012; Klaus Rosen : Constantine the Great. Emperor between power politics and religion. Stuttgart 2013.
  19. See the important, controversial essay by Peter Weiß , Die Vision Constantins , in: Jochen Bleicken (Ed.), Colloquium on the occasion of the 80th birthday of Alfred Heuss , Kallmünz 1993, pp. 143-169 (English, updated version : The vision of Constantine , in: Journal of Roman archeology 16, 2003, pp. 237-259), which traces the vision back to a natural astronomical phenomenon.
  20. Overview, for example, from Klaus Martin Girardet : The Kaiser and his God. Christianity in thought and in the religious policy of Constantine the Great. Berlin / New York 2010.
  21. On the reign of the Sons of Constantine, see now Nicholas J. Baker-Brian, Shaun Tougher (ed.): The Sons of Constantine, AD 337-361. In the Shadows of Constantine and Julian. Palgrave Macmillan, New York 2020. General overviews with further literature from Alexander Demandt: Die Spätantike. 2nd edition Munich 2007, p. 103ff .; Stephen Mitchell: A History of the Later Roman Empire. 2nd edition Oxford u. a. 2015, p. 75ff .; Rene Pfeilschifter: Late Antiquity. The one God and the many rulers. Munich 2014, p. 83ff.
  22. Comprehensive overview from Klaus Rosen : Julian. Emperor, God and haters of Christians. Stuttgart 2006.
  23. Jan den Boeft, Jan Willem Drijvers, Daniel den Hengst, Hans C. Teitler (ed.): Ammianus after Julian. The Reign of Valentinian and Valens in Books 26-31 of the Res Gestae. Leiden 2007. Overview with further literature from Alexander Demandt: Die Spätantike. 2nd edition Munich 2007, p. 136ff .; Hugh Elton: The Roman Empire in Late Antiquity. A Political and Military History. Cambridge 2018, pp. 119ff .; Stephen Mitchell: A History of the Later Roman Empire. 2nd edition Oxford u. a. 2015, p. 84ff .; Rene Pfeilschifter: Late Antiquity. The one God and the many rulers. Munich 2014, p. 100ff.
  24. Comprehensive on this now Mischa Meier : History of the migration of people. Europe, Asia and Africa from the 3rd to the 8th centuries. Munich 2019. See also Guy Halsall: Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376–568. Cambridge 2007; Walter Pohl: The Great Migration. 2nd edition, Stuttgart a. a. 2005; Peter J. Heather: Empires and Barbarians: Migration, Development and the Birth of Europe. London 2009; Philipp von Rummel, Hubert Fehr: The migration of people. Stuttgart 2011; Herwig Wolfram: The Roman Empire and its Germanic Peoples: A narrative of origin and arrival. Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2018.
  25. Roland Steinacher: Migration of the Barbarians? On the origin and meaning of the epoch term 'migration of peoples' up to the 19th century. In: Felix Wiedemann, Kerstin P. Hofmann, Hans-Joachim Gehrke (eds.): From the wandering of peoples. Migration narratives in ancient studies. Berlin 2017, pp. 67–95.
  26. ^ Walter Pohl: Huns. In: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde . 2nd Edition. Volume 15, Berlin / New York 2000, pp. 246-261; Klaus Rosen: Attila. The horror of the world. Munich 2016; Michael Schmauder: The Huns. An equestrian people in Europe. Darmstadt 2009; Timo Stickler: The Huns. Munich 2007; see. also (not without problems) Hyun Jin Kim: The Huns. New York 2016.
  27. For the history of the Goths see above all Herwig Wolfram: Die Goten. From the beginning to the middle of the sixth century. Draft of a historical ethnography. 5th edition Munich 2009.
  28. ^ Noel Lenski: Failure of Empire. Valens and the Roman State in the Fourth Century AD Berkeley 2002, p. 320 ff.
  29. Gunther Gottlieb: Gratianus. In: Real Lexicon for Antiquity and Christianity . Volume 12. Stuttgart 1983, Col. 718-732.
  30. Hartmut Leppin : Theodosius the Great. Darmstadt 2003.
  31. See also Thomas S. Burns: Barbarians within the Gates of Rome. A Study of Roman Military Policy and the Barbarians (ca. 375-425). Bloomington 1994.
  32. See Hugh Elton: The Roman Empire in Late Antiquity. A Political and Military History. Cambridge 2018, pp. 138ff.
  33. Jelle Wytzes: The Last Battle of paganism in Rome. Leiden 1977.
  34. ^ General information on the early 5th century cf. Hugh Elton: The Roman Empire in Late Antiquity. A Political and Military History. Cambridge 2018, p. 151ff.
  35. Overview of the development in the Eastern Empire with further literature in Alexander Demandt: Die Spätantike. 2nd edition Munich 2007, p. 191ff .; Rene Pfeilschifter: Late Antiquity. The one God and the many rulers. Munich 2014, p. 121ff.
  36. Overview of developments in the west with Henning Börm: Westrom. From Honorius to Justinian . 2nd edition, Stuttgart 2018; Alexander Demandt: The late antiquity. 2nd edition, Munich 2007, p. 169ff .; Stephen Mitchell: A History of the Later Roman Empire. 2nd ed., Oxford u. a. 2015, p. 95ff .; Rene Pfeilschifter: Late Antiquity. The one God and the many rulers. Munich 2014, p. 121ff. See also Guy Halsall: Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376-568 . Cambridge 2007, pp. 189ff.
  37. Chris Doyle: Honorius. The Fight for the Roman West AD 395-423. London / New York 2019.
  38. On the Rhine crossing and its consequences cf. for example Peter J. Heather: Why Did the Barbarian Cross the Rhine? In: Journal of Late Antiquity 2, 2009, pp. 3-29; Michael Kulikowski: Barbarians in Gaul, Usurpers in Britain. In: Britannia 31, 2000, pp. 325-345.
  39. John F. Drinkwater: The Usurpers Constantine III (407-411) and Jovinus (411-413). In: Britannia . Volume 29, 1998, pp. 269-298.
  40. See Peter Salway: A History of Roman Britain. Oxford 2001, p. 323ff.
  41. See David Dumville: Sub-Roman Britain: History and Legend. In: History 62, 1977, pp. 173-192.
  42. On the Anglo-Saxons see Michael Lapidge, John Blair, Simon Keynes, Donald Scragg (eds.): The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England. 2nd edition Chichester 2014; James Campbell (Ed.): The Anglo-Saxons . Oxford 1982 (several NDe); Nicholas J. Higham, Martin J. Ryan: The Anglo-Saxon World. New Haven 2013; Harald Kleinschmidt: The Anglo-Saxons . Munich 2011; Henrietta Leyser: A Short History of the Anglo-Saxons. London / New York 2017.
  43. Henriette Harich-Schwarzbauer, Karla Pollmann (ed.): The fall of Rome and its resurrections in antiquity and the Middle Ages. Berlin / Boston 2013; Mischa Meier, Steffen Patzold: August 410 - A fight for Rome. Stuttgart 2010.
  44. For the following see generally Alexander Demandt: Die Spätantike. 2nd edition Munich 2007, p. 204ff .; Hugh Elton: The Roman Empire in Late Antiquity. A Political and Military History. Cambridge 2018, p. 151ff .; see. also Guy Halsall: Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376-568 . Cambridge 2007, p. 220ff.
  45. On the vandals, see currently Roland Steinacher: Die Vandalen. The rise and fall of a barbarian empire. Stuttgart 2016.
  46. Overview in Evangelos Chrysos: The Roman rule in Britain and its end. In: Bonner Jahrbücher 191 (1991), pp. 247-276.
  47. Timo Stickler: Aëtius. Scope of design for an army master in the late Western Roman Empire. Munich 2002.
  48. Michael Maas (Ed.): The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila. Cambridge 2014; Klaus Rosen: Attila. The horror of the world. Munich 2016.
  49. ^ Henning Börm: Westrom. From Honorius to Justinian . 2nd edition, Stuttgart 2018, p. 105 ff .; Dirk Henning: Periclitans res Publica. Empire and elites in the crisis of the Western Roman Empire 454 / 5–493. Stuttgart 1999.
  50. Wolfgang Kuhoff : The temptation of power. Late Roman army masters and their potential reach for the empire . In: Silvia Serena Tschopp, Wolfgang EJ Weber (Hrsg.): Power and communication . Berlin 2012, pp. 39–80.
  51. ^ Friedrich Anders: Flavius ​​Ricimer. Power and impotence of the Western Roman army master in the second half of the 5th century. Frankfurt am Main et al. 2010.
  52. See for example the essays in Walter Pohl (Ed.): Kingdoms of the Empire. The Integration of Barbarians in Late Antiquity Leiden u. a. 1997 and Walter Goffart: The Technique of Barbarian Settlement in the Fifth Century: A Personal, Streamlined Account with Ten Additional Comments. In: Journal of Late Antiquity 3, 2010, pp. 65-98; Guy Halsall: The Technique of Barbarian Settlement in the Fifth Century. A Reply to Walter Goffart. In: Journal of Late Antiquity 3 2010, pp. 99-112.
  53. ^ Henning Börm: Westrom. From Honorius to Justinian . 2nd edition, Stuttgart 2018, p. 124 ff.
  54. ^ Matthias Becher : Clovis I. The rise of the Merovingians and the end of the ancient world. Munich 2011; Mischa Meier, Steffen Patzold (Ed.): Chlodwigs Welt. Organization of rule around 500th Stuttgart 2014.
  55. Alexander Demandt: The late antiquity. 2nd edition Munich 2007, p. 191ff.
  56. ^ Fergus Millar: A Greek Roman Empire. Power and Belief under Theodosius II (408-450). Berkeley 2006.
  57. Timo Stickler: Marcianus. In: Real Lexicon for Antiquity and Christianity . Volume 24. Stuttgart 2012, Col. 76-89.
  58. Alexander Demandt: The late antiquity. 2nd edition Munich 2007, p. 217ff.
  59. Comprehensive on the introduction of Gereon Siebigs: Kaiser Leo I. The Eastern Roman Empire in the first three years of his reign (457–460 AD). Berlin / New York 2010.
  60. Adolf Lippold : Zenon 17. In: Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen antiquity science (RE). Volume XA, Stuttgart 1972, Sp. 149-213.
  61. ^ For a summary of the late 5th century, see, for example, Hugh Elton: The Roman Empire in Late Antiquity. A Political and Military History. Cambridge 2018, pp. 195ff.
  62. Current and comprehensive overview from Hans-Ulrich Wiemer : Theoderich der Große. King of the Goths, ruler of the Romans. Munich 2018.
  63. Mischa Meier: Anastasios I. The emergence of the Byzantine Empire. Stuttgart 2009.
  64. ^ General overview of the early 6th century in Hugh Elton: The Roman Empire in Late Antiquity. A Political and Military History. Cambridge 2018, p. 245 ff.
  65. Klaus Rosen: Justin I . In: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum 19 (1999), Col. 763-778.
  66. Geoffrey B. Greatrex: Rome and Persia at War, 502-532. Leeds 1998.
  67. Hartmut Leppin provides basic information about Justinian and current research : Justinian. The Christian experiment. Stuttgart 2011. See also the biography of James Evans: The Age of Justinian. London u. a. 1996 as well as the articles in Michael Maas (Ed.): The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian. Cambridge 2005.
  68. Michal Feldman et al. a .: A High-Coverage Yersinia pestis Genome from a Sixth-Century Justinianic Plague Victim. In: Molecular biology and evolution. Volume 33, No. 11,1 (2016), pp. 2911-2923, doi : 10.1093 / molbev / msw170 , PMID 27578768 , PMC 5062324 (free full text). For the consequences cf. Mischa Meier: The "Justinianic Plague". The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic in the Eastern Roman Empire and its Cultural and Religious Effects. In: Early Medieval Europe 24 (2016), pp. 267–292 (with further literature).
  69. Cf. also Mischa Meier: The Other Age of Justinian. Goettingen 2003.
  70. See Peter Heather: Rome Resurgent especially on the military conflicts in the age of Justinian . War and Empire in the Age of Justinian. Oxford 2018.
  71. See Hugh Elton: The Roman Empire in Late Antiquity. A Political and Military History. Cambridge 2018, p. 304 ff.
  72. At the following time cf. such as Hugh Elton: The Roman Empire in Late Antiquity. A Political and Military History. Cambridge 2018, p. 283ff .; Stephen Mitchell: A History of the Later Roman Empire. 2nd edition Oxford u. a. 2015, p. 433ff .; Rene Pfeilschifter: Late Antiquity. The one God and the many rulers. Munich 2014, p. 242ff.
  73. Li Qiang, Stefanos Kordosis: The Geopolitics on the Silk Road. Resurveying the Relationship of the Western Türks with Byzantium through Their Diplomatic Communications. In: Medieval Worlds 8, 2018, pp. 109–125.
  74. ^ Hugh Elton: The Roman Empire in Late Antiquity. A Political and Military History. Cambridge 2018, p. 288 ff.
  75. On the Eastern Roman Balkan policy in the 6th century see now Alexander Sarantis: Justinian's Balkan Wars. Campaigning, Diplomacy and Development in Illyricum, Thace and the Northern World AD 527-65. Prenton 2016.
  76. Walter Pohl: The Avars. A steppe people in Central Europe 567–822 AD. 2nd updated edition. Munich 2002.
  77. Florin Curta: Still waiting for the barbarians? The making of the Slavs in "Dark-Age" Greece . In: Florin Curta (Ed.): Neglected Barbarians . Turnhout 2010, pp. 403-478.
  78. ^ Michael Whitby, The Emperor Maurice and his Historian. Theophylact Simocatta on Persian and Balkan Warfare. Oxford 1988.
  79. See also Hugh Elton: The Roman Empire in Late Antiquity. A Political and Military History. Cambridge 2018, p. 293 ff.
  80. ^ Hugh Elton: The Roman Empire in Late Antiquity. A Political and Military History. Cambridge 2018, p. 300 f.
  81. James Howard-Johnston: Kosrow II . In: Encyclopædia Iranica Online
  82. ^ Translated excerpts from sources in Geoffrey B. Greatrex, Samuel NC Lieu: The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars. Part II AD 363-630. A narrative sourcebook. London / New York 2002, p. 182 ff. Modern representations, for example in Hugh Elton: The Roman Empire in Late Antiquity. A Political and Military History. Cambridge 2018, pp. 331 ff. James Howard-Johnston: Witnesses to a World Crisis. Historians and Histories of the Middle East in the Seventh Century. Oxford 2010, p. 436 ff .; Peter Sarris: Empires of Faith. Oxford 2011, p. 242 ff.
  83. On Herakleios see Walter E. Kaegi: Heraclius . Cambridge 2003.
  84. James Howard-Johnston: Heraclius' Persian Campaigns and the Revival of the East Roman Empire 622-630. In: War in History 6, 1999, pp. 1-44.
  85. Touraj Daryaee: When the End is Near: Barbarized Armies and Barracks Kings of Late Antique Iran. In: Maria Macuch u. a. (Ed.): Ancient and Middle Iranian Studies. Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden 2010, pp. 43–52.
  86. ^ John Haldon: Byzantium in the Seventh Century. 2nd edition Cambridge 1997.
  87. See Robert G. Hoyland: In God's Path. Oxford 2015; Hugh Kennedy: The great arab conquests . Philadelphia 2007; important overview with detailed source criticism in James Howard-Johnston: Witnesses to a World Crisis. Oxford 2010.
  88. Doctrina Iacobi nuper babtizati , ed. N. Bonwetsch 1910, 61.4-12.
  89. ↑ For an introduction see Michael J. Decker: The Byzantine Dark Ages. London / New York 2016.
  90. ^ Prosopography of the Middle Byzantine Period . 1st section (641–867), no. 3691 .
  91. See also John F. Haldon: The Empire That Would Not Die. The Paradox of Eastern Roman Survival, 640-740. Cambridge (Massachusetts) 2016; Walter Kaegi: The early Muslim raids into Anatolia and Byzantine Reactions under Emperor Constans II. In: Emmanouela Grypeou et al. (Ed.): Encounter of Eastern Christianity with Early Islam. Leiden 2006, pp. 73-92; Ralph-Johannes Lilie: The Byzantine reaction to the expansion of the Arabs. Munich 1976.
  92. ^ Walter Kaegi: The early Muslim raids into Anatolia and Byzantine Reactions under Emperor Constans II. In: Emmanouela Grypeou et al. (Hrsg.): Encounter of Eastern Christianity with Early Islam. Leiden 2006, pp. 73-92, here p. 85; deviating from this (for the year 659) Ralph-Johannes Lilie: The Byzantine reaction to the expansion of the Arabs. Munich 1976, p. 68.
  93. ^ Leslie Brubaker, John F. Haldon: Byzantium in the Iconoclast era. c. 680-850. A history. Cambridge 2011, p. 69 ff.
  94. See James Howard-Johnston: Witnesses to a World Crisis. Historians and Histories of the Middle East in the Seventh Century. Oxford 2010, p. 488 ff.
  95. See also Garth Fowden: Before and After Muhammad. The First Millennium Refocused. Princeton (NJ) 2014.
  96. On post-Roman Europe see now Chris Wickham: The Inheritance of Rome. London 2009; Roger Collins : Early Medieval Europe 300-1000 . 3rd revised edition. Basingstoke et al. a. 2010 (each with further literature). See also the overview in Fouracre (ed.): The New Cambridge Medieval History , Vol. 1. Cambridge 2005.
  97. General overview with Sebastian Scholz : The Merovingians. Stuttgart 2015. See also the articles in Stefan Esders u. a. (Ed.): The Merovingian Kingdoms and the Mediterranean World. Revisiting the Sources. London u. a. 2019; Stefan Esders et al. (Ed.): East and West in the Early Middle Ages. The Merovingian Kingdoms in Mediterranean Perspective. Cambridge 2019.
  98. See generally Michael McCormick: Origins of the European Economy. Communications and Commerce, AD 300-900. Cambridge 2001.
  99. Theo Kölzer , Rudolf Schieffer (Ed.): From late antiquity to the early Middle Ages: continuities and breaks, conceptions and findings . Stuttgart 2009. See also F. Staab, Continuity Problem, -theorie (Antike / MA) , in: Lexikon des Mittelalters , Vol. 5, Sp. 1418–1420 and Continuity Problems , in: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde , Vol. 17, P. 205ff.
  100. See Johannes Sachslehner: Vienna. History of a city. Vienna / Graz / Klagenfurt 2016, p. 29.
  101. Johannes Preiser-Kapeller: Beyond Rome and Charlemagne. Aspects of global interdependence in late antiquity, 300–800 AD Vienna 2018, p. 8f.
  102. Johannes Preiser-Kapeller: Beyond Rome and Charlemagne. Aspects of global interdependence in late antiquity, 300–800 AD Vienna 2018, pp. 9–11.
  103. See introductory Michael G. Morony: Should Sasanian Iran be Included in Late Antiquity? (PDF; 271 kB) . In: E-Sasanika 1 (2008) and Touraj Daryaee: The Sasanians and the Late Antique World . In: MIZAN 3 (2018). For the history of the Sassanid Empire see among others: Michael Bonner: The Last Empire of Iran. Piscataway 2020; Henning Börm : Prokop and the Persians. Investigations into the Roman-Sasanid contacts in late antiquity. Stuttgart 2007; Matthew P. Canepa: The Two Eyes of the Earth. Art and Ritual of Kingship between Rome and Sasanian Iran. Berkeley 2009; Touraj Daryaee: Sasanian Iran 224-651 CE. Portrait of a Late Antique Empire. Costa Mesa (Calif.) 2008; Touraj Daryaee: Sasanian Persia. The Rise and Fall of an Empire. London 2009; Touraj Daryaee (Ed.): Sasanian Iran in the context of Late Anitquity. The Bahari lecture series at the Oxford University. Irvine 2018; Engelbert Winter , Beate Dignas: Rome and the Persian Empire. Two world powers between confrontation and coexistence. Berlin 2001; James Howard-Johnston : East Rome, Sasanian Persia and the End of Antiquity: Historiographical and Historical Studies. Aldershot 2006; Khodadad Rezakhani: ReOrienting the Sasanians. East Iran in Late Antiquity. Edinburgh 2017; Zeev Rubin: The Sasanid Monarchy . In: Averil Cameron et al. a. (Ed.): The Cambridge Ancient History 14 . Cambridge 2000, pp. 638ff .; Eberhard Sauer (Ed.): Sasanian Persia. Between Rome and the Steppes of Eurasia. Edinburgh 2017; Klaus Schippmann : Basic features of the history of the Sassanid Empire. Darmstadt 1990.
  104. Good comprehensive overview also in Josef Wiesehöfer: The Late Sasanian Near East. In: Chase Robinson (Ed.): The New Cambridge History of Islam. Vol. 1. Cambridge 2010, pp. 98-152.
  105. ^ Josef Wiesehöfer: The Late Sasanian Near East. In: Chase Robinson (Ed.): The New Cambridge History of Islam. Vol. 1. Cambridge 2010, here p. 114f. See also Matthew P. Canepa: The Two Eyes of the Earth. Art and Ritual of Kingship between Rome and Sasanian Iran. Berkeley 2009, p. 53ff.
  106. ^ Overview of the military conflicts with Michael H. Dodgeon, Samuel NC Lieu: The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars (AD 226-363). London / New York 1991; Geoffrey B. Greatrex , Samuel NC Lieu: The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars. Part II AD 363-630. A narrative sourcebook. London / New York 2002.
  107. Scott McDonough: Were the Sasanians Barbarians? Roman Writers on the "Empire of the Persians". In: Ralph W. Mathisen, Danuta Shanzer (Ed.): Romans, Barbarians, and the Transformation of the Roman World. Aldershot 2011, pp. 55-66.
  108. Ammianus Marcellinus 17, 5.
  109. Petros Patrikios , fragment 13; Theophylactus Simokates 4:11, 2f. See also Matthew P. Canepa: The Two Eyes of the Earth. Art and Ritual of Kingship between Rome and Sasanian Iran. Berkeley 2009.
  110. Nicola Di Cosmo, Michael Maas (Ed.): Empires and Exchanges in Eurasian Late Antiquity. Rome, China, Iran, and the Steppe, ca. 250–750. Cambridge 2018.
  111. Cf. in summary Khodadad Rezakhani: ReOrienting the Sasanians. East Iran in Late Antiquity. Edinburgh 2017.
  112. See Henning Börm: A Threat or a Blessing? The Sasanians and the Roman Empire. In: Carsten Binder, Henning Börm, Andreas Luther (eds.): Diwan. Studies in the History and Culture of the Ancient Near East and the Eastern Mediterranean. Duisburg 2016, pp. 615–646. Börm emphasizes that the potential for aggression was also high on the Roman side.
  113. See Richard Payne: The Making of Turan. The Fall and Transformation of the Iranian East in Late Antiquity. In: Journal of Late Antiquity 9, 2016, pp. 4–41.
  114. ^ Josef Wiesehöfer: The Late Sasanian Near East. In: Chase Robinson (Ed.): The New Cambridge History of Islam. Vol. 1. Cambridge 2010, here p. 117ff.
  115. ^ Peter Brown: The World of Late Antiquity AD 150-750. London 1971, p. 160; Matthew P. Canepa: The Two Eyes of the Earth. Art and Ritual of Kingship between Rome and Sasanian Iran. Berkeley 2009, p. 143 (with English translation of the relevant source).
  116. For details see Lutz Berger: The emergence of Islam. The first hundred years. Munich 2016, p. 154ff .; Robert G. Hoyland: In God's Path. Oxford 2015, p. 49ff .; Hugh Kennedy: The Great Arab Conquests. Philadelphia 2007, pp. 98ff. and 169ff.
  117. James Howard-Johnston: Witnesses to a World Crisis. Oxford 2010, p. 436ff .; James Howard-Johnston: Heraclius' Persian Campaigns and the Revival of the East Roman Empire 622-630 . In: War in History 6, 1999, pp. 1-44.
  118. Touraj Daryaee: When the End is Near: Barbarized Armies and Barracks Kings of Late Antique Iran. In: Maria Macuch u. a. (Ed.): Ancient and Middle Iranian Studies. Wiesbaden 2010, pp. 43–52.
  119. ^ Matteo Compareti: The last Sasanians in China. In: Eurasian Studies 2 (2003), pp. 197-213.
  120. See for example Richard Nelson Frye: The Golden Age of Persia. The Arabs in the East. London 1975.
  121. ^ For an introduction and summary, see Étienne de la Vaissière: Central Asia and the Silk Road. In: Scott Fitzgerald Johnson (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity. Oxford et al. 2012, pp. 142 ff .; Additional specific information is provided by Nicola Di Cosmo, Michael Maas (eds.): Empires and Exchanges in Eurasian Late Antiquity. Rome, China, Iran, and the Steppe, ca. 250–750. Cambridge 2018; Douglas Haug: The Eastern Frontier. Limits of Empire in Late Antique and Early Medieval Central Asia. London / New York 2019. For general information on the history of Central Asia during this period, see also Christoph Baumer : The History of Central Asia. Vol. 2. London 2014; Peter Frankopan : Light from the East. Berlin 2016; Valerie Hansen: The Silk Road. A history with documents. Oxford 2016.
  122. Khodadad Rezakhani: ReOrienting the Sasanians. East Iran in Late Antiquity. Edinburgh 2017, p. 72 ff.
  123. See Walter Pohl: Die Völkerwanderung. 2nd edition Stuttgart 2005, pp. 104-106; Timo Stickler: The Huns. Munich 2007, pp. 24–26.
  124. ^ Basically on the Iranian Huns see Michael Alram u. a. (Ed.): The face of the stranger. The coinage of the Huns and Western Turks in Central Asia and India. Vienna 2016; Khodadad Rezakhani: ReOrienting the Sasanians. East Iran in Late Antiquity. Edinburgh 2017.
  125. ^ Etienne de la Vaissière: Central Asia and the Silk Road. In: Scott Fitzgerald Johnson (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity. Oxford et al. 2012, pp. 142 ff., Here pp. 144–146.
  126. ↑ In general on the threat to settled cultures from equestrian peoples, cf. Thomas Barfield: Perilous Frontier: Nomadic Empires and China. Cambridge (MA) / Oxford 1989.
  127. Khodadad Rezakhani: ReOrienting the Sasanians. East Iran in Late Antiquity. Edinburgh 2017, p. 125 ff.
  128. ↑ In summary, see Timo Stickler: The Huns. Munich 2007, p. 12 ff.
  129. See Daniel T. Potts: Sasanian Iran and its Northeastern Frontier: Offense, Defense, and Diplomatic Entente. In: Nicola Di Cosmo, Michael Maas (Eds.): Empires and Exchanges in Eurasian Late Antiquity. Rome, China, Iran, and the Steppe, ca. 250–750. Cambridge 2018, p. 287 ff.
  130. See Robert G. Hoyland: In God's Path. Oxford 2015, p. 93 f.
  131. Cf. in general Johannes Preiser-Kapeller: Beyond Rome and Charlemagne. Aspects of global interdependence in late antiquity, 300–800 AD Vienna 2018, p. 143 ff.
  132. ^ Etienne de la Vaissière: Central Asia and the Silk Road. In: Scott Fitzgerald Johnson (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity. Oxford et al. 2012, pp. 142 ff., Here pp. 146–148.
  133. ^ Etienne de la Vaissière: Central Asia and the Silk Road. In: Scott Fitzgerald Johnson (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity. Oxford et al. 2012, p. 142 ff., Here p. 148.
  134. ^ On diplomatic contacts, see Li Qiang, Stefanos Kordosis: The Geopolitics on the Silk Road. Resurveying the Relationship of the Western Türks with Byzantium through Their Diplomatic Communications. In: Medieval Worlds 8, 2018, pp. 109-125; Mark Whittow: Byzantium's Eurasian Policy in the Age of the Turk Empire. In: Nicola Di Cosmo, Michael Maas (Eds.): Empires and Exchanges in Eurasian Late Antiquity. Rome, China, Iran, and the Steppe, ca. 250–750. Cambridge 2018, p. 271 ff.
  135. Mihály Dobrovits: The Altaic world through Byzantine eyes: Some remarks on the historical circumstances of Zemarchus' journey to the Turks (AD 569-570). In: Acta Orientalia 64, 2011, pp. 373-409.
  136. For the introduction to the Kök Turks, see Mark Dickens: Türks. In: The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity . Volume 2 (2018), p. 1533 f .; Denis Sinor : The Establishment and Dissolution of the Turk Empire. In: Denis Sinor (ed.): The Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia. Cambridge 1990, pp. 285-316; Bertold Spuler : History of Central Asia since the appearance of the Turks. In: Karl Jettmar (Ed.): History of Central Asia. Leiden 1966, p. 123 ff. On the Sino-Turkish relations during this period see Pan Yihong: Son of Heaven and Heavenly Qaghan. Sui-Tang China and its Neighbors. Bellingham 1997; Wang Zhenping: Tang China in multi-polar Asia. A history of diplomacy and war. Honolulu 2013, p. 21 ff.
  137. Nikolay N. Kradin: From Tribal Confederation to Empire: The Evolution of the Rouran Society. In: Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 58, 2005, pp. 149-169.
  138. ^ Pan Yihong: Son of Heaven and Heavenly Qaghan. Sui-Tang China and its Neighbors. Bellingham 1997, p. 176 ff.
  139. ^ Pan Yihong: Son of Heaven and Heavenly Qaghan. Sui-Tang China and its Neighbors. Bellingham 1997, p. 262 ff.
  140. On these see Colin Mackerras: The Uighur Empire According to the T'ang Dynastic Histories. A Study in Sino-Uighur Relations 744-840. Columbia, SC 1973.
  141. Etienne de la Vaissière: Sogdian Traders. A history. Leiden / Boston 2005.
  142. ^ Etienne de la Vaissière: Central Asia and the Silk Road. In: Scott Fitzgerald Johnson (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity. Oxford et al. 2012, p. 142 ff., Here p. 149 f.
  143. ^ Etienne de la Vaissière: Central Asia and the Silk Road. In: Scott Fitzgerald Johnson (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity. Oxford et al. 2012, p. 142 ff., Here p. 148 f.
  144. Cf. Minoru Inaba: Across the Hindūkush of the ʿAbbasid Period. In: DG Tor (Ed.): In The ʿAbbasid and Carolingian Empires. Comparative Studies in Civilizational Formation. Leiden / Boston 2018, p. 123 ff.
  145. ^ Max Deeg: Along the Silk Road: From Aleppo to Chang'an. In: Nicholas J. Baker-Brian, Josef Lossl (Eds.): A Companion to Religion in Late Antiquity. Hoboken (NJ) 2018, pp. 233-253.
  146. On the Islamic expansion in Central Asia see Hamilton Alexander Rosskeen Gibb : The Arab Conquests in Central Asia. London 1923 ( digitized ). See also Christopher Beckwith: The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia. Princeton 1987, pp. 55 ff .; Robert G. Hoyland: In God's Path. Oxford 2015, p. 148 ff.
  147. Johannes Preiser-Kapeller: Beyond Rome and Charlemagne. Aspects of global interdependence in late antiquity, 300–800 AD Vienna 2018, p. 45.
  148. Mark Edward Lewis: China's Cosmopolitan Empire. The Tang Dynasty. London / Cambridge (Massachusetts) 2009.
  149. See Valerie Hansen: The Synthesis of the Tang Dynasty: The Culmination of China's Contacts and Communication with Eurasia, 310-755. In: Nicola Di Cosmo, Michael Maas (Eds.): Empires and Exchanges in Eurasian Late Antiquity. Rome, China, Iran, and the Steppe, ca. 250–750. Cambridge 2018, p. 108 ff.
  150. Cf. Edwin G. Pulleyblank: Chinese-Iranian Relations I. In Pre-Islamic Times . In: Encyclopædia Iranica V, 1991, 424-431. In general on Tang China's foreign policy, see Wang Zhenping: Tang China in multi-polar Asia. A history of diplomacy and war. Honolulu 2013.
  151. Material- rich overview based on Chinese sources in Otto Franke : History of the Chinese Empire. Volume 2. Berlin / Leipzig 1936, p. 439 ff.
  152. Domenico Agostini, Sören Stark: Zāwulistān, Kāwulistān and the land Bosi - On the question of a Sasanian court-in-exile in the southern Hindukush. In: Studia Iranica 45, 2016, pp. 17–38.
  153. Johannes Preiser-Kapeller: Beyond Rome and Charlemagne. Aspects of global interdependence in long late antiquity, 300–800 AD Vienna 2018, p. 40.
  154. Otto Franke: History of the Chinese Empire. Volume 2. Berlin / Leipzig 1936, p. 442 f.
  155. ^ Christopher Beckwith: The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia. Princeton 1987, pp. 138-140.
  156. ^ Christopher Beckwith: The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia. Princeton 1987, pp. 31-36.
  157. ^ Christopher Beckwith: The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia. Princeton 1987, p. 43 ff.
  158. ^ Christopher Beckwith: The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia. Princeton 1987, p. 108 ff.
  159. ^ Basically, see Matthew Adam Cobb (Ed.): The Indian Ocean Trade in Antiquity. London / New York 2018; Roderich Ptak: The maritime silk road. Munich 2007.
  160. ^ Lionel Casson: The Periplus Maris Erythraei. Princeton 1989.
  161. Cf. Matthew Adam Cobb: Rome and the Indian Ocean Trade from Augustus to the Early Third Century CE. Leiden / Boston 2018, p. 128 ff .; Raoul McLaughlin: Rome and the Distant East. Trade Routes to the Ancient Lands of Arabia, India and China. London / New York 2010, p. 25 ff.
  162. ^ Matthew Adam Cobb: Rome and the Indian Ocean Trade from Augustus to the Early Third Century CE. Leiden / Boston 2018, p. 301 f.
  163. ^ Matthew Adam Cobb: Rome and the Indian Ocean Trade from Augustus to the Early Third Century CE. Leiden / Boston 2018, pp. 136-138.
  164. ^ On the naming problem, see Philip Mayerson: A Confusion of Indias. Asian India and African India in the Byzantine Sources. In: Journal of the American Oriental Society 113, 1993, pp. 169-174.
  165. See Raoul McLaughlin: The Roman Empire and the Indian Ocean. The Ancient World Economy and the Kingdoms of Africa, Arabia and India. Barnsley 2014, p. 88 ff.
  166. See Gary K. Young: Rome's Eastern Trade. London / New York 2001, p. 22 f.
  167. For details see Matthew Adam Cobb: Rome and the Indian Ocean Trade from Augustus to the Early Third Century CE. Leiden / Boston 2018; Raoul McLaughlin: The Roman Empire and the Indian Ocean. The Ancient World Economy and the Kingdoms of Africa, Arabia and India. Barnsley 2014; Raoul McLaughlin: Rome and the Distant East. Trade Routes to the Ancient Lands of Arabia, India and China. London / New York 2010; Gary K. Young: Rome's Eastern Trade. London / New York 2001.
  168. ^ Raoul McLaughlin: The Roman Empire and the Indian Ocean. The Ancient World Economy and the Kingdoms of Africa, Arabia and India. Barnsley 2014, p. 88 ff.
  169. Monika Schuol: Globalization in Antiquity? Sea-based long-distance trade between Rome and India. In: Orbis Terrarum 12, 2014, pp. 273-286; EH Seland: The Indian Ocean and the Globalization of the Ancient World. In: West and East 7, 2008, pp. 67-79; Marijke Van der Veen, Jacob Morales: The Roman and Islamic spice trade: New archaeological evidence. In: Journal of Ethnopharmacology 167, 2015, pp. 54-63.
  170. ^ Gary K. Young: Rome's Eastern Trade. London / New York 2001, p. 71 ff.
  171. Cf. Matthew Adam Cobb: Rome and the Indian Ocean Trade from Augustus to the Early Third Century CE. Leiden / Boston 2018, pp. 295-297; Gary K. Young: Rome's Eastern Trade. London / New York 2001, p. 74.
  172. James Howard-Johnston: The India Trade in Late Antiquity. In: Eberhard Sauer (Ed.): Sasanian Persia. Between Rome and the Steppes of Eurasia. Edinburgh 2017, p. 284 ff .; Gary K. Young: Rome's Eastern Trade. London / New York 2001, p. 77 f.
  173. ^ Gary K. Young: Rome's Eastern Trade. London / New York 2001, p. 78.
  174. ^ Greg Fisher: Rome, Persia, and Arabia Shaping the Middle East from Pompey to Muhammad. London / New York 2020.
  175. James Howard-Johnston: The India Trade in Late Antiquity. In: Eberhard Sauer (Ed.): Sasanian Persia. Between Rome and the Steppes of Eurasia. Edinburgh 2017, p. 284 ff., Here p. 295 f.
  176. Cf. Pius Malekandathil: Maritime India: Trade, Religion, and Polity in the Indian Ocean. Delhi 2010, p. 4.
  177. Pius Malekandathil: Maritime India: Trade, religion and polity in the Indian Ocean. Delhi 2010, pp. 4–9.
  178. See Johannes Preiser-Kapeller: Beyond Rome and Charlemagne. Aspects of global interdependence in late antiquity, 300–800 AD Vienna 2018, p. 37 f.
  179. See introductory Klaus Geus : On to new banks. The Red Sea and Beyond. In: Antike Welt 3/2019, pp. 23–28. See also Glen Bowersock : The Throne of Adulis: Red Sea Wars on the Eve of Islam. Oxford 2013; Timothy Power: The Red Sea from Byzantium to the Caliphate: AD 500-1000. Cairo 2012.
  180. Glen Bowersock: The Throne of Adulis: Red Sea Wars on the Eve of Islam. Oxford 2013, p. 44 ff .; Francis Breyer : The Kingdom of Aksum. History and Archeology of Abyssinia in Late Antiquity. Mainz et al. 2012; Stuart Munro-Hay: Aksum. An African Civilization of Late Antiquity. Edinburgh 1991; Christian Julien Robin: Arabia and Ethiopia. In: Scott Fitzgerald Johnson (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity. Oxford 2012, especially p. 273 ff.
  181. Timothy Power: The Red Sea from Byzantium to the Caliphate: AD 500-1000. Cairo 2012, p. 47 f.
  182. Introductory Christian Julien Robin: Arabia and Ethiopia. In: Scott Fitzgerald Johnson (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity. Oxford 2012, pp. 247-332.
  183. Yosef Yuval Tobi: Ḥimyar, kingdom of . In: The Oxford Classical Dictionary Online (5th edition); Christian Julien Robin: Arabia and Ethiopia. In: Scott Fitzgerald Johnson (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity. Oxford 2012, especially p. 263 ff .; Wilfried Seipel (Ed.): Yemen. Art and archeology in the land of the Queen of Sheba. Vienna 1998.
  184. See Christian Julien Robin: Arabia and Ethiopia. In: Scott Fitzgerald Johnson (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity. Oxford 2012, here pp. 259–261.
  185. Cf. Glen Bowersock: The Throne of Adulis: Red Sea Wars on the Eve of Islam. Oxford 2013, p. 78 ff.
  186. Glen Bowersock: The Throne of Adulis: Red Sea Wars on the Eve of Islam. Oxford 2013, p. 92 ff .; Norbert Nebes: The Martyrs of Nagrān and the End of the Himyar. On the political history of South Arabia in the early sixth century. In: Aethiopica 11, 2008, pp. 7-40; Timothy Power: The Red Sea from Byzantium to the Caliphate: AD 500-1000. Cairo 2012, p. 63 ff .; Christian Julien Robin: Arabia and Ethiopia. In: Scott Fitzgerald Johnson (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity. Oxford 2012, here p. 281 ff.
  187. Glen Bowersock: The Throne of Adulis: Red Sea Wars on the Eve of Islam. Oxford 2013, p. 120.
  188. Timothy Power: The Red Sea from Byzantium to the Caliphate: AD 500-1000. Cairo 2012, p. 76 ff.
  189. Timothy Power: The Red Sea from Byzantium to the Caliphate: AD 500-1000. Cairo 2012, p. 89 ff.
  190. Fred Virkus: Political structures in the Gupta empire (300-550 AD). Wiesbaden 2004. See next to it (each with further literature) Hermann Kulke , Dietmar Rothermund : Geschichte Indiens. From the Indus culture to today. 3rd updated edition of the special edition. Munich 2018, p. 106 ff .; Romila Thapar : The Penguin History of Early India. London 2002, p. 280 ff.
  191. Cf. Marlene Njammasch: Was there an Indian late antiquity? In: Klio 71, 1989, pp. 469-476. Njammasch also points to numismatic and art-historical investigations that relativize the image of a great golden age.
  192. ^ Hermann Kulke, Dietmar Rothermund: History of India. From the Indus culture to today. 3rd updated edition of the special edition. Munich 2018, p. 106 f.
  193. See Johannes Preiser-Kapeller: Beyond Rome and Charlemagne. Aspects of global interdependence in late antiquity, 300–800 AD Vienna 2018, p. 22 f.
  194. ^ Upendra Thakur: The Hunas in India. Varanasi 1967; Fred Virkus: Political Structures in the Gupta Empire (300-550 AD). Wiesbaden 2004, p. 85 f.
  195. Michael Alram et al. (Ed.): The face of the stranger. The coinage of the Huns and Western Turks in Central Asia and India. Vienna 2016, p. 71 ff .; Timo Stickler: The Gupta Empire in the Face of the Hun Threat. Parallels to the Late Roman Empire? In: J. Bemmann, M. Schmauder (Eds.): The Complexity of Interaction along the Eurasian Steppe Zone in the first Millennium CE. Wiesbaden 2015, pp. 659-669.
  196. Timo Stickler: The Gupta Empire in the Face of the Hun Threat. Parallels to the Late Roman Empire? In: J. Bemmann, M. Schmauder (Eds.): The Complexity of Interaction along the Eurasian Steppe Zone in the first Millennium CE. Wiesbaden 2015, pp. 659-669, here p. 664.
  197. ^ Robert Göbl: Documents on the history of the Iranian Huns in Bactria and India. Volume 2. Wiesbaden 1967, p. 68; Upendra Thakur: The Hunas in India. Varanasi 1967, p. 132.
  198. Fred Virkus: Political structures in the Gupta empire (300-550 AD). Wiesbaden 2004, p. 121 f.
  199. Cf. Fred Virkus: Political Structures in the Gupta Empire (300-550 AD). Wiesbaden 2004, p. 85.
  200. General overview in Scott McGill, Edward Watts (Ed.): A Companion to Late Antique Literature. Hoboken, NJ 2018. See also the brief information in Lexicon of Ancient Christian Literature. Edited by Wilhelm Geerlings, Siegmar Döpp , with the collaboration of Peter Bruns, Georg Röwekamp, ​​Matthias Skeb a. Bettina Windau, 3rd completely revised. and exp. Ed., Freiburg i. Br. 2002; Rainer Nickel: Lexicon of ancient literature. Düsseldorf 1999.
  201. On the history of late antiquity see, among others, Peter van Nuffelen (Ed.): Historiography and Space in Late Antiquity. Cambridge 2019; Gabriele Marasco (Ed.): Greek and Roman Historiography in Late Antiquity. Fourth to Sixth Century AD Leiden u. a. 2003; Warren Treadgold : The Early Byzantine Historians. Basingstoke 2007. See generally The Oxford History of Historical Writing . Edited by Andrew Feldherr a. a. 5 volumes. Oxford 2011–2012.
  202. ^ Dariusz Brodka: Ammianus Marcellinus. Studies of Historical Thought in the Fourth Century AD Krakow 2009; John F. Matthews: The Roman Empire of Ammianus. Baltimore / London 1989.
  203. ^ Roger C. Blockley (Ed.): The fragmentary classicizing historians of the later Roman Empire. Eunapius, Olympiodorus, Priscus and Malchus 2 volumes. Liverpool 1981-1983.
  204. Hartmut Leppin: From Constantine the Great to Theodosius II. The Christian Empire with the church historians Socrates, Sozomenus and Theodoret. Goettingen 1996.
  205. ^ Alan Cameron: Claudian. Poetry and Propaganda at the Court of Honorius. Oxford 1970.
  206. ^ Alan Cameron: The Last Pagans of Rome . Oxford / New York 2011; Peter Gemeinhardt: Latin Christianity and ancient pagan education. Tuebingen 2007.
  207. See generally the articles in Lloyd P. Gerson (Ed.): The Cambridge History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity. 2 volumes, Cambridge 2010.
  208. Comprehensive overview of Christian-Syrian literature, for example at (scientifically supervised).
  209. For further historical texts see Sebastian P. Brock: Syriac Historical Writing: A Survey of the Main Sources. In: Journal of the Iraqi Academy (Syriac Corporation) 5, 1979/1980, pp. 1-30.
  210. E. Bartmann, review of J. Elsner, Art and the Roman Viewer , Cambridge 1995. Comparison especially note 1. URL =
  211. See generally also Paul Veyne : The art of late antiquity. History of a style change . Reclam, Stuttgart 2009, ISBN 978-3-15-010664-8 .
  212. See e.g. B. Philipp von Rummel: Habitus barbarus. Clothing and representation of late antique elites in the 4th and 5th centuries. Berlin / New York 2007.
  213. The best general overview of cultural history is still Peter Brown: The World of Late Antiquity AD 150–750. London 1971. See also the articles in Scott Fitzgerald Johnson (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity. Oxford et al. 2012, p. 335 ff.
  214. See introductory Thomas Bauer : Why there was no Islamic Middle Ages. The legacy of antiquity and the Orient. Munich 2018.
  215. See Brian Croke: Count Marcellinus and his Chronicle. Oxford 2001, p. 86ff .; see. also B. Adamik: Comments on the problem of "Latin in Byzantium". About the Latin-speaking population of Constantinople , in: H. Petersmann, R. Kettemann (eds.), Latin vulgaire - latin tardif , Hildesheim 2003, pp. 201-218.
  216. Gregor himself said he did not speak Greek and did not learn it in Constantinople either, which suggests that it must have been possible in principle to communicate in Latin. See Greg. epist. 7.29 and 11.54f.
  217. Cf. on this development Haralambie Mihăescu: The situation of the two world languages ​​(Greek and Latin) in the Byzantine Empire of the 7th century as a characteristic of a turning point , in: Friedhelm Winkelmann u. a. (Ed.), Studies on the 7th Century in Byzanz , Berlin 1976, pp. 95-100.
  218. On the late Roman society in general, see Géza Alföldy : Römische Sozialgeschichte (4th edition), Stuttgart 2011, pp. 273–306 (with current literature).
  219. Cf. Rolf Rilinger : Humiliores - Honestiores. A social dichotomy in the criminal law of the Roman Empire. Munich 1988.
  220. On the Senate of late antiquity, see the overview in Stefan Rebenich : melior pars humani generis. Aristocracy (s) in late antiquity . In: Hans Beck et al. (Ed.), Die Macht der Wenigen , Munich 2008, pp. 153–175.
  221. Peter Gemeinhardt: The Latin Christianity and the ancient pagan education . Tübingen 2007, p. 137f.
  222. On the change in the Senate aristocracy, cf. the important study by Salzman: Michele R. Salzman, The Making of a Christian Aristocracy: social and religious change in the western Roman Empire . Cambridge / Mass. 2002.
  223. Cf. Peter Gemeinhardt: The Latin Christianity and the ancient pagan education . Tuebingen 2007.
  224. Jens-Uwe Krause: History of late antiquity. An introduction. Tübingen 2018, pp. 255ff.
  225. See in summary Jens-Uwe Krause: Geschichte der Spätantike. An introduction. Tübingen 2018, pp. 260f.
  226. ^ Elisabeth Herrmann-Otto: The social structure of late antiquity . In: Alexander Demandt, Josef Engemann (ed.): Konstantin der Große. Emperor Caesar Flavius ​​Constantinus . Mainz 2007, p. 183ff., Here p. 188.
  227. Rene Pfeilschifter: The late antiquity. The one God and the many rulers. Munich 2014, p. 222.
  228. Michael Whitby: The violence of the circus factions. In: Keith Hopwood (Ed.): Organized Crime in Antiquity. Swansea 1999, pp. 229-253.
  229. Alexander Demandt: The late antiquity. 2nd edition Munich 2007, p. 419f.
  230. Alexander Demandt: The late antiquity. 2nd edition Munich 2007, p. 343ff.
  231. See Mark Whittow, The Middle Byzantine Economy , in: Jonathan Sheperd (Ed.), The Cambridge History of the Byzantine Empire , Cambridge 2008, p. 465ff.
  232. See also Nicola Di Cosmo, Michael Maas (ed.): Empires and Exchanges in Eurasian Late Antiquity on this network of relationships between the Mediterranean and the Asian region . Rome, China, Iran, and the Steppe, ca. 250–750. Cambridge 2018.
  233. ^ Valerie Hansen: The Silk Road. A history with documents. Oxford 2016; Étienne de La Vaissière : Sogdian Traders. A history. Leiden / Boston 2005. For the early days, see Craig Benjamin: Empires of Ancient Eurasia. The First Silk Roads Era, 100 BCE-250 CE. Cambridge 2018.
  234. James Howard-Johnston: The India Trade in Late Antiquity. In: Eberhard Sauer (Ed.): Sasanian Persia. Between Rome and the Steppes of Eurasia. Edinburgh 2017, pp. 284ff .; Raoul McLaughlin: The Roman Empire and the Indian Ocean. The Ancient World Economy and the Kingdoms of Africa, Arabia and India. Barnsley 2014; Timothy Power: The Red Sea from Byzantium to the Caliphate: AD 500-1000. Cairo 2012.
  235. See Matthew P. Canepa: Distant Displays of Power. Understanding Cross-Cultural Interaction Among the Elites of Rome, Sasanian Iran, and Sui-Tang China. In: Ars Orientalis 38, 2010, pp. 121–154.
  236. Timothy Power: The Red Sea from Byzantium to the Caliphate: AD 500-1000. Cairo 2012, p. 61ff.
  237. Basically see the explanations in Johannes Preiser-Kapeller: Beyond Rome and Charlemagne. Aspects of global interdependence in the long late antiquity, 300–800 AD Vienna 2018.
  238. Cf. Jens Uwe Krause / Christian Witschel (eds.), The city in late antiquity - decline or change? Files from the international colloquium in Munich on May 30 and 31, 2003 . Stuttgart 2006.
  239. Mischa Meier: The 'Justinianic Plague': the economic consequences of the pandemic in the eastern Roman empire and its cultural and religious effects. In: Early Medieval Europe 24, 2016, pp. 267–292.
  240. Michal Feldman et al. a .: A High-Coverage Yersinia pestis Genome from a Sixth-Century Justinianic Plague Victim. In: Molecular biology and evolution. Volume 33, No. 11,1 (2016), pp. 2911-2923, doi : 10.1093 / molbev / msw170 , PMID 27578768 , PMC 5062324 (free full text).
  241. Ancient Yersinia pestis genomes from across Western Europe reveal early diversification during the First Pandemic , in: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2019).
  242. ^ Kyle Harper: The Fate of Rome. Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire. Princeton 2017.
  243. See AHM Jones: The Later Roman Empire. 2 vols. Baltimore 1986, pp. 712ff.
  244. Nov. Iust. 38.
  245. See John Haldon: Byzantium in the Seventh Century. 2nd ed. Cambridge 1997, pp. 93-99.
  246. Cf. Jens-Uwe Krause: History of late antiquity. An introduction. Tübingen 2018, p. 285 ff.
  247. See in detail Matthew P. Canepa: The Two Eyes of the Earth. Art and Ritual of Kingship between Rome and Sasanian Iran . Berkeley 2009.
  248. See Henning Börm: Das Westernrömische Kaisertum nach 476 , in: Josef Wiesehöfer et al. (Hrsg.): Monumentum et instrumentum inscriptum , Stuttgart 2008, pp. 47-69.
  249. Christopher Kelly: Ruling the Later Roman Empire. Cambridge MA et al. 2004.
  250. See AHM Jones: The Later Roman Empire. 2 vols. Baltimore 1986, p. 566.
  251. See Rene Pfeilschifter: The late antiquity. The one God and the many rulers. Munich 2014, p. 225.
  252. See Michael McCormick: Emperor and Court. In: Averil Cameron et al. (Ed.): The Cambridge Ancient History 14, Cambridge 2000, pp. 135–163: Rene Pfeilschifter: Die Spätantike. The one God and the many rulers. Munich 2014, p. 217ff.
  253. ^ Gideon Maier: Officials and rulers in Romania Gothica. Comparative studies on the institutions of the East Germanic migration empires. Stuttgart 2005, pp. 159-161.
  254. On this phenomenon, cf. in detail Joachim Szidat: Usurpator tanti nominis. Emperor and usurper in late antiquity , Stuttgart 2010.
  255. On the relationship between the emperor and the aristocracy, cf. Henning Börm: Rulers and elites in late antiquity , in: Josef Wiesehöfer et al. (Ed.): Commutatio et contentio. Studies in the Late Roman, Sasanian, and early Islamic Near East , Düsseldorf 2010, pp. 159–198 ( digitized version ).
  256. See AHM Jones: The Later Roman Empire. 2 vols. Baltimore 1986, p. 1057.
  257. Jens-Uwe Krause: History of late antiquity. An introduction. Tübingen 2018, p. 86.
  258. Jens-Uwe Krause: History of late antiquity. An introduction. Tübingen 2018, p. 85.
  259. Jens-Uwe Krause: History of late antiquity. An introduction. Tübingen 2018, p. 330 f.
  260. Fundamental to the late antique army - especially the 4th century - is Yann Le Bohec: The Roman Army in the Late Imperial Era , Stuttgart 2010.
  261. See Michael Whitby: Siege Warfare and Counter-Siege Tactics in Late Antiquity (approx. 250–650). In: Neil Christie, Alexander Sarantis (Eds.): War and Warfare in Late Antiquity. Boston / Leiden 2013, p. 433 ff.
  262. Wolfgang Kuhoff : The temptation of power. Late Roman army masters and their potential reach for the empire . In: Silvia Serena Tschopp, Wolfgang EJ Weber (Hrsg.): Power and communication . Berlin 2012, pp. 39-80; Anne Poguntke: The Roman army master's office in the 5th century. Reflections on the relationship between emperor and army master in East and West. In: Carola Föller, Fabian Schulz (Ed.): East and West 400–600 AD. Communication, cooperation and conflict. Stuttgart 2016, pp. 239–262.
  263. See also AHM Jones: The Later Roman Empire. 2 vols. Baltimore 1986, p. 679ff., And Alexander Demandt: Die Spätantike. 2nd edition Munich 2007, p. 303ff.
  264. According to Prokopios, as many as 100,000 men were involved in the failed military operation of Anthemius against the vandals in 468 ( Bella 3,6,1); In view of the well-documented enormous costs of the action, this information is not unbelievable.
  265. A detailed description of the history of late antique Christianity can be found u. a. in Peter Brown: The Treasure in Heaven: The Rise of Christianity and the Fall of the Roman Empire. Stuttgart 2017; Jean-Marie Mayeur, Luce Pietri, Andre Vauchez and others: The history of Christianity, antiquity. Vol. 2 and 3, special edition, Freiburg i. B. 2005. Alois Grillmeier u. a .: Jesus the Christ in the faith of the church. 2 volumes in 5 part volumes, up-to-date. New edition, Freiburg i. Br. 2004.
  266. Uta Heil, Jörg Ulrich (Hrsg.): Church and Emperor in antiquity and late antiquity. Berlin / Boston 2017.
  267. See the overview in Karen Piepenbrink : Antike und Christianentum. Darmstadt 2007, p. 96ff.
  268. ^ A b c Alan Cameron: The Last Pagans of Rome . Oxford-New York 2011.
  269. Glen Bowersock : The Throne of Adulis: Red Sea Wars on the Eve of Islam. Oxford 2013.
  270. An excellent account of this topic is provided by Peter Brown, The Rise of Western Christendom , 2nd ed., Oxford 2003, which also deals with the spread of Christianity in Asia and Aksum.
  271. Introductory articles in Josef Lössl, Nicholas J. Baker-Brian (Ed.): A Companion to Religion in Late Antiquity. Hoboken (NJ) 2018.
  272. Jelle Wytzes: The Last Battle of paganism in Rome. Leiden 1977.
  273. See, inter alia, Arnaldo Momigliano (ed.): The Conflict Between Paganism and Christianity in the Fourth Century. Oxford 1963 and Frank R. Trombley: Hellenic Religion and Christianization c. 370-529. 2 volumes. Suffering u. a. 1993f.
  274. Cf. Martin Wallraff : Christ verus Sol. Sun Worship and Christianity in Late Antiquity. Munster 2001.
  275. Cf. Martin R. von Ostheim : Self-redemption through knowledge. The Gnosis in the 2nd Century AD Basel 2013, p. 7 f.
  276. Udo Schnelle: The first 100 years of Christianity 30–130 AD Göttingen 2015, pp. 540–558.
  277. Manfred Hutter: Manichaeism. In: Real Lexicon for Antiquity and Christianity . Volume 24. Stuttgart 2012, Col. 6-48.
  278. Mahnaz Moazami (Ed.): Zoroastrianism. A Collection of Articles from the Encyclopædia Iranica. 2 volumes. New York 2016; Michael Stausberg: The religion of Zarathushtra. History, present, rituals. 3 volumes. Stuttgart 2002-2004.
  279. ^ Karl Leo Noethlichs: The Jews in the Christian Roman Empire (4th – 6th centuries). Berlin 2001.
  280. Glen Bowersock: The Cradle of Islam. Mohammed, the Koran and the ancient cultures. Munich 2019.
  281. See for example Lutz Berger: The emergence of Islam. The first hundred years. Munich 2016; Aziz Al-Azmeh: The Emergence of Islam in Late Antiquity. Allah and His People. Cambridge 2014; Angelika Neuwirth : The Koran as a text of late antiquity. A European approach . Frankfurt am Main 2010.
  282. AHM Jones ( The Later Roman Empire. 3 vols. Oxford 1964/2 vols. Baltimore 1986) goes into the sources in relative detail ; Stephen Mitchell: A History of the Later Roman Empire is more succinct but more up-to-date . 2nd edition Oxford u. a. 2015, p. 15ff. Otherwise, reference is made to the corresponding list of sources for the works listed in the bibliography, such as Demandt's handbook. Concerning. For the sources of the history of the Sassanid Empire , reference is made to the explanations in the article there. In general on historiography cf. Gabriele Marasco (Ed.), Greek and Roman Historiography in Late Antiquity. Fourth to Sixth Century AD Leiden u. a. 2003 (not entirely unproblematic) and David Rohrbacher: The Historians of Late Antiquity . London-New York 2002 (covers only part of the authors). A brief overview of the classicist historians in late antiquity is provided by Geoffrey Greatrex : The Classical past in the Classicizing Historians .
  283. ^ Richard W. Burgess , Michael Kulikowski: Mosaics of Time. The Latin Chronicle Traditions from the First Century BC to the Sixth Century AD. Volume I: A Historical Introduction to the Chronicle Genre from its Origins to the High Middle Ages. Turnhout 2013.
  284. For Syrian historiography, see the information in
  285. For the rule of Justinian (527 to 565) one has spoken of an "epigraphic renaissance"; see. Hartmut Leppin : Justinian , Stuttgart 2011, p. 180. On late antique Latin epigraphy, see now Dennis Trout: Inscribing Identity. The Latin Epigraphic Habit in Late Antiquity ; in: Philip Rousseau (ed.): A companion to Late Antiquity , London 2009, pp. 170ff.
  286. See the overview by Olof Brandt: The Archaeological Record: Problems of Interpretation. In: Philip Rousseau (Ed.): A Companion to Late Antiquity. Malden et al. a. 2009, p. 156ff.
  287. See Chris Wickham: The inheritance of Rome. A history of Europe from 400 to 1000 . London 2009, pp. 9f.
  288. Roger C. Blockley (Eds. / Over.): The Fragmentary Classicizing Historians of the Later Roman Empire. 2 volumes. Liverpool 1981/83 (for Priskos see also the current English translation John Given: The Fragmentary History of Priscus. Attila, the Huns and the Roman Empire, AD 430-476. Merchantville, NJ 2014); Roger C. Blockley (Ed / Translator): The History of Menander the Guardsman. Liverpool 1985.
  289. Lieve Van Hoof, Peter Van Nuffelen ( eds / translators) : The Fragmentary Latin Histories of Late Antiquity (AD 300–620). Edition, Translation and Commentary. Cambridge 2020.
  290. Clavis Historicorum Antiquitatis Posterioris (CHAP)
  291. See for example Alexander Demandt: Die Spätantike. 2nd edition Munich 2007, p. 588f .; Rene Pfeilschifter: Late Antiquity. The one God and the many rulers. Munich 2014, p. 222.
  292. See also Alexander Demandt: Die Spätantike. 2nd edition Munich 2007, p. 586f.
  293. ^ Bryan Ward-Perkins: The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization. Oxford 2005; Peter J. Heather: The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History. London 2005.
  294. See Kyle Harper: The Fate of Rome. Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire. Princeton 2017.
  295. See John Moorhead, The Roman Empire divided, 2nd ed. London / New York 2013, pp. 274–291.
  296. See also Arnaldo Marcone: A long late antiquity? Considerations on a controversial periodization . In: Journal of Late Antiquity 1 (2008), pp. 4-19.
  297. Mischa Meier: The late antiquity, redefined in terms of time and space. An interim balance of current searches. In: Historische Zeitschrift 304, 2017, pp. 686–706.
  298. Johannes Preiser-Kapeller: Beyond Rome and Charlemagne. Aspects of global interdependence in the long late antiquity, 300–800 AD Vienna 2018.
  299. ^ Mark Humphries: Late Antiquity and World History. Challenging Conventional Narratives and Analyzes. In: Studies in Late Antiquity 1, 2017, pp. 8–37.
  300. Philip Rousseau (Ed.): A Companion to Late Antiquity. Malden (Massachusetts) et al. 2009.
  301. Scott Fitzgerald Johnson (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity . Oxford et al. a. 2012. See also S. Swain, M. Edwards (eds.): Approaching Late Antiquity: The Transformation from Early to Late Empire . Oxford / New York 2004. No longer up-to-date, but useful, is the research overview in Martin, Late Antiquity and Migration of Nations .
  302. Technical discussion at sehepunkte .
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on November 30, 2004 in this version .