"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Social Conflict in Justinian's Age

One of the "turns" in contemporary historiography, including that of Eastern Christianity to some extent, is towards what are sometimes said to be "neglected" sources, asking questions from these distinct if overlooked vantage points--women, slaves, the lower classes, and others. This is often combined with an emphasis on "social" history and the creation of various identities and "imaginaries." A recent book from Oxford University Press would seem to continue this trend: Peter N. Bell, Social Conflict in the Age of Justinian: Its Nature, Management, and Mediation (OUP, 2013), 416pp.

About this book we are told:
Our understanding of Late Antiquity can be transformed by the non-dogmatic application of social theory to more traditional evidence when studying major social conflicts in the Eastern Roman Empire, not least under the Emperor Justinian (527-565). Social Conflict in the Age of Justinian explores a range of often violent conflicts across the whole empire -- on the land, in religion, and in sport -- during this pivotal period in European history. Drawing on both sociology and social psychology, and on his experience as a senior British Civil Servant dealing with violent political conflicts in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, Bell shows that such conflicts were a basic feature of the overwhelmingly agricultural political economy of the empire.

These conflicts were reflected at the ideological level and lead to intense persecution of intellectuals and Pagans as an ever more robust Christian ideological hegemony was established. In challenging the loyalties of all social classes, they also increased the vulnerability of an emperor and his allies. The need to legitimise the emperor, through an increasingly sacralised monarchy, and to build a loyal constituency, consequently remained a top priority for Justinian, even if his repeated efforts to unite the churches failed.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anonymous comments are never approved. Use your real name and say something intelligent.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...