Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe (Hardback)Judith Herrin (author)
This stunningly illustrated and deeply researched volume unravels the multi-layered story of Ravenna – once the capital of the Western Roman Empire and the cultural and political hub of early medieval Europe.
Shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2021
In 402 AD, after invading tribes broke through the Alpine frontiers of Italy and threatened the imperial government in Milan, the young Emperor Honorius made the momentous decision to move his capital to a small, easy defendable city in the Po estuary - Ravenna. From then until 751 AD, Ravenna was first the capital of the Western Roman Empire, then that of the immense kingdom of Theoderic the Goth and finally the centre of Byzantine power in Italy.
In this engrossing account Judith Herrin explains how scholars, lawyers, doctors, craftsmen, cosmologists and religious luminaries were drawn to Ravenna where they created a cultural and political capital that dominated northern Italy and the Adriatic. As she traces the lives of Ravenna's rulers, chroniclers and inhabitants, Herrin shows how the city became the meeting place of Greek, Latin, Christian and barbarian cultures and the pivot between East and West. The book offers a fresh account of the waning of Rome, the Gothic and Lombard invasions, the rise of Islam and the devastating divisions within Christianity. It argues that the fifth to eighth centuries should not be perceived as a time of decline from antiquity but rather, thanks to Byzantium, as one of great creativity - the period of 'Early Christendom'. These were the formative centuries of Europe.
While Ravenna's palaces have crumbled, its churches have survived. In them, Catholic Romans and Arian Goths competed to produce an unrivalled concentration of spectacular mosaics, many of which still astonish visitors today. Beautifully illustrated with specially commissioned photographs, and drawing on the latest archaeological and documentary discoveries, Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe brings the early Middle Ages to life through the history of this dazzling city.
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Number of pages: 576
Weight: 1066 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 40 mm
'Beautifully illustrated, impeccably researched and accessibly presented, it traces Ravenna's career as the capital of the Roman empire in the west ... Buildings are also brought to life alongside the people who built and used them. ... It is this linking of tangible remains and historical record that is the book's great strength.' - Jonathan Harris, BBC History Magazine
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A truly beautiful book on every level.
'O lone Ravenna! many a tale is told
Of thy great glories in the days of old' (Oscar Wilde)
Wilde's 1878 poem 'Ravenna', for which he won the prestigious Newdigate prize, is a celebration of... More
“An absorbing story of Ravenna’s part in the formation of Europe”
This is a serious academic read but the short chapters help to keep the story on track. I recently read Janet Nelson’s biography of Charlemagne and this book completed my picture of what happened in Europe following... More
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