Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Walter Stevenson


Late Antiquity has long been portrayed as a period of transition between the classical and medieval worlds. Its history, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, has been forced to fit the contours of a transitional model, and no figure has been as ill-treated by this interpretive schema as the Emperor Justinian (r. 527-565 AD).

Justinian is known both as the last Roman and first Byzantine emperor; in fact he was neither. It is true that he ruled an empire which was both physically and intellectually the heir of Augustus' Rome and that he introduced wide-ranging reforms which were maintained by his Byzantine successors. Yet the character of his reign and the empire he commanded cannot be relegated to either the period before or after him, nor can they be dismissed as a transition from one great epoch to another. Like Charlemagne two centuries later, Justinian's reign was itself the beginning of a new epoch in the history of the Mediterranean, one which died in its infancy.

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