Judith Herrin

In 402 AD, the young Emperor Honorius made the momentous decision to move his capital to a small, easy defendable city in the Po estuary - Ravenna. Until 751 AD, Ravenna served as the capital of the Western Roman Empire, then that of the immense kingdom of Theoderic the Goth and finally the heart of Byzantine power in Italy. While its palaces have crumbled, its churches have survived, filled with dazzling mosaics which still astonish visitors today. In this lucid and accessible account, Judith Herrin brings the early Middle Ages to life through the history of a city. Beautifully illustrated with specially commissioned photographs, and drawing on the latest archaeological and documentary discoveries, she explains how Ravenna became the pivot between East and West. Ravenna was a cultural and political centre for scholars, lawyers, doctors, craftsmen, cosmologists and religious luminaries. It is also a reminder that the fifth to eighth centuries should not be perceived as a time of decline from antiquity but rather one of great creativity - the period of 'Early Christendom' that seeded the modern world.

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Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe