ORB Online Encyclopedia

Overview of Late Antiquity--The Seventh Century

Section 1: The Old Pattern Broken

Steven Muhlberger

At the dawn of the seventh century, Constantinople retained a precarious grip on the Mediterranean basin, and the influence of the Christian empire was still important beyond the imperial borders. When the Gothic kings of Spain, the last major supporters of Arianism, abandoned it in the 590s, they adopted the orthodoxy of Rome and Constantinople, the religion of the emperor.

During the next half century, the formal and informal structure of imperial predominance fell under the hammer-blows of civil and foreign wars. By the end of the century Constantinople had lost Egypt and Syria to the Muslim Arab Caliphate, and the Balkans to Slavic and Bulgar settlers. It had lost all influence on the Christians of the Middle East and was on bad terms with the Latin-speaking churches of Europe. The economic order of ancient times had been swept away, to be replaced in the east by a renewed urban network directed from Damascus, and in the west by weak political regimes based almost entirely on rural resources.

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Copyright (C) 1996, Steven Muhlberger. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

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