The Later Roman Empire

Richard Lim

in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Studies

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199211524
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

The Later Roman Empire

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  • Ancient Roman History
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From the passing of Marcus Aurelius (d. 180 CE) to the reign of Justinian (527–565) and beyond, the Roman imperial state underwent changes that were as profound and full of interest as those which had transpired between the late Republic and the Antonine age. Just as the vicissitudes of the Roman conquest state occasioned Augustus's institution of the Principate, those of the Third-Century Crisis gave rise to the reforms of Diocletian and Constantine that entailed similarly weighty implications. The period saw the further entrenchment of imperial autocracy as the ruling principle of the political and social order, and the story of this further evolution of the Roman state continues to underpin most modern narratives of the Later Roman Empire. The ‘long fourth century’ from the reign of Diocletian (284–305) to that of Theodosius I (d. 395) represents a critically formative period in Roman history.

Keywords: Later Roman Empire; history; Marcus Aurelius; Justinian; Third-Century Crisis; reforms; Diocletian; Constantine; autocracy; Theodosius I

Article.  7245 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Ancient Roman History ; Classical History

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