Eternal Victory: Triumphal Rulership in Late Antiquity, Byzantium and the Early Medieval West

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As the Roman empire declined and 'fell', contemporary glorification of the emperor's triumphal rulership reached new heights, strewing traces of the empire's perennial victory across the physical and mental landscape of late antiquity. In this, the first comprehensive study of how a great imperial ceremony actually developed and how it influenced both the eastern and western heirs to the Roman legacy, the Roman triumph's resurgence and afterlife is documented from the Tetrarchy to the end of the Macedonian dynasty in Byzantium and to Charlemagne's successors in the early medieval West. This perspective shows that celebrations of the ruler's victory experienced unceasing change in ritual form and content and that these changes mirrored broader trends in the development of society and the monarchy. At the same time, it casts new light on the late Roman origins of the trappings of early medieval kingship. Far from the imperial capital, the cult of triumphal rulership permeated local elites, as commanders in the provinces imitated the supreme victor by staging triumphs of their own, and the new Germanic kings followed suit. Classicists, medievalists, Byzantinists, specialists of art and ritual will find here new data and approaches to a central problem in the transformation of the Roman Empire which culminated in the new civilization by Byzantium and the Germanic Kingdoms.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Michael McCormick has written a Decline and Fall for the twenty-first century. [...] his brilliant book will shatter most people's conceptions of the Dark Ages." Times Literary Supplement

"McCormick's scholarship is as daunting and profound as might be expected from someone with the boldness to conduct parallel explorations of Byzantium and the West. In the process of fully documenting victory celebrations, he pokes into obscure corners with the gusto of a born antiquarian. He even manages to discover how the Roman state and its heirs communicated their triumphs to distant provincials. His zeal in gathering primary evidence is matched by mastery of the critical literature; based at Dumbarton Oaks, he had an unequalled listening post for tracking scholarship." Canadian Journal of History

"...McCormick has made a major contribution to Mediterranean history." Jonathan Shepard, The International History Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521386593
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/1990
  • Series: Past and Present Publications Series
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 472
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword; Note to the paperback edition; Abbreviations; Introduction: imperial triumph as a historical problem; 1. Invincible empire: the ideology of victiry under the principate; 2. Out of the streets and into the circus: the development of imperial victory celebrations in the later Roman empire; 3. Imperial victory celebrations and the public life of the later Roman state; 4. The development of imperial victory celebrations in early medieval byzantium; 5. Organizing a byzantine triumph; 6. A distant echo: victory celebrations in the imperial provinces; 7. Ephemeral empires: triumphal rulership in Barbarian Africa, Burgundy and Italy; 8, The king's victory in visigothic Spain; 9. From late antique to early feudal society: frankish victory celebrations; Conclusion; Epilogue; Bibliography of primary sources cited; Frequently cited secondary sources; Descriptive list of figures; Index.

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