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Social Conflict in the Age of Justinian Its Nature, Management, and Mediation by Peter N. Bell

Social Conflict in the Age of Justinian Its Nature, Management, and Mediation


Social Conflict in the Age of Justinian Its Nature, Management, and Mediation by Peter N. Bell

Our understanding of Late Antiquity can be transformed by the non-dogmatic application of social theory to more traditional evidence when studying major social conflicts in the Eastern Roman Empire, not least under the Emperor Justinian (527-565). Social Conflict in the Age of Justinian explores a range of often violent conflicts across the whole empire - on the land, in religion, and in sport - during this pivotal period in European history. Drawing on both sociology and social psychology, and on his experience as a senior British Civil Servant dealing with violent political conflicts in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, Bell shows that such conflicts were a basic feature of the overwhelmingly agricultural political economy of the empire. These conflicts were reflected at the ideological level and lead to intense persecution of intellectuals and Pagans as an ever more robust Christian ideological hegemony was established. In challenging the loyalties of all social classes, they also increased the vulnerability of an emperor and his allies. The need to legitimise the emperor, through an increasingly sacralised monarchy, and to build a loyal constituency, consequently remained a top priority for Justinian, even if his repeated efforts to unite the churches failed.


Peter N. Bell presents a comprehensive and original analysis of social conflict in the age of Justinian ... all future work on the subject will have to engage with this stimulating study. * Alan Harvey, American Historical Review * cogent and rewarding. * Charles F. Pazdernik, Classical Journal * Peter Bell's monograph applies structures derived from sociology, specifically those focusing on conflict theory and resolution, to the Eastern Roman Empire in the sixth century ... [it] offers a refreshingly novel interpretative framework with which to approach late antique issues. * Douglas Whalin, Reviews in History *

About the Author

Peter Bell read Classics, Ancient History and Philosophy at Oxford. After serving in Ghana with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), he jointed H.M.Diplomatic Service, where he worked on Near Eastern matters. Later he transferred to the Home Civil Service, where his main concerns were helping defeat terrorism and achieve a lasting political settlement in Northern Ireland. In 2000, he returned to Oxford where he obtained his doctorate and is now based in Wolfson College.

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Book Info

Publication date

11th April 2013


Peter N. Bell

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Oxford University Press


416 pages


Ancient history: to c 500 CE
History of religion



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