The reign of Anastasius I, 491-518
Anastasius' long rule at the turn of the sixth century has tended to be neglected, yet it was a critical time in the history of the Later Roman Empire. On his accession, there were many problems facing the state: conflicts, both internal and external, religious disputes, and financial and administrative chaos. It is the aim of this thesis to assess the significance of Anastasius' reign, with a systematic survey of the key areas of imperial government. After an introductory chapter examining the primary sources, the second and third chapters consider revolts and wars. Chapter Two looks at two internal uprisings, that of the Isaurians (491-498) and that of Vitalian (514-516). The third chapter concentrates on external conflicts and political relations. The first section considers the Persian offensive (502-506) and the role of the Arabs, while the second part examines the ambiguous position of Theoderic in Italy, and explores how Anastasius sought to stabilize the balance of power with counter-alliances with the Franks and Burgundians. Chapter Four deals with the doctrinal schism dividing the orthodox from the monophysite. It outlines the background to this crisis and investigates the vicissitudes of Anastasius' policy as he sought to reconcile increasing eastern monophysitism with the west's intransigent orthodoxy. Chapter Five examines Anastasius' financial rehabilitation of the state and concludes that his success lay in a much wider reorganisation of the empire's resources: he restructured the fisc and introduced changes to municipal administration, agrarian legislation and the organisation of the army. This chapter also considers measures to halt the escalating violence of the faction riots, and it closes with a survey of the emperor's building policy. The thesis concludes that Anastasius' reign resolved many of the problems facing the empire in the fifth century, paving the way for Justinian in the sixth.