Professor Freedman opens by discussing why historians use the writings of Procopius and Gregory of Tours, a sixth century bishop whose history of the Merovingian kings is discussed the following week. Procopius's three works -- The Wars, the adulatory Buildings, and the invective Secret History -- are the best sources on the reign of the Emperor Justinian. Under Justinian and his wife Theodora, the Roman Empire reached its height as it reclaimed territories in North Africa and Europe previously lost to the Vandals, Visigoths and Ostrogoths.. However, defeats in war accompanied by heavy taxation led to civil unrest. In addition to the wars, Justinian commissioned a number of large projects like the building of the Hagia Sophia and the organization of Roman law in the Corpus Iuris Civilis.
Major developments in the political, social, and religious history of Western Europe from the accession of Diocletian to the feudal transformation. Topics include the conversion of Europe to Christianity, the fall of the Roman Empire, the rise of Islam and the Arabs, the "Dark Ages," Charlemagne and the Carolingian renaissance, and the Viking and Hungarian invasions.
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