Cover: The Tragedy of Empire: From Constantine to the Destruction of Roman Italy, from Harvard University PressCover: The Tragedy of Empire in HARDCOVER

The Tragedy of Empire

From Constantine to the Destruction of Roman Italy

Add to Cart

Product Details



ISBN 9780674660137

Publication Date: 11/19/2019


424 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

25 color photos, 14 maps

Belknap Press

History of the Ancient World

North America only

As Kulikowski presents it, the end of the Roman Empire in the West was mean and dirty—and thoroughly Roman… In a brilliant tour d’horizon of the West from Ireland to the Black Sea, he measures the effect of the fall of Rome on the world beyond Rome.—Peter Brown, The New York Review of Books

Kulikowski’s tale is complex, and frequently bloody, with dynastic intrigue, Persian wars, assassinations, usurpations, religious disputes, barbarian incursions, and repeated civil wars… A very valuable overview and analysis of the knotty question of why the empire ‘fell’ in the west, while it survived in the east.—A. A. Nofi, StrategyPage

A tour de force history of the inner workings of the late Roman Empire. Kulikowski tells a vivid, compelling story of the humans who fought to control the machinery of the empire until the entire system could no longer hold.—Kyle Harper, author of The Fate of Rome

Kulikowski pairs his comprehensive understanding of late Roman politics with an uncanny eye for spatial and material details as he reconstructs an empire in a downward spiral of self-destruction. Roman emperors and barbarian kings, pagan aristocrats and Christian bishops, loyal soldiers and self-serving condottieri are woven into the brilliantly dramatized story of The Tragedy of Empire.—Noel Lenski, author of Constantine and the Cities

Kulikowski’s lively and engaging account brings clarity to the murky world of the late Roman Empire. It lets us understand the endless infighting between imperial hopefuls, the profound reforms of Diocletian, and the social transformation that expressed itself in Christianity. It explains the many forces which led to the western empire’s disintegration and expertly guides us through a post-Roman world which was eventually to give rise to modern Europe.—Jerry Toner, author of Infamy: The Crimes of Ancient Rome

Michael Kulikowski tells the story of the Roman Empire from the fourth to the sixth century. He writes boldly and fluently about imperial politics, incorporating the latest scholarship yet avoiding getting bogged down in academic controversies. Highly recommended as an introduction to the political history of this period.—Hugh Elton, author of The Roman Empire in Late Antiquity

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns, by Bruno Latour, translated by Catherine Porter, from Harvard University Press

Honoring Latour

In awarding Bruno Latour the 2021 Kyoto Prize for Arts and Philosophy, the Inamori Foundation said he has “revolutionized the conventional view of science” and “his philosophy re-examines ‘modernity’ based on the dualism of nature and society.” Below is an excerpt from An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns. For more than twenty years, scientific and technological controversies have proliferated in number and scope, eventually reaching the climate itself. Since geologists are beginning to use the term “Anthropocene” to designate the era of Earth’s history that follows the Holocene