The World of Late Antiquity

Library of European Civilization

The World of Late Antiquity

AD 150-750

  1. Peter Brown
‘Peter Brown's elegant and provocative text is beautifully supported by often unfamiliar illustrations … a stylish as well as a scholarly book’ – The Times Literary Supplement
'Few scholars writing today can match his knack of conveying just why certain issues were so engrossing to the men and women of the ancient world … Scholarly and provocative and well illustrated'– History Today
'Sensitive, stimulating and learned … full of vivid imagery and impartial enthusiasm' The Sunday Times
'There is a great deal of learning and'reflection in this detailed and polished account' The Spectator
'Superb … it is a long time since I enjoyed a historical work so much' – Philip Toynbee, The Observer

This remarkable study in social and cultural change explains how and why the Late Antique world, between c. 150 and c. 750 A.D., came to differ from 'Classical civilization'. These centuries, as the author demonstrates, were the era in which the most deep-rooted of ancient institutions disappeared for all time. By 476 the Roman empire had vanished from western Europe; by 655 the Persian empire had vanished from the Near East.

Peter Brown, Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History at Princeton University, examines these changes and reactions to them, but his account shows that the period was also one of outstanding new beginnings and defines the far-reaching impact both of Christianity on Europe and of Islam on the Near East.

The result is a lucid answer to a crucial question in world history; how the exceptionally homogeneous Mediterranean world of c. 200 A.D. became divided into the three mutually estranged societies of the Middle Ages: Catholic Western Europe, Byzantium and Islam. We still live with the results of these contrasts.