This book discusses the changes which occurred in the cities of the Roman world in the period AD 400- 750. The cities of the Middle Ages, both in the East and Western parts of the old Roman Empire, differed from classical cities in fundamental ways. Professor Liebeschuetz concludes that this suggests a decline and fall in the Roman cities. At the centre of this book is an account of the decline of cities as political organizations: the replacement of government in accordance with constitutional rules by a looser and much more informal kind of oligarchical control which was paralleled by the rise of the bishop. Professor Liebeschuetz argues that among the factors that transformed and undermined the Roman city the most conspicuous were related to the state of the Empire, ecomic developments which were consequences of the breaking up of the imperial structure, as well as more localized regional circumstances. The decline and fall of the Roman city was accompanied by very great changes in life style which can be summarized as simplification and localization. Further he concludes that Christianity by teaching people to despise the things of this world helped them to come to terms with the deterioration of their worldly circumstances.
J. H. W. G. Liebeschuetz is Emeritus Professor of Classics, University of Nottingham