In the 6th century CE, the Roman emperor Justinian embarked upon a series of wars that seemed to herald the restoration of the Roman empire in the western Mediterranean. In his book Rome Resurgent: War and Empire in the Age of Justinian
(Oxford University Press, 2018), Peter Heather
recounts the campaigns of Justinian’s armies and the factors that made them possible. As Heather explains, the Roman imperial state in the 6th century was one focused mainly upon the waging of war, though for all of the revenue expended upon its armies the eastern Romans had experienced a series of defeats at the hands of their Sassanian Persian rivals to their east. Soon after Justinian took the throne, however, the eastern Roman armies enjoyed a series of successes thanks to the leadership of his most successful commander, Belisarius. While these victories helped define Justinian’s stature as emperor, maintaining them ultimately proved the greater challenge, one that Justinian’s successors were unable to accomplish.