From AD 402 to 751 the small city of Ravenna, on the NE coast of Italy, became the capital of the Roman Empire in the West, then the centre of a Gothic kingdom and finally the western outpost of Byzantine government from Constantinople. During these centuries the construction of many early Christian churches, palaces, tombs and fortifications made it a repository of exquisite art and architecture, erected on the orders of a wide range of elite officials and through the skilful efforts of many anonymous craftsmen. This talk aims to explain how such a concentration of early Christian art occurred and why it survived, when so many other centres failed.
This lecture is given by Professor Judith Herrin. Prof. Herrin won the Heineken Prize for History (the ‘Dutch Nobel Prize’) in 2016 for her pioneering work on the early Medieval Mediterranean world, especially the role of Byzantium, the influence of Islam and the significance of women. She is the author of Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire, The Formation of Christendom, A Medieval Miscellany and Women in Purple. Herrin worked in Birmingham, Paris, Munich, Istanbul and Princeton before becoming Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies at King’s College London until 2008. She is now the Constantine Leventis Visiting Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Classics at King’s. She has excavated in Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, and served for thirty years on the editorial board of Past and Present.
Her latest book is Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe