Page:Western Europe in the Middle Ages.djvu/53

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tion of Constantinople, and Rome, strong in its orthodoxy, was angered by any attempt to placate the Syrian or Egyptian heretics. The people of Constantinople developed their own brand of orthodoxy, which was neither that of Rome nor that of Alexandria, and rioted against any emperor who threatened to compromise it. A very strong emperor might have been able to force the peoples of the East to accept a common statement of religious beliefs if he had not had to worry about the opposition of the pope at Rome. Conversely, agreement between Rome and Constantinople could be secured only by losing the religious, which meant in the end the political, allegiance of Egypt and Syria.

These were the strains which made the reign of the great Justinian (527-565) a spectacular failure instead of a world-changing success. Justinian was the last emperor who had both the ability and the opportunity to restore the political unity of the Mediterranean world. Taking advantage of family quarrels in the Germanic kingdoms he reconquered Italy from the Ostrogoths, North Africa from the Vandals, and southeastern Spain from the Visigoths. The price was high in both human and financial terms, but not too high if there had been a real desire for unity in the Mediterranean basin. As it was, Justinian exhausted and angered the East without gaining the loyalty of the West. The East paid heavy taxes to support the wars of reconquest; Syria was devastated by Persian invasions which could not be repelled while the bulk of the army was in the West; Egypt saw its most cherished religious convictions attacked in order that the emperor might secure the support of the Roman Church. The West, for which all these sacrifices were made, found the imperial government no improvement over that of the barbarians. Taxes, which had been dwindling away, were reimposed; areas which had been unharmed by the Germans were devastated in the wars of reconquest; the imperial bureaucracy interfered with local autonomy without giving many benefits in return. Even Justinian's most successful enterprise, the modernization and codification of Roman law, was in some ways a