State aristocracy : resident senators and absent emperors in Late-Antique Rome, c. 320-400
University of Cambridge
Faculty of Classics
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Weisweiler, J. (2011). State aristocracy : resident senators and absent emperors in Late-Antique Rome, c. 320-400 (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.11694
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In the early fourth century AD, the Roman Empire underwent at least two significant transformations in the ways it was governed. Firstly, Rome ceased to be the residence of emperors. From the last visit of the emperor Constantine in 326 until the end of the century, there were only two imperial visits to Rome. Secondly, a series of ceremonial, institutional and fiscal recalibrations magnified the visibility and extractive capacity of the imperial state. This doctoral thesis explores the impact of these developments on senators in Rome. Late Roman aristocrats were an imperial aristocracy, whose social life, cultural identity and economic survival were inextricably intertwined with the institutions of the Roman state. Imperial withdrawal and the late-antique strenghthening of imperial institutions did not lead to the outbreak of a fierce ideological conflict between resident senators and court, but rather intensified divisions within aristocratic society. New fiscal pressures, a rise in competitive expenditure and a narrowing of access to senior government posts had the consequence that many aristocrats could no longer participate in the competition for honour, wealth and offices. But not all suffered from the new configuration of power. After imperial . withdrawal, resident aristocrats were no longer the the proclaimed peers and potential rivals of the emperor. As a result, the most successful and imperiallyfavoured amongst them enjoyed chances for enrichment, patronage and self-display which far exceeded those of early imperial senators. A gap opened between few successful aristocrats, deeply involved in imperial government and ready to spend vast sums in the pursuit of their ambitions, and others who could no longer participate in the harsh competition for imperial and popular favour.
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.11694