Ravenna has eight World Heritages sites--churches, baptisteries,
chapels and monuments dating from the fifth and sixth centuries AD
which are renowned especially for exquisite mosaics portraying
biblical scenes and figures. They were designed, constructed and
decorated over decades during the era of the fall of the western
Roman empire, against a tide of invasion, regime change, conflict
and a destructive Italian civil war. How did Ravenna achieve such
architectural and artistic glory in this era? The book recounts the
city's unique experience as the capital both of the late western
Roman empire and of its successor Gothic kingdoms. It shows the
central role played by its bishops as the early Christian Church
detached itself from the crumbling imperial government. It brings
out the important cultural contribution of the kingdom of Italy
headed by Theodoric the Ostrogoth and the strong links between
Ravenna and the emerging Byzantine empire of the eastern emperor
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