The decline and fall of the ancient triumph

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter argues that although victory remained absolutely central to
royal ideals and imagery, there was a crucial change between the late Roman and
the early medieval western worlds. Though key features remained (processions etc.) there was a decisive shift of emphasis towards Christian celebration presided over by the church; towards thanksgiving rather than praise; and towards Old Testament imagery. It is argued that a key phase of this shift took place after the Justinianic wars of the mid-sixth century. This change is explained in terms of the renegotiation of the ideological bases of power caused by Justinian’s wars and the end of the Roman Empire. In this more Christian mode of thought, credit for victory was not appropriately given to mortal warriors, however skilful. Finally, the developments in the nature of ‘triumphal’ rulership are ascribed to a change in the ‘geo-political’ nature of the West and perhaps to a difference in the types of warfare being waged.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDer römische Triumph in Prinzipat und Spätantike
EditorsFabian Goldbeck, Johannes Weinand
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherDe Gruyter
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-11-044800-9
ISBN (Print)978-3-11-044568-8
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2017

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