Due to unplanned maintenance of the back-end systems supporting article purchase on Cambridge Core, we have taken the decision to temporarily suspend article purchase for the foreseeable future. We apologise for any inconvenience caused whilst we work with the relevant teams to restore this service.
Most centuries can be said to have been, in one way or another, a watershed for Byzantium, but the case for the seventh century is particularly strong. At the beginning of the century, the Byzantine empire formed part of a political configuration that had been familiar for centuries: it was a world centred on the Mediterranean and bounded to the east by the Persian empire, in which most of the regions surrounding mare nostrum formed a single political entity – the Roman (or Byzantine) empire. It was a world whose basic economic unit was still the city and its hinterland; although it had lost much of its political significance, the city retained the social, economic and cultural high ground.