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Michael Kulikowsky sums up early Christian "achievements," which -- contra right-wing hyperbole online & elsewhere -- fractured the Roman empire, leaving it vulnerable to the arriving Muslims: "After 636, when the followers of Muhammad’s new religion burst forth from Arabia, 1/
they found a Roman populace with little or no loyalty to the emperor in Constantinople. Syrians and Egyptians did not resist the Arab armies the way the Italians had resisted imperial forces in the Ostrogothic wars. Justinian’s religious policy had alienated the Christians 2/
of the east to the point at which a heavily taxed life under rulers of a different faith was preferable to the intolerable orthodoxy of an ostensible co-religionist.... A dour fanatic, fragile and immovable by turns, Justinian is as unlikeable as he is mesmerising. With his 3/
preternatural stamina, he changed the course of Western history, if not for the better: his ambitions enfeebled the state he tried to restore and the future he bequeathed to Europe was one of poverty and schism. & yet his Code, Digest and Institutes– the Corpus Iuris Civilis 4/
– are the greatest legal monument ever created. " London Review of Books 3/21 reviewing Frier et al, The Codex of Justinian. 5/
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