Our narrative ends as Justinian, that dominating figure of early Byzantine history, is about to make his appearance. His seemingly great achievements were only made possible by the huge fiscal and military resources bequeathed to him by Anastasius, and the underlying political stability provided by the tenacious, selfrenewing institutions of the Constantinople establishment which had emerged, strengthened and self-conscious, through the crises of the fifth century. Justinian’s dramatic reconquests of Africa, Italy and Illyricum, so widely admired then and today, were achieved only at enormous cost to the empire’s total resources and proved to be short-lived. However militarily and diplomatically impressive they were to other states, they badly overstretched the East’s deployable strength and steadily evaporated after Justinian’s death. The old Roman empire could not be restored in this way, or indeed any other way.