Greatest monarchs of the 6th century AD

#41
Again, nobody is faulting Justinian for being pro-active in all of his non-military projects. Many of them are unarguably positive things. But being "pro-active" in war generally means being the aggressor, and with only a few exceptions that is not a wholly good thing. It was arguably good in North Africa, but terrible with Italy.
We appear to be talking past one another, so I'll clarify my position. I haven't suggested that anyone is faulting Justinian for being proactive. But I have received a couple of replies explicitly referring to the nature and results of his proactivity. That being a topic under discussion, I wished to draw attention to the positive aspects of his proactivity. This is after all relevant to the OP, and not everyone reading the thread is necessarily aware of all the things that Justinian did besides the already-noted launching of a war against the Ostrogoths.

And to clarify for all readers, while I have expressed and explained my appreciation for proactivity among Roman emperors, I certainly do not think that proactivity is always a good thing. That would of course be a silly proposition. Take the example of Diocletian. A notoriously proactive ruler who accomplished much good for the empire, his desire to serve the empire's interests also led him to persecute the Christians and Manicheans, and to institute the ambitious failure that was the maximum prices edict.
 
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#42
One can only speculate now - but the development of the Visigothic state eventually led to a terminal decline and an unsustainable government/economy/oppression (according to the most likely theory) which was of course roundly taken advantage of by the arabs. Strong and effective rulers of the Goths seemed to come along every few decades at best, and the political/clan shenanigans surpass almost anything else we know about.

It's only since that we call them Visi and Ostro - they were all Goths. So after the death of Theodoric the Great, it was all going to end in tears one way or another, unless they were very, very lucky!

Another of my opinions is that after centuries of basically wandering about, occupying and running/inheriting a fixed state from the Empire didn't really work!! Whilst also practising a unique combination of obsessive Christianity with brutality and cruelty
Are there any Visigothic rulers of the sixth century that you would consider to be great then? Or are they all terrible to mediocre?
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,097
Netherlands
#43
He was ruler of what would become the papal states, but the process in which the papacy truly came to administer their holdings in Italy as part of an independent realm is a long-term process that really only gets going in the seventh century. Gregory's letters reveal a deference to imperial authority, which matches the administration of Italy. His immediate political overlord was the doux of Rome, and then the exarch in Ravenna. Gregory didn't see eastern and western churches. To him there was only the imperial church and he seems to have had a hard time imagining anything like "Latin Christendom". He saw himself as an active part of that church, and keeping the church in order was part of keeping the state safe. His conflict with the position in the ecclesiastical hierarchy of the patriarch of Constantinople should be seen in that light: emperors can be chastised, and being part of the empire means providing correction when he believes it necessary. See Dal Santo, Matthew. “Gregory the Great, the Empire and the Emperor.” In A Companion to Gregory the Great, edited by Bronwen Neil and Matthew Dal Santo, 57–81. Leiden: Brill, 2013.
I am not disagreeing as such, but the chap was the ruler of Rome and its estates. And he basically ensured that the pope was the religious leader in the west.
 
Mar 2016
1,106
Australia
#44
That being a topic under discussion, I wished to draw attention to the positive aspects of his proactivity
Yes, you can do that as much as you want (which has been near constant), but my point is that you shouldn't make a blanket statement and say that everything he did was good because it was pro-active. Some of these pro-active things were good, others were not. You shouldn't only put a spotlight to the positive things he did, and ignore the negative ones. That just means you're indulging in hero-worship, not critical evaluations.
 
Jun 2017
2,881
Connecticut
#45
In Europe, the most remarkable one was easily Justinian, followed by Theodoric maybe?

In the Middle East, the Sasanian kings were enjoying a golden age so it was mostly them.

In the far east, Emperor Wen of Sui was easily the greatest.

Did other more competent kings ruled during this century?
Justinian who was the general behind the reconquests. I feel the main story of this century is the Romans fighting back and recovering most of the Western Empire and Justinians the King of that faction. Theodoric the Great is the only person I can think of with "the Great" title from this century but his faction survived like 30 years after his death how great can one be with a legacy like that?

Clovis did some stuff in this century saw him noted but he unified the Franks what not in the 5th century. This is the century where King Arthur or the person who the legend of King Arthur was based on lived so he's an interesting choice as well. Khosrow I is often cited as a great Sasanian King but I hold Khosrow II in higher regard for extending further West than any Middle Eastern ruler since Antiochus the Great(even though he lost since when has that stopped us from recognizing rulers who went down in flames in impressive manner?) Feel like there was an important Pope this century who really expanded the church sent out missionarys that converted places far and wide like Ireland, names escaping me.
 
#46
Yes, you can do that as much as you want (which has been near constant)
I received replies highlighting the negative and questioning the value of his proactivity, and I responded by detailing the positive. This should not be surprising. As long as people are directly responding to my posts, I am likely to reply.

but my point is that you shouldn't make a blanket statement and say that everything he did was good because it was pro-active.
I never said any such thing. I stated that I am personally impressed by his proactivity. This statement does not mean that everything he did ended up doing had a good result. It means that he transcended the usual mode of emperorship in the pursuit of what he deemed to be in the empire's interests. But I've already pointed this out several times (and will continue to do so as long as it appears to require clarification).

Some of these pro-active things were good, others were not. You shouldn't only put a spotlight to the positive things he did, and ignore the negative ones. That just means you're indulging in hero-worship, not critical evaluations.
I did not originally even highlight the positive things he did during his reign (post 24). I merely pointed out why I am personally impressed by Justinian's proactivity, and provided a vague idea of the extent of his proactivity, while indeed acknowledging the destruction that the war brought upon Italy. If you think that this amounts to hero worship, well then I consider this opinion unreasonable. If other users are going to highlight the negative side of things, I will highlight the other side, because, as it happens, this is a discussion, not an exposition, and so it's not incumbent upon me to cover both angles in a single original post clarifying why I like Justinian. Not only did my original post on his proactivity actually acknowledge the devastation of Italy anyway, but others are welcome to discuss the faults of Justinian's reign, and they have. This discussion began because a user argued for a negative aspect, and so I responded with what I consider to be a positive aspect.
 
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