Responsive governance and population well-being in later Antiquity (3rd – 5th c.)

01 January 2024 → 31 December 2026
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Ancient history
Late Antiquity Responsive government Population well-being
Project description

For governments across the world today, ensuring population well-being is one of their core tasks. This project wishes to add a historical dimension to this debate by studying population well-being under the later Roman Empire (3rd-5th c.). Whereas both individual happiness and the functioning of the later Roman Empire are well-studied topics, thus far, there has been little overlap between these two fields of research. This project bridges that gap, in order to shed light on population well-being and the role of the later Roman Empire in ensuring it. To do so, it combines the expertise of a Flemish and a South African team of researchers in order to examine a variety of sources ranging from letters and speeches to kingship treatises. Together, these sources will allow to chart what elements of population well-being received government attention, what role was played by mediators between those in need and those in power, which levels of the late antique state were involved, and how this involvement (or lack thereof) was ideologically conceptualised. Apart from shedding new light on ancient popular well-being and the role of the later Roman Empire in this, the project will thus add historical depth and offer ‘a tool to think with’ for contemporary population well-being studies.