The reign of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian (527-65) stands out in late Roman and medieval history. Justinian re-conquered far-flung territories from the barbarians, overhauled the Empire's administrative framework and codified for posterity the inherited tradition of Roman law. This work represents a modern study in English of the social and economic history of the Eastern Roman Empire in the reign of the Emperor Justinian. Drawing upon papyrological, numismatic, legal, literary and archaeological evidence, the study seeks to reconstruct the emergent nature of relations between landowners and peasants, and aristocrats and emperors in the late antique Eastern Empire. It provides a social and economic context in which to situate the Emperor Justinian's mid-sixth-century reform programme, and questions the implications of the Eastern Empire's pattern of social and economic development under Justinian for its subsequent, post-Justinianic history.