Who 'lost' Christian North Africa? Who won it and how? Walter Kaegi examines these perennial questions, with maps and on-site observations, in this exciting book. Persisting clouds of suspicion and blame overshadowed many Byzantine attempts to defend North Africa, as Byzantines failed to meet the multiple challenges from different directions which ultimately overwhelmed them. While the Muslims forcefully and permanently turned Byzantine internal dynastic and religious problems and military unrest to their advantage, they brought their own strengths to a dynamic process that would take a long time to complete - the transformation of North Africa. An impartial comparative framework helps to sort through identity politics, 'Orientalism' charges and counter-charges, and institutional controversies; this book also includes a study of the decisive battle of Sbeitla in 647, helping readers to understand what befell Byzantium, and indeed empires from Rome to the present.
Walter E. Kaegi is Professor of History at the University of Chicago where he has been teaching Byzantine, late antique, early Islamic and military history since 1965. He is the co-founder of the Byzantine Studies Conference and the president of the US National Committee for Byzantine Studies. Previous books include Army, Society and Religion in Byzantium (1982), Some Thoughts on Byzantine Military Strategy (1983), Byzantium and the Early Islamic Conquests (Cambridge, 1992) and Heraclius, Emperor of Byzantium (Cambridge, 2003).
1. Challenges of the subject and the sources; 2. Historiographical hurdles; 3. Fragmented geographical and logistical realities; 4. Christian contexts in seventh-century North Africa; 5. The military heritage of Heraclius on the eve of Muslim military operations; 6. The shock of Sbeitla; 7. Options for offensives and resistance; 8. The riddle of Constans II; 9. Muslim interests, calculations, and leadership; 10. The shift to tribal resistance; 11. The fall of Carthage and its aftermath; 12. The failures of two cities of Constantine.