This is a history of Italy in medieval times, the the creation of the city-states in the wake of the Roman Empire's collapse. 6th century that focuses on the Byzantine Empire and its most famous emperor, Justinian, who attempted to reconquer the former Western Roman Empire. From the preface: "When, in the early part of the eighteenth century, Italy was in measure released from Spanish subjection, the immediate revival of letters and scholarship gave evidence that the natural force and genius of the people had, indeed, been silenced by oppression, but were still quick. Giambattista Vico and others investigated the laws of progress; Ludovico Antonio Muratori, aided by Scipione Maffei of Verona and Apostolo Zeno of Venice, examined original sources of information, and their stupendous labours issued in a multitude of ponderous tomes that remain the precious possessions of the scholar, and furnish him, not merely with a vast body of authentic fact, but even with the beginnings of explanation. These Italians concerned themselves with the mediaeval records of their country; then, as when Italy became united, the first effort of her sons was to discover and reconstruct her history.