The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization

OUP Oxford
17
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Why did Rome fall? Vicious barbarian invasions during the fifth century resulted in the cataclysmic end of the world's most powerful civilization, and a 'dark age' for its conquered peoples. Or did it? The dominant view of this period today is that the 'fall of Rome' was a largely peaceful transition to Germanic rule, and the start of a positive cultural transformation. Bryan Ward-Perkins encourages every reader to think again by reclaiming the drama and violence of the last days of the Roman world, and reminding us of the very real horrors of barbarian occupation. Attacking new sources with relish and making use of a range of contemporary archaeological evidence, he looks at both the wider explanations for the disintegration of the Roman world and also the consequences for the lives of everyday Romans, in a world of economic collapse, marauding barbarians, and the rise of a new religious orthodoxy. He also looks at how and why successive generations have understood this period differently, and why the story is still so significant today.
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About the author

Bryan Ward-Perkins is a lecturer in Modern History at the University of Oxford, and Fellow and Tutor in History at Trinity College. Born and brought up in Rome, he has excavated extensively in Italy, primarily sites of the immediate post-Roman period. His principal interests are in combining historical and archaeological evidence, and in understanding the transition from Roman to post-Roman times. A joint editor of The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. XIV, his previous publications include From Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, also published by Oxford University Press.
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Additional Information

Publisher
OUP Oxford
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Published on
Jul 13, 2006
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9780191622366
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Ancient / General
History / Ancient / Rome
History / Europe / General
History / Europe / Medieval
Social Science / Archaeology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The death of the Roman Empire is one of the perennial mysteries of world history. Now, in this groundbreaking book, Peter Heather proposes a stunning new solution: Centuries of imperialism turned the neighbors Rome called barbarians into an enemy capable of dismantling an Empire that had dominated their lives for so long. A leading authority on the late Roman Empire and on the barbarians, Heather relates the extraordinary story of how Europe's barbarians, transformed by centuries of contact with Rome on every possible level, eventually pulled the empire apart. He shows first how the Huns overturned the existing strategic balance of power on Rome's European frontiers, to force the Goths and others to seek refuge inside the Empire. This prompted two generations of struggle, during which new barbarian coalitions, formed in response to Roman hostility, brought the Roman west to its knees. The Goths first destroyed a Roman army at the battle of Hadrianople in 378, and went on to sack Rome in 410. The Vandals spread devastation in Gaul and Spain, before conquering North Africa, the breadbasket of the Western Empire, in 439. We then meet Attila the Hun, whose reign of terror swept from Constantinople to Paris, but whose death in 453 ironically precipitated a final desperate phase of Roman collapse, culminating in the Vandals' defeat of the massive Byzantine Armada: the west's last chance for survival. Peter Heather convincingly argues that the Roman Empire was not on the brink of social or moral collapse. What brought it to an end were the barbarians.
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