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The Invasion of Europe by the Barbarians Paperback – August 17, 2000


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The Invasion of Europe by the Barbarians + History of the Later Roman Empire: From the Death of Theodosius I to the Death of Justinian (Volume 1) + History of the Later Roman Empire: From the Death of Theodosius I to the Death of Justinian (Volume 2)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; New edition edition (August 17, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393003884
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393003888
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #663,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

J. B. Bury taught history for many years at the University of Cambridge.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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The only shortcoming of the book is the absence of maps.
George R Dekle
First, he said "Western Empire" is improper; it was the western provinces of the Empire, as there was really only one Empire.
Tim F. Martin
This book of 291 pages is a fascinating read with a short index.
Efrem Sepulveda

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 84 people found the following review helpful By George R Dekle on April 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
Bury tells of the dismantling of the Roman Empire in the West by the Germanic tribes. This book is based on a series of lectures delivered by Bury at Cambridge University. He begins with a description of German life in the forests outside the Empire and then tells how population pressures and migrations eventually ruptured the border of the Roman Empire, letting in tribe after tribe of German warriors.
They came as federates, seldom thinking of themselves as conquerors, seeking to partake of the goodness of Roman civilization, not destroy it. Seen in this light, the Western Empire didn't so much fall as fade away under the successive waves of migrating tribes.
Most history books date the fall of the Western Empire from the date on which Odovacer deposed the last Western Emperor, Romulus Augustulus. Bury makes the point that Odovacer and his successors, the Ostrogoths, recognized the authority of the Eastern Emperor. It wasn't until the Lombard invasion that a completely independent German state was set up in Italy.
My misconception always was that the Germans were pagan invaders. The major tribes of the invasion were all Christians. They weren't Catholic, they subscribed to the heretical doctrine of Arianism. Bury makes a compelling case that the Ostrogothic kingdom's short existence was caused by the fact that Italy was largely Catholic and hostile to their heretical overlords.
It is interesting that the first lasting Germanic kingdom was established by the Frankish king, Clovis, who converted to Catholicism. Bury makes the case that Clovis converted to Catholicism, not because of a battlefield prayer for victory and a sign from heaven, but because of a calculated decision of statecraft by a shrewd politician.
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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book that goes into great detail of how the barbarians went into the Roman Empire. It looks at how they were successful in establishing themselves as federates and how they basically became a part of the Roman Empire. It goes into great detail about many of the different barbarian groups. For example, it discusses the Visigoths, the Ostragoths, the Lombards, the Huns, Gepids, and many more. In conclusion, the book shows the side of the barbarians. Too often the barbarians are looked at from the Roman side because that is where most historians get the records from. However, J. B. Bury takes it from the Barbarian side and shows why they wanted to come into the Roman Empire. They really didn't want to destroy it, they just wanted a better way of living. Bury is an easy writer to read and it is written to a way you could teach it because it is broken up into 15 lectures. Highly recommended if you want to learn about the barbarians that invaded the Roman Empire and its outcome.
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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Bob Lehner on June 9, 1998
Format: Paperback
From a day when authors did not have to worry about offending people, and history could be truly nigh objective, J. B. Bury gives us a compilation of 15 of his most delicious lectures on the decline of Rome in the West between 375 and 575 A.D. He goes into great detail about the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Franks, Lombards, Vandals, and the Huns. I found this book to be an easy read; the lectures have been conveniently divided into sub-categories, making it even easier to understand the main points of each chapter. The book, while very entertaining, did become VERY boring in one of the Ostrogothic lectures, and I shall warn you, the beginning is moderately slow and boring. Fret not! It goes somewhere, and somewhere very interesting, I shall like to add. Great read, buy it today!
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Luciano Lupini on August 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
A clear introduction to the period of the barbarian invasions that led to important transformations of the Roman Empire, paved the way to its dismemberment, and started the transition from roman to medieval Europe, from A. D. 247 until the fifth century. From the historical perspective, of importance is the insistence of the author on the gradual encroachment of Barbarism upon Romanism during this period. The author, Professor Bury, was appointed (in 1902) successor to Lord Acton as holder of the Chair of Modern History at the University of Cambridge. A reputed scholar, he is well known for his illustrated edition of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1909) as well as his own seminal works Constitution of the Later Roman Empire (1910) and History of the Roman Empire (1923).

Not envisioned by Bury originally as a book, this is an ensemble of lectures given by him at the University (and edited by Professor Hearnshaw, from King's College at the University of London). This vivid excursion through the "barbarization" of the Empire, starts with a reference to the early German history and Gothic migrations. Then an account of the first invasions of the Goths in the third century follows, with a description of the Visigothic invasion of Dacia and the Ostrogothic settlements. According to Bury it is during the third century that the extension and heterogeneity of the Roman Empire led to a natural tendency of the parts of this huge empire to fall asunder. Two great subdivisions appeared- a western or Latin section and an eastern or Greek section. The emperor Diocletian was convinced that the empire was too extended to be ruled by one emperor and so he concocted a scheme to put it under two coequal emperors.
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