The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
This work is divided into three main parts; "Pax Romana" for chapters 1-3, "Crisis" for chapters 4-7 and "Fall of Empires" for chapters 8-10. I will discuss each of these briefly.
In "Pax Romana" Heather discusses the Barbarians, the Romans, and the Roman Empire briefly. For each of these groups he gives an overview of their development to the latter part of the 4th century, in order to provide us with a starting point for the period of the barbarian invasions. He discusses what it meant to be "Roman" and how even cities far removed from Rome, such as Trier, were fully involved in Roman life and, rather than being rustic frontier outposts, were as fully a part of the Empire as cities of the Italian peninsula. He discusses the increased autonomy of the Emperor and how the Empire changed and adapted to the rise of Sassanid Persia as a threat to the East, including changes in the taxation system to support an increased military presence in that area. He also discusses the evolution of Germanic tribes and their coalescence from small, isolated people into larger, more unified kingdoms, capable of truly threatening Rome rather than just gaining an occasional, ultimately meaningless victory, as had previously been the case.Read more ›
Heather rejects the theories that see the cause of the fall of the Roman Empire in internal maladies. Contra popular opinion, he argues that the division of the Empire to Western and Eastern parts was rational given the increased size of the Roman population. As the Roman way of life spread, and more and more conquered people became Roman citizens, the patronage that had to be distributed became too enormous for any single Imperial Court - hence, the need for two Courts.
Nor is the fault in the Christianization of the Empire; although he acknowledges that the rise of Christianity brought a Cultural Revolution (separation of the Living from the Dead; Equality of all before the Lord; diminished importance for the educated Romans in comparison with the simple true-believers, pp. 121-122), Heather doubts it effected the functioning of the empire much. The Roman Empire was still perceived as divinely blessed "only the nomenclature was different" (p. 123), Christian theology fitted neatly into Roman Chauvinism, and it was only as consequences of defeat that St. Augustine started to develop his anti-Nationalist theology (pp. 230-232).
The best evidence against the "internal decline" thesis is that the Roman Empire did not actually collapse - only it's western half did. In the East, the Roman Empire soldiered on, until another powerful foreign threat - Islam.Read more ›
I know all the big names that have ever written about this: Gibbons, Bury, the many italians and french XIX century scholars, T. Mommsem, Spengler, Toynbee and many many more. Heather is different to all of them. Clear, simple explanations grounded in common sense AND new archeological discoveries make the trick and Heather make it very well. With his approach we see less the monumental and unavoidable development of a macro-dramatic internal "decline and fall" as the simple, direct and at last unbearable action of very obvious facts...once they have been explained by Heather. We simply see an still prosperous empire being gradually overwheelmed by too many enemies that became less barbarian and enough civilized to gather and muster the military forces and pressures that at last, coming from every side, were too much to be resisted anymore by the imperial resources. How this came along centuries of accumulative evolution is the task that brillianty accomplish Mr Heather. At the very least, his book offers a new, refreshing, intriguing view of such a colossal development. So it is a must for any history geek.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoy this era of history, but particularly Peter's bright language. Excellent read.Published 16 hours ago by Lord Thomas
Peter Heather was a very fun and entertaining writer and a great historian.Published 1 month ago by Kincade Engen
Heavy infodump that is not easy too read. Strong and intensive on footnotesPublished 2 months ago by Dornbusch Manuel
Fascinating and a new view on why Rome collapsed. And the author writes well although some editing might have been in order. Read morePublished 2 months ago by James Blaisdell
Peter Heather goes into surprising detail. No stone is left unturned. If an event is recorded in the most obscure of ancient writing, it is brought out in this book. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
This was a good. At times a lot of detail, but I learned a great deal. As with most things in history, it is much more complicated than we know, and this book dies a good job of... Read morePublished 6 months ago by jon vanderheyden
Well, I have expected that this book has many pictures. But, That's not it.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
I was very disappointed by this book. There were a few chapters that had some merit; the author is more in his element when discussing the "barbarians. Read morePublished 7 months ago by N. Perz