- Series: Rewriting Histories
- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (April 14, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415327423
- ISBN-13: 978-0415327428
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,443,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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From Roman Provinces to Medieval Kingdoms (Rewriting Histories) 1st Edition
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'Noble's editorial interventions provide welcome assistance... Moreover, each essay, and each section of the book, is introduced succinctly by Noble, often with a set of questions that are designed to prompt critical reading... I have no doubt that the book will prove immensely useful... an excellent resource... [This book has] great value and broad appeal: anyone with a serious interest in how modern scholars engage with their past will learn much from Noble's superlative collection.' - Classics Ireland
'an excellent introductioon... this collection is to be commended.' - Journal of Medieval Archaeology
About the Author
Thomas F. X. Noble is Director of the Medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. He is co-author of Western Civilization: The Continuing Experiment (2004) and author of The Republic of St. Peter: The Birth of the Papal State, 680-825 (1998).
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
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I was in fact looking for a good book on the Roman province / Medieval kingdom transition, and while the title seemed promising, as did the opening of the introduction...
"The general problem addressed by this book can be stated by reformulating the book's title as a question: How did the sophisticated administrative structure of the Roman Empire, or at least its western half, give way to a series of medieval kingdoms in the period from about A.D 300 to 600?"
...I quickly discovered that most of the book contained very little that actually addressed the question, let alone provide any kind of coherent overview. The papers in this book are primarily written by academics for academics who are already intimately familiar with a wide number of other published academic works to which they constantly refer, not to mention various arguments that have gone on between academics for decades, mostly on the question of what is knowable or mistaken about barbarians and the finer points of the migration/invasion debate. As I said, this is decidedly _not_ for the layman.
More frustrating, even if one makes the effort to read all of the included papers, one comes away with very little that actually addresses the question the book was supposed to have covered. The book's table of contents gives some hint of the problem:
Part I - Barbarian ethnicity and identity
1. The crisis of European identity (Geary)
2. Gothic history as historical ethnography (Wolfram)
3. Origo et religio: ethnic traditions and literature in early medieval texts (Wolfram)
4. Does the distant past impinge on the invasion age Germans? (Goffart)
5. Defining the Franks: Frankish origins in early medieval histiography (Wood)
6. Telling the difference: signs of ethnic identity (Pohl)
7. Gender and ethnicity in the early middle ages (Pohl)
8. Grave goods and the ritual expression of identity (Effros)
Part II - Accomodating the Barbarians
9. The barbarians in late antiquity and how they were accomodated in the West (Goffart)
10. Archaeologists and migrations: a problem of attitude? (Harke)
11. Movers and shakers: the barbarians and the fall of Rome (Halsall)
12. Foedera and foederati of the fourth century (Heather)
13. Cities, taxes, and the accomodation of the barbarians (Liebeschutz)
Part III - Barbarians and Romans in Merovingian Gaul
14. The two faces of King Childeric: history, archaeology, historiography (LeBecq)
15. Frankish victory celebrations (McCormick)
16. Administration, law, and culture in Merovingian Gaul (Wood)
17. 'Pax et disciplina': Roman public law and the Merovingian state (Murray)
The book does not begin to deal with any transitional issues until the twelfth chapter, and even then only deals with specific aspects and never with the general question. The most useful chapters were the last four, which at the very least provided some clues as to where one should look to find out more about the transition and what took place.
To be fair, I did learn a few interesting things from reading these papers. How the barbarians were not these great massive tribes but rather a myriad of smaller groups with only some tenuous cultural or linguistic connections who were later lumped together as Goths, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and such. How the interpretations of archaeologists have very often been slanted towards supporting contemporary political (nationalistic or ideological) leanings. And how the fading of professional scholarly training forced many early medieval scribes to rely on Formularies, collected samples of earlier Roman documents:
"It is, indeed, possible that the compilation of the Formularies themselves is a mark of decline; the act of drawing up a volume of blue-prints might suggest that scribal activity had become somewhat spasmodic, and that, in place of a local administrative staff well versed in the diplomatic traditions of the later Roman Empire and the successor states, clerics now had to consult a manual before drawing up a new document. In the case of the Angiers Formulary, the compiler apparently drew on diplomas in the archives of the city's basilican church, for the most part omitting specific details, in order to create an appropriate handbook."
But that said, it took a lot of wading through very dense reading to glean even those nuggets out.
I think this book would primarily be of use to scholars interested in the finer points of debate regarding the late-Roman barbarians and how they are now viewed in academic circles. But for anyone interested in the question the book was supposed to actually address, I cannot recommend it. This book will not answer your questions or give you any real understanding of what happened during the 'Roman province into Medieval kingdom' transitional period.