Synopses & Reviews
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.
"A rich and dramatic synthesis....What Mr. Heather offers is not easy analogies but a realization of the complex strangeness of the past the achievement of a great historian." New York Sun
"Like a late Roman emperor, Heather is determined to impose order on a fabric that is always threatening to fragment and collapse into confusion; unlike most late Roman emperors, he succeeds triumphantly." The Times (UK)
"Deftly covering the necessary economic and political realities of decline and fall, Heather also presents the stories and the characters of this tumultuous epoch, in a colorful and enthralling narrative." The Independent (UK)
"The outcome is a conclusion Heather finds pleasing...that Roman imperialism was ultimately responsible for its own demise." Paul Cartledge, University of Cambridge
About the Author
teaches at King's College, London. A leading authority on the barbarians, he is the author of The Goths, Goths and Romans
, and The Huns
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Romans
Chapter 2: Barbarians
Chapter 3: The Limits of Empire
Chapter 4: War on the Danube
Chapter 5: The City of God
Chapter 6: Out of Africa
Chapter 7: Attila the Hun
Chapter 8: The Fall of the Hunnic Empire
Chapter 9: End of Empire
Chapter 10: The Fall of Rome
Notes / Bibliography
Timeline / Glossary