Book Review on the Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians

Published: 2021/11/03
Number of words: 2272


Globally, various historians have made attempts to convince people that the drier they can compose history, the higher their documentation are ranked in the academic arena, arguing how the Roman Empire did not fall. However, there are evident changes as well as continuity gently mutated in the monarchies of ancient medieval Europe. In his book, “The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians, “Peter Heather gives room to a fraction of reality in this though he affirms that 476 marked a disastrous ending. The culture of the Romans survived till the current era in spite of the efforts raised by the loutish education secretaries. Rome was an organizing political might but was driven to an end. The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians is the kind of history book that challenges received wisdom while arguing the author’s case forcefully instead of chronological history analysis. Considering the book’s ten lengthy chapters, it is a thorough look at the way distinct ethnic groups of Rome’s barbarism drove Rome into ruin and redesigned Europe into different states that are the apparent precursor states of current Europe.

Summary of content

Heather as the author of the book, is a military historian who has perfected his job. The author’s narrative of the events in the first four centuries is straightforward and directed, supported by sixteen elaborate maps. The maps are validating the text most since they elucidate it helpfully. The maps are drawn accurately and precisely while matching and highlighting what the author is illustrating in his prose. They are, however, not accredited in any section of the book, which is not suitable since it is challenging to encompass the best intentions during map addition in the book. The illustrations by comparisons can be predicted in the extreme good for new entrants but not invoking any thought or interest to the academic readers.

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According to the book, there was much transformation. In the fourth century, the Romans reached deep into the northern region of Europe, and by the fifth century, the empire in the western region was already gone. During the fifth century, the barbarians were creating their kingdoms in the entire region of the Roman territory. The sudden change gave way to the process that originated centuries before and far away. The changes conducted operations for a millennium connecting the continent from the Atlantic to the Volga as well as the Baltic to the Mediterranean. It shows that the changes happened in a relatively speedy mode if all things were considered. The actual strength of the author in the book is approaching the question without a terminal point in his thoughts or with no teleological approach. Also, the author reliance on comparative migration studies to teach the mode and reasons of people’s movement. Comparing the Rwandans fleeing to Congo in the book about the barbarians might seem misplaced though the author has deployed them ideally to bolster the case.

The central argument in the book intimately links development together with migration. It is broadly accepted currently and was unsurprisingly real in the past though the author describes well how subtle distinctions in development affect the modes and flaws of migration. For instance, at the commencement of the Viking period, Denmark had a stable kingdom. The relative wealth in comparison to Britain as well as Carolingian Europe led Viking raiding parties to depart. The subsequent return of the raiding parties was wealthier and transformed into a fighting force that destabilized the kingdom. The relation between migration and development carried on, but the political structure only took place until local resistance to Viking raiding parties upgraded. It resulted in the great armies’ phase of Viking conquest as structuring as well as minor raids were replaced by more extensive assaults with fighters numbering higher than before. Exact patterns are observed in the roman main, periphery or semi-periphery in the movements of the Ostrogoths to Italy, North Africa and Spain, as well as Anglo-Saxons in England.

The specific intriguing point of the author is the way he described the way the collapse of the Hunnic Empire led to chaos that individuals had no better alternative than to invade the Romans. The Huns were not directly neighbouring the Romans. At the same time, the ancient sources surrounding the illiterate nomadic people were not wealthy. However, they had a loose empire in the central European region far from the roman’s centre of power. Much authority was thrown to the interested parties after Attila’s death, leading to a broad ruin and loss of lives. Most people were driven to the western side, where there was relative stability together with wealth in the roman fifth century. However, it is pretty suggestive that if Attila were perfect at organizing the succession, would Rome have fallen at that time? The question leads to another question. If the migration of the warriors from Germanic Europe into old Rome had not happened on such a mega scale, could slaves have moved afterwards and dominated Eastern Europe as a group? With less distributed Slavic settlement, it is possible not to imagine though it could have occurred.

The critical line of the book’s argument is a typical one. Heather argues that the comings of the Huns in the scene of the west Eurasian had an impact in extricating and pushing other populace along frontiers in Rome, peddling them to look for refuge and vacation within the domains of the traditional roman. In several contingent predicaments, the ability of Rome to administer and organize the refugees and would-be residents shrunken. It was later followed by the failure of the tax base that may possibly raise the warriors to oppose and the Hunnic pressures. The Roman Empire ended when the Huns were nowhere to be seen.[1]. What were terminated in 476 were any trials to sustain the Western Roman Empire as an overarching supra-regional political fragment. The author affirms that the exogenous effects are of significant significance, reducing blame for moral decay, taxation, and religious zealotry.

Into this current, challenging environment rode the Huns. Their effect on the Roman world was from the start circuitous. Their development across southern Russia caused vast numbers of crushed and frantic Gothic tribe members to look for asylum behind Rome’s Danube wilderness. When the Goths crossed into the Roman domain, notwithstanding, the savageries and blackmails of neighbourhood Roman military lead representatives and traders incited them to revolt and set up their semi-free state.

One of the major things omitted in the book is a thoughtful sagacity of the situation, specifically as it is learned in the most recent generation’s work. Although the author is attentive in flattering as well as reading the most recent age bracket of scholarship, it had less impact on him. Heather was well conscious of C.R Whittaker on the symbiotic relations as well as the development of relations around the Roman frontiers. However, there is much suspicion that the common reader of the quantity will find fewer merits from it. It much requires a much scholarly perspective to notice that the qualifications are made and dropped. Heather does not mention the outflow of work on the late antique building of the empire except demurring at the conclusions made by Patrick Amory and Walter Goffart.

Assessment of the book value

One of the book’s key strengths is the way it has rejected the Marxist interpretations of the occurrences in Europe during the era. The book’s content is very materialistic and, in a way, argues that the material factors affect behaviours as well as the results. However, the simplistic slavery and manorialism, feudalism, and modernity representation of vulgar Marxist development theory are not present and mocked widely. There is also an old thought of people made up of men, women, children, and the old dominating the roman frontiers that brought down the empire and commonly milling down Europe. Currently, the idea is academically outdated for an extended period since it was predominant in the 19th-century nationalists. Although the author also skewers the individuals who go too far the other way and attempt to suppose that the migration did not occur and that individuals just upgraded and adjusted culture occasionally without any migratory influence.

The book had an aspect that was seriously off-putting in a way to the reader. However, it may be less for some readers as the flippant lecture-platform approach. Most of the book pages read in a way that seems to be scooped from ancient history lectures in oxford by colonel Blimp’s great-grandson, who addressed the later generations of Bertie Wooster. It is significant to recognize that reader’s preferences will vary, and what might seem to be incurably vulgar to one reader might be witty to other readers. Although, borrowing an analytical approach from the television commentators’ language has a pernicious impact. For instance, in the book Heather says that Augustine’s instantaneous answer addressed to the Christianity critics concerned by the sack of Rome in 410 was of direct Yahboo sucks calibre. One reader’s preference might be repelled through their intellect regards the description of the book of the City of God. It might seem to be a complicated reincarnation of Cicero with a sly impact as basically wrong.[2]. Also, his words regarding one thing. The Visigothic super group settled so soon in the Aquitaine got uppity for the second time that aspired to an ostentatious responsibility in the organization of the territory than the piece of 418 had permitted them[3]. The words might leave a reader baffled at just what the predicaments referred to. On the other hand, observing the “uppity” makes it sure and outright on the author’s side. The standard reference of the Visigoths as the supergroup is a style that can lead to an absurd mischaracterization of Constantine porphyrogenitus to preserve classical learning.[4].

In the end, the book is too linear in squabble since it is too much devoted to particular pleading to one procession of argument to ensure the sustainability of victory on a dominated field of interpreters. The author has an enhanced sequence of events history for the content readers who want to dig much into the occurrences. The author drives the notion that immigrants can be very detrimental to society. The major criticism of the book is the lack of other genders except for men. There are limited historical as well as archaeological sources for children and women. The limited sources of women and children are not entirely engaged in the text. The only single event that women prominently feature is during the detailed discussions of the women that the Vikings were marrying.

Regarding the DNA, evidence from Iceland suggested that the Vikings collected their wives on their way in either a peaceful or violent manner. Sexual harassment is much dominant in the text but has not touched any details regarding it. The DNA evidence is used sparingly throughout the text, where an updated one drawing updated information might assist in informing more of the darker regions of the initial millennia era.

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The book is a phenomenal one since it adapts to the barbarians of Europe. By introducing things through the perspective of near relocations, this book makes it a lot clearer why and how it is anything but a smart thought for Theodoric the Amal to go through years driving the Visigoths here and there the Balkan Peninsula, sack Rome and get comfortable southwest Gaul. The combination of political push and the monetary draw is conspicuous to everybody. Showing the example rehashing and the conditions required, Heather carries us nearer to considering our ancestors as significantly more like us than we some of the time envision. His depiction of why individuals moved to address the other inquiry suggested why they halted. They halted because monetary advancement shepherded early state development to where individuals would like to stand and battle than flee and that rootedness to is additionally simple to sympathize.

Famous historians are supposed to aim at replacing the latest novel on a young lady’s bedside table. They, therefore, necessitate a fine narrative, a simple approach as well as academic brilliance. Heather has demonstrated mastery of all three demonstrating histories on so many ranks. The author has indicated what happened, what might have resulted, the writers of the great content, survivors, the ever adjusting perceptions, the current archaeological evidence and Gibbon remains a classic. Heather has updated Gibbon with equal zest and in a compassionate way of one-sixth of the text. Readers might be irritated or charmed by Heather’s informal writing style and utility of the British slang that might mystify occasionally. Although, such blemishes aside or surface ornaments show the book’s seriousness, how it is forcefully written, and highly enjoyable reconsiderations.


Santosuosso, Antonio. “The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians. By Peter Heather. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006. Pp. xvi, 572. $40.00.).” (2007): 1-605.

[1] Santosuosso, Antonio. “The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians. By Peter Heather. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006. Pp. xvi, 572. $40.00.).” (2007): 385-396.

[2] Antonio. “The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians, 231

[3] Ibid.,263

[4] Ibid., 145-164

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