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Author Topic: Fall of the Roman Empire
Webgear
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posted 12 February 2008 06:31 PM      Profile for Webgear     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Recently I have became interested in the fall of the Roman Empire, does anyone have book recommendations on this subject?

One of the areas of interest that has peaked my interest is the migration of the Germanic tribes and the effects they had on the Roman Empire.

I would prefer on line references or documents if possible however any help would be great.


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RosaL
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posted 12 February 2008 06:36 PM      Profile for RosaL     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Webgear:
Recently I have became interested in the fall of the Roman Empire, does anyone have book recommendations on this subject?

One of the areas of interest that has peaked my interest is the migration of the Germanic tribes and the effects they had on the Roman Empire.

I would prefer on line references or documents if possible however any help would be great.


I haven't read this one yet but it's on my list.

(It's "The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians" by Peter Heather, for anyone who doesn't feel like clicking the link.)


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Yibpl
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posted 12 February 2008 07:21 PM      Profile for Yibpl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
To understand how it fell, understanding how it formed is important. I recommend Plutarch's "Makers of Rome" and "Fall of the Republic". M. Cary and H.H. Scullard's "A History of Rome" covers the decline period very well.

There are some who say the Roman Empire never fell. Some argue that the Roman Empire co-opted Christianity and formed the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church (and thus the Roman Empire) still exists to this day and exerts influence and levies taxes (tithes) around the globe.


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M.Gregus
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posted 13 February 2008 04:49 AM      Profile for M.Gregus     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
How about Gibbon's The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire? It's considered one of the classics on the topic.
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oldgoat
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posted 13 February 2008 06:13 AM      Profile for oldgoat     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
There are some who say the Roman Empire never fell. Some argue that the Roman Empire co-opted Christianity and formed the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church (and thus the Roman Empire) still exists to this day and exerts influence and levies taxes (tithes) around the globe.

There is that point of view, and it goes beyond. it may be argued that it less fell, but the sort of defining social institutions in some case disappeared, and in some cases morphed and merged with the dynamic new European movement to form something new.

Webgear, how entry level are you on this?

Gibbon might not be the best place to start.


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M.Gregus
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posted 13 February 2008 08:45 AM      Profile for M.Gregus     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yeah, I'm not sure at what level Gibbon would fall on the topic. It's probably not the best introductory reading, especially with its turn of the 18th century prose. Might be better as a reference at first.
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Bacchus
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posted 13 February 2008 08:48 AM      Profile for Bacchus     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Go for Michael Grant or Peter Heather. Both of them have very good books on the fall of Rome.
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Fidel
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posted 13 February 2008 09:00 AM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think everyone and his dog has an explanation as to why Rome fell into decline. I like the one that says rich Romans, toward the end, refused to pay taxes in support of empire. Once considered well-paid and status symbols of the empire itself, Roman soldiers became little more than bribed hirelings of the barbarian hordes attacking the empire. Church priests and monks then became keepers of the written word and would wield some influence during the dark ages in the Western world.

Similarly, Khan rule was said to deteriorated when elitist Mongols thought they were above paying taxes. They thought cake and eat it, too. A peasant revolt chased them out of China.


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oldgoat
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posted 13 February 2008 09:21 AM      Profile for oldgoat     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think (with some exceptions) everybody and his dog is at least a bit right, and is looking at a small part of the big picture. Thre are small picture and big picture historians, and it all works best when they get along.

Some will tell you, and I might myself, that the foundation of the destruction of the Empire was laid in the second/first century BCE with population expansions and a southern pressure of movement from northern most Europe. This was going on as Rome was ramping up to it's zenith. The social and structural fault lines which were to crack by the fourth century were as yet invisible, and no one in their right mind could have predicted the demise of the Empire.


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N.Beltov
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posted 13 February 2008 10:36 AM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
External influences, "barbarian" invasions, disturbances at home, the loss of provinces like Gaul, Britain and Spain, were all factors but it's worth underling social conflict within Roman society and the emergence of the Colonate (renting land out) from within the slave society.

Laws were passed restricting the power and rights of slave-owners. Prisons for slaves on individual estates were done away with, it was made illegal to keep slaves permanently in fetters, slave-owners were no longer allowed to put their slaves to death, etc., etc.. Any worthwhile history of the decline/collapse of the Roman Empire has got to address this fundamental change from a slave economy to the feudal system. For its time I suppose it was progress.


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martin dufresne
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posted 13 February 2008 11:06 AM      Profile for martin dufresne   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Generalized gradual poisoning from their water works system (lead pipes). Couldn't happen here. (Well, maybe in Ontario.)
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RosaL
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posted 13 February 2008 11:07 AM      Profile for RosaL     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by N.Beltov:
Any worthwhile history of the decline/collapse of the Roman Empire has got to address this fundamental change from a slave economy to the feudal system. For its time I suppose it was progress.

Beltov, can you recommend a history that does address this?


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N.Beltov
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posted 13 February 2008 11:11 AM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I know one for Greece but not for Rome. For the former see G.E.M. de Sainte Croix's The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World.

ETA: As long as a history of the decline of the Roman Empire doesn't focus exclusively on ideological factors, like Christianity for example, and points to internal causes of the historical changes I don't suppose it can be all bad.

I've got to admit I've been more interested lately in the transition from feudalism to capitalism since I'm of the opinion that understanding the origin of capitalism will help me to better understand its demise.

And I'm definitely interested in the latter. Heh.

[ 13 February 2008: Message edited by: N.Beltov ]


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Webgear
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posted 13 February 2008 01:22 PM      Profile for Webgear     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by oldgoat:

Webgear, how entry level are you on this?

Oldgoat

I am not sure how I would describe my knowledge level on the subject. I have study most periods of European history at some level or another.

I am interested in the Roman Empire because for the last few months I have been research Viking and Norman/Saxon history and the fall of Rome and the Dark Age(s) is the next connection to the puzzle in my view.

I am gaining knowledge of Germanic tribes such as the Alamanni, Gepids, Goths, Lombards and their effect on the Roman Empire.

I will try and purchase the books that everyone have mentioned so far. Thank you for the thoughts on the subject.


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Bacchus
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posted 13 February 2008 01:24 PM      Profile for Bacchus     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Also try Terry Jones Barbarians. His DVD or the book. An excellant survey work on the fall of rome and the barbarian role
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Fidel
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posted 13 February 2008 04:20 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Webgear:

I am interested in the Roman Empire because for the last few months I have been research Viking and Norman/Saxon history and the fall of Rome and the Dark Age(s) is the next connection to the puzzle in my view.

You might be interested in Alfred, first? King of the Britons. Alfred, I believe, was obssessed with everything Roman and wanted to re-create civilized Rome beginning with Britain. Britain fell into illiteracy and chaos post-Roman empire, and Alfred wanted to save it from pagans, the Danish Vikings Anglo-Saxon invaders. The Vikings were a marauding band of thugs, at least when in England by what I've learned about them. They were not builders like the Romans were. They were destroyers.

I've never read the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, but it's one source of reference for that part of the former "Holy" Roman Empire.


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Webgear
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posted 13 February 2008 04:40 PM      Profile for Webgear     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Fidel

Thank you for the excellent link. Here is a link for the Viking settlement at York.

Jorvik Settlement at York

I am not sure I would agree with statement of the Vikings as a marauding band of thugs however I will discuss that with you if you want.

I see them as a more civilized groups compared to most groups for the time period, at least they bathed once a week however they were raiders during the spring and summer months.


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Fidel
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posted 13 February 2008 04:57 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I was there at York for a visit when I was a kid. Parts of the Roman wall surrounding it are still standing. Scottish barbarians, he he, gave them a hard time, and so they decided to wall it up to better defend the city.
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Webgear
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posted 13 February 2008 05:11 PM      Profile for Webgear     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Viking society involving the rights of slaves is interesting.

Lowest in the social order were the thralls(male-thrall; female-ambatt) or slaves. Whilst the main sources for slaves were war, piracy and trade, their numbers also included those born into slavery and various criminals. A man who failed to discharge his debts could become the slave of his creditor until he redeemed his debt. Thralls had few rights and could hold no land, so instead of being fined for lawbreaking they were beaten, maimed or even put to death. However, a thrall did have some advantages over the freeman as the following laws show:

'Now a freeman and a slave who commit theft together, it is the freeman who is a thief and the slave shall not lose by it, for the man who steals with another man's slave steals by himself.'

'A slave has greater rights than a freeman in one matter. A slave has the right to kill on account of his wife even though she is a bondmaid, but a freeman has not the right to kill on account of a bondmaid, even though she is his woman.'

Despite these advantages, the slave was still only considered chattel, as shown by other laws:

'If a man's slave is killed , then no levelling oath need be sworn for him any more than for any other cattle belonging to a man, should that be killed.'

'If a master kills his own slave, he is not liable before the law unless he kills him during legally ordained festivals or in Lent, then the penalty is banishment.'

[ 13 February 2008: Message edited by: Webgear ]


From: Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 14 February 2008 07:35 AM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well that figures that Viks would be so opportunistic. However, the Normans, too, were somewhat related to the Vikings since the time of Rollo(Norwegian) and certain Nordics made home in Normandy and who melded in and became French "with a difference."

History of Common Land

quote:
At one point in time the great forests and rivers were open to everyone and the small population of Britain meant there was little pressure on the land.

The Norman conquest of 1066 saw the introduction of the manorial system in which common land and common rights have their origins. The powerful lords were granted land by the King and these great estates (or 'manors' as they were called) formed the basis of the rural economy. Under the feudal system, the serfs and villeins who worked the land enjoyed the protection of the Lord in return for their labours.


And later, the dissolution of the monasteries was basically a wealth grab by Henry in order to fund his wars of conquest with the French. Many abbeys and churches were destroyed, including one not far from Maltby Beck(a Norse place name) where my mama's from. The abbeys and churches were England's social services at one time.


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Webgear
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posted 14 February 2008 04:36 PM      Profile for Webgear     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Fidel

I just finished Juliet Barker's Agincourt, it is a detail history of Henry V war with France.

I would recommend this book.

Agincourt


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Fidel
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posted 14 February 2008 06:30 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I've seen one his suits of armour up close. He wasn't a very big chap at all. I think I could've taken him.
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martin dufresne
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posted 14 February 2008 07:01 PM      Profile for martin dufresne   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Don't you have enough with all the windmills you are already fighting in this era?
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Webgear
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posted 14 February 2008 07:08 PM      Profile for Webgear     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I had a chance to stay at the Tower Of London in 1998. I was lucky to have some special access/private tours, I was able to see some rare suits of armour held in the White Tower and surround buildings.

It is amazing how light and flexible the suits really are, and the amount of work that goes into each piece.


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Bacchus
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posted 14 February 2008 08:31 PM      Profile for Bacchus     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Works out to about 40lbs well distributed about the body. They did NOT end up like turtles on their back if they fell.

Easier than a modern soldiers pack I would imagine


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Farmpunk
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posted 15 February 2008 12:24 PM      Profile for Farmpunk     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
If you don't mind mixing a little fiction in with your history, try Collen McCullogh's Roman series, starting with "The First Man In Rome." The series is long, four books, I think, going from the republic years just before Ceasar was born, then through the history of when he was growing up, and finally ends with Ceasar being murdered. Good stuff, especially the first two volumes. I don't think anyone but hard core historians had any argument with McCullogh's research.
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Webgear
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posted 15 February 2008 03:30 PM      Profile for Webgear     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I enjoy mixing a little fiction with history. Steve Pressfield’s “Gates of Fire” is an excellent example of historical based fiction of the battle of Thermopylae. The story is based upon a Greek slave supporting the Spartan army.
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N.Beltov
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posted 15 February 2008 06:40 PM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I've been reluctant to mention it because I can't remember much of the story, or the title, or the author's name, but, there is a science fiction novel out there about a time traveler (or such) who goes back to the Roman Republic and, by helping along with certain technological developments, like a telegraph, tries to change the direction of history. I'm sorry I can't remember any more but perhaps a babbler who is a keener sci fi reader than I can remember the title.

Anyway, the premise was interesting for the opportunity to read an author's interpretation of what it was like to live then. Historical fiction can round out a person's view of a time along with factual reading that is essential.


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Farmpunk
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posted 18 February 2008 09:27 AM      Profile for Farmpunk     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Agreed, Beltov. That book sounds like a Harry Turtledove. He writes speculative historical sci-fi. "Guns Of The South" is one which I liked a lot. Nothing heavy, just a nice, fun, fast read.

McCullogh's Roman series is very detailed. It's fictional social history.

Tommy-Paine turned me on to MacDonald Fraser's "Flashman" books, which mix history with biting satire. Good stuff.


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Bacchus
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posted 18 February 2008 11:18 AM      Profile for Bacchus     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Wouldnt that be "Lest Darkness Fall" by L. Sprague DeCamp?
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N.Beltov
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posted 18 February 2008 11:25 AM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yea, that's probably the book I was remembering. An online review notes that the time traveler somehow manages to arrange the end of serfdom when, in fact, compared to slavery it would have been a step forward socially.

Ah, well. I'm sure there are other historical novels of the same period.


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DonnyBGood
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posted 01 March 2008 10:21 AM      Profile for DonnyBGood     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What about the TV series "Rome"?

It has the real feel of historical accuracy and in the main characters you see how the tragic flaws in the essential Roman character lead them (and Rome) to their demise.


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