Barbarian Tides

Barbarian Tides

The Migration Age and the Later Roman Empire

Book - 2006
Rate this:
Pennsylvania State Univ Pr

The Migration Age is still envisioned as an onrush of expansionary "Germans" pouring unwanted into the Roman Empire and subjecting it to pressures so great that its western parts collapsed under the weight. Further developing the themes set forth in his classic Barbarians and Romans, Walter Goffart dismantles this grand narrative, shaking the barbarians of late antiquity out of this "Germanic" setting and reimagining the role of foreigners in the Later Roman Empire.

The Empire was not swamped by a migratory Germanic flood for the simple reason that there was no single ancient Germanic civilization to be transplanted onto ex-Roman soil. Since the sixteenth century, the belief that purposeful Germans existed in parallel with the Romans has been a fixed point in European history. Goffart uncovers the origins of this historical untruth and argues that any projection of a modern Germany out of an ancient one is illusory. Rather, the multiplicity of northern peoples once living on the edges of the Empire participated with the Romans in the larger stirrings of late antiquity. Most relevant among these was the long militarization that gripped late Roman society concurrently with its Christianization.

If the fragmented foreign peoples with which the Empire dealt gave Rome an advantage in maintaining its ascendancy, the readiness to admit military talents of any social origin to positions of leadership opened the door of imperial service to immigrants from beyond its frontiers. Many barbarians were settled in the provinces without dislodging the Roman residents or destabilizing landownership; some were even incorporated into the ruling families of the Empire. The outcome of this process, Goffart argues, was a society headed by elites of soldiers and Christian clergy—one we have come to call medieval.



Book News
According to the Great Bearskin Theory of Everything, people from Germany ran (literally) roughshod over the Roman Empire, which could no longer sustain itself, let alone a large number of blondes in horned helmets. In fact, notes Goffart (history, Yale U. and emeritus at the U. of Toronto), there was no single ancient German civilization in the later Roman empire, the story of the marauders was largely a later political construct, and the people of the north were an element within the larger disruptions of the empire. He re-reads the myth of origins of the Germans before Germany, explores the authenticity of Gothic origins from Scandinavia, looks at the 20-year period considered to be that of the migration, explores the reasons why the Germans were blamed for Rome's decline, and looks into the real roots of those called "barbarians" and why this distinction was important to the Burgundians. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

University of Pennsylvania Press

Barbarian Tides radically subverts the grand narrative of a "Germanic" migration and reinvents the role of barbarians in the Later Roman Empire. Goffart sets out how the fragmented foreign peoples once living on the edges of the Empire participated with the Romans in the larger stirrings of late antiquity.


The Migration Age is still envisioned as an onrush of expansionary "Germans" pouring unwanted into the Roman Empire and subjecting it to pressures so great that its western parts collapsed under the weight. Further developing the themes set forth in his classic Barbarians and Romans, Walter Goffart dismantles this grand narrative, shaking the barbarians of late antiquity out of this "Germanic" setting and reimagining the role of foreigners in the Later Roman Empire.

The Empire was not swamped by a migratory Germanic flood for the simple reason that there was no single ancient Germanic civilization to be transplanted onto ex-Roman soil. Since the sixteenth century, the belief that purposeful Germans existed in parallel with the Romans has been a fixed point in European history. Goffart uncovers the origins of this historical untruth and argues that any projection of a modern Germany out of an ancient one is illusory. Rather, the multiplicity of northern peoples once living on the edges of the Empire participated with the Romans in the larger stirrings of late antiquity. Most relevant among these was the long militarization that gripped late Roman society concurrently with its Christianization.

If the fragmented foreign peoples with which the Empire dealt gave Rome an advantage in maintaining its ascendancy, the readiness to admit military talents of any social origin to positions of leadership opened the door of imperial service to immigrants from beyond its frontiers. Many barbarians were settled in the provinces without dislodging the Roman residents or destabilizing landownership; some were even incorporated into the ruling families of the Empire. The outcome of this process, Goffart argues, was a society headed by elites of soldiers and Christian clergy—one we have come to call medieval.



Publisher: Philadelphia, Pa. : University of Pennsylvania Press, c2006
ISBN: 9780812239393
0812239393
Characteristics: x, 372 p. ; 25 cm

Opinion

From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment

There are no comments for this title yet.

Age

Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.

Summary

Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Notices

Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Quotes

Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings

  Loading...

Find it at BPL

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top