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. 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.
Many barbarians were settled in the provinces without dislodging the Roman residents or destabilizing land ownership; some were even incorporated into the ruling families of the empire. The outcome of this process, Goffart argues, was a society headed by elite soldiers and Christian clergy - one we have come to call medieval.
"Goffart has produced yet another major study on the migration of the Northern barbarians into the late Roman Empire." (Choice)
"An important book which should be read attentively by all scholars of the late Roman West and early medieval Europe." (HER)
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Barbarian book is missing one key thing...
- Chap Walker
An exemplary study.
- Daniel Robert Floyd Eustice