Christopher Kelly

Embracing The Everyday

428 AD: An Ordinary Year at the End of the Roman Empire


Princeton University Press 203pp £16.95 order from our bookshop

In the fifth century AD the Roman empire was fatally fractured. By the 490s, the West had splintered into a series of rival kingdoms: the Vandals in North Africa, the Visigoths in Spain, the Franks in Gaul and the Ostrogoths in Italy. In England, the fragmentation of authority and the influx of Saxons from Germany provided the backdrop for the later legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (a politically incorrect tale of a briefly unified Little Britain valiantly resisting a growing European menace). By contrast, the Roman empire in the East retained its integrity. The great arc of prosperous provinces stretching from the Balkans through Turkey, Syria, and round to Egypt and Libya continued to be controlled from Constantinople. In the core territories surrounding the imperial capital, Roman rule continued unbroken for another thousand years. It was not until 1453 that Byzantium finally fell to Arab invaders.

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