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.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Half-way through The Conquest of Water I felt as if I had been subjected to the literary equivalent of excessive c… ,
    • 'Volume five, then, but still no end in sight. Sandbrook is clearly enjoying himself so much he can’t bear the seri… ,
    • 'By the end of the book something so weighty, stylish and impressive has been built up that one feels far nearer to… ,
    • 'Her ensuing psychotic episode is described so convincingly ... that the reader will wonder if Dobrakovová did not… ,
    • 'The perspectives complement and contest one another, amounting to a glorious, atmospheric set of ventriloquisms.'… ,
    • RT : I reviewed The Testaments for . I will not be taking any questions at this time. ,
    • 'The Testaments is, first and foremost, a manual of resistance ... a type of resistance that is organised, articula… ,