No history discussions?

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  • #1
Evo
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I'm a bit disappointed that no actual threads on history have been started.

Some intersting periods to discuss would be the 3rd, 4th & 5th centuries with the barbarian invasions that helped to bring down the Roman Empire. We have the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, the Vandals, Sueves and Alans. Britain fell to the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, then there were the Franks & Burgundians in Gaul.

Which brings us to one of my favorite periods, the Dark Ages (early Middle Ages). The Anglo-Saxon Bretwaldas - Aelle of Sussex, Ceawlin, Aethelberht, Raedwald.

It's my nap time, but I'l post more later. Anyone interested in these time periods?
 

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  • #2
arildno
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I'm definitely interested!
I read some time ago a book which concerned the time period 300-700 in the western part of the Roman Empire, and that had as its focus the elements of continuity in life there during and beyond the breakdown of the Empire and the establishment of Germanic kingdoms.
Quite an interesting book..
 
  • #3
Evo
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arildno said:
I'm definitely interested!
Super! After my nap I will hopefully have some memory restored.

I read some time ago a book which concerned the time period 300-700 in the western part of the Roman Empire, and that had as its focus the elements of continuity in life there during and beyond the breakdown of the Empire and the establishment of Germanic kingdoms.
Quite an interesting book..
Do you remember the name of the book?
 
  • #4
arildno
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Evo said:
Super! After my nap I will hopefully have some memory restored.

Do you remember the name of the book?
I'll have it by tomorrow; it was by some Australian historian, I think.
 
  • #5
EnumaElish
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Is the Dark Ages your favorite period because it was a transition between the slave society of the Roman Empire and the feudal states of Europe, or for some other reason? (Am I oversimplifying?) Was it when Rome was divided into a Western Empire and an Eastern Empire, or was that even before the D.A.?
 
  • #6
Evo
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The sacking of Rome by King Alaric of the Visigoths is a good story by Procopius of Caesarea. The Visigoths had the city of Rome surrounded, the inhabitants of Rome were cut off, but after a long and fruitless seige Alaric realized it was going to take too long and be too difficult to capture the city so he made a plan. He decided on what basically amounted to a human "trojan horse"

He told the Romans that he gave up and would be moving out. He chose 300 of his youngest warriors to present to the Roman nobles as slaves, of course buttering the Romans up and telling them how great they were (the Romans of course believed this :rolleyes: ).

Alaric instructed the Visigoth youth that they were to obey their new masters without argument and serve them eagerly to gain their new master's trust. On a predetermined day, at noon, (a time when Roman Nobles normally napped), they were to head to the Solarian gate, kill the guards and open the gates so that Alaric's men could invade the city.

The plan went off without a hitch and Rome was sacked.

The Emperor at the time, Honorius, having heard of the barbarians initial approach on Rome, fled to the city of Ravenia. When Rome was destroyed by Alaric, a servant handed him a message stating that "Rome (Roma) was dead". The Emperor cried out "but I just fed him"! (the Emperor had a pet chicken named Rome) The servant realizing the emperor's mistake advised him that it was the city of Rome, not his pet chicken that had died. The emperor was greatly relieved saying "Oh, I thought it was my pet chicken Roma that had perished". :uhh:
 
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  • #7
EnumaElish
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Interesting, to say the least! I'd never heard this story.
 
  • #8
Evo
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EnumaElish said:
Interesting, to say the least! I'd never heard this story.
That's what makes learning history so much fun. I'm hoping we can bring some fun, interesting historical information and discuss the accuracy of what the historical writer wrote.

Is the Dark Ages your favorite period because it was a transition between the slave society of the Roman Empire and the feudal states of Europe, or for some other reason? (Am I oversimplifying?) Was it when Rome was divided into a Western Empire and an Eastern Empire, or was that even before the D.A.?
What makes the era appealing is the lack of information about the period, although a lot more information has surfaced in recent years.

I'm interested in how civilization spiraled downward so quickly and so much culture and knowledge was lost for so long. It's also a time of myth and legend, King Arthur and Camelot for instance. It was a time of viking raids. :devil:
 
  • #9
EnumaElish
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Some questions that I wish I had the answers for:

-- Had Rome become Christian by the the 3rd, 4th & 5th centuries?
-- Were all the barbarians non-Christian?
-- If Rome was Christian, then the barbarians were probably anti-Christian. Is that right?
-- Was there an Eastern Roman Empire in Constantinople at that point?
-- What about Germans (Teutons)? Didn't they have a hand in defeating Rome? Remember General Maximus "Gladiator" Meridius, commander of the Felix Legion, "General of the West" (?), who was defeated in a forest in Germania, as depicted by the first scene of the movie? See also:
Wallace Breem's modern classic Eagle in the Snow (published in 1970 said:
 
  • #10
selfAdjoint
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EnumaElish said:
-- Had Rome become Christian by the the 3rd, 4th & 5th centuries?
Probably a majority were Christians by the 4th. Constantine converted then.

-- Were all the barbarians non-Christian?
The Goths were converted to Arian Christianity, in which Jesus is divine, but not God the Son.

-- If Rome was Christian, then the barbarians were probably anti-Christian. Is that right?
No. See above. And it wasn'nt mostly about religion at that point anyway.

-- Was there an Eastern Roman Empire in Constantinople at that point?
Constantine built a new capital on the Bosporus, called, natch, Constantinople. He appointed his two sons to be Caesars at Rome and Constantinople and divided the administrations into an Eastern and Western section of the Empire. Subsequent emperors continued this, and their came to be co-emperors ruling in the two cities. When the last western emperor, Honorius, was overthrown by Theoderic and his Ostrogoths, only the Eatern empire remained, and it evolved on its own thereafter. Italy was periodically reconquered by the Eastern empire and then lost again.

-- What about Germans (Teutons)? Didn't they have a hand in defeating Rome? Remember General Maximus "Gladiator" Meridius, commander of the Felix Legion, "General of the West" (?), who was defeated in a forest in Germania, as depicted by the first scene of the movie?
You can't depend on movie history, that was fictional. The Romans did lose a legion at the Teutoberger Wald, but that was very early; centuries of successful empire followed it. The tribes that overthrew the western empire and then fought among themselves were the Goths (east and west), Franks, and Vandals, all germanic in the broad sense but not teutons. The Visigoths wound up in Spain, the Vandals in North Africa, and the Ostrogoths and Franks duked it out with each other and the Eastern empire in Italy.
 
  • #11
russ_watters
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Evo said:
Which brings us to one of my favorite periods, the Dark Ages (early Middle Ages).
Yeah, the dark ages are fun - plagues, Catholicism, feudalism, no science to speak of. Fun!

I am a big fan of the Renaissance, though....
I'm interested in how civilization spiraled downward so quickly and so much culture and knowledge was lost for so long.
Was there any "civilization" to speak of, prior to the Middle Ages in northern europe, besides when Rome had some control?
 
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  • #12
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russ_watters said:
Was there any "civilization" to speak of, prior to the Middle Ages in northern europe, besides when Rome had some control?
Of course there was. :rofl:
 
  • #13
arildno
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Evo:
The book I was talking about is "The Roman Empire Divided, 400-700" by John Moorhead.
Here's a link:
http://www.ablongman.com/catalog/academic/product/0,1144,0582251117,00.html [Broken]

SelfAdjoint:
It is very improbable that the majority of the population was Christianized at the time of Constantine the Great.
Throughout his reign, he sacrificed to Jupiter in front of his army (a VERY important symbolic function); the simplest explanation is that he catered to the ordinary soldier's piety, even though Constantine himself was Christian.

The sway of Christianity increased through the 4th century, and by the latter half of the century, a significant enough proportion of the population was Christianized so that Theodosius could declare Christianity as state religion in 395 AD.
Considerable portions of the citizenry remained heathen, however, and the ultimate victory of Christianity should not be placed before the middle 5th century.
 
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  • #14
matthyaouw
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It always seems strange to me that everyone assumes that after the roman empire, all trace of culture, civilisation, art, and skill were lost. Just because the people did't make anything quite as obvious and lasting as say an amphitheatre, doesn't mean they were all savages.
Just take a look at some of the treasures found at Sutton Hoo and see how much skill and workmanship went into them: http://www.wuffings.co.uk/MySHPages/SHPage.html
Or how about the Lindisfarne Gospels: http://www.durham.anglican.org/reference/lindisfarne/johninitial.jpg [Broken]

These things are works of art that to me rival anything the Romans made.
I'm not claiming that various things weren't lost with the fall of Rome, but I don't think the dark ages were quite as dark as people make out.
 
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  • #15
arildno
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matthyaouw said:
These things are works of art that to me rival anything the Romans made.
I'm not claiming that various things weren't lost with the fall of Rome, but I don't think the dark ages were quite as dark as people make out.
They definitely were not, and most professional historians would agree with you.
 
  • #16
Evo
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matthyaouw said:
It always seems strange to me that everyone assumes that after the roman empire, all trace of culture, civilisation, art, and skill were lost. Just because the people did't make anything quite as obvious and lasting as say an amphitheatre, doesn't mean they were all savages.
It was the quality of life that took a huge step backwards in the Dark Ages. That's what is so interesting. They lost a lot of things like running water, indoor plumbing, bath houses, all of the social refinements and advanced feats of engineering that the Romans had brought with them.

Just take a look at some of the treasures found at Sutton Hoo and see how much skill and workmanship went into them: http://www.wuffings.co.uk/MySHPages/SHPage.html
Or how about the Lindisfarne Gospels: http://www.durham.anglican.org/reference/lindisfarne/johninitial.jpg [Broken]
It is believed that this was the tomb of Raedwald.

These things are works of art that to me rival anything the Romans made.
I'm not claiming that various things weren't lost with the fall of Rome, but I don't think the dark ages were quite as dark as people make out.
The Dark Ages is a very interesting period. Yes, they still had art mainly in the form of metal work, and many other things, a lot which I mentioned earlier, have just been discovered in recent years. There were no refined sculptures as was seen in Roman or Greek cultures though.
 
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  • #17
EnumaElish
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selfAdjoint said:
The tribes that overthrew the western empire and then fought among themselves were the Goths (east and west), Franks, and Vandals, all germanic in the broad sense
What does everyone think was the problem with Germanic tribes, in the broadest sense? Why couldn't they play peacefully among themselves or read and translate books, instead of starting a trail of fire and blood of historic proportions? (This happened more than once, you know?)
 
  • #18
arildno
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EnumaElish said:
What does everyone think was the problem with Germanic tribes, in the broadest sense? Why couldn't they play peacefully among themselves or read and translate books, instead of starting a trail of fire and blood of historic proportions? (This happened more than once, you know?)
The barbarian invasions during the 4th and 5th centuries was propelled by the Huns coming chasing after them. Effectively, the Germanic tribes fled and fought their way into Roman territory..
 
  • #19
Evo
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EnumaElish said:
What does everyone think was the problem with Germanic tribes, in the broadest sense? Why couldn't they play peacefully among themselves or read and translate books, instead of starting a trail of fire and blood of historic proportions? (This happened more than once, you know?)
Initially, it was the Huns that migrated into the Visigoth lands (present day Romania) that forced the Visigoths in the 4th century to flee into the eastern Roman Empire. Then in the 5th century Attila's forces made things much worse, and they also invaded Roman territory.

It was the shifting of Roman troops from Britain to defend Italy's borders that allowed the Angles, Saxons & Jutes to take over Britain in 407. It also left a large area of the western Roman frontier poorly defended which allowed Germanic tribes to easily overrun the western provinces.

edit:I see Arildno beat me to it. That's what I get for stopping to eat breakfast during my post. :tongue:
 
  • #20
arildno
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It should, however, be pointed out, that a very common, and SUCCESSFUL policy of the Roman Empire during the 4th century was to allow barbarian tribes to settle in border districts (often with low-quality arable lands) in return for military services rendered.
That is, most of the Roman troops that valiantly (and often successfully) fought against new barbarian invaders, was recently integrated "barbarians" (laeti).
Effectively, therefore, barbarians cherished inclusion in a FUNCTIONAL empire because of the benefits in terms of lands and trade that this gave them.

The disintegration of distinctly Roman rule cannot be solely be placed on the heads of Germanic tribes, but equally much on the Roman nobility who no longer bothered taking an active part in ruling the empire, but withdrew to their huge estates, latifundia, and sought to make themselves local overlords there, at the EXPENSE of the central, imperial authority.
 
  • #21
EnumaElish
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Evo said:
Initially, it was the Huns that migrated into the Visigoth lands (present day Romania) that forced the Visigoths in the 4th century to flee into the eastern Roman Empire. Then in the 5th century Attila's forces made things much worse, and they also invaded Roman territory.
The domino effect was operational even back then, apparently.
arildno said:
The disintegration of distinctly Roman rule cannot be solely be placed on the heads of Germanic tribes, but equally much on the Roman nobility who no longer bothered taking an active part in ruling the empire, but withdrew to their huge estates, latifundia, and sought to make themselves local overlords there, at the EXPENSE of the central, imperial authority.
In some sense, feudalism had started with these latifundia, hadn't it?
 
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  • #22
arildno
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EnumaElish said:
In some sense, feudalism had started with these latifundia, hadn't it?
Precisely; there was a continuous evolution from land-owners primarily oriented towards city life (the ancient world) to local overlords sitting within their small, fortified estates in the countryside.

First and foremost, the disintigration of the Empire was a disintegration of the urban culture back to a house-hold economy in the countrysides.
 
  • #23
EnumaElish
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This is how it seems to me:

If the Romans were smart and caring about future generations, they would try to integrate Germanic tribes into the empire to the greatest possible extent. Then, when Huns attacked, Germans would have defended Rome instead of destroying it! (Even Huns could not have been stopped at the border, German resistance would have given the attackers time to think twice whether the prize would be worth their heavy losses. In return, the Roman army could unite forces with Germans to push Huns back to wherever they came from.) Instead, Germans just fled and stampeded Rome, apparently because Rome hadn't given them a reason to not to.
 
  • #24
Evo
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EnumElish said:
If the Romans were smart and caring about future generations, they would try to integrate Germanic tribes into the empire to the greatest possible extent.
Actually Rome had allowed a number of people of Germanic origin to occupy Roman territory, mostly as farmers and mercenaries.

Then, when Huns attacked, Germans would have defended Rome instead of destroying it! (Even Huns could not have been stopped at the border, German resistance would have given the attackers time to think twice whether the prize would be worth their heavy losses.
Here you lost me. These aren't really Germans, so to speak. Yes the Huns drove the Germanic tribes into Roman territory. But it was the Visigoths under Alaric that sacked Rome, not the Huns, but this was due to anger over the Emporer Honorius' killing of General Stilicho and the massacre of the families of 30,000 barbarian soldiers who had been serving in the Roman army.
 
  • #25
EnumaElish
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Evo said:
Here you lost me. These aren't really Germans, so to speak. Yes the Huns drove the Germanic tribes into Roman territory. But it was the Visigoths under Alaric that sacked Rome, not the Huns, but this was due to anger over the Emporer Honorius' killing of General Stilicho and the massacre of the families of 30,000 barbarian soldiers who had been serving in the Roman army.
My point was that if the Romans were smart, they would integrate the Goths as part of the Empire in some formal sense. If that had happened, Goths would be there to take a hit for Rome when the Huns attacked. Instead, it appears like the Romans stupidly alienated the Goths by killing them in the thousands, and when the Huns pushed, the Goths did not have a reason to identify with and fight for Rome. They just "rolled over" toward the Roman heartland and squashed it.
 

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