Late Roman Warlords (Oxford Classical Monographs) and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more


or
Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Colour:
Image not available

 
Start reading Late Roman Warlords (Oxford Classical Monographs) on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Late Roman Warlords (Oxford Classical Monographs) [Hardcover]

Penny Macgeorge
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: £127.50
Price: £101.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
You Save: £26.21 (21%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Want it tomorrow, 21 Sep.? Choose Express delivery at checkout. Details

Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition £68.25  
Hardcover £101.29  

Book Description

1 Feb 2003 Oxford Classical Monographs
Late Roman Warlords reconstructs the careers of some of the men who shaped (and were shaped by) the last quarter century of the Western Empire. There is a need for a new investigation of these warlords based on primary sources and including recent historical debates and theories. The difficult sources for this period have been analysed (and translated as necessary) to produce a chronological account, and relevant archaeological and numismatic evidence has been utilised.

An overview of earlier warlords, including Aetius, is followed by three studies of individual warlords and the regions they dominated. The first covers Dalmatia and Marcellinus, its ruler during the 450s and 460s. A major theme is the question of Marcellinus' western or eastern affiliations: using an often-ignored Greek source, Penny MacGeorge suggests a new interpretation.

The second part is concerned with the Gallic general Aegidius and his son Syagrius, who ruled in northern Gaul, probably from Soissons. This extends to AD 486 (well after the fall of the Western Empire). The problem of the existence or non-existence of a 'kingdom of Soissons' is discussed, introducing evidence from the Merovingian period, and a solution put forward. This section also looks at how the political situation in northern Gaul might throw light on contemporary post-Roman Britain.

The third study is of the barbarian patrician Ricimer, defender of Italy, and his successors (the Burgundian prince Gundobad and Orestes, a former employee of Attila) down to the coup of 476 by which Odovacer became the first barbarian king of Italy. This includes discussion of the character and motivation of Ricimer, particularly in relation to the emperors he promoted and destroyed, and of how historians' assessments of him have changed over time.

Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed


Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (1 Feb 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199252440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199252442
  • Product Dimensions: 22.4 x 14.8 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,855,055 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

Review

a painstaking...sound reworking of the conventional narrative of the period. (Early Medieval Europe)

It is likely to be some time before these shadowy warlords receive suc detailed treatment again in English. (Michael Whitby)

The author has provided a generally intelligent guide through the tangled web of sources and events for the final decades of the western empire, and in so doing has helped to shed further light on the important theme of late Roman warlords. There is still scope for a comprehensive, analytical study of this phenomenon, but any such study will find the volume under review an invaluable source. (Nottingham Medieval Studies)

About the Author

Penny MacGeorge teaches History at Carisbrooke High School, the Isle of Wight

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
By the early fifth century AD supreme military command was no longer exercised by the western emperor. Read the first page
Explore More
Concordance
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

Customer Reviews

3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book on Rome's Last Thirty Years 1 Oct 2011
Format:Hardcover
The last century of Rome gets very little press. The last thirty years of the Republic get more print than any other era while the entire first century of the Empire gets about as much as those three decades. After that you're relying on surprisingly few general histories and a whole slew of specialist literature. But even that rarely covers the 5th century. As for broad studies of the period, even the ones that don't jump straight from Constantine to Justinian spend only a short while on the fall of Rome before jumping right to the reconquest.

The real problem with this era is of course the sources. They're unreliable, hard-to-find, and offer very little facts for your efforts. That so few have tried to stitch the facts together in such a detailed way is not exactly surprising. Peter Heather's The Fall of the Roman Empire is one of the few books to do so,and it does a very good job. Even here though the focus is on the earlier half of the century and on the periphery. Since Heather is an expert on the barbarian tribes (particularly the Goths) these groups take up a good deal of his narrative. Of course, there's also Gibbon's seminal Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire. It's from the 1700s so it may be slightly dated. The only other books I know of that deal with the century in such detail date from the 1800s.

So why am I going into such detail about this book's predecessors and the state of the field today? It is truly necessary to understand how limited the works available on this time period are to understand how important this book is. It fills in a gap that has long been left open.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By JPS TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There is already a rather good (mean, to be immodest, very good and comprehensive) review of this book so you may wonder what is the point of writting another one. Beyond the obvious reason - I have a somewhayt different take on this book - there are in fact three reasons.

Different Scope
This is an invaluable collection of studies on Late Roman warloards on which there is almost no other books. Stuart mentions 0'Flynn's book (published in 1983, it is currently out of print, I believe) but his topic was to study the generalissimos of the Western Empire in its last 80 years and try to identify trends through the study of their carrers. Penny MacGeorge's purpose is both different and more modest. All she is trying to do is to shed more light on the mostly unknown carrers of the last Roman warlords, those that held command during the last 30 years of the Western Empire, after the deaths of Aetius and Valentinian III. So, some characters such as Ricimer and Odovacar, are presented in both books, while others, such as Marcellinus or Aegidius and his son, are only found in Late Roman Warlords. Of course, characters such as Stilicho, Constantius or Aetius, are covered by O'Flynn, because they were generalissimos, but not by MacGeorge, because they are before her period.

Different Method
MacGeorge combs through whatever written evidence there is to bring to life the Roman warlords who continued to exercise political and military authority on various provinces of the Western Roman Empire. She does not attempt to find any common features or trends other than the most obvious ones: how these warlords maintained their power and a semblance of order on a local level as the Empire's central authority continued faded rather than collapsed after the death of Aetius.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book on Rome's Last Thirty Years 15 Oct 2011
By Arch Stanton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The last century of Rome gets very little press. The last thirty years of the Republic get more print than any other era while the entire first century of the Empire gets about as much as those three decades. After that you're relying on surprisingly few general histories and a whole slew of specialist literature. But even that rarely covers the 5th century. As for broad studies of the period, even the ones that don't jump straight from Constantine to Justinian spend only a short while on the fall of Rome before jumping right to the reconquest.

The real problem with this era is of course the sources. They're unreliable, hard-to-find, and offer very little facts for your efforts. That so few have tried to stitch the facts together in such a detailed way is not exactly surprising. Peter Heather's The Fall of the Roman Empire is one of the few books to do so,and it does a very good job. Even here though the focus is on the earlier half of the century and on the periphery. Since Heather is an expert on the barbarian tribes (particularly the Goths) these groups take up a good deal of his narrative. Of course, there's also Gibbon's seminal Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire. It's from the 1700s so it may be slightly dated. The only other books I know of that deal with the century in such detail date from the 1800s.

So why am I going into such detail about this book's predecessors and the state of the field today? It is truly necessary to understand how limited the works available on this time period are to understand how important this book is. It fills in a gap that has long been left open. This book is a study of the warlords who came to dominate the Empire during its last three decades of life. Its only real predecessor is Generalissimos of the Western Roman Empire and that book covered all the warlords from Stilicho (390s) through Odovacer (470s), a period of about 80 years. This book begins with Marcellinus (450s) and goes through Odovacer (470s) so it is a much more detailed analysis of these figures. Since it is hard to review the book without reviewing the mini-biographies that make it up I'm dividing the rest of this review into the various figures written about.

Marcellinus was a Dalmatian warlord and the uncle of Julius Nepos, the second-to-last western emperor of Rome. While usually claimed to be strongly connected with the Western Empire (based on a line from Procopius) MacGeorge makes a compelling argument that he fell under the influence of the East. Many of his appearances in the West appear to have been due to the Eastern Emperor's wishes. He had strong connections with the Neoplatonists of Alexandria and might also have been a pagan, a rarity by this time. His career was dissimilar from most of the others covered here in that he set up his rule on the outskirts of Roman territory instead of taking power in Italy itself. Having never heard of him before now I was surprised at how important he managed to be despite operating outside the normal lines of power.

Aegidius was the leader of a Gallic kingdom that split off during the turmoil surrounding the assassination of Majorian. Aegidius was associated with that emperor and was a rival of Ricimer, his maker and murderer. There's very little on him but MacGeorge covers all that is known. Apparently there was some connection with the Frankish kings but the idea that he became their king seems highly unlikely. She also covers his son and successor Syagrius, the ruler of the kingdom of Soissons. She explains how it is unlikely that it was as large as earlier historians claimed but not necessarily as small or even nonexistent as some more recent ones maintain. As with much of this book it is a presentation of the evidence and the possible ways of viewing it rather than a direct conclusion. There is not enough data for many conclusions to be had. Syagrius is most famous for his defeat at the hands of king Clovis. Most information apart from that is speculation. The best proof that exists for the existence of a Roman enclave around Soissons is the importance given to that land during the early years of Frankish rule and its relative neglect before and after.

The next figure to be covered is Ricimer, and his is the longest and most detailed biography of them all. Ricimer was the successor to Aetius and he was the real ruler of Rome despite the series of puppet emperors he set up and often as not took down. Unlike Aetius though he was a barbarian, although this didn't lead to a placing of barbarian interests (inasmuch as 'barbarians' as a whole had such interests) ahead of Roman ones. Like all these warlords (and the Roman emperors before them) he placed his own personal interests above all others. While the good of the state was the second most important thing he was perfectly willing to take down anyone who got in his way. The section on Ricimer and his various emperors is really the core of the book. Ricimer usually gets a pretty bad rep from historians who see him as treacherous and irresponsible but he had very few options if he wanted to save Italy. While Aetius had been able to focus on Gaul Ricimer abandoned Gaul to focus on Italy either through love of Italy and indifference to Gaul or because of the necessities of the threat to the Empire. Rome could no longer maintain even provinces as close as that of Gaul and with Italy suffering yearly Vandal attacks the periphery had to suffer more than the core. An interesting fact pointed out is the renewed importance of the city of Rome itself. While any textbook will tell you that Rome had lost its value by the end of the third century MacGeorge shows that it regained some of it by the end. Several emperors ruled from there, possibly to be far away from Ricimer who ruled from Milan but also perhaps to take advantage of the authority of the senatorial order. On the whole Ricimer comes across as a man trying to do his best to maintain what little remained of the Western Empire while struggling to survive and dominate the chaos engulfing the area. As she rightly points out, any unattributed act of treachery is all too often nowadays placed at the feet of Ricimer. By looking at his actions and accomplishments it is possible to see him as the last real bulwark of Rome. Certainly once he died the realm dissolved into a civil war that would only end with the deposition of the last emperor and the rise of Italy's first king.

The last group covered is the final three warlords of Rome: Gundobad, Orestes, and Odovacer. Gundobad was Ricimer's nephew and only briefly assumed the role of kingmaker before going off to become king of the Burgundians. If this was a conscious choice on his part instead of the pursuit of one position after the other one failed (and the evidence can be read either way) then it really shows the meaninglessness of Rome by this point. That a man would prefer a barbarian kingdom to being the leader of the Roman Empire is a sad testament to that office. Apparently Gundobad made a pretty good king dying forty years later of old age. Orestes was an interesting man. He was a secretary to Attila the Hun twenty years before becoming a warlord and general in Italy. That is one of those facts that is too bizarre to make up. After chasing Julius Nepos (the last emperor recognized by the East) out of Italy he installed his son as emperor. His son was Romulus Augustulus, the 'little Augustus.' He was the last emperor in the west. All too soon Orestes was overthrown and killed by Odovacer who decided not to install a puppet emperor but to rule directly as king. And thus the Roman Empire came to an end.

She has a very good point about the final warlords. It wasn't so much a series of civil wars but one big one lasting from Ricimer's death to the end of the Empire. When I read that it seemed so obvious that I couldn't figure out why it had never occurred to me before. Each of these men was a competitor for the throne and their period at the top was entirely transitory. Each rise of a new warlord/emperor was merely a temporary victory of one rival over another. It explains so much, like why Odovacer rebelled. The demand for 1/3 of the land in Italy has always seemed an odd request. On the face of it it's mad. Even assuming that it wasn't literally 1/3 and merely a guarantee of land for the soldiers then Orestes must have been mad not to give it to them. But if they were both competitors for the same role then it all makes sense. Any demands made by his rival were bound to be rejected by Orestes, so in a sense it doesn't even matter whether it was literally 1/3 or not. Just because Orestes beat him to the throne doesn't mean Odovacer had no designs on it beforehand. This is the best kind of scholarship, the kind that seems so obvious in retrospect that you feel embarrassed not to have thought of it yourself. It will be hard now to read on that period and see it in any other light.

As you can tell from that this book covers a lot of ground. Much of the history is uncertain yet the author does her best to explain the possible ways the evidence can be interpreted. As a first book on this topic this would be a bad place to start. There is a certain amount of narrative but the focus is on these warlords and not the empire as a whole. To learn how Rome got to this state and the events unfolding away from these figures (especially in the east) it would be best to seek a more general history. Many names are only mentioned once and then it is assumed you will remember them. For example the identity of Euric is one I had to look up. It is mentioned in passing on page 115 that he came to the Visigothic throne (the only sentence on that page that deals with him) but the next time you meet him on page 242 his identity is unexplained. A basic background in this period is assumed. If you have read up on this era beforehand then this book will be of immense assistance in sorting out the state of the west around the time of the fall.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A superb collection of Roman warlords' biographies 13 Mar 2012
By JPS - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
First posted on Anazon.co.uk on 29 January 2012

There is already a rather good (I mean, to be immodest, very good and comprehensive) review of this book so you may wonder what is the point of writting another one. It's the obvious reason: I have a somewhat different take on this book in three main respects.

Different Scope
This is an invaluable collection of studies on Late Roman warloards on which there is almost no other books. Stuart mentions 0'Flynn's book (published in 1983, it is currently out of print, I believe) but O'Flynn's topic was to study the generalissimos of the Western Empire in its last 80 years and try to identify trends through the study of their carrers.

Penny MacGeorge's purpose is both different and more modest. All she is trying to do is to shed more light on the mostly unknown carrers of the last Roman warlords, those that held command during the last 30 years of the Western Empire, after the deaths of Aetius and Valentinian III. So, some characters such as Ricimer and Odovacar, are presented in both books, while others, such as Marcellinus or Aegidius and his son, are only found in Late Roman Warlords. Of course, characters such as Stilicho, Constantius or Aetius, are covered by O'Flynn, because they were generalissimos, but not by MacGeorge, because they are before her period.

Different Method
MacGeorge combs through whatever written evidence there is to bring to life the Roman warlords who continued to exercise political and military authority on various provinces of the Western Roman Empire. She does not attempt to find any common features or trends other than the most obvious ones: how these warlords maintained their power and a semblance of order on a local level as the Empire's central authority continued to fade rather than collapsed after the death of Aetius.

The monographies of Marcellinus in Dalmatia and of Aegidius (and his son Syagrius) whose power base was between the Loire and the Somme are particularly interesting in this respect and the parralels with the semi-legendary warlords in Britain at about the same time are inescapable. There must have been quite a few others like them across Gaul and Spain as defense became increasingly localised. Note that the sections on Northern GAul in the mid to late 5th century are particularly good. If anything, they show that the frontier defenses had at at least partly restored at some time after 408. The prime candidates for this were Constantius and Aetius.

Excellent sections on Ricimer
The sections on Ricimer are particularly good. Ricimer is usually depicted as one of the "arch-villains" in the twilight years of the Empire. He was certainly no shrinking violet but was possibly no worse than Aetius himself in the sense that both had little respect for the Emperors that they had either made ot kept in power. The pieces on Ricimer in this book have the advantage of showing that, if anything, Ricimer was the true successor of Aetius, although from a power base which was now restricted to Italy. It also shows that the issue was about personal survival and power and that one component of these (but one component only) had been to reconquer Africa - the most prosperous of all the dioceses in the westrn part of the Empire.

The last piece of the book, also very good, describes the "free-for-all" that took place after the death of Ricimer. As the author states, the 4 years between Ricimer's death and the deposition of Romulus can be seen as one constant struggle for supremacy between multiple contenders, with Odovacar ending on top and the others ending mostly dead (or exceptionnally pulling out of the fray when they had another power base to fall back onto, as was the case of Gundobad).

Anyway, this is a superb book on a fascinating and little known period. There are two little set backs however. One of that this is very much a scholarly book, with multiple notes and references to sources, which might put of some readers, although this would be a pity because the content is well worth the effort. The other, of course, is the book's price. As for all Oxford Classical Monographs, this one is rather expensive, but then quality is rarelly cheap, and this book is worth it, especially if you're a fan of this period.
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions
   


Look for similar items by category


Feedback