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History of the Later Roman Empire, AD 284 641: The Transformation of the Ancient World (Blackwell History of the Ancient World) [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Stephen Mitchell

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9. August 2006 Blackwell History of the Ancient World
This book presents a historical study of the Roman Empire in Late Antiquity from the accession of the emperor Diocletian 284 to the death of the emperor Heraclius in 641. * The only modern study to cover the western and eastern empire and the entire period from 284 to 641 in a single volume * A bibliographical survey supports further study and research * Includes chronological tables, maps, and charts of important information help to orient the reader * Discusses the upheaval and change caused by the spread of Christianity and the barbarian invasions of the Huns, Goths and Franks * Contains thematic coverage of the politics, religion, economy and society of the late Roman state * Gives a full narrative of political and military events * Discusses the sources for the period

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"The great strength of Mitchell's book is its firm grasp on the latest scholarship, including much that is not in English nor necessarily familiar. I found myself following a number of trails into his footnotes, which were both unknown to me and rewarding, and I will also have no hesitation in setting several of its chapters as a reliable introduction for students new to the subject." (English Historical Review, February 2009) "Mitchell has produced an extremely useful book... [He] strikes the right balance between narrative and analysis, generality and detail... The book is a page-turner, as well as a resource for students of all ages." (Greece & Rome, 2008) "Mitchell offers students the opportunity to gain a broader vision of the late antique world, where the hard-headed activities of emperors, bureaucrats and generals count for as much as the colourful transformations of religion and culture." (The Classical Review, 2008) "Mitchell's strong parts are the thought that he has given to the needs of the beginner, and his provision of the widest chronological overview in a single volume ... .He has an easy style, refers frequently and appositely to modern parallels, and picks up modern interests and concerns such as the power of 'spin' and 'image' and the importance of environmental factors." (Latomus Revue, September 2008) "The book is certainly worth including in any university or high school library and any student of late antiquity would benefit from reading it." (Classical Review, 2007) "Seldom can one give unreserved praise of a textbook, but Mitchell's book on the later Roman Empire deserves it ... Highly recommended." (Choice) "The volume of the on-going Blackwell History of the Ancient World is a very welcome addition to the growing collection of modern overviews of the Later Roman Empire ... It is consciously modernising in the best possible sense, drawing lessons for the interpretation of the Later Roman Empire from the rapid collapse of political structures that had seemed destined for eternity until they were suddenly gone, which we have experienced in the modern world over the last twenty years. The book can for this reason alone be thoroughly recommended." (Scholia Reviews)


"This is a truly major work, with a remarkably coherent structure, and written with great clarity. It will become a much-used standard work. I know of no other single-volume account of the period which covers so clearly and so economically so many different aspects."
Fergus Millar, Camden Professor of Ancient History (Emeritus), University of Oxford

"Stephen Mitchell enlarges a sound narrative account with some sparkling thematic chapters, uniting the latest archaeology with a good range of epigraphic, legal and literary evidence. Blackwell published A.H.M. Jones' Later Roman Empire forty years ago, and I shall put Mitchell's History beside it."
Roger Tomlin, University of Oxford

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3.0 von 5 Sternen Compilation not History 30. April 2007
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This is a carefully documented, but otherwise undistinguished history of Roman Empire from the accession of Diocletian (284 CE) to the death of Heraclius (641 CE). It is of course important to carefully document all the sources used in compiling a history, but it is equally important to develop an effective scheme to organize and analyze those sources based on some sort of unifying theory or theme. That is the difference between a compilation of events and a history.

The Roman Republic and then Empire, as with all nation states, under went a more or less continuous evolution from the foundation of Rome to the fall of Constantinople in 1453 (CE). During the calamitous Third Century this evolution was especially profound and rapid. When Diocletian assumed the imperial purple the empire was vastly different from the time of Caesar Augustus and even from the time Marcus Aurelius Commodus (180-192 CE). Diocletian was a reforming emperor who tried to stabilize the empire and the way it was governed. He realigned administrative boundaries often codifying changes that occurred during the breakdowns of the Third Century and tried to stabilize the economy by various methods including creating bans on changing jobs. In this history Mitchell alludes to this only vaguely and only in the middle of the book does he even mention that the Third Century was a time of evolution. In the same manner, one would never know from this history the later Roman Empire was considerably more than a continuation of the earlier Roman Empire.

Mitchell appears unable to identify linkages, note significant changes, or prioritize the information he presents. For example had he compared the Roman Army of Marcus Aurelius Antoinus (161-180 CE) with Notia Dignitatum which he mentions at least twice he would have discovered that the Roman Army had evolved into a very different entity than Gallo-Roman legionaries of the earlier empire. This is not a trivial quibble, but goes to the heart of Roman-Barbarian relations in the later Empire. Indeed the erosion of the capabilities of the Western Roman Army declined precipitously after inflicting a serous defeat on the Goths at the Frigidus River in 394 CE. This decline made the Western half of the Empire open to the out right take over of Roman territory by various barbarian groups. This inability to conceptualize patterns and trends prevails though out the book.
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