Can we have a late Roman Empire thread ongoing? It's a subject rarely discussed on /his/, as well as an extremely interesting period in history to explain the causes leading to the downfall of one of the most powerful (both politically and economically) empires in history.
I really wish emperor majorian hadnt been assasinated, he really had some momentum going. Probably the last truly competent western emperor.
I also find stilicho inteesting.
I dont know much about the late western half, id like to learn more but all the books cost so much.
Im interested in the cultural and social aspects. If anyone knows about this, feel free to comment.
Im interested in knowing how a first century roman would perceive the roman empire of the 390s-early 400s. If he found himself in that era, what things would he find different / odd? (Besides christianity).
How different was the way people dressed from say, the julio claudian era?
How different was the language? We know that language changes, something must have changed, right?
Would he recognize Rome? I know that the city was in decline, milan and ravenna becoming more important than rome itself.
How different did the roman soldiers of the 5th century looked compared to the ones from the first century.
How different was warfare?
People sometimes dont think how long the empire lasted. To someone from the 5th century, figures like caesar and augustus were fairly in the past, many generations had passed by then. Rome must have been -different- in some way.
So after the son of Aurelius and some others ran Rome to the ground what was the state of it?
Did the population, trade, urbanization, scientific work, building etc etc. markedly decline during the crisis of the third century? Was the Rome sacked later on just a shadow of its former self or still this marble city hollywood likes to portray?
And then after the crisis of the third century you get like 70 or 80 years before Adrianople happens right? Did Rome grown, decline or recover during that 70-80 year period?
ALL SKILL NO LUCK
FINAL DESTINY HERO LET'S GO
Does anyone know if during the period of the barracks emperors, and throughout the fall of the Roman empire discipline was still being maintained by the Roman authorities in the soldiers? As I understand it, during the barracks emperors period most towns had to provide their own defenses; I can only assume therefore that the troops were preoccupied, limited and otherwise undisciplined rabble who didnt know how to fight anymore anyways.
I mean, im sure it the discipline came back with Diocletian (if it was ever lost) and Constantine and the like. But during the time period Gaul even seceded cause it got so bad. They were pretty damn lucky something like the Hunnic migration didnt happen then.
Stopping Diocletian from going the whole "emperor as distant god" route. I get the idea of doing it to give the emperor some sense of legitimacy at the time but the end result is distancing the emperor from the reality of events and letting the aristocracy and corrupt officials get away with abuses of powers which leads to disloyalty to the state/rulers which leads to failure to integrate the barbarians into the Empire which then leads to the constant wars and civil wars/usurpations and weak emperors controlled by barbarian magister militums (who could never become Emperor themselves due to their lineage).
It's because of abuses of barbarians by corrupt officials that Adrianople occurs which leads to further distrust/prejudice against the barbarians. This means that Alaric gets shit on by the Romans despite the fact he's practically begging them to use him and recognize him and if effectively integrated would've been their best overall military commander and shit if Ataulf and Galla Placidia's son survives past infancy there's a good chance he becomes next in line to the throne and given how good of a leader Ataulf is if he's not murdered maybe that sets up a strong dynasty born out a mix of Roman and Goth bloodlines that allows for a more integrated Empire.
And then, of course, attempts at curbing corruption is what allowed Ricimer to get people on his side to hatch the plot to assassinate Majorian.
So really a more involved emperor who curbs corruption and thus leads to better integration of the barbarians into the WRE.
Side note but are there any good books on the early fifth century? That whole period post-Adrianople up through the middle part of the century is probably my overall favorite period of Roman history. A bunch of interesting figures (Alaric, Ataulf, Stillicho, Honorious, Galla Placidia, FUCKING ATTILA, etc.) and the whole period is just chaotic and fucked so it'd be nice if there was a book that covered that period exclusively.
>In honour of Jupiter Best and Greatest and the other immortal gods and goddesses, Gaius Macrinius Decianus, most distinguished man, legate of the Emperors with propraetorian power of the provinces of Numidia and Noricum, set this up after the slaughter and rout of the Bavares and the capture of their notorious leader, a people who under the united rule of four kings had broken into the province of Numidia, first in the area of Millev, second on the boundary of Mauretania and
Numidia, and on a third occasion with the Quinquegentiani peoples of Mauretania Caesariensis, and also the Fraxinenses, who were ravaging the province of Numidia.
>Side note but are there any good books on the early fifth century?
Adrian Goldsworthy's Decline of the Roman Superpower is a pretty great book on the subject. It's less specialist and more narrative but it covers the period excellently. You also forgot to mention Boniface and Aetius' other rivals, they were the dumb fucks who weakened the Empire in the 420s and 430s, very interesting guy.
>So after the son of Aurelius and some others ran Rome to the ground what was the state of it?
It got back on its feet under Diocletian and Constantine and had a golden age until the final part of the 4th century, albeit in a markedly different form from that of the 2nd century empire.
>Did the population, trade, urbanization, scientific work, building etc etc. markedly decline during the crisis of the third century?
Population declined somewhat due to diseases and instability leading to poverty and an increased death rate. Trade plummeted in the period in most provinces, but some areas like Britain, Hispania and Africa which were untouched by the fighting actually peaked to some extent in the 3rd century. Rome didn't have much in the way of "scientific work", if you mean like technological progress, then Rome was always slow with that shit. Civil wars wouldn't have made much impact on it since it was incredibly slow to develop anyway due to it being a slave society. Building definitely decreased however, as the instability meant local elites would be reluctant to enter the imperial power structure, which meant furnishing their cities with monumental buildings and statutes was seen as pointless. Previously vibrant cities in Asia Minor have very few inscriptions from this period.
>Was the Rome sacked later on just a shadow of its former self or still this marble city hollywood likes to portray?
Population of Rome was at like 1.3 million in the late 2nd century, by the 5th it was 800,000 or somewhere around that. The issue is incredibly contentious. One gets the feeling that the city would have been more like the medieval one slightly, i.e. a shrunken population with fields inside the city walls by the end. It would not have been quite that catastrophic. It was the Goths cutting the aqueducts in the 6th century that destroyed the urban life of Rome.
>Did Rome grown, decline or recover during that 70-80 year period?
All at once.
>Interesting could you elaborate more on
There was a character limit so I just stopped there.
Reforms in the 280s-310s completely changed the face of Roman administration, the army, religion etc. The position of emperor became formalised (the idea of 'first among men' was basically scrapped and replaced with divine authority in Persian style), the army was changed to reflect how much things had changed since the Republic, smaller more flexible legions, more recruitment of barbarian troops, cheaper armaments produced in state owned factories. Tax was much more ruthlessly collected with a form of serfdom starting to appear in this period, grain was collected in-kind in replacement of monetary taxes after economic reforms failed to address inflation (which became a fairly major problem in the 4th century). The cities prospered, especially on the Rhine frontier where tens of thousands of soldiers were based, Africa, Italy, etc. The idea of it being a time of decay are mostly outdated, based on a decline in inscriptional evidence which suggests at first glance that people just could not afford to build new monuments. Culture was changing greatly. Everyone in the Roman Empire (apart from slaves) now had citizenship so society began to polarise into nobles 'honestiores' and the commoners 'humiliores', who were treated differently in the law (like you'd get executed or exiled for a crime based on how aristocratic you were).
The battle of Adrianople in 376 actually had little significance at the time, it's only modern historians who attribute that to it in hindsight, since it was the first time barbarians forced their way into the empire and were not expelled. The 410s civil war between Constantine III and Honorius, in the middle of a massive invasion of barbarians, was what led to the Western Empire being permafucked. The Gallic cities never recovered, Britain could not be returned to the fold, Spain was filled with raiders and wealthy Africa seized.
Thanks based anon.
The whole citizenship and socii class struggle got replaced by commoners and nobles then? Seems awfully Germanic in some respects.
How could anyone possible think the Tetrarchy was a good idea by the way?
>The whole citizenship and socii class struggle got replaced by commoners and nobles then? Seems awfully Germanic in some respects.
You'd be surprised at how incredibly Germanic Roman society became in the late period, while at the same time them being treated as freaky foreigners. Trousers began to be commonplace, many Roman army officers were Frankish, Germanic buckles became fashionable.
Well the class struggle you refer to had been replaced by commoners vs nobles even in the 1st century BC, but by the 4th century A.D. it was enshrined in law. Because the army was greatly expanded and equipped with expensive fortifications and massive siege weapons, the Roman state desperately needed its taxes, so poor farmers (i.e. 95% of the population) gradually became 'coloni', i.e. tied to the land in a very medieval sort of way. The bureaucracy of the state massively increased and needed more money to fund it, and because it became increasingly burdensome on the town councillors (who were the ones who built all the baths, amphitheatres and shit out of their own cash) lots of noblemen tried to avoid their state obligations. The state then tried to reward them in other ways to encourage more participation in the bureaucracy, so the rich and poor became increasingly polarised. By the 5th century 'bacaudae', rebels characterised (controversially) as deserters and serfs fleeing state control in places like Britanny and northern Spain, were common place. People gradually got sick of the increasingly heavy hand of the Empire, it's one of the reasons why it collapsed ultimately.
>How could anyone possible think the Tetrarchy was a good idea by the way?
It was a very good idea, actually. It was only its failure due to the ambitions of individual men that proved its undoing. For the years that it worked it proved incredibly effective, uniting the emperors through blood and religion, allowing each of them to fight the various enemy threats on their frontiers.
>what actually happened to the senatorial families of old
From what I remember reading, they did not make the transition at all, and most were gone even by the 2nd century AD (long before the 'decline' of the empire'. More and more equestrians and middle-tier bureaucrats imposed on their status, and the piss poor areas they were given to govern, the poorest in the empire, meant that inevitably they could not afford to maintain their high status lifestyles through conspicuous consumption at the same time as just milking the provincials under their control. The senatorial families Caesar had to deal with in the 1st century BC were pretty much all gone by the start of the Third Century Crisis. I can't quite remember where I know this from. I think Septimius Severus fucked them hard in the 190s. The Senate itself became incredibly unimportant as the emperors began to spend less time in Rome itself, it was inevitable that it would have a much higher turnover rate.
Diocletian and Constantine just extended what was a slow death anyways. Once the principles or roman rule (consensus through the senate, ruling nobílity, dynamism through expansion) were broken, it wasn't salvageable.