The idea that with the decline of the Roman Empire Europe entered into some immense ‘dark age’ has long been viewed as inadequate by many historians. How could a world still so profoundly shaped by Rome and which encompassed such remarkable societies as the Byzantine, Carolingian and Ottonian empires, be anything other than central to the development of European history? How could a world of so many peoples, whether expanding, moving or stable, of Goths, Franks, Vandals, Byzantines, Arabs, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, whose genetic and linguistic inheritors we all are, not lie at the heart of how we understand ourselves?
The Inheritance of Rome is a work of remarkable scope and ambition. Drawing on a wealth of new material, it is a book which will transform its many readers’ ideas about the crucible in which Europe would in the end be created. From the collapse of the Roman imperial system to the establishment of the new European dynastic states, perhaps this book’s most striking achievement is to make sense of an immensely long period of time, experienced by many generations of Europeans, and which, while it certainly included catastrophic invasions and turbulence, also contained long periods of continuity and achievement.
From Ireland to Constantinople, from the Baltic to the Mediterranean, this is a genuinely Europe-wide history of a new kind, with something surprising or arresting on every page.