The Transformation of the Roman West
The Transformation of the Roman West
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11.1 x 18.1 cm
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Introduction. The End of the West Roman Empire: From Decline and Fall to Transformation of the Roman World 1. Gibbon's Secondary Causes: "The Disorders of Military Despotism" and "the Division of Monarchy" 2. Barbarism: "The Invasion and Settlements of the Barbarians of Germany and Scythia" 3. Religion and the Transformation of the Roman World 4. Religion: "The Rise, Establishment, and Sects of Christianity" 5. Religious Reaction to the Fall of Rome 6. Doctrinal Division 7. The Impact of Christianity: A Quantitative Approach 8. Clerics, Soldiers, Bureaucrats 9. Ecclesiastical Endowment 10. Beyond Gibbon and Rostovtzeff Appendix. Clerical Ordinations Further Reading Bibliography

Reviews and Features

"For more than forty years Ian Wood has been among the most productive and creative historians of the period running from roughly 300 to 800. To all but the uninformed or recalcitrant this period is now characterized as one of transformation. [...] Wood’s overall effort is an attempt to use religion as an interpretive framework for explaining how the Western Roman world was different in 600 than it had been in 300. [...] I believe that Wood’s argument is convincing. Not everyone will agree. Wood’s analysis should do what every good argument does: spark debate."
- Thomas F. X. Noble, University of Notre Dame, Emeritus, Speculum 96/3 (July 2021)

"Nobody writes with more assurance, clarity, and precision on the history and historiography of the late Roman Empire and early Christian West than Ian Wood. This may prove to be the most original and influential short book in that line of work since Montesquieu's of 1734."
- Mark Vessey, University of British Columbia

"Ian Wood's new book is the distillation of a lifetime of research on and thinking about the crucial centuries of the end of the ancient world and the beginning of the middle ages in the west. His work on the Merovingians, Burgundians, and Anglo-Saxons is justly famous; and he has in recent years also thought hard about the origins of early medieval history-writing, going back in to the seventeenth century. He has never, however, given his own view of what really changed at the beginning of the middle ages in the west. Here, in a remarkable synthesis which draws on all his previous work, he sets it out, fast and effectively. Ian Wood is not a lover of catastrophe theory, and he shows here how nuanced any description of the changes in politics and culture across the fifth to eighth centuries must be. There were never very many 'barbarians,' so the effect which they could have had was not, for the mass of the population, huge. What was new, however, was the institutionalization of the church, on a huge scale, with as many clerics as there had been members of the Roman army, and as there were, by now, 'barbarian' groups. This new, and increasingly wealthy, structure, is in Wood's view the real novelty of the early middle ages. His argument is new in this form, forcefully expressed, and is bound to excite debate. This masterful work will be very influential."
- Christopher Wickham, All Souls College, Oxford

Ian Wood

The Transformation of the Roman West

The history of the Late Roman Empire in the West has been divided into two parallel worlds, analysed either as a political and economic transformation or as a religious and cultural one. But how do these relate one to another? In this concise and effective synthesis, Ian Wood considers some ways in which religion and the Church can be reintegrated into what has become a largely secular discourse. The Church was at the heart of the changes that look place at the end of the Western Empire, not only regarding religion, but indeed every aspect of politics and society. Wood contends that the institutionalisation of the Church on a huge scale was a key factor in the transformation which began in the early fourth century with an incipiently Christian Roman Empire and ended three hundred years later in a world of thoroughly Christianised kingdoms.
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Ian Wood

Ian Wood, Emeritus Prof. (Univ. of Leeds), has authored over 200 articles on the post-Roman West and the recent monograph: The Modern Origins of the Early Middle Ages.