This is a scholarly study of the collision of Goths and Romans in the fourth and fifth centuries. Gothic tribes played a major role in the destruction of the western half of the Roman Empire between 350 and 500, establishing successor kingdoms in southern France and Spain (the Visigoths), and in Italy (the Ostrogoths).
Our historical understanding of this Migration Period' has been based upon the Gothic historian Jordanes, whose mid-sixth-century Getica suggests that the Visigoths and Ostrogoths entered the Empire already established as coherent groups and simply conquered new territories. Using the available contemporary sources, Peter Heather is able to show that, on the contrary, the Visigoths and Ostrogoths were new and unprecedentedly large social groupings at this time, and that many Gothic societies failed even to survive the upheavals of the Migration Period. Dr Heather's scholarly study explores the development of Visigothic and Ostrogothic societies, their rise to power, and the complicated interactions with the Romans which helped bring about the fall of the Roman Empire.
`an important contribution to our understanding of the entrance of the Goths into the Roman world.'
J.H.W.G. Liebeschutz, University of Nottingham, Journal of Roman Studies
`another important and scholarly contribution ... It is indeed refreshing to read a good history of the fourth and fifth centuries written from a non-Roman point of view'
Times Literary Supplement
'this lean and lucid book ... has an important contribution to make'
James J. O'Donnell, University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 3.2(1992)
'Peter Heather's new study provides impressive proof of the sheer magnitude of Julian's misjudgement. The reader is well served ... by Heather's consistently careful attention to necessary details of chronology and geography.'
'Heather has written a learned ... book on the formation and migration of the Goths during the fourth and fifth centuries. There are fine maps and a comprehensive bibiography. Graduate; faculty.'
K.W. Harl, Tulane University, Choice, Jan '93
'compelling re-reading of Gothic and Roman history ... Heather has written a masterful account of leaders trying to lead in difficult times as circumstances changed with amazing rapidity around them and when their future was not as clear to them as it now appears.'
John J. Contreni, Purdue University, The Historian
'a substantial contribution to our knowledge and understanding of the Germanic newcomers ... a classic, on a par with those pioneering nineteenth-century analyses which first undermined the credibility of the Historia Augusta. H. tells a fascinating detective story - a genuinely gripping and exciting read of the sort rarely found in scholarly monographs - and he is totally convincing. Thanks to him, Gothic studies will never be the same again.'
J.F. Drinkwater, University of Nottingham, Classical Review
'The book is carefully argued, nicely printed, and has good maps.'
Steven Muhlberger, Nipissing University, The International History Review, XV, 2: May 1993
Introduction; Part 1: Jordanes and Gothic History; Part 2: The Formation of the Visigoths; Part 3: The Formation of the Ostrogoths; Conclusion; Appendices