If Rome Hadn't Fallen: How the Survival of Rome Might Have Changed World History
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This is a fascinating exploration of how the history of Europe, and indeed the world, might have been different if the Western Roman Empire had survived the crises that pulled it apart in the 4th and 5th centuries.
Dr. Timothy Venning starts by showing how that survival and recovery might plausibly have happened if several relatively minor things had been different. He then moves on to discuss a series of scenarios which might have altered the course of subsequent history dramatically. Would the survival of a strong Western Empire have assisted the Eastern (Byzantine) Empire in halting the expansion of Islam in the Middle East and North Africa? How would the Western Roman Empire have handled the Viking threat? Could they even have exploited the Viking discovery of America and established successful colonies there?
While necessarily speculative, all the scenarios are discussed within the framework of a deep understanding of the major driving forces, tensions and trends that shaped European history and help to shed light upon them. In so doing they help the reader to understand why things panned out as they did, as well as what might have been.
to advise a Palace-bound ruler. The danger of all the ritual acclamations at public ceremonies (even the Games) and obsequious language from courtiers to the sacred Emperor was that the latter would confuse the image of harmony at Court with the reality of life in his Empire. It is noticeable that the records we have of the most senior Palace-based ministers, and great provincial bureaucrats headed by the Praetorian Praefects, suggest a quick ‘turnover’ rather than a system of long-serving men
does his successful leadership of the Romano-German coalition to defeat Attila somewhere near Chalons in 451. The collapse of Roman power in Gaul and Gaiseric’s attack on the capital only followed his death, so what if his rule had continued? The defeat, containment, and death of Attila in 451–3, followed by Aetius’ contining ascendancy at court, would have enabled Aetius to recruit many of the subject tribes who revolted against the Huns in 454 to be allies of Rome. The Western Empire would
theological dominance aided by State power, and it is unlikely that a Western Emperor would have been keen to support an Eastern Monothelete or Iconoclast enthusiast by calling a Church council to change Western doctrine in his support. Eastern Orthodox theologians offended by their Monothelete or Iconoclast ruler’s heresy would have been likely to call on a Catholic Western Emperor to invade and depose the blasphemer, particularly determined persecutors such as Constans II in the 650s,
real-life small Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the 780s and 790s appear to have been individual raids by opportunists, gathering in intensity and scope to a full-scale invasion by a large army under Viking kings in 865/6. In real life, the successes that the Vikings were having in moving up the great river-systems of France to pillage towns and monasteries encouraged the attacks on Britain, and the Frankish kingdom lacked a competent fleet or (after 840) a united politico-military leadership. These
33. See Liber Pontificalis, vol 1, pp. 371–82. 34. Procopius, Secret History, book 8, chapters 22 and 24–6. In contemporary terms of supernatural belief, he claimed that the Emperor was possessed by a demon and wandered around the Palace at night without a head. But how much of this was stock rhetoric or later disillusion, not intended for publication? 35. Gibbon chapter 30. 36. See Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, sub ann. 893: edited by Michael Swanton (Dent, 1996), p. 84. Discussion in Richard Abels,