Chris Wickham Inheritance Of Rome

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The Inheritance of Rome Chris Wickham offers a straightforward thesis in The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages 400-1000. His aim is to side-step grand narratives by looking at the years 400-1000 and all sub-periods inside, without considering too much their relationship with what came before or after. His tome is helpfully divided into four sections, beginning with the Roman empire and its “fall” in the West, the immediate post-Roman polities in Gaul, Spain, Italy, Britain, and Ireland, the history of Byzantium after the seventh century crisis of the Eastern Roman empire, Arab caliphate, and Muslim Spain, and finally, the Carolingian empire, its successor states and principal imitator, England, and at the array of Northern polities.…show more content…
Wickham gives us two grand narratives to avoid: nationalism and modernity. On nationalism, Wickham agrees with Brown that we will not find one history uniting all of Europe. There is “no common identity linking Spain to Russia, Ireland to the Byzantine empire, except a very weak sense of community that linked Christian polities together.” According to Wickham, there is no common European culture and no European-wide economy. Even national identities were not widely prominent. Wickham argues that a common language had very little to do with any form of cultural or political solidarity. Using the early Middle Ages as the ‘birth of Europe’ is close to fantasy for Wickham. Medieval history has previously been viewed as in the middle between the political and legal solidity of the Roman empire, and the rediscovery of the latter Renaissance. Both Brown and Wickham agree that there was no total European unity in the early Middle Ages. In The Making of Europe, Christopher Dawson places great emphasis on the East’s contributions to the birth of Europe. From the East, Dawson points out, came the Greek achievements that proved to be so important to the founding of Western civilization: Christianity, monasticism, military technologies, and the influence of Islam. “Western culture grew up under the shadow of the more advanced civilization of Islam, and it was from the latter rather than from the Byzantine world that Medieval Christendom recovered…show more content…
I like Wickham’s use of ‘inheritance’ in this instance, and I believe he adeptly demonstrates how much of Western civilization in the years 400-1000 encapsulated certain aspects of the fallen Roman empire. Also, his subtitle “Break-up” proficiently encompasses what the period from about 400-600 was for the Roman empire: a break-up. Western European went through an incredible amount of social and religious change during this time period. In the East, a new world religion was developed. Romans in the fourth century would hardly recognize the empire as they had known it in the sixth century. As for the subtitle “Post-Roman,” I also agree that it is appropriate. As changes took place, Western Europe, especially, developed into its own empire, separate from the past Roman

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