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Wuffing Education

The Fall of Rome: The Gothic Perspective

24th August 410AD - Alaric sacks Rome [or does he?] by M.F.Lansing

with Dr Sam Newton

in The Old Court , Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday, 23rd October 2010

The year 410 is regarded as one of the great turning points in history. But the “sack” of Rome on 24th August that year by the Visigoths, their third visit to the city in three years, was a remarkably mild affair compared with the destruction wrought by the Vandals in their sea-borne attack in 455, or the sieges of Rome during the Ostrogothic Wars in the mid-sixth century.
In August 410, Alaric, king of the Visigoths, clearly hoped that his restrained use of military power would force the Emperor Honorius, then based in Ravenna, to recognise him as an ally and to thus cede him land for his people in Italy. The words of Alaric’s successor, Athawulf, who married Emperor Honorius’s sister, Galla Placidia, reveal the high ideals of the Goths: according to the early fifth-century historian, Orosius, Athawulf sought

the glory of restoring and increasing the renown of the Roman name by the power of the Goths, wishing to be looked upon by posterity as the restorer of the Roman Empire…. (Orosius, The History of the World, Book 7)

The Visigoths settled in Gaul and Spain, and in so doing established a powerful precedent in the process of transformation of the Western Roman Empire into the nation-states of Europe. We shall consider this with particular reference to the beginnings of England.

Provisional Programme
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 The Origins of the Goths  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.45 The Visigoths  
  12.45 Lunch break  
  14:00 The Ostrogoths  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 The Ostrogothic Disapora  
  16:15 Close  

About Dr Sam Newton

Sam Newton was awarded his Ph.D at UEA in 1991 and is the author of The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia (1993) and The Reckoning of King Rædwald, (2003). He has lectured widely around the country and has contributed to many radio and television programmes, most recently Michael Wood on Beowulf and Digging for Britain with Dr Alice Roberts. Sam is also a Director of Wuffing Education, NADFAS lecturer, and Time Team historian.

Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

Alexander, M., The First Poems in English (Penguin Classics 2008)
Barnish, S.J., & F.Marazzi (eds), The Ostrogoths from the Migration Period to the Sixth Century (Boydell 2007)
Fairclough, J., Boudica to Raedwald: East Anglia’s relations with Rome (Malthouse Press, Suffolk, 2010)
Ward-Perkins, B., The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilisation, (Oxford 2005)
Goldsworthy, A., The Fall of the West, the Death of the Roman Superpower (London 2009)
Halsall, G., Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376-568 (Cambridge 2007)
Haymes, E.R., & S.T.Samples, Heroic Legends of the North: An Introduction to the Nibelung and Dietrich Cycles (Garland 1996)
Heather, P., The Goths (Oxford 1998)
Heather, P., The Fall of the Roman Empire: a New History of Rome and the Barbarians (Oxford 2006)
Hodgkin, T., The Barbarian Invasions of the Roman Empire ( Vol. I), The Visigothic Invasion, intro. by P. Heather (Folio Society 2000)
Hodgkin, T., The Barbarian Invasions of the Roman Empire ( Vol. 3), The Ostrogoths, intro. by P. Heather (Folio Society 2001)
Hodgkin, T., The Barbarian Invasions of the Roman Empire ( Vol. 4), The Imperial Restoration, intro. by P. Heather (Folio Society 2001)
James, E., Europe’s Barbarians AD200-600 (Pearson Longman 2009)
Webster, L., & J.Backhouse, The Making of England: Anglo-Saxon Art and Culture AD 600-900 (British Museum 1991)
Ward-Perkins, B., The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilisation, (Oxford 2005)
Wilson, R., The Lost Literature of Medieval England (Methuen 1952, 1970)


Please phone or email to check the availability of places.  This Study Days are £38 per person, which includes a full day of lectures, access to the NT site, parking, coffee and tea throughout the day, and access to the NT exhibition.  Once you have reserved your place please send a cheque to confirm the booking. For your first booking please complete the application form to ensure that we have recorded your contact details correctly.

Wuffing Education,
4 Hilly Fields,
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 4DX
(tel : 01394 386498)

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