Friday, May 12, 2006

“Barbarians” are always the other people

It is a well worn cliché that history is written by the winners. There’s probably more truth to that than not. However, what happens when the losers are quite literate and the winners leave little or no written record? You end up with the conventional understanding of the fall of the Roman Empire.

Terry Jones writes in his soon to be available book,

The Romans kept the Barbarians at bay for as long as they could, but finally they were engulfed and the savage hordes overran the empire, destroying the cultural achievements of centuries. The light of reason and civilisation was almost snuffed out by the Barbarians, who annihilated everything that the Romans had put in place, sacking Rome itself and consigning Europe to the Dark Ages. The Barbarians brought only chaos and ignorance, until the renaissance rekindled the fires of Roman learning and art.

It is a familiar story, and it’s codswallop. (More.)

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