The Fall of Rome And The End of Civilization by Bryan Ward-Perkin: Brief Understanding of the Book

Paper Type:  Book review
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1423 Words
Date:  2022-04-29


In the book; "The Fall of Rome And The End of Civilization by Bryan Ward-Perkins" the author responds to the Late Antiquity and Peter Brown who incorrectly alleged that the end fall of Rome was due to cultural transformation rather than the violent destruction of Rome which Perkins believed it was. Perkins understands the collapse of Rome as a historical period of dislocation and horror that damaged an entire civilization and taking back the West to the prehistoric times. Perkins in this book attacks the contemporary theories using archeological evidence to provide explanations of the lives the Romans lived as a result of the economic collapse and from eth marauding barbarians. The book also evokes the violence and drama experienced during the last days of the Romans as well as reminding the audience of the actual horrors of the barbarian occupation. Also, Perkins opposes that the major challenge with explaining how the fall of Rome came about is that all awkwardness and difficulty is leveled out by a positive and steady revolution of the society.

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Thesis Statement

Was the fall of Rome a great catastrophe that cast the western countries into darkness for centuries to come? The author argues that the "peaceful" theory of the roman transformation was indeed a bad error that plunged the west into darkness. Perkins responds to the Late Antiquity by Peter Brown who incorrectly alleged that the end fall of Rome was as a result of cultural transformation rather than the violent destruction of Rome which Perkins believed it was. Perkins starts by demonstrating that the Germanic barbarians were merely not immigrants, but violent conquerors that had the intention of seizing the land. One of the primary reasons for the fall of Rome as documented by most scholars is the invasion of Rome by the Barbarians.

Evaluation of the Book

The fall of the Roman empire has captivated the interest of humanity and has revolved around the invasion of the entire Rome. This invasion is considered one of the straightforward theory for the collapse of the Roman Empire. This invasion involved the collapse of military forces by the outside forces. Rome had some tangles with the Germanic tribes for years, but for the last 300 years, barbarian groups had invaded Rome beyond its borders. The Romans were able to defend themselves from all Germanic uprising up until in the 410 when King Alaric sacked the city of Rome successfully. It is then that the Roman Empire spent the next decades under threats before another raid that took place in 455 perpetrated by the Vandals. Lastly, in 476, Odoacer one of the Germanic leaders plotted a revolt and unseated the then Emperor Romulus. Since then, Roman emperors would never again rule the city of Rome, which led to most people citing 476 as the final year when the Roman Empire suffered its final deathblow.

The invasion by barbarians is described at length in the book by Perkins. Perkins in his work can prove his thesis by using outside sources to support his conclusions. The book is also able to make contributions to the historical narratives on the collapse of Rome as well as the culmination of civilization. Other central factors led to the collapse of the Roman Empire. The economically suffering city had a reduction in agricultural production which in turn increased the food prices. However, this is one of the factors that Perkins stresses the most after the invasion by the barbarians. This also led to a trade deficit with the other half of the empire, the east. The western empire bought products from the eastern side, but they did not have anything to offer for the exchange. To try and cover up the deficit, the government increased the production of more coins that had little silver content. This automatically led to inflation, and the attacks and piracy from the Germanic groups disrupted trade in the west which led to the collapse of Rome.

Perkins vividly acknowledges that the difficulties the city of Rome experienced with the military and its political powers were also a contributing factor to the collapse of Rome as well as the culmination of civilization. The situation in Rome during the 19th century after the invasion of the barbarians could not be controlled by amateurs that were in leadership during the fall. Since the army generals controlled the emperorship, corruption became very rampant. Eventually, the military further transformed into mercenaries who had no loyalty to eth Roman Emperor. As the economy grew, tight, cheaper and unreliable Germanic soldiers were hired to join the Roman army and help with the fights. This meant that the armies were fighting their fellow tribesmen, and these circumstances could only lead to the fall of the empire.

Moreover, Perkins does discuss the introduction of Christianity, but vividly. He mentions that when the empire fell, the number of churches reduced. In a broader context, Christianity was legalized by Edit in 313 and was made the state religion later on in 380. The Christian teachings were able to end an era of persecutions, but in the process, this eroded the traditional values of the Romans. The polytheistic religion of the Romans was also displaced by Christianity and shifted the glory of the state to that of a single deity. Also, popes and other church leaders got involved with politics and this extensively complicated governance. While the introduction of Christianity in Rome, most researchers argue that that influence was less compared to the economic, administrative and military powers.

Perkins main arguments are described in chapters. In part one, his argument that the Roman Empire indeed fell relies mostly on traditional sources that focus on military history and politics. However, part two principally drew the arguments on archeology to emphasize on the decline of the standard way of life as a factor that led to the end of civilization. As O'Donnell among other scholars pointed out, Perkins stresses on the economic decline as one of the causes of the fall of Rome, while scholars like Peter Brown emphasizes on cultural and religious creativity as noted in the East. Perkins also discuss the changes witnessed in distribution and manufacture of roof tiles, pottery as well as the construction techniques to evidence the narratives written on business as well as other purposes. In the movement and production of consumer goods like olive oil and wine, the author can bring out a monetized economy in the urbanized world which builds a strong case about the end of civilization. This also explains how some economies returned to Iron Age conditions in some parts of Europe such as Britain, several centuries later.

As skillfully noted, Perkins case study relies to some degree on, just like he put it, "a gross simplification of a mass of difficult, and sometimes disputed, archaeological evidence" (123). The rest of the narration is desolate but Perkins marshals all the evidence he could gather to show how life declined after the fall of Rome. Through the use of archeology, mainly pottery, Perkins can show that despite the many ills that Rome experienced, it still able to make life better and more comfortable for the people within the lower classes. Rome was an all-rounded city with a sophisticated economy that managed to trade raw materials and goods over the Mediterranean. In other words, Rome's economy had the resemblance of the modern one in so many ways.

Professional Opinion

Laying about his fine combative personality style, Ward-Perkins agrees with the fact that many barbarians wanted not to interfere with the empire but to settle surely within. He sets his opinion based on archeological interpreted evidence which makes him set his face firmly against scholarly fashion which indicates everything about the Romans


In conclusion, this book is a reliable and brief narration of how the fall of the Roman Empire indeed plunged the western countries into darknesss. This book is written in prowess, and it contains an excellent narration of historical writing that can provoke the thoughts of the audience about the crisis that Rome experienced and those that nations are experiencing today. The author has used up to date reference materials, and this makes Perkins work a brilliant write that combines a lively narrative with thirsty illustrations and latest research. This book reclaims the tragedy, violence, and drama of the collapse of the Roman Empire.


Ward-Perkins, Bryan. The fall of Rome: and the end of civilization. Oxford University Press, 2006.

Ward-Perkins, Bryan. 2005. The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization. Oxford: OUP Oxford.

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The Fall of Rome And The End of Civilization by Bryan Ward-Perkin: Brief Understanding of the Book. (2022, Apr 29). Retrieved from

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