Monday, October 16, 2006

More on Late Roman-Early Medieval continuity

I've recently read Walter Goffart's Barbarian Tides, where Goffart reconsiders many of the crucial issues of late Roman history after a long career of contributing provocative ideas and painstaking analysis of the sources to the field.

Goffart gives credence to this statement by the distinguished historian Alexander Demandt:

In the genealogy of the ruling class there was an abrupt break in the third century AD, but no break in the Volkerwanderung, no break during the end of the Roman Empire, no break in the dark senvth century. From the time of Diocletian on we have continuity in the rulking families into the Middle Ages and further on. (Barbarian Tides, p. 193; Demandt "The Osmosis of Late Roman and Germanic Aristocracies," in Das Reich und die Barbaren.)

This is quite different from what Wickham says (see here) though I see that Wickham talks about male lineage being insecure as if that in itself proves discontinuity. I'll check to see if Wickham cites or comments on Demandt and report back.

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