Generalissimos of the Western Roman Empire

Generalissimos of the Western Roman Empire

Generalissimos of the Western Roman Empire

Generalissimos of the Western Roman Empire

Synopsis

John Micheal O'Flynn traces the development of the position of the generalissimo, or emperor's commander of the military forces, in the western part of the Roman Empire during the first century AD. From the arrogant barbarian Arbogast, who treated the youthful emperor Valentinian as his puppet, to Odovacar, who dismissed the last western emperor and was pronounced king of Italy in 476, the generalissimos' seizure of power led to dissolution and chaos from which would emerge the political patterns of medieval and modern Europe.

Excerpt

This study deals with the period in which eastern and western halves of the Roman Empire began going their separate ways, the one on the road to becoming the Byzantine Empire, the other on the road to the dissolution and chaos from which would emerge the political patterns of medieval and modern Europe. The nature and course of the strange relationship between the two parts, and the view that thoughtful individuals in each part took of the other and of the concept of empire, have attracted a good deal of scholarly attention. My aim in this book is to explore one single development that played a crucial role in furthering and finalizing that split, marking the end of antiquity and the birth of the middle ages.

Among the factors that differentiate East from West during this period, the sharply contrasting influence of barbarians in the two halves of the empire has been extensively noted in the standard historical handbooks, works like those of Hodgkin, Bury, Seeck, or Stein. The East had its powerful barbarian generals, just as did the West, during the reigns of the militarily feeble descendants of Theodosius the Great, but the anti-barbarian . . .

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