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Patricians and Emperors (Paperback)

The Last Rulers of the Western Roman Empire

Ancient History Military

By Ian Hughes
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 304
Illustrations: 8pp plates
ISBN: 9781399074643
Published: 9th May 2022


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Patricians and Emperors offers concise comparative biographies of the individuals who wielded power in the final decades of the Western Roman Empire, from the assassination of Aetius in 454 to the death of Julius Nepos in 480.

The book is divided into four parts. The first sets the background to the period, including brief histories of Stilicho (395-408) and Aetius (425-454), explaining the nature of the empire and the reasons for its decline. The second details the lives of Ricimer (455-472) and his great rival Marcellinus (455-468) by focusing on the stories of the numerous emperors that Ricimer raised and deposed. The third deals with the Patricians Gundobad (472-3) and Orestes (475-6), as well as explaining how the barbarian general Odoacer came to power in 476. The final part outlines and analyses the Fall of the West and the rise of barbarian kingdoms in France, Spain and Italy.

This is a very welcome book to anyone seeking to make sense of this chaotic, but crucial period.

The author had a clear intention in writing this book. He mentions in the Introduction that there have been a number of publications concerned with the Fall, many focusing on “Why?” His intention with this book was different – to largely avoid such speculation, and to instead concentrate on writing a coherent chronological narrative of events. And that he does, in spades!

... The book jacket states “This book is the perfect starting point for anyone seeking to make sense of this chaotic, but crucial period of Roman history.” No argument there. It is dense with material. Every page is populated with new characters, plots, and intrigues. I plan to re-read this book – the author has whetted my interest in what was a fascinating historical period.

UNRV - Alex Johnston

As featured in

Barnsley Chronicle
 Ian Hughes

About Ian Hughes

A full-time author, Ian Hughes specializes in the military history of the late Roman Empire. He is the author of Belisarius: The Last Roman General (2009); Stilicho: the Vandal who saved Rome (2010); Aetius: Attila's Nemesis (2012); Imperial Brothers: Valentinian, Valens and the Disaster at Adrianople (2013); Patricians and Emperors (2015); Gaiseric: The Vandal Who Sacked Rome (2017) and Attila the Hun (2018). In his spare time he builds or restores electric guitars, plays football and historical wargames. He lives in South Yorkshire.

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