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The Roman Empire in Crisis, 248–260 (Hardback)

When the Gods Abandoned Rome

Ancient History Rome Military

By Paul N Pearson
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 320
Illustrations: 16 Colour
ISBN: 9781399090971
Published: 25th March 2022


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This book is a narrative history of a dozen years of turmoil that begins with Rome’s millennium celebrations of 248 CE and ends with the capture of the emperor Valerian by the Persians in 260. It was a period of almost unremitting disaster for Rome, involving a series of civil wars, several major invasions by Goths and Persians, economic crisis, and an empire-wide pandemic, the ‘plague of Cyprian’. There was sustained persecution of the Christians. A central theme of the book is that this was a period of moral and spiritual crisis in which the traditional state religion suffered greatly in prestige, paving the way for the eventual triumph of Christianity.

The sensational recent discovery of extensive fragments of the lost Scythica of Dexippus sheds much new light on the Gothic Wars of the period. The author has used this new evidence in combination with in-depth investigations in the field to develop a revised account of events surrounding the great Battle of Abritus where the army of the emperor Decius was annihilated by Cniva’s Goths. New light is shed on a period which is pivotal for understanding the transition between Classical civilisation and the period known as Late Antiquity.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is an excellent telling of a period of the Roman Empire on which there has been little research and Pearson does it full justice. The author writes confidently and in such a way that this book is very accessible for the interested layperson. For students it provides an excellent source of reference for the structure, organisation and control of this vast Empire in the second century. Pearson uses many sources to back up his opinions- all well referenced and with excellent footnotes which add flesh to the bones of the narrative. The narrative flows easily and was fascinating. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it.

NetGalley, Carol Elizabeth Keogh

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Lovers of history will love this book on the development of Rome, the different ways that built Rome and Rome was made off and her decline as well.
I really enjoyed this book and would recommend this to anyone looking for their next read .

NetGalley, Dee A.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a highly recommended book for anyone interested in Roman history. It is clear and compelling as it surveys a wide variety of sources to bring to life a particularly dangerous decade in Rome’s heretofore smooth sailing on the global scene.

NetGalley, George Schaeffer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

In the year 248 CE Rome was already 1000 years old! The fact of this is often overlooked when looking at the history of this empire. The question arrises what could have brought this empire to a downturn, There are multiple causes and one often discussed is the neglect of the Romans to keep the Ostrogoths paid for their protection of the northern boundary and the simple fact it was a bribe to make sure they didnt invade. Also the Christians were making headway in their religious infiltration of the Empire. What made this book very interesting for me was the interesting detail about the whole cultural puzzle of religion and tribal custom. The Gods of Rome are discussed and how they were looked upon by the average Roman at this time. Every empire disolves someday as we see even now. Romes turbulent period from 248 -260 shows how this crises was turned into a bridge over troubled times and the future of Rome continued.Very interesting and readable with lots to draw the curious and historian both. I never knew this time period was even significant but after reading this I understand more about Europe and the Middle East too. Excellent.

NetGalley, Patrick Carmen

Drawing on new source material, this books offers deep insights into the period and presents new theories for readers to ponder. The writing style will appeal to many readers as it is so easy to read that I found myself forgetting, at times, that it is not a novel. Really great to see this type of information presented in such an accessible way.

NetGalley, Louise Gray

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Great book very interesting.
Never knew much about this time in history but this book was written in a way that help me learn.

NetGalley, Karen Bull

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Pandemic, insurrections, invasions, economic down turns, supply chain issues, religious strife - is it the 2020's? No, its the Roman Empire in the mid-3rd century when they were hit on all sides by all sorts of problems.

People tend to blame fiddle-playing, grape-eating emperors for the fall of the empire, but Pearson shows here there were plenty of other factors that lead Rome from greatness to ruin.

A fascinating macro military history of the Roman Empire as it leaves its glory days in the past.

NetGalley, Kara Race-Moore

About Paul N Pearson

Paul Pearson is a Professor of Earth Sciences at Cardiff University but has deep and long-held fascination for Roman history. This book is the product of years of research, including personal study of the battlefields and other key sites in Germany and Italy.

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Maximinus was a half-barbarian strongman 'of frightening appearance and colossal size' who could smash stones with his bare hands and pull fully laden wagons unaided. Such feats impressed the emperor Severus who enlisted him into the imperial bodyguard whereupon he embarked on a distinguished military career. Eventually he achieved senior command in the massive Roman invasion of Persia in 232 and three years later became emperor himself in a military coup. Supposedly over seven feet tall (it is likely he had a pituitary disorder), Maximinus was surely one of Rome's most extraordinary emperors.…

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