University of Notre Dame

Barbarians, the Church, and the Fall of Rome

CLAS 10240

This course is an introduction to the Later Roman Empire and the period known as Late Antiquity. It will focus on the transformation of the Roman Empire between the third and sixth centuries A.D. and examine the major political, social, economic, and cultural developments that took place in this period. Central topics will include the political decline of the Roman Empire in the West; the rise of Christianity; the controversy over religious doctrines of the church; and the invasions, migrations, and kingdoms of ?barbarian? peoples who would lay the foundations of Medieval Europe. The course will address the following questions: did the Roman Empire really fall or was it simply transformed? Is this a period of calamity or continuity? How did the church engage with the philosophical and political culture of Rome, and how did it change over this period? Who were the so-called barbarians and what role did they play in the collapse of the Roman imperial system in Western Europe?

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