Chapter 1: Romans, Christians, and Barbarians


Ancient World Mapping Center

Diotima: Materials for the Study of Women and Gender in the Ancient World

Coptic Christianity

Illustrated History of the Roman Empire

Jordanes on The Origins and Deeds of the Goths

The Latin Vulgate

And try this Medieval History Starter Quiz.  You might know more than you think.


TEST YOURSELF: Have you read Chapter 1 adequately? Test yourself here.


MAPS: Want to download a map from chapter 1?  Click here.


TIMELINES: Want to download a timeline from chapter 1?  Click here.


CITATIONS: Want to find the source of a quote used in chapter 1? Click here.



T. D. Barnes, The New Empire of Diocletian and Constantine (1982). A persuasive reinterpretation of the late Empire and the consequences of its conversion to Christianity.

Peter Brown, The Rise of Western Christendom (2nd edition, 2003). A recent and readable synthesis by an authoritative scholar.

Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography (2nd edition, 2000). Still the best study.

Roger Collins, Early Medieval Europe, 300–1000 (3rd edition, 2010). Not very readable, but a thorough account of political history.

Averil Cameron, The Later Roman Empire, A.D. 284–430 (1993) and The Mediterranean World in Late Antiquity, AD 395–600 (1993). Two works of original scholarly synthesis. See also A. H. M. Jones, The Later Roman Empire, 284–602: A Social, Economic, and Administrative Survey (1986).

Robert Fossier, ed., The Cambridge Illustrated History of the Middle Ages, vol. 1: 350–950 (1989). See also the early volumes of David Abulafia et al., eds., The New Cambridge Medieval History.

Guy Halsall, Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376-568 (2007).  A new summation, aimed at students.

Judith Herrin, The Formation of Christendom (1987). A learned study of the evolution of Christian Europe, East and West, from late antiquity to the Carolingian era.

Kenneth G. Holum, Theodosian Empresses: Women and Imperial Dominion in Late Antiquity (1982). For a different perspective on women in this period, see Jo Ann McNamara, A New Song: Celibate Women in the First Three Christian Centuries (1983).

Donald Kagan, ed., The End of the Roman Empire: Decline or Transformation? (3rd edition, 1992). A short anthology of modern scholarly debates.

Rosamond McKitterick, ed., The Uses of Literacy in Early-Medieval Europe (1990). Essays by distinguished scholars.

Lawrence Nees, Early Medieval Art (2002). A new, richly illustrated overview of art in the first millennium.

Klars Randsborg, The First Millennium AD in Europe and the Mediterranean: An Archaeological Essay (1991). Sweeping, provocative, and brief.

Malcolm Todd, The Early Germans (1992). A readable archaeological and historical study. See also Walter Goffart, Barbarian Tides: The Miogration Age and the Later Roman Empire (2006), and Guy Halsall, Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West 376-568 (2008). For individual groups, see especially Peter Heather, Goths and Romans, A.D. 332–489 (1991), and E. A. Thompson, The Huns (1996).  The migrations are a contentious field of study; for a summary of recent scholarship and debates, see Andrew Gillett, "Rome's Fall and Europe's Rise," The Medieval Review (2007).  Here's a link.

Raymond Van Dam, Leadership and Community in Late-Antique Gaul (1985). An original reinterpretation of receding imperial administration, the regional aristocracy, and the evolution of Christian communities.

Suzanne Fonay Wemple, Women in Frankish Society: Marriage and the Cloister, 500 to 900
(1981). Argues that the status of elite Frankish women declined over these centuries.



Bart D. Ehrman, ed., After the New Testament: A Reader in Early Christianity (1999). A collection of sources for the first three centuries of Christianity, each with a short introduction.

Ramsay Macmullen and Eugene N. Lane, eds., Paganism and Christianity, 100–425 C.E. (1992). A topically organized collection.

Alexander Callander Murray, ed., From Roman to Merovingian Gaul: A Reader (2000). An eclectic collection accompanied by helpful editorial commentary.

Rubin, Miri, ed. Medieval Christianity in Practice (2009). A new collection of documents and commentary, each by a distinguished scholar-teacher.

Jo-Ann Shelton, ed., As the Romans Did: A Sourcebook in Roman Social History (2nd edition, 1998). A wide-ranging collection of fascinating sources.

Carolinne White, ed., Early Christian Lives (1998). Translations of seven saints’ lives, from St. Anthony to St. Benedict.


These listings are works-in-progress.  They are highly selective and aimed at the practical needs of students and teachers.  If you have suggestions, please send them to Judith Bennett.