Ancient History & Civilisation

If Rome Hadn't Fallen: What Might Have Happened If the Western Empire Had Survived

If Rome Hadn't Fallen: What Might Have Happened If the Western Empire Had Survived

This is a fascinating exploration of how the history of Europe, and indeed the world, might have been different if the Western Roman Empire had survived the crises that pulled it apart in the 4th and 5th centuries.

Dr. Timothy Venning starts by showing how that survival and recovery might plausibly have happened if several relatively minor things had been different. He then moves on to discuss a series of scenarios which might have altered the course of subsequent history dramatically. Would the survival of a strong Western Empire have assisted the Eastern (Byzantine) Empire in halting the expansion of Islam in the Middle East and North Africa? How would the Western Roman Empire have handled the Viking threat? Could they even have exploited the Viking discovery of America and established successful colonies there?

While necessarily speculative, all the scenarios are discussed within the framework of a deep understanding of the major driving forces, tensions and trends that shaped European history and help to shed light upon them. In so doing they help the reader to understand why things panned out as they did, as well as what might have been.

Introduction

Part I: Turning Points

Chapter 1: Two Reasons for Rome’s Problems – Did They Make Collapse More Likely? Were They Avoidable? - (a) Military ‘What Ifs’ from AD 9

Chapter 1: Two Reasons for Rome’s Problems – Did They Make Collapse More Likely? Were They Avoidable? - (b) Instability from AD 180

Chapter 2. The Roman World – The Western Empire in the Fifth Century

Overview of real-life history. Decline and fall, how much has it been exaggerated, and was it inevitable? Problems of state structure and control. Religion, governance, and failings in the structure of the bureaucracy. Division of the Empire, militarily necessary, or extra problems? The state and the army: too heavy a burden, or irrelevant to the question of survival? Germans and Romans. 476, a convenient but misleading date? A vicious circle of gradual collapse? Potential alternatives and the crucial moments of Roman collapse.

Chapter 3. Inherited Problems, the Nature of Roman Instability in Transmitting Power, and What Could Easily have Happened

Earlier ‘What Ifs’: the crises that led to the creation of the later Empire.

Part II: Consequences

What would have been the likely developments in the Western Empire had one of the foregoing scenarios occurred?

Chapter 4. Western Empire: the British Isles, the Vikings, and North-eastern Germany

Chapter 5. The Western World – Some Further Speculation

Chapter 6. The Eastern Empire – Effects of the Survival of the Western Empire

Notes

Bibliography