Aristocrats and Statehood in Western Iberia, 300-600 C.E., by Damián Fernández
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017. Pp. vi, 310. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $65.00. ISBN: 0812249461.
Continuity of Roman Elites in “Barbarian” Iberia
Prof. Fernández (Northern Illinois), addresses the history of the local elites of western Iberia from the final age of Roman rule in the fourth century, through the Barbarian invasions of the early fifth century and the formation of a Suevic Kingdom in Galicia and a Visigothic one in eastern and southern Iberia, which would engulf its neighbor in the seventh century. Fernández divides his work into two parts.
In the first part, he examines the social, cultural, and economic experiences of the local aristocracies in the final era of Roman rule, a surprisingly prospered and peaceful period, until the advent of the so-called barbarians. The second part deals with how these elite families fared under the new Suevian and Visigothic states.
Fernández terms this group “An invisible class in a silent land”, due to the sparsity of our evidence. Under Roman rule locally prominent, but not very powerful, as Roman state institutions collapsed, the Romano-Iberian elites helped establish new local and regional governance, and in the process shaped the institutions of the Suevian and Visigothic successor-states, and the reunification of the region under the latter, while preserving their wealth and merging into a new ruling class.
A volume in the Penn series “Empire and After”, Aristocrats and Statehood in Western Iberia is an insightful treatment of the survival and continuing influence of the old Roman aristocracy during the “Barbarian Invasions”, this is primarily for the specialist.
Note: Aristocrats and Statehood in Western Iberia is also available as an e-Book, ISBN 978-0-8122-9435-4.
Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor
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