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Stilicho: The Vandal who saved Rome

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Stilicho: The Vandal who saved Rome by Ian Hughes

Book Review by Philip Matyszak

 

Welcome to the dying days of the Roman empire, where in some cases the dying was very literal. This is the world of Flavius Stilicho, the general who struggled desperately to hold the disintegrating western empire together. Though he struggled against constant barbarian incursions, rebellions and usurpers, Stilicho's worst enemies were his fellow Romans in the Roman senate, and the courts of the eastern and western emperors...

 

...read the full review of Stilicho; The Vandal who saved Rome by Ian Hughes

 

 

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Stilicho: The Vandal who saved Rome by Ian Hughes

Book Review by Philip Matyszak

 

Welcome to the dying days of the Roman empire, where in some cases the dying was very literal. This is the world of Flavius Stilicho, the general who struggled desperately to hold the disintegrating western empire together. Though he struggled against constant barbarian incursions, rebellions and usurpers, Stilicho's worst enemies were his fellow Romans in the Roman senate, and the courts of the eastern and western emperors...

 

...read the full review of Stilicho; The Vandal who saved Rome by Ian Hughes

 

I have not read the book yet, but I read the review. The following statement gets to the crux of the matter:

 

"The senate also objected vigorously to Stilicho's use of barbarian troops, especially the wholesale recruitment of barbarians whom he had recently defeated. In fact, by Hughes' argument, it was a backlash against Stilicho's use of barbarian troops which eventually brought about his downfall."

Wasn't that part of the problem? It was hard for Rome to recruit its own people. Perhaps the senators were right, and there should have been a greater push to recruit Romans or at least barbarians that were more romanized. It seems to me that Byzantium made its recovery when it decreased its reliance on barbarian mercenaries and recruited troops from within the Empire. Why wasn't the West able to do the same?

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Stilicho: The Vandal who saved Rome by Ian Hughes

Book Review by Philip Matyszak

 

Welcome to the dying days of the Roman empire, where in some cases the dying was very literal. This is the world of Flavius Stilicho, the general who struggled desperately to hold the disintegrating western empire together. Though he struggled against constant barbarian incursions, rebellions and usurpers, Stilicho's worst enemies were his fellow Romans in the Roman senate, and the courts of the eastern and western emperors...

 

...read the full review of Stilicho; The Vandal who saved Rome by Ian Hughes

 

I have not read the book yet, but I read the review. The following statement gets to the crux of the matter:

 

"The senate also objected vigorously to Stilicho's use of barbarian troops, especially the wholesale recruitment of barbarians whom he had recently defeated. In fact, by Hughes' argument, it was a backlash against Stilicho's use of barbarian troops which eventually brought about his downfall."

Wasn't that part of the problem? It was hard for Rome to recruit its own people. Perhaps the senators were right, and there should have been a greater push to recruit Romans or at least barbarians that were more romanized. It seems to me that Byzantium made its recovery when it decreased its reliance on barbarian mercenaries and recruited troops from within the Empire. Why wasn't the West able to do the same?

 

I explain more fully in the book, but again to put it in a nutshell, the power of the land-holding aristocracy of the Senate demanded the deployment of a 'Roman' army. Unfortunately, they also refused to allow Stilicho to recruit from their tenants. So on the one hand they are castigating Stilicho for using barbarians, but on the other they are refusing to allow him to recruit in sufficient numbers to amass an army. Catch 22.

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