Barbarians, Maps, and Historiography: Studies on the Early Medieval West, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Barbarians, Maps, and Historiography

Studies on the Early Medieval West, 1st Edition

By Walter Goffart


344 pages

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To complement his first collection of articles (Rome's Fall and After, 1989), Walter Goffart presents here a further set of essays, all but two published between 1988 and 2007. They mainly focus on two types of historiography: early medieval narratives, with special attention to Bede's Historia ecclesiastica; and printed maps designed to portray and teach history, with special attention to the ubiquitous 'map of the barbarian invasions'. The wide-ranging concerns represented extend from the underside of the Life of St Severinus of Noricum, and further evidence for dating Beowulf, to the questions whether the barbarian invasions period was a 'heroic age' and how Charlemagne shaped his own succession. Attention is also paid to the earliest map illustrating the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy and to the historical vignettes of the Vatican Galleria delle carte geografiche. The collection opens with the appraisal of certain writings dealing with what is now called 'ethnogenesis theory'. To conclude, Professor Goffart adds brief second thoughts about each of these essays and supplies an annotated list of his articles that have not been reprinted.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Two notes on Germanic antiquity today; What's wrong with the map of barbarian invasions?; The map of barbarian invasions: a preliminary report; The map of barbarian invasions: a longer look; Does the Vita S. Severini have an underside?; Conspicuously absent: martial heroism in the Histories of Gregory of Tours and its likes; Bede's Uera lex historiae explained; The Historia ecclesiastica: Bede's agenda and ours; Bede's History in a harsher climate; Paul the Deacon's Gesta Episcoporum Mettensium and the early design of Charlemagne's succession; Charters earlier than 800 from French collections; Le problème des Translationes S. Liborii; The first venture into 'medieval geography': Lambarde's map of the Saxon heptarchy (1568); Hetware and Hugas: datable anachronisms in Beowulf; The name 'Meringovian' and the dating of Beowulf; Christian pessimism on the walls of the Vatican Galleria delle carte geografiche; Addenda; Additional articles (annotated list); Index.

About the Author

Walter Goffart is Professor Emeritus of History, University of Toronto, Canada, and Senior Research Scholar and Lecturer in the Department of History, Yale University, USA

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General