Friends, Romans or Countrymen? Barbarians in the Empire
Were the 'barbarians' who shored up Rome's armies and frontiers the empire's salvation or doom?
The importing of tribal 'barbarian' peoples (mainly Germanic) into the Roman Empire was a permanent imperial policy which expanded in scale over the centuries, and was continued by Byzantium after the Western empire had crumbled in the fifth century – supposedly destroyed by those same Germanic peoples. Like any strategy it had its risks and its critics 'The introduction of barbarians into the Roman armies,' intones Gibbon, 'became every day more universal, more necessary, and more fatal.'
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