The Invasion of Europe by the Barbarians
In 1902 the late Professor J. B. Bury was appointed to succeed Lord Acton as the holder of the Regius Chair of Modern History in the University of Cambridge. He interpreted the term "modern" with the same largeness and liberality as had his friend and master, Professor E. A. Freeman, at Oxford; even if he did not go so far as to say, with a German authority, the "Modern History begins with the Call of Abraham". In other words, he did not feel himself bound to restrict either his reading or his lecturing to the four Post-Renaissance centuries which are regarded as "modern" in the narrow sense of the term. On the contrary, he considered it proper that he should continue to pursue those researches into the history of the later Roman Empire for which his high technicle equipment---in particular his remarkable knowledge of Slavonic and other East-European languages---specially fitted him. Hence, as Professor at Cambridge, he completed the important investigations, begun at Dublin, which resulted in the publication of the scholarly notes and appendixes in his illustrated edition of Gibbon's Decline and Fall (1909); his masterly Constitution of the Later Roman Empire (1910); his notable article on the "Later Roman Empire" in the eleventh edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (1911); his pioneer History of the Roman Empire, A.D. 802-867 (1912); and his revised and amplified History of the Roman Empire, A.D. 395-565 (1923).
The main results of his highly specialised research and wide reading he embodied in various courses of lectures delivered from time to time before the University. In particular, beginning in the Michaelmas term of his second professorial year, he treated periodically of "The Invasion of Europe by the Barbarians", covering roughly the two centuries of transition from Roman to Mediaeval Europe, A.D. 375-575. These lectures, of course, contained little or nothing which was not being incorporated in greater detail and with an elaborate apparatus of notes and references in the larger works which were being produced simultaneously with them. They did, however, as revised from year to year, present in vivid and memorable form the principal conclusions of much recondite research and mature thought.
As summaries of Professor Bury's opinions on a number of long-debated problems they are of great interest and enduring value. What Professor Bury has to say, for instance, on the relative importance of the battles of Chalons (451) and Nedao (454) will be fresh to many readers, and full of illumination for all. His constant insistence, too, on the gradual and imperceptible encroachment of Barbarism upon Romanism during the two centuries under review is, in the highest degree, impressive and convincing.
Apart from the correcting of a few typographical errors, the amending of a grammatical slip here and there, and the adding of an occasional reference, the work of the editor has consisted mainly in (1) finding an appropriate title for each of the lectures here presented, and (2) in dividing each lecture into sections, with sub-headings, so as to give a clearer idea of the contents of the lectures and to facilitate reference on particular points. In case any reader should consider that the titles and sub-headings are not happily chosen, it is here explicitly stated that the sole responsibility for them rests upon the shoulders of
F. J. C. HEARNSHAW
University of London
15th December 1927