Empress Galla Placidia and the Fall of the Roman Empire


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About the Book

Despite her status as one of history’s most important women, the story of Galla Placidia’s life has been largely forgotten. Though the Roman empress witnessed the decline and fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century and lived a life of almost constant suffering, her actions helped postpone the fall of Rome and had massive, widespread impact on the empire that can still be felt today. She watched the barbarian king Alaric and his horde of Visigoth warriors sack Rome, slaughter many of the city’s inhabitants, and take her hostage. Surviving captivity, Galla Placidia became the queen of the barbarians who had imprisoned her. Eventually, she became the only woman to rule the Roman empire alone. Soldiers obeyed her commands while Popes and Christian saints alike sought her advice. Despite all obstacles and likely suffering from what we now know as PTSD, she lived to an old age by the standards of the time. This book uses the letters and writings of Galla Placidia’s contemporaries to reconstruct, in more depth and detail than has previously been attempted, the remarkable story of her life and the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

About the Author(s)

Kenneth Atkinson is a professor of history at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. The author of several books, he is recognized internationally for his work on the Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient history, and religion.

Bibliographic Details

Kenneth Atkinson
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 222
Bibliographic Info: 11 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8235-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3985-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Abbreviations viii
Preface 1
Introduction: A Remarkable Life 5
1. A Brutal Age 9
2. Turbulent Times 15
3. Murderous Rulers 21
4. Christians Against Pagans 27
5. An Unhappy Childhood 32
6. Barbarian Terrors 42
7. The Sack of Rome 54
8. Seeking an Answer 69
9. Prisoner of the Visigoths 76
10. An Ancient Case of PTSD? 87
11. Galla Placidia in the Bible? 94
12. An Unhappy Family, a Divided Church 102
13. Choosing the Pope, Cleansing the Church 108
14. A Miserable Marriage 121
15. Warrior Queen 127
16. Ruler of the Romans 134
17. The Vandal Horde 145
18. Years of Turbulence 156
19. The Fall of the Western Roman Empire 166
20. The Desecration of Galla Placidia’s Corpse 175
Chapter Notes 179
Bibliography 195
Index 209