The Roman Empire in the West collapsed as a political entity in the fifth century although the Eastern part survived the crisis. Professor Freedman considers this transformation through three main questions: Why did the West fall apart – because of the external pressure of invasions or the internal problems of institutional decline? Who were these invading barbarians? Finally, does this transformation mark a gradual shift or is it right to regard it as a cataclysmic end of civilization? Professor Freedman, as a moderate catastrophist, argues that this period marked the end of a particular civilization rather than the end of civilization in general.
Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://oyc.yale.edu
This course was recorded in Fall 2011.