Fachbereich Geschichtswissenschaft

Barbarians within the Empire in the 3rd century CE

Gaul, Raetia, Germania

My project is intended as the first stage of a broader research program, focussing on barbarian settlements within the Roman empire before 382, when Theodosius I subscribed a treaty allowing the winners of Adrianople to settle in Thrace and Moesia II. 
The settlement of 382 is often considered a true turning-point not only in the imperial policy towards barbarians, but in the overall history of the Roman Empire as well. Indeed, scholars usually analyse Theodosius’ “barbarian policy” from an ex-post perspective, looking for prodromes to the raise of the “Barbarian Kingdoms” in the Western Roman Empire. 
On the contrary, my aim is to take on a systematic study of previous relationships between Romans and external populations, and particularly of barbarian settlements within the Empire to properly place the treaty in its broader context and clarify the evolution or Roman foreign policy from the High Empire to Late Antiquity, as well as the processes leading from Antiquity to Early Medieval Europe. An in-depth analysis of the precedents to this crucial event will allow us to understand whether or not the 382 settlement can be considered the result of a completely new approach of the Romans to external populations. 
I will tackle this overall issue by taking into consideration a series of cases-study: the Rhine frontier provinces, which underwent continuous and serious attacks from peoples across the borders since the second quarter of the 3rd century, represent a perfect starting point as far as the emperors from Severus Alexander to the tetrarchs had to experiment a number of new solutions to preserve the stability of the limes and of the adjacent provinces, suffering the harsh economic and demographic consequences of this state of semi-permanent war. Therefore, Gaul, Raetia and Germania offer possible comparative models to further analyses.

For more information about Viola Gheller, please look here.