On August 9, A. D. 378, a large Roman army was destroyed by the Goths near Hadrianople, not far from present-day Istanbul. The defeat marked the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire, especially in the West. The Barbarians soon overran the Western Empire, and the glory of Rome was no more.
Oxford University Press Blog has posted an article on the battle by historian Peter Heather. The article is excellent in its own right, but it whets the reader’s appetite for Heather’s recent book, The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians.
In a follow-up interview to the article, Heather makes this important observation:
The really pertinent lesson, I think, is that the very act of being an Empire – dominating a space and using your power to set up relations across it which benefit yourself – generates an entirely natural reaction amongst everyone else. Outsiders organize themselves to make the best of this set of circumstances, and, in the long term, this naturally and inevitably undermines the power advantage which made you an Empire in the first place.