Now that Gaiseric has finally arrived I’ve been spurred on to finish the current work, this time on another ‘barbarian king’, Attila.

Strangely, the abilities and aims of the so-called ‘barbarians’ are – or were, it’s a long time since I left academia – not high on the agenda of historians specialising in Late Antiquity.   Instead, and to some degree understandably, the focus remains on Rome and, to a lesser degree, Persia.  Yet without an understanding of the motives and personal agendas of the barbarians who ‘destroyed’ Rome, it is difficult to gain a holistic understanding of how the many peoples involved interacted.

On the other hand, everything known about these shadowy individuals comes from Roman sources, so is it trustworthy?  Who knows, but since there is little else to go on, needs must ….

Hence the works on Gaiseric and Attila.  In my personal (and obviously unbiased!  Honest!) view any attempt to analyse events from the point of view of the ‘barbarian’ kings allows us to gain insights into why and how these men carved out Empires for themselves – Attila outside and Gaiseric inside the Roman Empire.

For Gaiseric, the information is slightly more detailed and easy to interpret – once the inbuilt biases in the ancient sources are taken into account.  For Attila, it is more difficult.  The sources on Attila are far more fragmentary and open to interpretation.  Even the origin of the Huns is open to question, so what chance is there of reaching firm decisions on an individual?  Nevertheless, it is possible to reach some conclusions regarding his personality and his agenda concerning the Roman Empire.  These are ….  to be revealed in the next book!  You’ll just have to be patient.

With the text for Attila due in the next couple of months it will soon be time to turn my attention to the next book (yes, there is another – and another and another:  I’m being kept busy!)  In the interests of the publisher I am not allowed to mention what the book is about, but it is a return to Roman history, although from an earlier century than the fifth!  Finally, I’ll be able to get away from relying solely on Chronicles and Letters.  For a time at least.  They say a change is as good as a rest, so hopefully after the next book I’ll be firing on all cylinders!