Book Review: Perceiving War and the Military in Early Christian Gaul (ca. 400-700 A.D.)


by Laury Sarti

Leiden/Boston: E.J. Brill, 2013. Pp. xxviii, 416. Illus., notes, biblio., index. $136.00. ISBN: 9004256180

Understanding War as “Gaul” became “France”

Sarti (Freie Universität Berlin) looks at how the transition from Late Antiquity to early Medieval times in Frankish Gaul influenced contempor ary thinking about war and military institutions.  Her work continues the scholarly trend that sees less of a radical break between classical times and the “Dark Ages ” during which the “Barbarian hordes” overran the civilized west , and more of a gradual transition, with continuities and discontinuities of Roman well into Medieval times. 

Sarti furthers this intellectual trend by examining how the disintegration of Roman institutions led to the development of Frankish practices.  She does an excellent job of laying out her evidence .  O pening with a quick overview of various types of archaeological and written sources , Sarti digs deeply into the written materials, of which there is a surprisingly large amount.  This leads her to a discussion of how the need to adapt to changes in war and warriors change d Frankish thought on the subject, and thus practice, often drawing upon Roman models.  Sarti concludes with a discussion of the evolution of Christian thought about war and warriors.   

A volume in the excellent Brill series “The Early Middle Ages,” Perceiving War and the Military in Early Christian Gaul is an excellent work for anyone seriously interested in the subject of the transition from Late Antiquity t o the Middle Ages. 

Note: Perceiving War and the Military in Early Christian Gaul is also available as an e-book, $136.00, ISBN 978-9-0042-5805-1.

Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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