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216 × 138 × 20 mm
208 pages
68 illustrations, 48 in colour
11 Dec 2017
Lost Civilizations

The Goths Lost Civilizations David M. Gwynn

The Goths are truly a ‘lost civilization’. Sweeping down from the north, ancient Gothic tribes sacked the imperial city of Rome and set in motion the decline and fall of the western Roman Empire. Ostrogothic and Visigothic kings ruled over Italy and Spain, dominating early medieval Europe. Yet the last Gothic kingdom fell more than a thousand years ago, and the Goths disappeared as an independent people. Over the centuries that followed, the vanished Goths were remembered both as barbaric destroyers and as heroic champions of liberty.

This engaging history brings together the interwoven stories of the original Goths and the diverse Gothic legacy: a legacy that continues to shape our modern world. From the ancient migrations to contemporary Goth culture, through debates over democratic freedom and European nationalism and across the work of writers from Shakespeare to Bram Stoker, David M. Gwynn explores the ever-widening gulf between the Goths of history and the Goths of popular imagination. Historians, students of architecture and literature and general readers alike will learn something new from The Goths.

‘David Gwynn’s The Goths is the latest in Reaktion Books’ consistently informative and well-written Lost Civilizations series, and a fascinating retrieval of a people whose memory touches the antipodes of civilisation and barbarism.’ — Minerva

‘This is a splendid introduction to Goths in all their diversity: not just the Goths of History, who sacked Rome before setting up successful kingdoms in Italy and Spain; but also the “Goths” of later mythology, who built the Gothic cathedrals of medieval Europe, wrote the eighteenth-century Gothic novels, and even went on to invent Gothic Rock. From Alaric to Siouxsie and the Banshees, David Gwynn introduces them all.’ — Professor Bryan Ward-Perkins, University of Oxford

‘Gwynn's monograph, which features high-quality illustrations, provides a readable introduction to the history of the Goths.’ — Sehepunkte

‘Those who read a little history suffer from the continuing humiliation of being proven wrong. Some of us have always believed, for example, that the Goths of ancient times were brutal conquerors, famous among the marauders of history. But, once more, what we knew was wrong. The truth is that they began their collective life in Europe as a mass of polite immigrants, anxious to like and be liked. This is the earliest truth we learn from The Goths: Lost Civilizations, an expertly made book.’ — National Post

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David M. Gwynn is Reader in Ancient and Late Antique History at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is the author of a number of recent books, including The Roman Republic: A Very Short Introduction (2012) and Christianity in the Later Roman Empire: A Sourcebook (2014).



1 From Legend to History

2 Alaric and the Sack of Rome

3 A New World Order

4 Ostrogoths and Visigoths

5 Renaissance and Reformation

6 Barbaric Liberty

7 The Struggle for Gothic Identity

8 Gothic Culture

Epilogue: Goths and the Gothic in the Twenty-First Century

Further Reading


Photo Acknowledgements