Once Upon A Time In Noricum
Hello from Nick Holmes
Ever wondered what it was like for ordinary people to live through the fall of the Roman Empire? I’ve often wondered…but very few records have survived to paint that picture. So, imagine my excitement when I found a riveting account of life in a backwater of the empire, an area called Noricum, in what is now Lower Austria, a beautiful mountainous landscape nestling between the Alps and the upper Danube.
It’s not what you would expect. It’s about a travelling holy man called Saint Severinus. He wanders into Noricum soon after Attila’s death in 453 when the western empire is going into free fall. There he finds civilisation falling apart. The last Roman soldiers are manning their wall, but they haven’t been paid for years. Some of them set out for Italy to find out what’s going on, but they’re ambushed by barbarians and killed. In a nightmarish world of constant danger, cities disappear overnight, their inhabitants slaughtered or enslaved.
But there is hope. A devoted follower wrote the Life of Saint Severinus shortly after his death. We learn that Severinus’ life of selfless good deeds gave him magical powers. Time and again, he saves the Noricans from certain death. He cures the sick. He saves the harvest from a plague of locusts. He wins the eternal gratitude of a feisty barbarian queen when he saves her young son. It’s an uplifting story – and it’s meant to be. The lesson for the reader 1,500 years ago was that as civilisation collapsed, Christian values were more important than ever. But for us today it’s an invaluable insight into the horrors that accompanied the fall of the Roman Empire.
To find out more, listen to my latest podcast episode 66 Click Here
Want to check out my latest book, The Fall of Rome? Click Here
I’m working on my next book – the third volume in my series on the Fall of the Roman Empire - called Rome and Attila. Should be out in the next few months. Hope it'll be a gripping read! I’ll keep you posted.
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