Terry Jones’ Barbarians: An Alternative Roman History


“Terry Jones’ Barbarians: An Alternative Roman History” embarks on a transformative journey through history, challenging the conventional narratives crafted by the Roman Empire about those it deemed ‘barbarians.’ Co-authored with historian Alan Ereira, this compelling work presents a fresh and meticulously researched perspective that contests the long-standing image of the Celts, Goths, Persians, Vandals, and others as uncouth savages lurking at the fringes of civilization. Instead, Jones and Ereira illuminate the richness of these cultures, showcasing their significant achievements, complex societies, and profound influence on what would become the modern world.

The book delves into the Roman propaganda machine, revealing how the victors often wrote histories to diminish the virtues and advancements of conquered peoples. Through an engaging narrative and critical examination, the authors argue that many so-called barbarian groups possessed sophisticated technologies, art, and governance structures, which rivaled and even surpassed Roman accomplishments in many ways. The narrative is imbued with Jones’s trademark humour and wit, making complex historical analyses accessible and entertaining.

Beyond merely correcting historical inaccuracies, “Terry Jones’ Barbarians” invites readers to reconsider the very foundations of Western civilization. It posits that the legacy of Rome, while undeniably significant, has been overly glorified at the expense of the rich tapestries of other cultures that also contributed to the development of the modern world. By bringing these overlooked histories to light, Jones and Ereira pay homage to these ancient civilizations and prompt a reflection on the nature of history itself—how it is written, by whom, and for what purpose. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in a more nuanced understanding of history, free from the biases that have long distorted our view of the past.

Editorial Review

Terry Jones’ ‘Barbarians: An Alternative Roman History’ is an invigorating jaunt through the annals of history that challenges the conventional Roman-centric narrative. With the combined efforts of Jones and co-author Alan Ereira, this book turns the spotlight on the so-called ‘barbarians’ of the Roman Empire, giving voice to the silenced histories of the Celts, Goths, Persians, and Vandals. Through a meticulously researched and engagingly written narrative, Jones and Ereira not only debunk the myth of these groups as mere savages but illuminate their rich cultures, significant achievements, and their profound impact on the development of the modern world.

Jones’ wit and Ereira’s scholarly rigor blend seamlessly to offer a narrative that is both enlightening and entertaining. They invite readers to reconsider what they thought they knew about Roman history and the cultures it overshadowed. Far from a dry recount of historical events, ‘Barbarians’ is imbued with a passion for storytelling that captivates from the first page. It’s a testament to the authors’ ability to balance irreverence with insight, making complex historical debates accessible and fascinating to a broad audience.

The book is not just a re-evaluation of history; it’s an indictment of the propaganda that has shaped our understanding of ancient civilizations for centuries. By examining the technological and cultural achievements of the so-called barbarians, Jones and Ereira present a compelling case for the sophisticated societies that existed outside the Roman Empire’s boundaries. This fresh perspective not only enriches our understanding of the past but also encourages a critical reflection on the narratives that dominate history today.

In conclusion, ‘Terry Jones’ Barbarians: An Alternative Roman History’ is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the true complexity of ancient civilizations. It’s a powerful reminder of the stories lost in the shadow of empires and a compelling call to recognize the contributions of all cultures to the tapestry of human history. Whether you’re a history buff or simply a lover of captivating storytelling, this book promises to enlighten, entertain, and inspire.

Terry Jones' Barbarians An Alternative Roman History by Terry Jones and Alan Ereira
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age Range: Adult
Start Rating: 4.3 stars
Publication Date: November 1, 2007
ISBN13: 978-0563539162

Author: Terry Jones

Terry Jones

Terry Jones

Terry Jones was a multifaceted British artist, best known for his work with the Monty Python comedy team. Born on February 1, 1942, in Colwyn Bay, Wales, Jones was a writer, actor, comedian, and director whose creativity and wit left a lasting impact on the world of entertainment. He attended Oxford University, where he studied English and history, and it was there that he met future Python collaborator Michael Palin. This meeting marked the beginning of a prolific partnership that would later expand to include the formation of Monty Python, a group that revolutionized comedy with its surreal, anarchic style. Beyond his comedic pursuits, Jones was deeply passionate about medieval history, a subject he explored through documentaries, books, and even his comedic works.

Jones’s career with Monty Python saw him contributing as both a performer and a creative force behind the scenes. He was instrumental in directing some of the group’s most famous films, including “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and “Monty Python’s Life of Brian.” His role in the group was often characterized by his flair for absurdity and a keen eye for satire, especially evident in his portrayal of various characters and his direction, which often parodied historical and religious themes. Beyond Monty Python, Jones authored numerous works on medieval history, showcasing his scholarly interest and depth of knowledge in the field. His works, which include children’s books, screenplays, and historical analyses, reflect his diverse talents and intellectual curiosity.

Jones’s contributions extended beyond the realm of comedy and entertainment into the academic study of history. His passion for medieval history was not just a personal interest but a significant aspect of his professional life, leading him to write and present several documentaries on the subject. These works, marked by Jones’s characteristic wit and accessibility, aimed to make history engaging to a broad audience. Terry Jones passed away on January 21, 2020, but left behind a rich legacy that crosses the boundaries of comedy, film, literature, and historical scholarship. His ability to blend humor with serious academic inquiry made him a unique figure in both the entertainment and historical communities, cherished for his innovative approach to comedy and his contributions to medieval studies.


  • BFI Screenonline: Jones, Terry (1942-) Biography. (2024). Screenonline.org.uk. http://www.screenonline.org.uk/people/id/499825/index.html

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