fall of the Roman empire

Fall of Rome - 476 AD

On the 4th September 476 the last Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustus was forced to abdicate to Odoacer, the Germanic barbarian who’d overran much of the Roman Empire. This is the traditional date for the end of the world’s most influential empire.

At the Roman Empire’s peak under Emperor Trajan in 117AD the vast empire stretched from northern England to Egypt, from Portugal to Armenia and included the entire Mediterranean and most of the Black Sea. Commerce, culture, art and science all flourished under the rule of Roman law and the uncivilised tribes of Europe, Africa and the East were dragged into enlightenment.

Alexander Demandt, a German historian has collected 210 different theories for the demise of Rome, ranging from the long term affects of Rome’s lead lined plumbing inducing blood poisoning to excessive civilisation in the face of barbarity; and bankruptcy, earthquakes and religion etc in between. The reasons for Rome’s end are many but some facts are agreed upon.

The Roman Empire kept the barbaric Germanic tribes at bay with elaborate defensive installations along the Rhine and Danube Rivers essentially cutting Europe in half. For centuries daring invaders had managed to cross either River in isolated sections but well trained and equipped Roman Legions stationed strategically along the frontier would respond quickly and drive the invaders back across or eliminate them altogether. In the first decade of the 400’s Alaric I, king of the Germanic Visigoths (Goths) had crossed the Danube into modern day Bulgaria and was threatening the eastern Empire. In response, Roman Legions from the west were redeployed to face the threat. In the severe winter of 406 vast sections of the Rhine River completely froze over allowing Germanic barbarian tribes to walk across with little opposition. With the Visigoths molesting the empire from the east and threatening Italy itself, the Germanic Vandals swept through the western Empire, overrunning most of modern day France, the Iberian peninsula and crossing to Morocco and pushing across north Africa and landing in the Mediterranean islands of Sardinia, Corsica and Sicily.