The Fall of the Roman Empire: From Rome to Constantinople

TLDR The fall of the Roman Empire was a complex process that involved the deposition of the last Roman Emperor, the rise of military emperors ruling from the frontiers, the legalization of Christianity, the sack of Rome by the Goths, and the reconquest of Italy by Justinian. This marked a significant shift in power from Rome to Constantinople and had lasting implications for the church and medieval Europe.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 The Roman Empire fell in 476 with the deposition of the last Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustulus, but this date is inadequate as it only refers to the fall of the Western Roman Empire, while the Eastern half ruled from Constantinople continued until 1453 when it fell to the Turks.
05:08 Rome ends when the Roman people become slaves and the affairs of the state are subordinated to the rule of one man, rather than to the Senate and the people of Rome.
10:07 The destruction of Carthage and Corinth, along with prophecies of Rome's fall, created a sense of instability and worry about the future of the Roman Empire, but Augustus' rule reassured the people and solidified the belief that Rome was eternal.
14:41 The Roman Empire underwent a radical transformation in the third century due to the vast distances and fracture points within the empire, leading to the rise of military emperors and the need to rule from the frontiers rather than Rome itself, culminating in the foundation of Constantinople as a rival capital in 330.
19:37 The legalization of Christianity by Constantine and the subsequent adoption of Christianity as the state religion by Theodosius the Great marked a cultural revolution in the Roman Empire, although most Romans did not see it as a significant fracture point.
24:22 After 395, there is never one man running the empire ever again, marking a big punctuation point in Roman history, although the split between the Western and Eastern halves of the empire had already occurred in the first century BC.
28:47 In 410, Rome is sacked by the Goths under King Alaric, which is a shock to the prosperous and declining Roman Empire, and is seen as an attack on Christianity.
33:47 The fall of Rome has a significant impact on Augustine, who argues that Rome's fall doesn't matter because what matters is the church, setting up a crucial contrast between the church and the empire with implications for medieval Europe and beyond.
38:35 The fall of the Roman Empire in the West is often attributed to the deposition of Romulus Augustulus in 476, but it is actually Julius Nepos who is still on the scene until 480 when he is murdered.
42:51 The fall of the Roman Empire in the West is not immediately recognized by the Romans themselves, as Roman cultural and political practices continue, and the framework of the empire still functions, with the focus shifting from Rome to Ravenna and the emperor now based in Constantinople.
47:32 The Roman Empire in the West really finishes when the city of Rome itself is severely damaged and depopulated as a result of Justinian's reconquest, shattering the economy and landscape of Italy.
Categories: History

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