The "Fall" of the Roman Empire

For a long time, people in the west made a big deal of the date 476: it marked the "Fall of the Roman Empire." But:

"Fra gli uomini del V secolo, invece, essa passò quasi inosservata. L'impero, infatti, era in mano ai barbari già da tempo. Barbari riempivano i vuoti lasciati dai romani nelle campagne è nell'esercito, collaboravano all'amministrazione dello stato, comandavano le truppe imperiali. Alcuni, potentissimi, sposavano figlie, nipoti, sorelle di imperatori, altri facevano da tutori, cioè da guide e protettori, ai piccoli principi romani destinati a regnare." -- Il racconto dello storico

"For the people of the fifth century, instead, it went almost unnoticed. The Empire, in fact, had been in the hands of the barbarians for some time. Barbarians had filled the gaps left by Romans in the country and the army, collaborated in the administration of the state. Some, powerful, had married daughters, nieces, and sisters of emperors, others had been tutors, in other words, guides and protectors, of young Roman princes destined to rule."


  1. The odd notion that the empire never actually fell has been an academic fashion for a while. Because we can never ever admit that an empire was good for something. Aside from its implausibility the notion is decisively refuted by the archeological evidence. Bryan Ward-Perkins wrote an excellent short book a few years ago. The collapse of the Roman empire in the west was an epic calamity in its effect on prosperity, order, literacy, trade.

    1. Ken, it sounds like you copied a blurb from his book. I don't think the idea being promoted was that Rome "never fell," but that there was no sudden, dramatic event, but rather a transformation that took several centuries.

    2. Oh, and the reason this has been a "fashion" is the historical evidence.


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