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Many lay people don't realise that the Roman Empire continued on long after the fall of Italy and the west. The popular view of the Roman Empire 'falling' owing to decadence couldn't be further from the truth. It merely evolved and waned over an incredibly long period of time, until it was no larger than a city state.
Last edited by Blues63; 26th July 2016 at 01:25 AM.
Do you keep up with your Latin? As I get older it slips away....In high school, I thought I might become a professor of Latin and classical archaeology.
FALL OF ROME vs TRANSFORMATION OF ROME
The traditional date for the ‘’fall’’ of the Roman Empire, as given by Edward Gibbon, is 476 CE when Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustulus, an insignificant event that marks the beginning of the Middle Ages. Historians can argue, however, that the Middle Ages began when Constantine converted to Christianity in 313 CE and that the ‘’crisis of the third century’’ set the stage for early feudal society. There was no dramatic ‘’fall’’ of Rome but rather a transformation of the classical Roman society and culture to an essentially Germanic medieval society and culture created through the following factors-
The constant internecine wars which determined who would be the next barracks- emperor supplanted the orderly imperial succession after the death of Marcus Aurelius, as well as the efficiency of public administration with trained civil servants that Trajan had established with his pedagogium. Together with Germanic peoples allowed to settle within the empire, this chaos facilitated the later military invasions of Rome by the Visigoths, Vandals, and Ostrogoths. The fragmentation of Europe, ruled by military feudal lords, was characteristic of the Middle Ages.
Inflation and the dwindling of a money economy created serfdom. The double denarius [‘’antoninianus’’] introduced in 214 CE was only 60-percent silver and had become a bronze coin by 275 CE. The coinage reform of Diocletian [10 silver argenti = 1 gold solidus] was short-lived and insufficient, as most coins of the fourth century are unidentifiable bronze coins, even though the silver siliqua [a thin silver coin resembling the medieval English penny] and gold solidus [equal to 24 siliquae] were minted. Unable to pay taxes with the debased and dwindling supply of coins, small farmers turned their land over to larger land owners, who had pre-paid the taxes [hence known as ‘’tax farmers’’], and became serfs tied to the land. Serfdom, of course, was another characteristic of the Middle Ages.
Christianity, which dominated the Middle Ages, gained a firm grip with Constantine’s conversion, and the authority of church leaders gradually eroded the power and prestige of the emperor and secular authorities. The Council of Nicea [325 CE] and the Council of Constantinople [381 CE] laid the foundations of a unified Christian doctrine and temporal powers of bishops. By threats of excommunication and withholding sacraments, for example, Bishop Ambrose of Milan influenced or intimidated Theodosius into allowing Christians to burn synagogues with impunity and persecuting pagans. Civic duty, the cornerstone of classical Rome, and Christian dogma became inextricably enmeshed in the society of late antiquity.
Thus, by the fourth century, emerged the three orders of medieval society-  those who fought, the knights;  those who labored, the peasants; and  those who prayed, the clergy. The non-secular literature and highly stylized art, which I have not addressed, were cultural changes more identified with the Middle Ages than with classical antiquity.
Very interesting post!
Anyone ever read L Sprague deCamps novel, Lest Darkness Fall?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lest_Darkness_FallLest Darkness Fall is similar to Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. American archaeologist Martin Padway is visiting the Pantheon in Rome in 1938. A thunderstorm arrives, lightning cracks, and he finds himself transported to Rome in the year 535 AD.
When Padway arrives, Italy is ruled by the Ostrogoths, a Germanic tribe which has recently overthrown the Western Roman Empire. The novel depicts their rule as a benevolent despotism, allowing freedom of religion and maintaining the urban Roman society they had conquered.
In the real timeline the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire temporarily expanded westwards, embarking on what came to be known as the Gothic War (535–554). They overthrew the Ostrogoths and the Vandals in north Africa, but this war devastated the Italian urbanized society that was supported by a settled hinterland, and by the end of the conflict Italy was considerably depopulated: its population is estimated to have decreased from 7 million to 2.5 million people. The great cities of Rome were abandoned, the Byzantines never fully consolidated their rule over Italy, which faced further invasions by the Lombards, and Italy fell into a long period of decline. Some historians consider this the true beginning of the Dark Ages, at least in regards to Italy.
Read this back in the 1950's and it fired a life long interest in history.
Ive been drawn to different historical events at different times in my life.
Right now I can't get enough Mayflower, King Phillip's War & anything plains tribal history, if it concerns the Apache I'm all in.