Fall of the Western Roman Empire

The fall of the Western Roman Empire is a topic introduced into historiography by one of the most influential historians Edward Gibbon (1737-1794). His monumental work "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" made the concept widely known for readers seriously interested in the problem. Although it can not be said that Gibbon was the first to devote himself to studying when and why the colossal empire collapsed. Since the eighteenth century, many scientists have been literally obsessed with these questions, constantly offering new theories. As one modern American scientist Glen Bowsersok said, the fall of the Western Roman Empire can be assessed as the archetype of the decline of any great power, hence, as a symbol of fears and warnings in different epochs.

Some scholars believe that the split between the eastern and western territories, ruled by individual emperors, stimulated the decline of Rome. The eastern part became the Byzantine Empire with its capital in Constantinople, the western half centered mainly on the territory of modern Italy. The decline of the Roman Empire was a continuous process, lasting more than a century. Therefore, other historians prefer to say that Rome has adapted to the new conditions, and as such there was no decline. Great Rome, according to Edward Gibbon and supporters of his assumptions, ended its existence on September 4, 476, when the leader of the Germanic tribes Odoakr (in the Roman army he was the commander of German mercenaries) overthrew the last western Roman emperor Romulus Augustul. Romulus Augustus, most likely, was of Germanic origin. Odoacer considered Romulus so not dangerous that he did not even bother to execute him, only sent him into retirement. The fall of the Western Roman Empire indicated that Rome no longer had financial power and could not effectively control the scattered western regions, although their inhabitants continued to consider and call themselves Romans. A bloodless coup in 476 was not the main turning point, many events and tendencies led to the decline.

Specialists who adhere to the version of adaptation to the new conditions, believe that the empire continued to exist until 1453. Thus, the fall of the Western Roman Empire occurred when the Ottoman Turks entered Byzantium (Constantinople).

Of course, the date with the overthrow of Romulus Augustus, adopted by Edward Gibbon, is very conditional, and in fact, if there was an opportunity to ask people living at that time, they would be very surprised that historiography attaches such importance to this event. Other important events that mark the fall of the Roman Empire can be considered, as well as a combination of many factors (the emergence of a new religion of Christianity, a general crisis associated with a worsening economy, strong corruption, inflation, military problems, incompetent emperorship, and others) that led to Decline. Nevertheless, this date is traditionally marked by the end of antiquity and the beginning of the European Middle Ages. The territories of the empire in Western Europe, including the Italian, and the north-western part of Africa were subjected to various incursions, there were ethnic movements, called in the aggregate the Great Migration of Nations. In the eastern part of the border remained intact for several centuries until the Islamic conquests.

In general, the disintegration of the Roman Empire marked cultural and political changes, the transition to a more authoritarian form of government, the adoption of Christianity as a state religion, the rejection of the traditions and values of classical antiquity. In historiography, it is customary to use the term "Byzantine Empire" as a receiver of the Roman Empire, and in fact it is better to talk about continuity, although the Empire of late antiquity differed from classical Rome.

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