Timeline of the Fall of Rome

The End of the Western Roman Empire

The fall of the Western Roman Empire (also referred to as the fall of the Roman Empire or the fall of Rome) was the loss of central political control in the Western Roman Empire, a process in which the Empire was unable to enforce its rule and its vast territory was divided among several successor polities.

The Roman Empire lost the strengths that had allowed it to exert effective control over its western provinces; modern historians cite the effectiveness and numbers of the army, the health and numbers of the Roman population, the strength of the economy, the competence of the emperors, the internal struggles for power, the religious changes of the period, and the effectiveness of the civil administration.

Increasing pressure from invading barbarians from outside Roman culture also played a significant role in the collapse. Many of these immediate factors were driven by climatic changes and endemic and epidemic diseases. The causes of the collapse are major topics in ancient world historiography, and they inform much of the contemporary discourse on state failure.



235 - 284
Crisis of the Third Century - Age of Chaos

This time period, also known as the Military Anarchy or the Imperial Crisis, started with Severus Alexander's (reigned 222-235) assassination by his own soldiers. Following it, there was nearly a half-century of chaos marked by power struggles between military leaders, unnatural deaths of monarchs, uprisings, plagues, fires, and persecution of Christians.

285 - 305

Tetrarchy under Diocletian: Between 285 and 293 Diocletian divided the Roman Empire into two parts and appointed subordinate emperors to assist in governing them, creating a total of four Caesars, or a tetrarchy. Civil war started when Diocletian and Maximian gave up their joint control.

306 - 337
Acceptance of Christianity (Milvian Bridge)

By defeating his fellow emperor Maxentius (r. 306-312) at the Milvian Bridge in 312, Emperor Constantine (r. 280-337) took control of all of Western Europe. Later, Constantine overthrew the Eastern tyrant and established himself as the sole ruler of the Roman Empire. Constantine established Christianity during his rule and founded Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), Turkey, as the Eastern capital of the Roman Empire. (Istanbul), Turkey.

360 - 363
Fall of Official Paganism

The Roman emperor Julian, sometimes known as Julian the Apostate (r. 360–363 CE), tried to halt the spread of Christianity by promoting a return to paganism with the help of the state. After failing to defeat the Parthians, he perished there.

Visigoths Settle on Roman Soil

Emperor Valens permits the Visigothic chieftain Fritigern and his people to cross the Danube from Thrace (later Romania), and settle on Roman soil in Lower Moesia, on the condition that they provide soldiers to the legions.

Battle of Adrianople

At the Battle of Adrianople, the Visigoths engaged the Eastern Roman Emperor Flavius Julius Valens Augustus, also known as Valens (reigned 364–378), but were ultimately victorious. The Emperor Valens died.

379 - 395
East-West Split

Theodosius (reigned 379–395) briefly restored the Empire after Valens' death, although it did not continue through his time in power. His sons, Arcadius in the East and Honorius in the West, partitioned the empire after his death.

401 - 410
Sack of Rome

Beginning in 401, the Visigoths successfully invaded Italy on multiple occasions, and under the leadership of the Visigoth king Alaric (395–410), they ultimately sacked Rome. This day is frequently used as the formal Fall of Rome.

429 - 435
Vandals Sack North Africa

Gaiseric, king of the Vandals and Alans led the Vandals in an attack on northern Africa that cut off the Romans' access to grain.

450 - 454
Huns Attack

Rome was threatened by the Huns of central Asia, led by their king Attila (r. 434–453), who was then paid off before launching another invasion.

Vandals Sack Rome

Vandals raid Rome for the fourth time, but thanks to a deal with Pope Leo I, they cause little damage to people or structures.

Fall of the Emperor of Rome

Odoacer, a barbarian general, overthrows Romulus Augustulus (r. 475–476 CE), the last western emperor, and goes on to conquer Italy.



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