Detailed Timeline of
Decline of Rome (235 - 490)
Roman Empire's Crisis of the 3rd Century (235 - 284): Refers to a series of catastrophes that nearly sunk the Roman Empire in the 200s. It began with the assassination of Emperor Severus by his own legions, who were upset that he negotiated with Germanic tribes which were invading Roman territories. This triggered nearly 50 years of political strife & civil war, where as many as 25 individuals claimed the emperor's throne. The empire was partitioned into three sections at one point. This was compounded by continued raids by Germanic peoples from the north, & economic collapse throughout the empire. By 284, Rome had recovered, & was consolidated under the rule of a single emperor, but the damage had been done. It would no longer be safe to travel along the empire's vast network of roads, which inhibited commerce, weakening the empire dramatically. This would propel the Roman Empire into a deeper decline which would ultimately lead to the collapse of Rome in the 5th century.
Germania Lost by Rome (260 - 455): Beginning around 260, increasing numbers of Germanic peoples begin expanding into Roman "Germania" territories. Due to Germanic invasions throughout the empire, Romans withdraw from the region entirely by 455, leaving the region completely under Germanic rule throughout the next several centuries.
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Goths (270): An Eastern Germanic tribe. Subdivides into Ostrogoths who migrate west, and Visigoths who migrate south inside Roman borders. The Visigoths are pushed south inside Roman borders by Hun invasions, forcing Romans out of the area. The Ostrogoths are pushed west inside Roman borders by Hun invasions, forcing Romans out of that area as well.
Romania + North Black Sea Provinces Lost by Rome (271): Earlier in the 3rd century, Romans began withdrawing from the North Black Sea territories, due to Hun invasions, shortly after the Huns began to enter Europe. By 271, Romans also pull out of Romania due to ongoing Germanic invasions. Germanic tribes would share the region with the Romanians (a mixture of original Thracian people & Romans that settled in the area). Germanic peoples would leave the region behind by the end of the 4th century, as they migrated westward to settle throughout the decayed Roman Empire.
Franks Migrate into Gaul (290 - 455): Franks migrate inside NE corner of Roman territory of Gaul (modern France). They gradually expand over the next several decades.
Roman Empire Sub-Divided (292): Roman Emperor Diocletian divides the empire into East (Greek speaking) & West (Latin speaking), since he determines it is too massive to be administered by one emperor.
East-West Division of Rome Re-Established (330): After briefly being re-consolidated, Constantine re-establishes the east-west division of Rome. He assumes reign of the Eastern Empire, naming the city of Byzantium after himself (Constantinople), the long-standing capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.
Huns Migrate Into Europe, Begin Conquering Territory (361): In the 3rd & 4th centuries, the Huns begin migrating into Europe, ravaging Roman provinces, Slavs and Germanic peoples settled in the easternmost parts of Europe. Huns take Pannonia from Rome in 361.
Further Understanding: Who Were the Huns?
The Huns were a confederation of tribes originating in Central Asia (modern Turkestan & surrounding nations). It is unknown exactly which tribes formed the Huns, but they are likely of Turkic origin, given their Turkic language, & the geography from whence they originated. As they expanded in all directions (especially westward into Europe), they accumulated the loyalty & cooperation of several "client" tribes, including the Bulgars & Magyars from north of the Black Sea. In which case, the Hunnic Empire was multi-ethnic. It was also highly decentralized & nomadic in nature, making it a loosely -formed political entity. The Huns & their clients were not farmers, so they were continually migrating, ravaging people tied to their lands in cities & villages, plundering their possessions, forcing them to pay tribute, or to join their alliance. The Hunnic Empire reached its zenith under Attila the Hun, but completely broke down upon his death in 453. Since there was not a bureaucracy in place to keep the empire intact, the various tribes either became independent once again, or were absorbed into other nations.
German Visigoths Defeat Romans in Battle of Adrianople (378): Romans soundly defeated by Visigoths who had sought refuge inside Roman borders in 375, upon being driven there by the Huns. Shows vulnerability of Roman military, leading to several more Germanic invasions throughout next century, resulting in downfall of Western Roman Empire.
Final & Permanent Partitioning of Roman Empire (395): Theodosius became last emperor to rule over the entire Roman Empire (east & west). Before his death in 395, he re-divides the empire between his two sons, with the west going to Honorius, and east inherited to Arcadius.
Note: Religious Effect of East-West Split of Roman Empire. East/West split with ecclesiastic authority would begin with collapse of Western Roman Empire in 476, as the two churches would slowly grow apart from that time forth. Roman Catholicism would largely be boosted by Frankish conversion in 491, who would expand to rule most of Western and Central Europe, forcing Roman Catholicism upon its subjects. The Eastern Orthodox Church would also grow powerful in the east under the sheparding of the Eastern Empire, which would remain powerful until the 15th century.
Vandals Pushed West (400): As Huns push westward, Vandals are driven west into Roman territory.
German Visigothic Invasion of Italy (401): Visigoths successfully invade Italy, but are then quickly driven out by Romans. Migrate westward toward Hispania.
Hispania Lost by Rome (405): Vandals, driven west by Hun invasions, migrate into Hispania in 405, ending Roman control. They are driven out by Visigoths (another Germanic tribe) by 429, who become the ruling class of Hispania. Visigoths leave little genetic impact though, and they take upon the existing Latin language, which later evolving into Spanish.
Britannia Lost by Rome (410): Romans withdraw troops from Britannia, which would turn out to be permanent, ending Roman control in British Isles. Germanic tribes (Angles, Saxons & Jutes) from Jutland (modern Denmark) & modern Netherlands begin to invade & conquer SE Briton, further advancing the region's evolution into England. Although their genetic imprint is minimal in Briton, the Germanic invaders become the ruling class, imposing their culture & language (English - the language of the Angles) upon their new subjects in the British Isles. Gaellic & Pict tribes in N Briton (future Scotland) & Ireland continue to resist foreign invasions, maintaining Celtic identity. They are more geographically protected from Germanic invasion than their relatives along the SE coasts, resulting in the development of separate nations (English, Irish, Scottish).
North Africa Lost by Rome (429): Vandals, driven out of Hispania by the Visigoths, conquer western half of Roman North African provinces. Quickly develop as naval power, gaining control of western half of Mediterranean Sea, even sacking Rome in 455. Compounds Roman economic problems, as North Africa is an important source of raw materials.
St. Patrick Christianizes Ireland (433): St. Patrick, missionary from Roman Britain, begins ministry in Ireland. Instrumental in brining Christianity to Ireland, which is still predominantly Roman Catholic to this day.
Huns Defeated in Pivotal Battle of Chalons (451): Huns against Romans and Germanic tribes in NE Gaul, halting westward advance of the Huns, driving them back east.
End of the Huns (454): Attila the Hun died in 453, essentially severing the head of the beast which was the Hunnic nation. The Huns were then defeated by Germanic tribes in Pannonia in 454. Convincingly defeated, the Huns retreat to the east, absorbed by peoples in Eastern Europe & West Asia.
Gaul Abandoned by Rome (455): Romans abandon Gaul (modern France) to reinforce Italy which is under seige by the Germanic invaders, forever losing control of this province. Franks take over rule of Gaul, laying foundation for modern France.
Pannonia/Dalmatia Lost by Rome (455): The Germanic tribe of the Ostrogoths were driven westward by the Huns, and forced into the Roman provinces of Pannonia & Dalmatia (modern Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro). They proceed to invade & conquer Pannonia and Dalmatia, forcing Romans out of the region for good.
Fall of Italia/Western Roman Empire (476): The official end of the Western Roman Empire. Roman general Orestes persuades Germanic people in and around Italy to join his side to usurp the emperorís throne, for promise of larger tracts of land, causing Italy to come under Germanic rule. The Roman Empire lives on as the Eastern Roman Empire (aka Byzantine), which was able to avoid the same fate by having greater financial resources to pay off Germanic tribal chieftains, while fortifying Constantinople with massive walls, making it impenetrable.
Germanic Ostrogoths Conquer Italy (488): Eastern Emperor Zenos invites Ostrogoths (Germanic tribe) to invade & conquer Italy, with hopes of establishing it as client state, re-establishing the former glory of the Roman Empire. Ostrogoths successfully conquer Italy, but operate independently from Constantinople.
Note: Eastern Roman Empire Continues On. The Roman Empire lives on as the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as Byzantine (Greek for "Empire of the Romans"). The Eastern Empire was created in 292, when the Roman Empire was divided by Emperor Diocletian, who determined it was too vast to be administered by a single emperor. The East was able to avoid the same fate as the West by having greater financial resources to pay off Germanics, while fortifying Constantinople with massive walls, making it impenetrable. The Eastern Empire would last another 1000 years by perpetuating many of the elements that made the original Empire great, such as an extensive road system and naval dominance in the eastern Mediterranean.
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