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Title: Class%208%20Fall%20of%20Western%20Roman%20Empire

Class 8 Fall of Western Roman Empire
  • Dr. Ann T. Orlando
  • 18 September 2013

Key Historical Events in 4th Century after
  • Constantines Empire gets divided among his sons
    but this only leads to civil war and a weakened
  • After Constantine, all Emperors except Julian the
    Apostate (361-363) were Christians
  • Some of Constantine's successors in 4th C were
    Arians sent missionaries to Goths north of
    Danube (Arian missionary and bishop Wulfila)
  • Constantinople becomes the most powerful city in
    the Empire

So Who Was Julian the Apostate?
  • Nephew of Constantine the Great
  • Constantine was succeeded by his sons Constans,
    Constantius and Constantine (Julians cousins)
  • Constantius consolidated power through intrigue
    and murder, including the murder of Julians
    father and older brothers DCE 24
  • Julian as a boy sent to study in Athens
  • may have known Sts. Basil Great and Gregory
    Nazianzus there
  • pretended to be a Christian
  • After his studies, he commanded Roman troops in

Julian the Emperor
  • When Constantius died (361), Julian was named
    Emperor by Army
  • Tried to reestablish paganism and other
    non-Christian forms of religion in Empire
  • Planned to rebuild Jewish Temple in Jerusalem
  • Tried to mimic Churchs charitable structures in
    the State
  • Died on campaign in Persia (363)
  • Julian was succeed by a Christian Emperor,
  • Julian was the last non-Christian ruler in Europe
    until 1789 and the French Revolution (the

Julian the Apostate in Deus Caritas Est
  • A paragraph devoted to Julian, DCE 24 and
    another mention in DCE 31 and the Encyclical
    even quotes from one of his letters!!??
  • The only historical figure who gets more air
    time in DCE than Julian the Apostate, is Karl
  • Why??

Julian as a Metaphor for Contemporary
Church-State Relations
  • First consider that Julian was an apostate,
  • That is someone who abandoned Christianity
  • Just as much of the contemporary Western world
  • He abandoned it because of the hurtful things
    that those calling themselves Christians had done
    to him and his family Emperor Constantius who
    passed himself off as an outstanding Christian
    DCE 24
  • What remained in Julian was a recognition of the
    importance of the Church's charitable activities
  • But with Julian, these activities, because they
    no longer had Christ at their center, became a
    vehicle to ensure his own political popularity
    and social stability
  • General restructuring of society and social
    welfare systems to ensure political stability was
    part of the political theories of Karl Marx

Roman-Barbarian Relationships
  • Because it is over-extended, Roman military tries
    to enlist barbarian tribes into defense of
    frontier along Danube, Rhine, and in England
  • Barbarians get trade
  • Romans get security
  • Two problems with arrangement
  • Barbarians come peacefully into Roman territory
    during times of famine or when pushed by other
    tribes (e.g. Huns)
  • Romans increasingly think of tribes as auxiliary
    troops and try to move them around Empire,
    especially to fight Persians in 4th C

Social Differences Military Structures
  • Roman Military Structure
  • Very hierarchical
  • Soldiers not allowed to marry until they retire
  • Germanic Tribes Structure
  • Very diffuse gorilla type warfare
  • Families expected to travel with the army

Classic Battle Adrianople
  • Between Roman troops under Emperor Valens and
  • 9 August 378
  • Roman army is completely destroyed
  • Valens disappears in the carnage
  • Most of the 40,000 Roman troops are lost
  • Often thought to signal beginning of end of
    Roman Empire
  • Last Western Emperor 479
  • Last Eastern Roman Emperor 1453
  • Still studied today by military historians
  • Artifacts from battle are still being discovered
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Reaction to Adrianople
  • Ambrose
  • the destruction of the entire globe, the end of
    the world, the funerals of relatives, the deaths
    of fellow citizens and above all the violation of
    holy virgins and widows, which is more bitter
    than any death.
  • When I heard the result of the engagement I beat
    my brow, tore my hair and pondered the cause of
    the disaster
  • Basil, I have heard that all the roads are
    filled with brigands and deserters
  • Gregory of Nyssa Let us fear afflictions, let
    us expect dangers the criminal Goths who are
    giving birth to a war against us are not far
  • John Chrysostom reported a prophecy in
    Constantinople before Valens went to battle that
    if Valens did not reopen orthodox churches, he
    would be defeated
  • widows of the fallen have no idea what became of
    their husbands

Adrianople and Church History
  • Emperor Valens
  • To resolve infighting among Constantine's
    successors, empire divided East and West, along
    Diocletians lines
  • Valens Augustus in East is an Arian
  • Patriarchate of Constantinople staunchly Arian
    during his reign
  • After battle Orthodox will claim battle was Gods
    wrath on Valens
  • Turning point in balance of political power
    between Arians and Orthodox

Theodosius Great (346-395)
  • Out of resulting instability, Western general,
    Theodosius, became Emperor in 379
  • Theodosius was Baptized a Nicene (orthodox)
    Christian in 380
  • Called Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Deeply involved with Ambrose, bishop of Milan,
    and Gregory Nazianzus, patriarch of Constantinople

St. Ambrose (340-397)
  • Civil administrator in Northern Italy
  • Milan now military capitol of Western Empire to
    counter Goths
  • When orthodox bishop of Milan died in 373, people
    acclaimed Ambrose bishop
  • Ambrose tried to flee, but was stopped
  • Baptized, ordained priest, then bishop within a
  • Friends with Basil and Gregory Nazianzus
  • Wrote a very influential Duties of Clergy
  • Also wrote many hymns

Ambrose and Theodosius
  • Burning of Jewish synagogue in Callinicum in
  • Theodosius wanted Christian community to pay to
    rebuild synagogue
  • Ambrose wrote scathing sermon saying not right
    for Christians to build synagogues
  • Theodosius backed down
  • Theodosius massacred people of Thessalonica
    because they had rioted and killed Roman
  • Ambrose excommunicated Theodosius
  • Theodosius publicly repented

St. John Chrysostom (349 407)
  • Born and educated in Antioch
  • Studied rhetoric with Libanius, famous pagan
    philosopher and orator in Antioch
  • Joined Diodores school
  • After hiding from those seeking to ordain him, he
    was ordained in 386
  • Acquired sobriquet Golden Mouth for his
    preaching in Antioch
  • Became Patriarch of Constantinople in 397
  • Almost immediately ran afoul of both Imperial and
    Church politics
  • Political and doctrinal disputes between
    Alexandria and Antioch
  • Imperial politics, especially in terms of concern
    for the poor
  • Because of political problems, John was exiled

Legacy of John Chrysostom
  • Divine Liturgy developed by him commonly used in
    Orthodox Church
  • We have more of his works extant than any other
    Greek Father
  • 6 volumes in English in NPNF Series 1
  • John, along with Athanasius, Basil and Gregory
    Nazianzus is considered one of the Four Doctors
    of the Greek Church

Reassessment of Triumphalism of Christian History
  • Constantines bloody reign
  • Vicious fighting among heirs
  • Julian Apostate
  • Battle of Adrianople
  • Within 35 years sack of Rome (410)

Fall of Rome
  • Fall of Rome in 410 to Alaric had a huge
    psychological impact
  • The Goths sacking Rome were Arian Christians
  • My voice sticks in my throat, and as I dictate,
    sobs choke my utterance. The City which had
    taken the whole world, was itself taken. St.

5th Century Invasions
Key Historical Events 5th Century
  • Increasingly West was under pressure from
    northern tribes (Goths, Visigoths, Vandals) who
    in turn under pressure from Huns
  • Some of those Goths led by Alaric sacked Rome in
  • Effect of Julians apostasy and sack of Rome
    caused Christian theologians to rethink the
    initial triumphal historical view of Constantine
    Augustine The City of God
  • Augustine dies in 430 as Hippo is besieged by
  • Center of power in Empire is only in
  • Attila the Hun reaches Rome in 452, persuaded by
    Pope St. Leo the Great not to sack Rome Last
    Roman emperor in West abdicated in 476

Eastern Roman Emperors
  • Constantine
  • Council of Nicaea
  • Theodosius I, Great (379-395)
  • Council of Constantinople
  • Conflicts with Ambrose
  • Last Emperor of East and West
  • Arcadius (son of Theodosius) and Eudoxia in East
  • Conflicts with John Chrysostom
  • Theodosius II (408-450)
  • Son of Arcadius
  • Council of Ephesus
  • Pulcharia and Marcion (450-457)
  • Pulcharia daughter of Theodosius II
  • Council of Chalcedon