The Fall of Western Rome

colosseum-in-rome

Dear S2Y,

As you may recall from our last few classes, teasing out the interwoven causes, variables and factors that contributed to an important historical event is a tricky business. There is rarely a single cause that leads inexorably to a single effect. The fall of the western part of the ancient Roman Empire is a case in point. Many factors contributed to the Roman Empire’s gradual decline and final collapse; indeed, the event was so complex that Edward Gibbon, the famous historian, wrote six long volumes on the topic.  Rome’s collapse, furthermore, was to have a profound impact on the development of medieval Europe.

I do not expect anything as exhaustive as Gibbon’s masterpiece from you, but a detailed page of notes on the possible factors involved in Rome’s decline and the effects of its fall would be more than acceptable to me.

Use the links below to create a concept map of the factors that contributed to this crucial event and its effects on the world of medieval Europe. You may choose to employ my graphic as a starting point or instead use your own note-taking style.

Kind regards,

Ms Green

fall of rome

Questions to ask yourselves as you read:

a Gibbon thought we should ask why the Roman Empire lasted as long as it did, rather than why it fell. This is a whole new way of considering the issue. What do you think?

b What were the possible benefits of Rome’s fall? Is it accurate to assert that its fall ushered in the so-called “Dark Ages”?

c To what extent did the splitting of the Empire into western and eastern parts weaken the west and contribute to its gradual decline?


“The decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness…” – Edward Gibbon, writer of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Links on the Fall of Rome

Words for describing cause and effect in history:

Cause and effect in History

A brief visit to the Romans

There’s very little time left in this year, but just enough, thankfully, to let you experience some of the gruesome qualities of the ancient Romans.

The BBC website describes the Romans as “ingenious but brutal”. I think this is a succinct and accurate description. The Romans built superbly designed roads, triumphal arches and aqueducts and administered a massive empire for hundreds of years, but despite their brilliance in many fields they certainly had a brutal streak.

This map of the Roman Empire is in the public domain and is kindly provided by Wikimedia Commons. It shows the remarkable breadth of the Empire at its greatest. You may not recognise the names of the countries but you should be able to figure out which countries they are by their geographical position.

This map of the Roman Empire is in the public domain and is kindly provided by Wikimedia Commons. It shows the remarkable breadth of the Empire at its greatest. You may not recognise the names of the countries but you should be able to figure out which countries they are by their geographical position. For a larger version, see the bottom of this post.

The Romans are remembered for many qualities, not all of them pleasant. They are famous for their military conquests; for their cruel punishments, such as the one inflicted on Jesus and the thousands of slaves they executed for rebellion along the Appian Way; for the blood sports in their amphitheatres, where by all accounts they bayed for blood and got it; and for the decadence they displayed during their huge banquets. These are just a few examples.

Nevertheless, their influence on the modern world has been immeasurable, like that of the ancient Greeks. Most modern languages have many words that originate from Latin; the script used by the Romans is the one used in most countries for writing today; the administrative methods, architecture and engineering of the ancient Romans have been admired and emulated ever since their empire finally collapsed.

The Western Roman Empire officially came to an end in 476AD, a date that is usually considered to mark the end of the ancient period and the beginning of the medieval period. This depends on which historian you read, of course.

Ironically and paradoxically, even though they were in many ways warlike and vicious, they imposed upon their large empire an enforced peace. Even in the midst of all their decadence, the learning and ideas that flourished during that time of peace (known as “Pax Romana”) provided a basis for later civilisations to build upon.

JB Jordan chariot race IMG_0468

Our family friend, John Bayley, took this shot of a reenactment of a Roman chariot race during his visit to Jordan in 2009. I hope it gets you in the mood for gladiators and blood sports.

JB Roman reenactment, Jordan IMG_0400 2009Reenactment of a Roman legion in formation, also taken by John Bayley.

Click HERE for the Gladiator: Dressed to Kill Game from the wonderful BBC website if you haven’t have played this game already. (You can also click on the pic below.)

Roman Mosaics: The Romans loved to make pictures with small tiles. Click HERE for some pictures of Roman mosaics to inspire you. Then try making your own by clicking on my mosaic below to go to a site that lets you design one online.

A Roman Street

Toss everything that doesn’t belong in a Roman street into the time tunnel in this game from the BBC. Click HERE.

The History of Pizza

Read this interesting story by clicking HERE.

Jesse's castle

Jesse's drawing of a plan for an impregnable medieval castle (assuming no modern contrivances were available)

This map of the Roman Empire is in the public domain and is kindly provided by Wikimedia Commons. It shows the remarkable breadth of the Empire at its greatest. You may not recognise the names of the countries but you should be able to figure out which countries they are by their geographical position.

This map of the Roman Empire is in the public domain and is kindly provided by Wikimedia Commons. It shows the remarkable breadth of the Empire at its greatest. You may not recognise the names of the countries but you should be able to figure out which countries they are by their geographical position.

Back from Camp and All Roads Lead to Rome

Welcome back, 7F! Hope you had a brilliant time on camp.

Before we move on to ancient Rome, those of you who haven’t yet done the exercise titled “Legacies of Ancient Egypt” need to page down to it and complete it, including the comment on your legacy! After that, work on the tasks below:

Ancient Rome

 Rome01 Phillipmartin.info

Clipart kindly provided by www.phillipmartin.info/clipart

 

When I think of ancient Rome, the first things that come to mind are gruesome. I think of the chariot race from Ben Hur, Julius Caesar being stabbed thirty-five times in the Senate (according to one source), the crucifixions of the slave rebels on the Appian Way, gladiatorial contests with the crowds drooling in their blood-lust…But surely it’s not all blood and gore! After all, the Romans ruled a massive swathe of territory and established, for the long period of their control, a time of lasting peace, sometimes referred to as “Pax Romana”. So there were great and unbloody accomplishments as well as the blood sports, corruption, poisonings and cruelty. See what you can find out about this ancient civilisation by doing the exercises below:

Rome08 phillipmartin.info

Clipart kindly provided by www.phillipmartin.info/clipart

Create a Word document titled: The Roman Empire

1. Find a map showing the greatest extent of the Roman Empire (around 117AD) and paste it into your document. You can use the one below if you like:

http://gbgm-umc.org/UMW/corinthians/maps/empire.gif

2. List six modern-day countries which were under the control of the Roman Empire, with their ancient names. For instance, France was called Gaul.

3. The BBC website describes the Romans as “ingenious but brutal”. I think this is a succinct description. Six emperors are listed on this website as “pivotal”. Read about one of these and explain why this term is used to describe him in your own words.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/romans/romespivotalemperors_gallery.shtml

4. Check out these beautiful mosaics of ancient Roman Britain before trying one of your own:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/romans/mosaics_gallery.shtml

MosaicThis is my attempt at a mosaic. Well, I’m no artist…

A photo of a mosaic by John Bayley, a family friend who visited Jordan this year:

JB mosaic Jordan 2009 IMG_0632a

Now create a mosaic of your own at http://www.gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/mosaic/index.htm; then press Control/PrintScreen and copy your mosaic into Paint. From there you can copy it onto your Word document for posterity.

More Roman Revelry (or Easy Activities on Ancient Rome)

If you have finished reading about Pompeii, you will be relieved that you have never been melted by a pyroclastic surge like the poor people who lived there in 79AD. You can now go on to other activities that will introduce you to this powerful, violent and influential civilisation.

Click HERE for the Gladiator: Dressed to Kill Game from the wonderful BBC website if you haven’t have played this game already. (You can also click on the pic below.)

 Roman Mosaics: The Romans loved to make pictures with small tiles. Click HERE for some pictures of Roman mosaics to inspire you. Then try making your own by clicking on my mosaic below to go to a site that lets you design one online.

Click HERE to view a Roman mosaic of a dog – you will love it.

A Roman Street

Toss everything that doesn’t belong in a Roman street into the time tunnel in this game from the BBC. Click HERE.

 

The History of Pizza

Read this interesting history before going on to the task below this table. Click HERE

Now see what you can find out about ONE of the famous leaders of ancient Rome. Here are a few names to get you started. Start a page of information about one of these leaders, with quotations, pictures and details of his life.

  • Julius Caesar

  • Tiberius

  • Claudius

  • Caligula

  • Nero

  • Constantine

Good luck!

Ros.

 

Work and Play in Everyday Pompeii

(Clipart licensed from the Clip Art Gallery, Schooldiscovery.com)

First of all, you need to know that ancient Roman society was dangerous.

You could be eaten by lions.

You could be sent to gladiator school.

You could be sold into slavery and sent to the mines (where you would not live long).

If you were a soldier you were expected to build roads, fight in battles and cart around 40kg or more on your back during long marches.

If you were Julius Caesar you could be stabbed by a whole lot of senators just when you thought you had reached a state of unassailable power.

Then of course, if you lived in Pompeii in 79AD, you could have a heap of ash fall on you and expire in the ruins of your city, only to be discovered and pored over hundreds of years later by nosey archaeologists.

SO WHAT’S WRONG WITH NOSEY?

Show me how nosey you can be by reading the BBC website (links below) on what happened at Pompeii and then filling in the “Close the Gap” exercise at the link below that.

Then (and only then) you can go to gladiator school yourself!

BBC Website – Introduction to the story of Pompeii

Everyday life in Pompeii – click on each of the pictures in this gallery to find out more

Architecture in Pompeii

CLOSE THE GAP EXERCISE

A Roman aqueduct (they were clever as well as brutal)

http://uk1.hotpotatoes.net/ex/35356/NQVEFOFY.php

Gladiator: Dressed to Kill Game

Good luck from your nosey teacher (no comments, please),

Ros.