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The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: an Appraisal of the View from Rome

The Visigothic Sack of Sack, 24th August 410, according to J.N.Sylvestre 1890 (Wikimedia Commons)

with John Fairclough

in The Old Court , Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday, 16th October 2010

To mark the 1600th anniversary of the year when Rome itself was sacked and Britain left the empire, we will consider the literary and archaeological evidence for the decline of the Roman Empire. Can we see what lay behind the success of the empire at its height and why it fell?

Through the first two centuries AD Rome ruled an empire centred on the Mediterranean and including much of the known world west of Persia. In the third century few emperors enjoyed long reigns as rivals deployed competing army groups. At times the empire was divided and some claimed the right to wear the purple without even visiting Rome. At the end of the third century Diocletian created a formal division with two emperors and two juniors. Constantine used the new vigour to establish a strong base in his own “city of Constantine” and recognised Christianity as an official religion.

By the time Alaric led his Goths into Rome on 24th August, 410, the western emperor had moved his base to Ravenna and Rome was no longer the centre of power.

Provisional Programme
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 Imperial Rome – Augustus to Severus  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.45 Confusion and divisions – the third century AD  
  12.45 Lunch break  
  14:00 The view from Constantinople – Constantine’s new empire  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 The Roman response to the Goths – the fifth century AD  
  16:15 Close  

About John Fairclough

John Fairclough studied Greats at Oxford and worked on the excavation of Iron Age hillforts in the Welsh Borders in the 1960s. He was Museum Education Officer for Suffolk for 25 years, and has lectured for the continuing education departments of Cambridge University and UEA and for the WEA. He has just published Boudica to Raedwald: East Anglia’s relations with Rome, and returns to East Anglia from York to present the Roman perspective on the story that led to the events of AD 410.

Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

The key work has to be Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 3 vols. (1776-81).
More accessible, certainly shorter and incorporating some archaeological evidence is Adrian Goldsworthy’s The Fall of the West, the Death of the Roman Superpower (London 2009). Also useful are:

Casey, P., Carausius and Allectus: the British Usurpers, (Batsford 1994)
Esmonde Cleary, A., The Ending of Roman Britain, (Batsford 1989)
Fairclough, J., Boudica to Raedwald: East Anglia’s relations with Rome (Malthouse Press, Suffolk, 2010)
Fletcher, R., The Conversion of Europe, (Harper Collins 1997) – especially the first four chapters
Goodburn, R., & Bartholomew, P., Aspects of the Notitia Dignitatum, (British Archaeological Reports, 1976)
Hodgkin, T., The Barbarian Invasions of the Roman Empire ( Vol. I), The Visigothic Invasion, intro. by P. Heather (Folio Society 2000)
Mattingly, D., An Imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire 54 BC – AD 409, (Penguin 2006)
Murdoch, A., The Last Pagan – Julian the Apostate and the Death of the Ancient World, (Sutton 2003)
Sherwin-White, A.N., The Roman Citizenship (Oxford 1973)
Ward-Perkins, B., The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilisation, (Oxford 2005)

Bookings

Please phone or email to check the availability of places.  This Study Days are £38 per person, which includes a full day of lectures, access to the NT site, parking, coffee and tea throughout the day, and access to the NT exhibition.  Once you have reserved your place please send a cheque to confirm the booking. For your first booking please complete the application form to ensure that we have recorded your contact details correctly.

Wuffing Education,
4 Hilly Fields,
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 4DX
(tel : 01394 386498)

Email cliff AT wuffingeducation.co.uk
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Website www.wuffingeducation.co.uk

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