Ancient Rome fell in 476. The country was headed by Odoacre – a representative of Germanic tribes who conquered Rome and replaced the last emperor Romulus Augustus.
Odoacer exiled the former emperor in the vicinity of Naples, appointing a good pension. And what happened to the ordinary Romans, how did they survive the collapse of their empire? Two historians recently discussed this topic on Quora in their blogs, the translation of which I present to your attention.
Kjell Anderson, Swedish historian
Upper class. After the fall of the Roman Empire, a classic change of elites took place.
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The new upper class of the Germans replaced the old Roman aristocracy.
The former elite had to rebuild and find new ways to earn a living. Their managerial competencies were no longer in demand. An alternative career was provided by the Church.
If you are literate and versed in culture – this is a good advantage to make a priest’s career. But getting into the new upper class of the former elite has become more difficult. Most often, marriages were made, for example, when a representative of the new elite married a girl from an old aristocratic family.
Some representatives of the old aristocracy managed to fit into the new system. But, basically, not as managers, but as cultural figures – they wrote and promoted poetry, music, etc.
Middle class. For the middle class, the situation was depressing. The middle class held managerial positions – an analogue of ours from the head of the department to the head of the department.
Many professions have disappeared. For example, if you were a program manager at a local circus, you would lose your job. Imagine, all your life you have accumulated experience in this area and flew out into the street? It was impossible to quickly re-profile, as it is now!
The middle class formed the basis of the urban population. And the cities began to empty rapidly. Because the only way to get food is to go to the countryside, to farm. The decline in the standard of living of the middle class was catastrophic.
Working class. For the working class, little has changed. In some ways, it even got better. The Romans in recent years have fanned tax appetites to heaven. German aristocrats were much more careful with their taxpayers.
Eric Wang, a school history teacher, USA
There was a mass migration of the Romans to the countryside. The difficulty was that the peasants without much desire to meet new competitors.
Therefore, the townspeople tried to get a job with some wealthy landowner. And to compete alone with peasants in the village was difficult.
The scale of migration was enormous. Rome for many years has turned into a city with a population of 50 thousand people. And this is compared with 1.2 million in the heyday of the empire !! Some areas of the city were completely abandoned. The quarters of the collapsed buildings were, in fact, ghost towns in the desert metropolis.
In the future, the situation began to improve. When the “barbarian” peoples began to move closer to Rome, to build their estates here. New career opportunities have appeared: in local administrations and churches.
The military settled well. Officers worked for new managers, their competencies were in demand. However, the army at that moment was in decline – there was nothing to pay the soldiers, many legions disbanded.
Therefore, many soldiers either retrained as villagers or moved to the Eastern Empire, which successfully existed another 1000 years after the fall of Ancient Rome.
Summarize. The situation is exactly the same as in any other large-scale revolutions.
Elites, officials, middle managers were affected. It was difficult for all ordinary citizens – in modern terms, office employees.
Demanded were those who know how to work with their hands. These people are likely to survive in any system. The military, who did not stick to their previous orders, also found their place in life. Artists, musicians and poets, too, have not disappeared. They are apolitical and must fulfill their mission: to give people positive emotions. This is in demand in any system.