Ancient Rome did not disappear instantly; it was not conquered by a rival power that would destroy all the Romans. The decline of the Roman Empire lasted for centuries, its final disappearance also lasted for decades. The main milestones of this process can be considered the capture of Rome by the Visigoths in 410 AD and the looting by his tribe of vandals in 455. Formally, the end of Rome was the abdication of the last Roman emperor Romulus Augustus in 476.
Romulus August in the movie The Last Legion, 2007
At the same time, the Eastern Roman Empire, which we know as Byzantium, continued to exist and develop in the East. The Western Roman Empire in the 5th century ceased to exist. But who were the last of the Romans? Usually they call it the famous Flavius Aetius, the consul and commander who defeated Attila in the battle on the Catalunian fields in 451. There were other bright personalities who lived somewhat later and, moreover, the real Romans. These are Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodor Senator, Roman writer and historian. He held various posts under the King of the Ostrogoths Theodoric and his successors. In 554, Kassiodor retired to a family estate in southern Italy, where he founded an educational center – the Vivarius Monastery, where he wrote his works, which became classic.
Cassiodor Senator in the manuscript “Gesta Theodorici”, XII century.
Another famous Roman, who lived after the official disappearance of the Western Roman Empire – Anicius Manlius Severin Boethius. On the maternal side, he came from a noble Roman clan Anitsiev. Most likely, his father was the consul and prefect of Rome, Flavius Manlius Boethius. In the reign of Theodoric, Boethius held high government posts: senator, in 510, consul, in 522-24. – First Minister of the Kingdom. At the same time, from 510 to 522, he continued to study science and philosophy, and in the period from 519 to 522 he wrote several theological treatises. In 524, as a result of court intrigue, he was charged with high treason, imprisoned, and executed a year or two later. In anticipation of the execution, he wrote his main work, “Consolation by Philosophy,”
Boethius (far left), on a fragment of Raphael’s mural “School of Athens”. 1511 g.
The last fragment of ancient Rome is considered to be the Soissons region. This is an autonomous Roman territory in northern Gaul that arose about 459. The commander Afranius Siagrius, one of the last Roman military commanders, restrained the onslaught of the Germanic tribes for more than 20 years, but in 486 he was defeated by the Franks in the Battle of Soissons. On the site of the province, the Soissons kingdom arose, which lasted until 584. Siagrius himself believed that, having preserved the Roman structure, his state could be the legal successor to the Western empire. The neighboring Germanic tribes called Siagria the “king of the Romans.”
The Romans in battle. Modern illustration.
You can find later fragments of the Roman system of government – for example, the Senate of Rome officially ceased to exist only by 630. The Romans almost did not mix with the Goths in Italy – despite Theodoric’s attempts to bring both peoples closer, the Goths lived apart. Heavy wars between the Byzantines and the Goths led to the extermination of the latter and their withdrawal from Italy. Roman identity still existed during the invasion and reign of the Lombards, from VI to VIII century. AD The Lombards also did not mingle for a long time with the local population, making up the small ruling elite, although marriages were not prohibited. But in the end, the Lombards disappeared among the larger and more cultural Romanesque population.
Charlemagne the Great. A. Durer, 1512
The last mention of the Roman people can be considered the title of Charlemagne. Around 800 g. e. Karl, while in Rome, took the title “Emperor of the Romans.” After the collapse of his empire, the inhabitants of Italy are already considered as Italians. The Romans, who lived in Roman colonies in Africa and Illyria (in the Balkans), gradually disappeared, having dissolved and assimilated in the conquering peoples – Arabs and Slavs. Italian Romans, Romans in Gaul, Dacia and Iberia gradually mixed with other peoples, laying the foundation for modern nations – Italians, French, Romanians and Spaniards. In the Middle Ages, the inhabitants of the city of Rome and the surrounding areas began to call themselves Romans.