On August 27, 410, Visigoths from eastern Europe ended a three-day sack of the city of Rome, now the capital of Italy. This was the first time Rome had been sacked, or defeated and looted, in nearly 800 years. The Visigoth Sack of Rome is considered a major event in the fall of the Roman Empire and the slow move from classical antiquity to the Middle Ages.By the time the Visigoths, led by Alaric, entered the city, Rome had already lost its political position in its former empire. The empire itself had split in two. Real power rested in the Eastern Roman Empire (also called the Byzantine Empire) whose capital was Constantinople, what is today Istanbul, Turkey. The capital of the Western Roman Empire had moved to Ravenna, about 350 kilometers (217 miles) northeast of Rome.The Visigoths themselves were not entirely different from Romans. In fact, Alaric had tried to join forces with the Western Roman Empire for years. Like most Romans, Visigoths were Christians, and gathered and protected Christian treasures in St. Peter’s Basilica, now part of Vatican City in Rome.Still, Rome remained an influential cultural symbol. At its height, the Roman Empire stretched from the entire Mediterranean basin to the beaches of the North Sea in the north, to the shores of the Red and Caspian Seas in the East. “The City which had taken the whole world was itself taken,” wrote St. Jerome of the sacking in 412.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry antiquity Noun
a slope of land adjoining a body of water, or a large elevated area of the sea floor.
large and important medieval Christian church.
narrow strip of land that lies along a body of water.
Encyclopedic Entry: beach capital Noun
city where a region's government is located.
Encyclopedic Entry: capital Christian Noun
people and culture focused on the teachings of Jesus and his followers.
large settlement with a high population density.
having to do with the empires and cultures of ancient Greece and ancient Rome.
to think about.
cultural symbol Noun
structure that represents the traditional beliefs, behavior, and identity of a group of people.
to overcome an enemy or obstacle.
group of nations, territories or other groups of people controlled by a single, more powerful authority.
important; having the ability to lead the opinions or attitudes of others.
to steal or take something illegally.
Mediterranean basin Noun
land that surrounds the Mediterranean Sea.
Middle Ages Noun
(500-1500) period in European history between the Roman Empire and the Renaissance.
having to do with public policy, government, administration, or elected office.
to take action to prevent injury or attack.
Roman Empire Noun
(27 BCE-476 CE) period in the history of ancient Rome when the state was ruled by an emperor.
to capture, loot, and largely destroy a city or other targeted area.
wealth, riches, and other valuable materials.
Vatican City Noun
44-hectare (110-acre) walled enclave in Rome, Italy, that is an independent state, home of the Pope, and headquarters of the Catholic Church.