The Fall of the Empire

From the time it happened, people have wondered how the powerful Roman Empire could have fallen.

Pagans blamed Christianity, which caused the Romans to turn their back on the gods.

This was resurrected in an altered form during the Enlightenment by Edward Gibbon. In his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, he asserted that Christianity robbed

Clovis (466-511), Merovingian king, founder of Frankish kingdom

Two events in the life of Clovis are captured in a woodcut from Les grandes chroniques des rois de France (Great chronicles of Kings of France) by Robert Gaugin (1514). At left, Clovis is incited to war against Burgundy by his wife Queen Clothilde; on the right, Clovis Is baptized a Christian by Saint Remiglus.

Clovis (466-511), Merovingian king, founder of Frankish kingdom

Two events in the life of Clovis are captured in a woodcut from Les grandes chroniques des rois de France (Great chronicles of Kings of France) by Robert Gaugin (1514). At left, Clovis is incited to war against Burgundy by his wife Queen Clothilde; on the right, Clovis Is baptized a Christian by Saint Remiglus.

He instituted Roman law in Italy, thus ending the various customs that were considered the birthright of Germans. At last he resolved to do away with Catholicism, closing the churches and enforcing Arian Christianity. He died before those measures could be enacted.

the Empire of its best and brightest, who were shut up in monasteries rather than devoting themselves to the state. Scholars have rejected this reasoning, because it fails to account for the survival of the Empire in the East.

By 565, Emperor Justinian had reconquered Italy, restoring Roman control over Rome. Theoretically, the pope was subject to the emperor in Constantinople.

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