Barbaric Destruction of a Great Empire

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Barbaric Destruction of a Great Empire

They have plundered the world, stripping naked the land in their hunger… they are driven by greed, if their enemy be rich; by ambition, if poor… They ravage, they slaughter, they seize by false pretenses, and all of this they hail as the construction of empire. And when in their wake nothing remains but a desert, they call that peace.” 
-Tacitus, The Agricola and the Germania

Directions for Analyzing the Song
Music expresses that which cannot be said…” –Victor Hugo
1. On the next two pages you will find selections from the song “Seven Devils” by Florence + The Machine and an Anticipation Guide.
2. Before reading the statements on the Anticipation Guide, make a prediction as to whether the statement is true or false.
3. After you have completed making your predictions, read and analyze the song lyrics.
4. As soon as you have finished reading the lyrics, complete the rest of the Anticipation guide. Compare your predictions to the answers by stating whether the statements are actually true or false and giving supporting evidence from the song.
5. Then we will discuss your answers and watch the video on the Barbarian Tribes that contributed to the Fall of the Roman Empire using the song “Seven Devils.”
Selections from the Song “Seven Devils”
“Holy water cannot help you now
Thousand armies couldn't keep me out
I don't want your money
I don't want your crown
See I've come to burn your kingdom down (…)”

“(…)Seven devils all around you!

Seven devils in my house!
See they were there when I woke up this morning
I'll be dead before the day is done”

And now all your love will be exorcised

And we will find your sayings to be paradox
And it's an even sum
It's a melody
It's a final cry
It's a symphony (…)
“(…)Seven devils all around you!
Seven devils in my house!
See they were there when I woke up this morning
I'll be dead before the day is done”

“(…)They can keep me out

'Til I tear the walls
'Til I save your heart
And to take your soul
For what has been done
Cannot be undone
In the evil's heart
In the evil's soul(…)”
Seven devils all around you

Seven devils in your house

See I was dead when I woke up this morning

I’ll be dead before the day is done

Before the day is done

Seven Devils” and the Fall of the Roman Empire


*Mark true or false*



Were your predictions true or false?

Evidence from song

*Where in the song is your argument supported?*

The “Seven Devils” refer to the many different factors that contributed to the Collapse of the Roman Empire.

The Barbarian Tribes were able to overpower the Roman Forces.

The Barbarian tribes caused much destruction when they tried to take over Rome.

The Roman Empire will be revived after the Barbarian attacks.

Directions for the DRTA

1. On the following pages you will find three primary source documents pertaining to the Fall of the Roman Empire as well as the Barbarian tribes.

2. As you read the documents, stop reading when you get to the picture of the stop sign and answer the questions that correspond to that section.
3. This is individual work that we will discuss as a class at the end of the period!
4. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.

Time is a violent torrent; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place.” –Marcus Aurelius

Directed Reading Thinking Activity on the Fall of Rome

The Battle of Adrianople (Ammianus)

*This battle is often considered as the start of the final collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th Century. Although most of the Roman Army was able to retreat, the losses were destructive. The following document is an account of the battle written by the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus.*
(…)By this time such great clouds of dust arose that it was hardly possible to see the sky. The air resounded with terrible cries. The darts, which brought death on every side, reached their mark and fell with deadly effect, for no one could see them quickly enough to place himself on guard. The barbarians, rushing on with their enormous army, beat down our horses and men and gave us no open spaces where we could fall back to operate. They were so closely packed that it became impossible for us to escape by forcing a path through them. Our men finally began to despise the thought of death and, again taking their swords, slew all they encountered. Helmets and breastplates were smashed in pieces by mutual blows of battle-axes (…).

The plain was covered with corpses, showing the mutual ruin of the combatants. The groans of the dying, or of men horribly wounded, were intense and caused much dismay on all sides. Amidst all this great tumult and confusion, our infantry were exhausted by toil and danger, until at last they had neither the strength left to fight nor the spirit to plan anything. Their spears were broken by the frequent collisions, so that they were forced to content themselves with their drawn swords, which they thrust into the dense battalions of the enemy, disregarding their own safety, and seeing that every possibility of escape was cut off.

The sun, now high in the heavens, scorched the Romans, who were emaciated by hunger, worn out with battle, and scarcely able to bear the weight of their own weapons. At last our columns were entirely beaten back by the overpowering weight of the barbarians. They took to disorderly flight - the only resource under the circumstances--each man seeking to save himself as best he could.

1. According to the document, why was it so hard for the Romans to retreat and escape the Barbarian army? (First stop sign)


2. What evidence does the author use to support the claim that the Roman Army was defeated during the battle? (Second stop sign)


Procopius of Caesarea: Alaric’s Sack of Rome, 410 CE

*In 410 CE the Visigoths attacked Rome, destroying everything in their path and plundering the city taking all the wealth that the Romans had to offer. The following account is how Alaric I, who was the king of the Visigoths, managed to get within the city’s walls and carry out the siege.*

(…)And he instructed them (the youths in the army) that, as soon as they got inside the houses of those men, they should display much gentleness and moderation and serve them eagerly in whatever tasks should be laid upon them by their owners; and he further directed them that not long afterwards, on an appointed day at midday, when all those who were to be their masters would most likely be already asleep after their meal, they should all come to the gate called Salarian and with a sudden rush kill the guards, who would have no previous knowledge of the plot, and open the gates as quickly as possible. After giving these orders to the youths, Alaric straightway sent ambassadors to the members of the senate, stating that he admired them for their loyalty toward their emperor, and that he would trouble them no longer, because of their valor and faithfulness, with which it was plain that they were endowed to a remarkable degree, and in order that tokens of himself might be preserved among men both noble and brave, he wished to present each one of them with some domestics.

After making this declaration and sending the youths no long afterwards, he commanded the barbarians to make preparations for the departure, and he let this be known to the Romans. And they heard his words gladly, and receiving the gifts began to be exceedingly happy, since they were completely ignorant of the plot of the barbarians. For the youths, by being unusually obedient to their owners, averted suspicion, and in the camp some were already seen moving from their positions and raising the siege, while it seemed that the others were just on the point of doing the very same thing. But when the appointed day had come, Alaric armed his whole force for the attack and was holding them in readiness close by the Salarian Gate; for it happened that he had encamped there at the beginning of the siege. And all the youths at the time of the day agreed upon came to this gate, and, assailing the guards suddenly, put them to death; then they opened the gates and received Alaric and the army into the city at their leisure. And they set fire to the houses which were next to the gate, among which was also the house of Sallust, who in ancient times wrote the history of the Romans, and the greater part of this house has stood half-burned up to my time; and after plundering the whole city and destroying the most of the Romans, they moved on (…).”

1. Based on the account, what did the youths have to do on the appointed day at midday? (First stop sign)


2. What evidence in the document can be found to indicate that Alaric confused the Romans before the attack? (Second stop sign)


3. What do you think is the author’s point of view?


However, were they as barbaric as history has made them out to be?

Salvian: Romans and Barbarians, c. 440

*Salvian was a Christian priest who in 440 CE, wrote that the Romans were actually more barbaric than the tribes, even though they were far more advantageous due to their great civilization*

(…)[Nay, the state has fallen upon such evil days that a man cannot be safe unless he is wicked] Even those in a position to protest against the iniquity which they see about them dare not speak lest they make matters worse than before. So the poor are despoiled, the widows sigh, the orphans are oppressed, until many of them, born of families not obscure, and liberally educated, flee to our enemies that they may no longer suffer the oppression of public persecution. They doubtless seek Roman humanity among the barbarians, because they cannot bear barbarian inhumanity among the Romans. And although they differ from the people to Whom they flee in manner and in language; although they are unlike as regards the fetid odor of the barbarians' bodies and garments, yet they would rather endure a foreign civilization among the barbarians than cruel injustice among the Romans.

So they migrate to the Goths, or to the Bagaudes, or to some other tribe of the barbarians who are ruling everywhere, and do not regret their exile. For they would rather live free under an appearance of slavery than live as captives tinder an appearance of liberty. The name of Roman citi'en, once so highly esteemed and so dearly bought, is now a thing that men repudiate and flee from. . . .

It is urged that if we Romans are wicked and corrupt, that the barbarians commit the same sins, and are not so miserable as we. There is, however, this difference, that the barbarians commit the same crimes as we, yet we more grievously. . . . All the barbarians, as we have already said, are pagans or heretics. The Saxon race is cruel, the Franks are faithless, the Gepidae are inhuman, the Huns are unchaste, ­ in short, there is vice in the life of all the barbarian peoples. But are their offenses as serious as ours? Is the unchastity of the Hun so criminal as ours? Is the faithlessness of the Frank so blameworthy as ours? Is the intemperance of the Alemanni so base as the intemperance of the Christians? Does the greed of the Alani so merit condemnation as the greed of the Christians? If Hun or the Gepid cheat, what is there to wonder at, since he does not know that cheating is a crime? If a Frank perjures himself, does he do anything strange, he who regards perjury as a way of speaking, not as a crime?”

1. When Salvian claims “that a man cannot be safe unless he is wicked,” what does he mean by this and using information from the text, why are some of the people fleeing to the barbarians? (First stop sign)


2. Will the Roman people know freedom, more so under the Romans or the Barbarians according to Salvian? (Second stop sign)


3. What evidence does the author use to support the claim that even though the Barbarians committed the same sins as the Romans did, they did not know any better?(Third stop sign)


4. When this article was written, how was it supposed to make the reader feel about the Romans and the Barbarian tribes? *Make sure to use evidence from the document*



1. Tomorrow we will be starting the next chapter on the Middle Ages in Europe.

2. Before we leave Rome though, it’s important that we review how the greatest Western Civilization came to an end.

3. For homework read the following passage and fill in the story frame.

4. The story frame will help you organize your notes as well as your thoughts on how the Roman Empire collapsed.

5. It will also provide a great review tool that you might be able to use for a test!

The Fall of the Roman Empire

Directions: Read the following passage and fill in the story frame using information from the passage as well as your notes.
According to legend, Rome was founded in 753 BC. It was originally a farming village centrally located near the Mediterranean Sea, halfway between Northern Europe and the Sahara Desert in Africa. By 264 BC Rome dominated the entire Italian Peninsula and continued to expand. At the time their rival was Carthage in Africa however they would conquer the Carthaginians as well, and become the dominating empire in the Western World. By 115 to approximately 117 BC the Roman Empire was at its height. Current day countries in Europe such as Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Greece, Turkey, Austria and Britain as well as countries in Africa such as Egypt, Syria, Libya and Tunisia, were all part of the Empire. The whole Western World had one government, one emperor, one money system and one system of trade. Everybody was living under the Empire and for a period of 200 years there was peace, known as the Pax Romana.

From 27 BC up until the Empire collapsed in 476 AD, the Empire was ruled by an emperor. In other words it was a centralized autocracy ruled by one man. The Emperor received his power from the Senate, which was the legislative body in Rome. However, the Emperor was above the Senate in regards to power, and he was allowed to appoint governors and the justice of appeals. Every governor in a territory owed all of his loyalty to the Emperor. The Emperor’s real power though came from Rome’s great army due to the fact that every soldier took an oath of loyalty to him. The Romans felt that nothing was beyond their reach even though they already had a vast Empire. They began to look to the Rhine and beyond as their next choice in extending their Empire. Thus, they sent their army into Germania, to conquer the people that were living there. Around 9 AD, the Germanic tribes, that the Romans encountered, were able to defeat the Roman Army, forcing the Romans to retreat back into their Empire. Eventually these Germanic tribes would add on to the many problems that would cause the Empire to collapse in 476 AD.

By the Third Century, the Empire began to slowly collapse due to a variety of reasons. First the government was severely unstable. Even though the Emperors were the head of the government, the Senate at this time was primarily in control because they made all of the decisions. This system of rule soon became inefficient to ruling the empire. For a period of time there were the “Good Emperors” such as Trajan and Marcus Aurelius. These men would adopt their successor as their son instead of their own children to make sure that only the best were put in power. Eventually though, it would become a contest to see who would be the next emperor. This led to private battles between many different men killing off any of their rivals. As a result power was changed constantly because of the civil wars taking place among the rivals. The rivals would also take advantage, by recruiting soldiers to fight on their behalf. This would lead to problems within the army as soldiers began to fight for one Emperor against another in order to get paid. The Empire was also too big for one man to rule. The Emperor Constantine in 401 AD divided the Empire, into the Western and Eastern Empire, but it would prove to be no use as stability politically and militarily continued to decrease.

The Roman Empire by this time was also in serious economic decline. They were in a recession, which meant that trade and industrial production had been reduced. As a result the Romans were unable to run a modern civilization with just animal power and slaves. Since the Empire was so big, there were many different local economies who were only concerned about their own economy instead of the economy of the Empire as a whole. Prices of goods were high and there was a silver shortage. At the time silver and gold were used as the currency. Even though by the end of the Empire the coins were copper dipped in silver paint, the shortage would play a role in leading to the economic crisis. Overall high prices, bad harvests, heavy taxes to pay for the army and the silver shortage would lead to a slow economic decline.

Although the Emperor was the head of the government in the Empire, a new social force was making its way throughout the Empire changing the way that Roman citizens felt about the Emperor and his power. When Constantine became the Emperor, Christianity became the official state religion of the Empire. Before this point, Christians were persecuted for their beliefs. Following this though, the religion quickly spread to all corners changing the social fabric of the Empire. No longer was the Emperor considered to be a god because under Christianity there was only one God. This would lead to the weakening of the authority and the credibility of the Emperor. Religion or more specifically the spread of Christianity is often used as one factor leading to Rome’s decline.

The final and one of the most damaging factors that brought the Empire to ruins were the Barbarian tribes that began to seep through the borders and take over the countries in Europe. The Roman Empire was too vast for the Roman Army to defend especially when the Empire was undergoing political problems and economic decline. The Germanic tribes and the Persian states soon became troublesome for the Empire. From the 300’s up until the 500’s Barbarian invasions took place throughout the Empire. Some of these tribes included the Franks who went the France, the Lombards who went to Italy, the Visigoths who went to Spain, the Ostrogoths who went to Eastern Europe, the Vandals who attacked Rome and went to North Africa and the Anglo-Saxons who went to current day England. The Visigoths would attack Rome in 410 AD, the first time that the city was attacked in 800 years. The city was later attacked in 455 AD by the Vandals. By 476 AD, the Empire could not withstand the invasions anymore and collapsed. Following its collapse, Western Europe fell into the Dark Ages or what history now calls Medieval Times. Feudalism would rise as the new economic and political system. It would take years before Western Europe would finally start to re-grow and improve following the Roman Empire’s collapse.

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