The Sack of Rome, 410

David Jones describes how romanized Gothic and Vandal leaders overran the capital of a declining Empire in the fifth century.

The sack of Rome by Alaric and his Gothic army sent a shock of horror through the ancient world. Twice in the past two years the Goths had camped at the gates of the city; but on August 24th, 410, the unthinkable, the impossible, happened. In Gibbon’s words, ‘Eleven hundred and sixty-three years after the foundation of Rome, the Imperial city, which had subdued and civilised so considerable a part of mankind, was delivered to the licentious fury of the tribes of Germany and Scythia’.

The city was easily captured and its occupation was of no strategic significance. The Goths had been granted land in northern Greece and Bulgaria thirty years earlier by the Emperor Theodosius: Alaric himself had spent most of his life within the frontiers of the Roman Empire. He was no savage barbarian chief, but had held high command in the imperial forces.

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