What would a peasant's reaction be during the fall of Rome?I'm writing a journal response in the view of a peasant in Rome. It is when Clovis is conquering Rome with his army..I think in about 476...

What would a peasant's reaction be during the fall of Rome?

I'm writing a journal response in the view of a peasant in Rome. It is when Clovis is conquering Rome with his army..I think in about 476 CE. Thanks so much for the help ;D

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Actually, Rome did not "fall" in 476 C.E., or any time previous thereto. During that year, the Gothic commander Odoacher forced the last reigning emperor, Romulus II Augustulus, to abdicate. The Emperor was a feeble minded teenage boy who had been placed on the throne by his father, Orestes, a general, involved in a civil war with other Roman generals. Odoacher was actually fighting with other Goths in the Roman army, although he commanded his own troops who spoke their own language. Odoacher simply put an end to a needless civil war. There was no great cataclysm or upheaval that the average citizen would have even noticed. There was neither nonchalance nor worry--there was rather business as usual with little knowledge of change. 

So to answer the question, it is highly unlikely that a Roman peasant was even aware of any change. It was not a dramatic crash; rather it ended, in the words of T.S. Eliot, "not with a bang but a whimper." Tax collection remained the same, and the governmental structure remained the same. The only difference was that the seat of government was now Constantinople (Odoacher had sent the royal vestments to that city along with a letter to that Emperor telling him that he was now the sole Roman emperor) and a different face would appear on the coinage. Otherwise, it was business as usual.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

First of all, please note that Clovis did not conquer Rome.  He was alive in 476 when Rome "fell," but he was not the leader of that army as he was still quite young.

A peasant during the fall of Rome would have reacted in two ways.  First, the peasant would have been worried for his or her own safety.  In those days, armies tended to loot and steal and kill as they passed through any given area.  The peasant's first thought, then, would be to stay alive and to hide as many of his/her possessions and animals as possible.

Second, the peasant's reaction (if they escaped harm) would have been fairly nonchalant.  A peasant would have had little reason to care who the rulers were.  The peasant's life was unlikely to be much different under the rule of the Germanic people than it was under Roman rule.  The peasant would still be working hard all day every day just to stay alive.

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