First Advisor

Brian Turner

Date of Award

Spring 6-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History and University Honors






Late Antiquity, Rome, Alaric, Goths




In 410, Goths under the command of Alaric sacked the ancient city of Rome. This event was significant in the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. It may have been seen by some at this time as a massive shock that Rome could have been attacked like this, but in the previous decades, there were a host of warning signs that something like this lay in the near future for the empire. This sack could not have happened the way it did without the perfect conditions being established in the decades leading up to it. The Roman Empire had already entered a period of significant decline in the preceding two centuries. Constant changes in power along with incompetence and regional divisions weakened the empire, allowing outside forces to exploit this for their own benefit. The empire was also grappling with religious changes, as Christianity spread rapidly within its borders and over centuries and began to supplant the established pagan religion that had played a central role in the Roman state and society for centuries. This thesis examines the forces that contributed to the sack and evaluates the significance of the sack in terms of the actual fall of the Western Roman Empire, which by 410, was already well underway, following decades of setbacks at the hands of barbarian tribes and incompetent and complacent leadership.


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