Date for End of the Roman Empire?

Oct 2017
186
United States
#1
Ok, so first off, I know this has been discussed and debated elsewhere and here a LOT (such as in threads about Byzantium). I went back some to try and find one since I didn't want to risk too much redundancy, but I couldn't find a good one and I think it's far back, plus I was hoping to expand the scope...

So conventional telling has the end of the Roman Empire at least two dates

AD 476
AD 1453

I think as was saying this has been discussed a lot by seemingly people everywhere... as for my own I would say Jean of Alencon (I think that's the posters name) has really started to convince me that Byzantium as more or less conducted similar to older Roman traditions, and that it was more or less some form of Roman leadership and value systems that existed there.

Meaning, that I myself have begun to subscribe to the 1453 date more than I thought before.

However, this is still a recent idea to me, and as someone who has done barely more than the minimum regarding primary research (a few things by Caesar, etc) I'm still kind of just warming up to the idea (with my mind fixed more on 476 for I guess traditional reasons..)

And yet, just as I was getting around to that idea, I came across the "Third Rome" concept as extended to the Grand Duchy of Moscow, and THAT I had never heard before...

So I decided to spend a few seconds internet searching, and it turns out that Ivan the Great most definitely married a Byzantine princess who brought with her a large number of Byzantine culture and knowledge.

The fact that this coincided with a dramatic shift at that point in Russian history, or a shift in power from the Mongols and the Golden Horde/Tatars (spelling?) I think is equally interesting...

In the complete "for whatever it's worth" I also found a few tidbits about modern Russia (and my knowledge of Russian history is very limited), such as the fact that they use some kind of civil service exam that has a long history.. and well this is my own observation but several majors battles in Russian history used names of old Roman gods such as Operations Uranus and Jupiter.

The word "Tsar" apparently even comes from "Caesar" such as the late Roman emperors called themselves as Caesars...

So then I guess for that I would submit yet another date

AD 1917, the end of the Tsar and aristocracy in Russia as dictated by the Russian Revolution.

So I hope I don't perturb too much with this discussion.. but was wondering who wants to share their reasons for the two traditionally accepted dates.. and if possible anyone who wants to share about Russian history and whether the 1917 date would have any applicability (such as Byzantine traditions showing up in 17th, 18th century Russia) and so on and so forth..
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,603
Australia
#2
Arguably the Roman Empire still exists in the form of the Roman Catholic church. More an empire of the mind, but it still holds a powerful grip on large sections of humanity.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,209
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#3
Ok, so first off, I know this has been discussed and debated elsewhere and here a LOT (such as in threads about Byzantium). I went back some to try and find one since I didn't want to risk too much redundancy, but I couldn't find a good one and I think it's far back, plus I was hoping to expand the scope...

So conventional telling has the end of the Roman Empire at least two dates

AD 476
AD 1453

I think as was saying this has been discussed a lot by seemingly people everywhere... as for my own I would say Jean of Alencon (I think that's the posters name) has really started to convince me that Byzantium as more or less conducted similar to older Roman traditions, and that it was more or less some form of Roman leadership and value systems that existed there.

Meaning, that I myself have begun to subscribe to the 1453 date more than I thought before.

However, this is still a recent idea to me, and as someone who has done barely more than the minimum regarding primary research (a few things by Caesar, etc) I'm still kind of just warming up to the idea (with my mind fixed more on 476 for I guess traditional reasons..)

And yet, just as I was getting around to that idea, I came across the "Third Rome" concept as extended to the Grand Duchy of Moscow, and THAT I had never heard before...

So I decided to spend a few seconds internet searching, and it turns out that Ivan the Great most definitely married a Byzantine princess who brought with her a large number of Byzantine culture and knowledge.

The fact that this coincided with a dramatic shift at that point in Russian history, or a shift in power from the Mongols and the Golden Horde/Tatars (spelling?) I think is equally interesting...

In the complete "for whatever it's worth" I also found a few tidbits about modern Russia (and my knowledge of Russian history is very limited), such as the fact that they use some kind of civil service exam that has a long history.. and well this is my own observation but several majors battles in Russian history used names of old Roman gods such as Operations Uranus and Jupiter.

The word "Tsar" apparently even comes from "Caesar" such as the late Roman emperors called themselves as Caesars...

So then I guess for that I would submit yet another date

AD 1917, the end of the Tsar and aristocracy in Russia as dictated by the Russian Revolution.

So I hope I don't perturb too much with this discussion.. but was wondering who wants to share their reasons for the two traditionally accepted dates.. and if possible anyone who wants to share about Russian history and whether the 1917 date would have any applicability (such as Byzantine traditions showing up in 17th, 18th century Russia) and so on and so forth..
About the Russian Empire there is an evident problem of definition: to be Roman, you have to be persuaded to be Roman and declare it ...

The Eastern Roman Empire ["Byzantine", even if they didn't use that term] was the

"Imperium Romanum
Res Publica Romanorum"

Clearly they declared themselves Roman.

The Russian Empire didn't declare to be Roman, it was ...

Rossijskaja imperija

And the Tsar was the Tsar of all Russias.
 
Jun 2017
2,555
Connecticut
#4
The whole copying Rome thing was something Europeans loved to do. Any European king who called himself Emperor was insinuating they were the successor to Rome and were above kings and it was a title that usually accompanied a pretty large European empire. You've got the Tsar's in Russia, the Kaiser's in Germany, Napoleon I and III were "Emperor's of the French"(Napoleon I had a bunch of Roman regalia at his coronation for example he'd also held the title of consul before). This wasn't limited to your Ivan's, Napoleon's etc but Uros IV of Serbia and Ferdinand of Bulgaria(in the early 20th century) were declared themselves Emperors(I think Roman Emperors too) when things looked rosy near Constantinople.

Russia has a more legit claim to being the third Rome than most, many people know the claim was made. That being said that marriage claim died with Ivan's son and subsequent Tsar's didn't have a drop of blood in their body's. That being said the whole point of the Roman title was that it wasn't solely based on blood and merit was often if not most of the time the best path.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,209
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#5
Developing the point, on the base of what I could define the “self-persuasion” to be Roman, we could add to the list the “Holy Roman Empire” [the Sacrum Imperium Romanum] which was not only Roman, but even sacred. In this case the end of the Roman Empire would be 1806CE.

But we are actually playing with definitions. The HRE was a Roman Empire, not the Roman Empire. The Eastern Roman Empire was a part of the original Roman Empire which kept on existing for almost a millennium after the end of the Western part; so that it was the Roman Empire not a Roman Empire.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,514
Dispargum
#6
The choice of 476 over 1453 derives from western European centrism. Rome's influence on western European history ended more or less in 476. If the Roman world survived in the east until 1453, that eastern Rome exerted very influence over western European history. Sure there are a few exceptions like the Black Death passing through Constantinople on its way to western Europe and Byzantium started the Crusades (or at least asked for them), but these were minor incidents in western history.

If your interest has nothing to do with western centrism, if for instance, your interest is the history of the eastern Mediterranean or of the Near East, then yes, 1453 is a more significant date.

As to Imperial Russia being the third Rome, that was just an attempt to shroud the tsarist court with past glory. By the way tsar looks more like Caesar if we spell it czar. Kaiser is also derived from Caesar, but no one thinks of Wilhelm II as a Roman emperor. Neither were the czars (nor the tsars). :)
 
Last edited:
Jul 2013
1,003
America
#7
Developing the point, on the base of what I could define the “self-persuasion” to be Roman, we could add to the list the “Holy Roman Empire” [the Sacrum Imperium Romanum] which was not only Roman, but even sacred. In this case the end of the Roman Empire would be 1806CE.

But we are actually playing with definitions. The HRE was a Roman Empire, not the Roman Empire. The Eastern Roman Empire was a part of the original Roman Empire which kept on existing for almost a millennium after the end of the Western part; so that it was the Roman Empire not a Roman Empire.
Hey AlpinLuke, I hope you haven't forgotten about me haha, I was wondering if you found any documents relating to the cognome Balsamo and their history in the Byzantine Empire.
 
Jan 2016
1,064
Victoria, Canada
#8
The Roman empire, or more accurately empire of the Romans, needed Romans around to represent, and after the 15th century there weren't any, at least not in the national sense. Certain Russians may have considered themselves the spiritual successors to the Romans, but they were not Romans themselves, so their state couldn't be the "empire of the Romans", not that they ever claimed it was. Finally, the HRE had always been run by a bunch of Frankish barbarians and their claim to Rome was built on a lie, so they're obviously out.
 
Last edited:
Feb 2011
961
Scotland
#10
The choice of 476 over 1453 derives from western European centrism. Rome's influence on western European history ended more or less in 476. If the Roman world survived in the east until 1453, that eastern Rome exerted very influence over western European history. Sure there are a few exceptions like the Black Death passing through Constantinople on its way to western Europe and Byzantium started the Crusades (or at least asked for them), but these were minor incidents in western history.

If your interest has nothing to do with western centrism, if for instance, your interest is the history of the eastern Mediterranean or of the Near East, then yes, 1453 is a more significant date.

As to Imperial Russia being the third Rome, that was just an attempt to shroud the tsarist court with past glory. By the way tsar looks more like Caesar if we spell it czar. Kaiser is also derived from Caesar, but no one thinks of Wilhelm II as a Roman emperor. Neither were the czars (nor the tsars). :)
I don't see why there has to be a choice between 476 and 1453 at all, Western Centrism or no.

All countries tend to skew in favour of their own local history, but it is a matter of chronology rather than choice or favouritism. I'll come to alternative dates later, but let's take 476 and 1453 as the dates at issue.

The last Roman emperor to rule over the whole empire was Theodosius I, 378-395CE. At his death, the empire was divided into two autonomous political units, each with their own emperor, capital, army, provinces, bureaucracy and finances. They were actually independent states, albeit 'related' and having an affinity towards one another. As time went by, the separation became more marked still and each supported its own group operating the 'levers of power'. As the west progressively failed during the fifth century, the east tried to assist in various ways but at times it also withheld support when the emperor in place was not to the east's liking.

When Odovacar sent the imperial regalia back to the east in 476, the demise of the west was implicitly accepted by the east, which was then in no position to influence affairs greatly. 476 has since acted as a watershed denoting the end of the Roman Empire in the West. That is a fact, and so is the continued existence of the empire in the east, which now became simply the Roman Empire. They proudly called themselves Roman throughout and they were entitled to do so, having an unbroken political thread back in time.

When Justinian reconquered large portions of the west in the sixth century, it was simply added to the Roman Empire again. There was no thought of resurrecting a 'Western Empire'.

When the capital of the empire (such as it was) fell in 1453, the Roman state finally ceased to exist.

There is therefore no conflict between 476 and 1453. They denote different stages in the slow extinction of the Roman state.

There are alternative dates suggested by some for the fall of the empire, which I shall list (no doubt non-exhaustively) but not detail-

West

480- death of Julius Nepos, who continued to hold himself out as emperor in the west, having fled to Illyria.

486- extinction of the Soissons state, the last remaining fragment of any size under Roman control.

East/Roman Empire

Seventh century- Arab invasions tore away Syria, Egypt, Africa and others and the dimensions of the empire were now such that it was one state amongst others of similar or greater power, no longer a behemoth,

1204- Capture of Constantinople by the fourth Crusade.

1461- Fall of the Morea and Kingdom of Trebizond, last remaining Roman fragment states.
 

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