Official point of no return for the Roman Empire

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,864
Cornwall
Fall of the Nerva-Antontines? Post Diocletian? Death of Marcus Aurelius? Division of the Empire? Let me know your thoughts below.
The peak is, I think, generally held to be the Trajan/Hadrian era, maybe extended to Antoninus Pius. Cracks were appearing under Marcus Aurelius and you could therefore argue that once the peak is reached, it's all downhill from there.

Majorian perhaps? Very late point.
Majorian sort of made a noble effort to regroup things until his unfortunate disaster at the hands of the Vandals. But if you look at the immense events/migrations around the early 5th century - it was all well after the horse had bolted surely?

Assume you mean the West here.
Battle of Cap Bon 468CE.
Had the Romans won- and they should have- they could have eliminated the Vandals, retaken Africa with its income and probably reasserted Roman supremacy in Spain, pinning the Sueves into the Northerm mountains. It wouldn't have solved the crisis altogether, the Goths still there- but survival now much more likely.
Another almighty cock-up. But they didn't win and weakened the eastern empire for years to come. I'm a bit old-fashioned in that I don't really see an eastern-led enterprsie as being 'Rome' - the west had blown up already. Plus I don't think you can turn back the clock, move out the Vandals and restore the grain bread- basket. In any case wouldn't it have gone east? Don't seem to see any lasting economic benefits that I know of once it was eventually taken by Justinian, just another drain on imperial troops and resources.

The Suevos were almost destroyed by Theodoric II in 456 at Rio Orbigo, and he sacked the capital and killed the king. Put them back in their box in greater Galicia for nearly 100 years. Until they foolishly backed the wrong side against Leovigildo and saw themselves truly 'abolished'.

The Suevos did not come close to either of the Goths in number and power. Roman armies of this period tended to be heavily Goth - not sure how that would ever be reversed


It has been the emerging consensus of historians that the Roman Empire began to fall as soon as it had been formed.
Probably right, or at least after Anotoninus!
 
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Apr 2018
314
Italy
I chose 406 because this was the years where Alans, Vandals, Suevi and Burgundians broke the Rhein frontier and flowed in the Roman Empire. No general was strong enough to disloge them, and they used the position of foederati to erode power and lands from the empire weakening him.
 
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Oct 2018
1,857
Sydney
In the case of the western empire's collapse, I suppose I consider it a contest between 406 and 455; the former for the migrations, the latter for the end of Theodosian rule in the west and the resulting dynastic instability.
 
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johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,864
Cornwall
I chose 406 because this was the years where Alans, Vandals, Suevi and Burgundians broke the Rhein frontier and flowed in the Roman Empire. No general was strong enough to disloge them, and they used the position of foederati to erode power and lands from the empire weakening him.
And this migration coincided with civil war in Gaul and a great, unholy mess. No one knows for sure whether their eventual passage through the Pyrenees was deliberate on the part of the various Roman factions - one might think so - or whether they just forced weakly guarded passes.

So I agree any date after 406 as the 'point of no return' would be fairly bonkers.
 

caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,330
Was there an identifiable point of no return? The Principate was a period of political evolution which took away Augustus' intended best possible government toward single person rule. The decline of Rome was not so much linked to an event as the loss of dynamism, social cohesion, wealth, health, and I suspect as many earlier Romans would have pointed out, civic duty.