The Fall of Rome Episode

The BBC produced a series called Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire (2006) which contains six episodes covering the history of Ancient Rome from the reign of Caesar to the barbarian invasions in the 5th century AD. What is great about this BBC series is that the producer Mark Hedgecoe wanted to avoid fiction and be as close as possible to real history. Unlike other ancient Rome series, The Rise and Fall of an Empire is historically accurate. The sets are good and so are the military scenes.

The Fall of Rome episode

Episode six focuses on the Fall of Rome. There aren't that many movies or documentaries about this period of Roman history. Yet it is a really fascinating period as it is a period of transformation for Western Europe.

The episode starts with the barbarian attacks (mainly the Huns and Vandals) at the start of the 5th century. As a reminder at the beginning of the 5th century, the Eastern Empire was ruled by Emperor Arcadius (reign: 395-408 A.D.) while the Western Empire was ruled by Emperor Honorius (reign: 395 - 423 A.D.), both emperors being brothers. Ravenna became the capital of the Western Roman Empire in 402 A.D..

In the episode, General Stilicho (who had Vandal origins and who was the regent for the emperor Honorius when he was underage) has negotiated a treaty with the Goths. Emperor Honorius has him executed for conspiracy (a true historical fact). Honorius then orders another general to execute all the barbarians living within the Empire. As a result, all the barbarians leave the Empire to join the Goths and their leader Alaric (a true historical figure). The Goths then invade Italy and set siege in Rome.

The army of the Goths comprises 40,000 men poised at the city's gates (as a reminder the sack of Rome took place in 410 A.D.). Senator Atalus rides to Ravenna, the new capital of the Empire, to present the demands of the Goths, demands which Honorius initially agrees with. The Goths withdraw but later Honorius breaks the agreement.

Honorius sends reinforcements to Rome which the Goths destroy. The Goths name Atalus emperor. Honorius then cuts off all grain supply to Rome and Alaric goes to Ravenna to meet him. Alaric takes Rome. Later Alaric's people settle in Southern France.

We really recommend this episode, if you want to learn more about Honorius'reign, the Visigoths invasions and the sack of Rome.