The Falls of Rome: Responses to Crises, 270-604

Michele Salzman
UC Riverside

This project focuses on the city of Rome as a test case to address one of the fundamental issues raised by the study of late antiquity: what does it mean to say Rome fell? As the city and its inhabitants faced military and political crises between the late third century and early seventh centuries, new leaders emerged – senatorial and increasingly papal alongside imperial bureaucrats. The civic, institutional and ecclesiastical reforms undertaken by these men in response to crisis changed the urban fabric of Rome. Group formation and identity construction are two central themes which my book explores as I consider the four competing groups that dominated Rome in this period: the senatorial elite; imperial bureaucrats; ecclesiastical leaders; and Germanic kings. It is the contestation between among these groups, conditioned by previous resolutions to crises and the memories of these events, which reshaped Rome’s institutions and urban spaces and created the conditions for Rome’s citizens to construct a new civic identity.