OUPblog > Humanities > Classics & Archaeology > Ten moments that shook the Roman world, in pictures

Ten moments that shook the Roman world, in pictures

By Peter Heather


The Roman Empire at its peak was the first great hemispherical power in human history. Over the years, though, this mighty society was torn apart by internal strife and attacks by rival powers. Below, the renowned historian Peter Heather describes the ten most critical turning points which led to the fall of the Empire and the beginning of the Dark Ages.



Peter Heather is Professor of Medieval History at King’s College London. He is the bestselling author of The Restoration of Rome: Barbarian Popes and Imperial Pretenders, The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians, Empires and Barbarians: The Fall of Rome and the Birth of Europe, and numerous other works on late antiquity and the early Middle Ages.

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Image credits: 1. Coin with profile of Shapur. Permission via GNU license via Wikimedia Commons. 2. Statue of Valens. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons. 3. “Vandals Plundering,” from Mary Charlotte Yonge’s Young Folks’ History of Rome. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons. 4. “Sack of Rome by the Visigoths” by JM Sylvestre. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons. 5. Map of Roman territories; Gallia Aquitania highlighted. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons. 6. Map of the Vandal-Alan Kingdom. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons. 7. “Attila, the Scourge of God,” by Ulipano Checa. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons. 8. Coin with profile of Avitus. Permission via GNU license via Wikimedia Commons. 9. Cap Bon, site of the Roman defeat. Photo by Sergey Prokopenko. Creative Commons license via Wikimedia Commons. 10. “Romulus Augustulus resigns the Crown before Odoacer,” from Mary Charlotte Yonge’s Young Folks’ History of Rome. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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