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Additional resources for A Short History of Europe: From the Greeks and Romans to the Present Day
21 The Emperor Theodosius (379-95) bought off the Visigoths and Ostrogoths but after he died nothing could restrain the Visigoths and their leader Alaric. He ravaged the Balkan peninsula and then invaded Italy. In 410 he took Rome. Although the western Roman Empire is popularly believed to have fallen in 410, Emperors continued until 476 when the commander of the army Odoacer, chief of the Heruli, a tribe with Scandinavian origins, sent the last Emperor, Romulus Augustulus, into a pleasant retirement.
Those who dissented were labelled as 'schismatics', deprived of office and banished. In practice, in the East, the Emperor was considered the living image of Christ, and he was head of the Church. Constantine was seen as God's chosen deputy. The Imperial power was seen as the earthly reflection of God's heavenly power. The Emperor not only presided at Church Councils, he had the right to approve all candidates for the post of Patriarch of Constantinople, the eastern equivalent of the Bishop of Rome.
18 . an d corruptlon. opene d to rapaciOusness Neither did it help that Christianity, increasingly powerful in the fourth and fifth centuries, for reasons given below, was hostile both to army and state. St. Ambrose condemned military service for being not an obligation for all but akin to slavery. 19 Nor did it help that Romans never assimilated their German defenders and, in particular, their governing classes rejected contemptuously the idea that the Germans could be their equals in the Empire.