When did Romans become Italians?

FOCUS SCHOOL | No. 4 (2010)
Níe got it: Where did the ancient Romans go?

“In history class, there is a lot of talk about the vast Roman Empire. But then - rum - it suddenly fell apart and all Romans are called Italians. Where did the ancient Romans go? "

That's really strange - the school lectures for hours about the successes of the Roman Empire, and then it breaks down into a subordinate clause ...

But no - the Romans wouldn't let themselves get down that quickly. In reality, it took centuries for their rule to end. The decline began at the latest when the empire broke up into a Western and Eastern Roman Empire in 395 AD - the latter still in existence until 1453.

Internal conflicts led to its downfall

What wrecked Rome were internal conflicts that are astonishingly familiar to us today: economic difficulties, growing bureaucracy and unbridled decadence. In addition, there were foreign policy problems: migrations of peoples weakened the long borders of the empire, to whose protection the Romans also recruited foreign soldiers who demanded less wages - low-wage workers, so to speak. But they weren't nearly as reliable as the original Romans and often went over to the enemies of the war. Thus Roman power visibly waned and the empire fell apart.

But what happened to the ancient Romans, who lived scattered from present-day Portugal to Syria? Did they all push back to their capital, Rome (which is why the streets are so overcrowded and the traffic is so grueling)? Or were they just renamed Italians overnight?

Of course not. Many ancient Romans were no longer real Romans for a long time. The recruited foreigners, called barbarians, mostly wanted to return to their homeland quickly after the fall of the Roman Empire.

Many stayed where they were: ancient integration, so to speak. Apart from a few amphitheater ruins (and influences on the European language, literature, philosophy ...) there is not much left of the Roman Empire. Real Romans can only be admired in their capital.

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