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Rome: After the Empire

Peter Balanck

The next 1,000 years saw further momentous events that continued to shape Rome’s history: it was, between 880 and 932, ruled by two women – Theodora, followed by her daughter Marozia – and was attacked by the Normans in 1084. In 1200, it was declared an independent commune under Arnaldo di Brescia, and in 1309, the papacy, under the auspices of Pope Clement V, left for Avignon in France, fuelling Rome’s decline as it became an insignificant outpost ruled by mere princelings. The situation was exacerbated when the bubonic plague or ‘black death’ devastated Rome in 1348. However, 1377 saw a turning point as the papacy returned from Avignon under Pope Gregory XI, restoring the city to its former glory.
The late 15 th century saw the blossoming of Renaissance Rome; Michelangelo, who was to become famous for painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling, was born in 1475, followed by the painter and architect Raphael in 1483. St Peter’s Basilica, which had been demolished in 1452, was rebuilt to a design by Donato Bramante on the orders of Pope Julius II, and in 1508 Michelangelo began his painting. But disaster struck in 1527 when the troops of Emperor Charles V of Spain sacked Rome, destroying art and forcing Pope Clement VII to hide in the Castel Sant’Angelo.

Over the next century, Rome slowly recovered from the Spanish pillaging, with Pope Paul III appointing Michelangelo as the architect of St Peter’s, which was finally completed in 1626. It was Paul III who resisted Protestant reforms and who founded the Jesuits and the Inquisition. Meanwhile, charges of heresy became widespread – victims included the philosopher Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake, and the physicist Galileo, who was condemned to house arrest.

In order to make Catholicism more attractive than emerging Protestantism, the Catholic Church invested heavily in baroque architecture that saw the redesigning of Piazza Navona, the establishment of Bernini’s colonnade on St Peter’s Square and, in 1732, the start of work on the Trevi Fountain, which was completed in 1762. In 1797, French conqueror Napoleon captured Rome, although he was expelled in 1799. Eight years later, Garibaldi was born; he would go on, as the general for the Piemontese king, Vittorio Emanuele II, to conquer several kingdoms and principalities around Rome in order to create a new country named Italy with Turin as its capital. But Garibaldi took Rome – the real prize – in 1870, completing the Italian Unification.

The 20th century saw the rise of fascism in the form of Benito Mussolini, the leader of the Fascist Party. Mussolini marched on Rome in 1922 and was appointed prime minister; his alliance with Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany, led to Italy’s involvement in World War Two. Italians turned against Mussolini, however, and he was deposed when Italy joined the Allied forces in order to defeat Hitler.

Rome was made capital of the Republic of Italy in 1946. Eleven years later, the Treaty of Rome saw the founding of the European Common Market, the forerunner of today’s European Union (EU), and in 1960, the city hosted the Olympic Games. Rome made international headlines in 1981 when there was an assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in St Peter’s Square; nine years later the city hosted the soccer World Cup finals, and in 1993 Francesco Rutelli became Rome’s first elected mayor. A new EU constitution was signed in the ‘Eternal City’ in 2004.


Roman School Workshops

Ancient Roman Visits to any School in the UK

Can I visit you school to make a Roman presentation or workshop? Please phone me on 01634 401274 or email spiralgifts@gmail.comI also present workshop visits for Saxons, Vikings, Normans, Medieval, Tudor and Stuart periods! Please visit my Medieval Days website for more information.

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Contact Name:Peter Balanck
Contact Telephone:01634 401274
Mobile:077 5757 1234
Address:Medieval Days 173 High Street Rochester Kent ME1 1EH

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