Western Roman Empire
|Status||Western division of the Roman Empire|
|Common languages||Latin (official)|
Regional / local languages
|Religion||Polytheistic Roman Religion until 4th century|
Nicene Christianity (state church) after 380
|Historical era||Late antiquity|
• Death of Emperor Theodosius I
|17 January 395|
• Deposition of Emperor Romulus Augustulus
|4 September 476|
• Murder of Emperor Julius Nepos
|25 April 480|
|395||2,000,000 km2 (770,000 sq mi)|
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire, which was divided by Diocletian in 286 AD. The other half of the Roman Empire became known as the Eastern Roman Empire and later became known as the Byzantine Empire.
The Roman Empire had been in difficulties since 190 AD. when large Gothic tribes began moving into areas under Roman control. The empire had weak leadership, which caused instability. Various power groups in the Roman armies kept trying to install their own emperors and killed emperors who belonged to other groups. That helped the invasions by the Germanic tribes.
Ending Rome's Crisis of the Third Century Diocletian tried to bring back stable government by dividing the empire into sections. The Western Empire included Iberia, France, southern Britain, Italy, North Africa and parts of Germany. The Eastern Empire included the Balkans, Turkey, the Levant and Egypt.
Rome ceased to be the capital from the time of the division. In 286, the capital of the Western Roman Empire became Mediolanum (modern Milan). In 402, the capital was again moved, this time to Ravenna.
The division did not help the Western Empire, which came under increasing invasions from the north from the Ostrogoths, Huns, Franks, Visigoths, and Burgundians. Its armies were brought back towards Rome and abandoned abandoning Britain and France. Its economy could not cope, since the increased need for military spending caused inflation. Citizens were unhappy with the rising taxes and rising prices.
In AD 398, Alaric led the Visigoths and began making attacks closer and closer to the capital. By 410, he had sacked the city of Rome. In 455, the Vandals captured Rome. In 476 the Goths captured the capital.
The fall of the Western Empire took place in 476 AD when the leader of the Goths, Odoacer, removed Emperor Romulus. Odoacer became King of Italy, and the Western Empire in the west ended. By then, however, the empire existed in name only, and the emperor no longer had military, financial or political power.