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The Fall of Rome Podcast

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I'm Patrick Wyman, and I just finished my PhD in the history of Late Antiquity - the period between about 300 and 700 - at USC. The Fall of the Roman Empire is my specialty, and in this podcast I'll be bringing you the most recent work on this topic in digestible format.






Introducing Tides of History

History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme, said Mark Twain. From the fall of the Roman Empire to the rise of the modern world: history ebbs and flows over the centuries, driven by great tides of economic, social, political, religious, and cultural change that shape the world and everyone who lives on it. In this new series from Wondery, PhD historian Patrick Wyman (Fall of Rome) brings the cutting edge of that history to listeners in plain, relatable English. Episodes 1 & 2 out...

Duration: 00:16:03

23: Could the Roman Empire Have Survived?

Could the Roman Empire have survived past the fifth century? To answer that question, we examine some other points when the Empire could have fallen apart but didn't, and what brought it back together after Caesar's assassination and the Crisis of the Third Century. Take the survey at

Duration: 00:38:45

22: The Brilliance of Saint Augustine. An Interview with Elizabeth Bruenig

Saint Augustine is one of the foundational figures of Christianity and one of the most influential thinkers of all time. He was also a complex and fascinating figure in his own right. Elizabeth Bruenig, an editor at the Washington Post and writer on politics and Christianity (@ebruenig on Twitter) joins me to discuss Augustine's life, thought, and greater meaning. Take the survey at

Duration: 00:43:49

21: Rome's Legacy and the Barbarian Kingdoms

As central government disappeared from what had been the Western Roman Empire, the barbarian kingdoms stepped into the void, creating new forms of rulership and institutions that would lay the groundwork for the fragmented, fractured medieval world. Take the survey at

Duration: 00:46:04

20: The Anglo-Saxon Migration, the North Sea World, and the Birth of England

Roman Britain fell fast, and it fell hard. Into the ruins of this world stepped a wave of migrants from the North Sea coast of the Continent whom we know as the Anglo-Saxons. This migration, a complex and dynamic movement of people over the course of 200 years, rewrote the political, demographic, linguistic, and cultural maps of eastern Britain, transforming it into England. Watch a preview of Genius, the new show on National Geographic about Albert Einstein, starring academy award winner...

Duration: 00:51:38

19: Why Didn't Rome Rise Again? An Interview with Professor Walter Scheidel

Why didn't Rome rise again? Everywhere else in the world, the appearance of one great empire was marked by their recurrent resurgence, but in Europe it happened only once. Professor Walter Scheidel of Stanford University - the author of numerous outstanding books on Rome and beyond, most recently "The Great Leveler", on the history of economic inequality - argues that this lack of recurring empires is what laid the groundwork for the eventual rise of Europe, the Great Divergence, that...

Duration: 00:36:00

18: The Warlords of Northern Gaul and the Rise of the Franks

As the Roman Empire disintegrated, northern Gaul turned first into a military province and then into a playground for warlords, some Roman and some barbarian. This episode is the story of how one warlord and one group navigated this environment to become the kingdom of the Franks. Watch a preview of Genius, the new show on National Geographic about Albert Einstein, starring academy award winner Geoffrey Rush: Take the survey at

Duration: 00:50:40

17: Ostrogothic Kingdom or the Western Empire Reborn?

Under the leadership of their great king Theoderic, the Ostrogoths built a kingdom for themselves in Italy. But was this a kingdom, and Theoderic a king, or was he an emperor and his new realm the Western Empire reborn? Watch a preview of Genius, the new show on National Geographic about Albert Einstein, starring academy award winner Geoffrey Rush: Take the survey at

Duration: 00:49:14

16: The Kingdom of the Visigoths

The ashes of the Roman Empire produced a host of new states built on the foundations it left behind. The first of these was the Visigothic Kingdom of Toulouse, which dominated southern Gaul and helped bring about the end of the Roman Empire. Watch a preview of Genius, the new show on National Geographic about Albert Einstein, starring academy award winner Geoffrey Rush: Take the survey at

Duration: 00:49:28

Introducing I Hate My Boss

Today, we're introducing I Hate My Boss, a career advice podcast from our friends at Wondery. Hosts Liz Dolan and Larry Seal will help you make the big decisions, navigate the small stuff and get more fulfillment from your work life. Plus, a comedy segment based at the fictional ad agency Penn & Pencil, will help you better prepare for and laugh at the characters you'll deal with in your everyday life. Subscribe today at

Duration: 00:22:07

15: The Death of the Roman Political System

Taxes, soldiers, and loyalty: these were the foundations, the structures, of the Roman political system. This episode explores how and why they fell apart over the course of the disastrous fifth century, which saw the provinces gradually slip away from the control of the imperial center. Watch a preview of Genius, the new show on National Geographic about Albert Einstein, starring academy award winner Geoffrey Rush: Take the survey at

Duration: 00:49:03

14: The Calamitous Fifth Century - A Narrative History

It took just 80 years for the Roman Empire to fall apart completely, from a ponderous but functional state at the death of Theodosius the Great 395 to nonexistence by 476. How and why did that happen? In this narrative, we examine the major figures and events of the calamitous fifth century. Take the survey at

Duration: 00:46:54

13: The Unraveling of the Roman World

The Roman world was more than just an empire; it was a cultural, social, economic, and political space built on the easy movement of goods, people, beliefs, and practices from place to place. It was a broad unity, and when the Roman Empire fell, so too did that easy movement and the world it had created. Take the survey at

Duration: 00:49:28

12: The Fall of the Roman Economy

The Roman economy was a marvel, the powerhouse that produced surpluses big enough to support huge cities, maintain an enormous standing army, and construct monumental buildings that stand to this day. When the Roman state fell apart, so too did the economy it supported, but in different ways, in different places, at different times. If you have a spare moment, take the survey at

Duration: 00:47:21

11: The Roman Economy Before the Fall

The economy of the Roman Empire was surprisingly modern, featuring commercial markets, large-scale production, and agricultural sophistication that wouldn't be matched until the middle of the nineteenth century. In this episode, we explore how it was organized, how it functioned, and what it had come to look like just before it all went south. If you have a spare moment, please take the survey at

Duration: 00:45:15

10: The Late Roman Army, Barbarians, and the Frontier

The Roman army was the central institution in the late Roman world. It had changed dramatically from the classic legions of Augustus and Marcus Aurelius, adapting itself to the much different world of the third and fourth centuries, but it remained a huge economic driver and a cultural world unto itself. Subscribe to Hollywood & Crime at Check out the new History Matters podcast:

Duration: 00:58:23

9: Attila and the Empire of the Huns

Attila the Hun is the best-known barbarian from antiquity, but the Hunnic Empire he inherited and expanded hasn't gotten the credit it deserves for its complexity and organization. This episode explores how the Huns created an empire that stretched from the Ural Mountains in Russia to the Rhine River in Germany.

Duration: 00:57:49

8: The Vandals and the Fall of Roman Africa

North Africa was the most prosperous region of the western Roman Empire, the agricultural heartland that fed the city of Rome, and the barbarian Vandals' conquest of the region was the final nail in the coffin of the Western Empire as a whole.

Duration: 00:51:52

The Fall Of Rome, Special Episode: The End Of The Gladiators

Gladiators are one of the defining characteristics of the Roman Empire in popular culture. How and why did they disappear? We explore the topic in this special episode.

Duration: 00:29:42

Fall Of Rome, Episode 5: Just How Screwed Up Was the Later Roman Empire?

One of the fundamental questions about the later Roman Empire is just what a mess it really was. Did the barbarians topple a fundamentally healthy, functional state? Or were they merely the straw that broke the camel's back of a diseased, rotten, empire that could no longer hold itself together? In this episode, we discuss just how things had changed between the peak of the Roman Empire in the second century and the beginning of the end in the fourth.

Duration: 01:10:57

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