The Carolingian Empire

The Carolingian Empire - The Carolingian Empire IN A SENSE...

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The Carolingian Empire IN A SENSE, the reign of Charlemagne was "The Revolt of the West." That's a great start to a lecture Thank you. I work hard, you know. Yeah, sure. Does it mean anything? Yes it does. If you'll remember Justinian's reconquest of the West began to fall apart right after his death, but that didn't mean that Byzantine influences in the West ended. They held on to the old imperial capital at Ravenna for a long time, and it was not until the early seventh century... That's the 600's you know. The Western Mediteranean in 600 AD Yes, I remember. Good. You wouldn't call this the nineteenth century because the years all begin with the number 19. You already told me that. Did I? Four times. Oh? Anyway, the Byzantines exercised a great deal of control over the West during this
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period. As a matter of fact, in about 660, the emperor of the east, Constantine II, visited Rome with a sizable army and an assembly of nobles. That must have caused a stir. It did. All of the leading citizens of Rome marched out to meet him and escorted him and his followers back to Rome in a grand procession, and then held a great banquet. He stayed in Rome almost a week. Doing what? Well, actually, he was robbing what treasury they had, which wasn't much, and his men were gathering up all of the lead and bronze they could find. What in the world for? The bronze was to make fittings for shields, armor, horse rigging, that sort of thing, and the lead was to make pellets as ammunition for the slingers in the Byzantine army. So the Romans lost a few statues. They lost more than that. Most of the stonework of Rome -- the columns, walls, and even the great sheets of marble that protected the embankment of the Tiber River -- were held together with bronze clamps. Without the clamps, everything began -- actually -- to fall apart. What about the lead? The roofs of buildings, including the old temples and public buildings from the early days of the empire, were built of wood, but were protected with sheets of lead, the gutters and downspouts were made of lead, and the pipes that distributed water to and through the city were made of lead. What happened? Well, the slabs on the embankment slid into the Tiber and, during the next flood, the bank collapsed into the river and the nearby merchant district and warehouses were simply swept away. Unprotected wooden roofs began to rot and cave in. Without water coming into the city, the sewers quickly became clogged. You know the Forum, the center of the city? Oh, yeah. The place with all the ancient buildings. I saw pictures of it in the National Geographic. Well, the main sewer of the entire city, the "Cloaca Maxima" ran beneath the forum. When it finally stopped up, all of the sewage of the city began flowing into the forum, filling it up with excrement, garbage, dead animals, and so forth. It became a cesspool.
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