The arbitrary date most historical texts designate as the de facto end of the Roman Empire in the west is September 4, 476 AD. On that date a German chieftain, Odoacer ascended to the Imperial throne in Ravenna deposing the reigning Roman Emperor Romulus Augustus. The date is a convenient but arbitrary construct in that Roman bureaucratic administration continued for many decades after Romulus had retired to a comfortable life in Campania with an annual pension of 6,000 silidi. . Heretofore all Roman emperors, be they usurpers or members of dynastic families, had been undisputed citizens of the Empire.
Not a few students of history continue to draw parallels between the Roman Empire and the global role that has devolved to the United States during the last several score of years. One can be forgiven for perceiving an eerie resemblance between events occurring on that date in the 5th century and those of January 20, 2009 for the simple reason that the recently elected US president continues refusing to offer conclusive and credible documentary evidence that he is constitutionally eligible to serve in his present capacity.
In his recent book, The Ruin of the Roman Empire (which your humble blogster is just completing) James J. O'Donnell posits that in point of fact, the true author of the so called "Dark Ages" of western civilization is the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian who sent his general Belasarius to "re-conquer" the western provinces from the romanized "barbarians" we know as Goths, Ostrogoths and Vandals.
In any event, the administration of government here in the US will doubtless continue for the immediate future, but as the old cliche goes: "Nothing is Forever" and you dear reader are free to evaluate the prognostications of both doomsayers and Pollyannas.
In the meantime keep your powder dry and:
cross posted at: Eternity Road