Portrait of Charlemagne, surrounded by allegorical figures, bearing the globe, Charlemagne is wearing a laurel wreath.

Event information

22 Nov 2021


Online event


Please note this is an online event and will require you to use the video conferencing system Zoom.

These events are free however donations are greatly appreciated.

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The idea that the Roman world had declined and required radical correction forms one of the most persistent and dangerous narratives in European history.

This lecture spotlights the texts, art and architecture that reveal how the emperor Hadrian (AD 117138), Charlemagne (AD 774814), and King Charles V (15191556) used the promise of Roman restoration to thrust radical and often violent changes onto the Mediterranean world.

Their examples show the power this idea had, and the risk that unchallenged claims of social decline and promises of renewal still pose today.

To attend this online event

Join the discussion from 18.15 on Monday 22 November.  We're hosting the event on Zoom, a free video conferencing system.

Once you've accessed this event, one of the Membership team will be ready to greet you and explain how to ask questions and take part. After the initial presentation and discussion, we'll be inviting questions from the online audience.

If you have any queries relating to the event or need help, please email us at friends@britishmuseum.org

Please note, once maximum capacity is reached on Zoom, Members can watch the event streamed on YouTube and will be redirected from the same 'Join the discussion' link. A recording of the event will be circulated shortly afterwards in a Members' email.

About the speaker

Edward Watts is the Alkiviadis Vassiliadis Endowed Chair and Chairperson of the History Department at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of six books and the editor of five more, including Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny (Basic Books, 2018), a narrative history of the last three centuries of the Roman Republic. His most recent book, The Eternal Decline and Fall of Rome: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford University Press, 2021), traces the 2,200-year history of claims about Roman decline and the victims they created. His work has also been featured in Time, Vox, Smithsonian, and the San Diego Union Tribune