Last Roman (1968)





Director:  Robert Siodmak

Starring:  Laurence Harvey (Cetheguis),  Orson Welles (Emperor Justinian),  Sylva Koscina (Empress Theodora),  Honor Blackman (Amalaswintha),  Michael Dunn Narces),  Harriet Andersson (Mathaswintha),  Lang Jeffries (Belisarius),  Robert Hoffman (Totila).

Country:  German-Rumanian film

This movie about the decline of the Roman Empire is based on the German best seller Kamf um Rom by Felix Dann.


After the death of Gothic king Theodoric, his daughters struggle for power.  Famous Byzantine general Belisarius (505-565) then conquers their kingdom in Italy. 



Historical Background:


Theodosius I was the last Roman Emperor who ruled both the Eastern and Western Roman Empires. 

395  --  death of Theodosius.  Now the Roman Empire was definitively divided.

476  --  the death of the Western Roman Empire came with the abdication of Romulus Augustus under pressure of Germanic chieftain Odoacer. 

518-527  --  reign of Justin I. 

488-526   reign of Theodoric the Great, ruler of the Ostrogoths, Italy, and the Visigoths.

515  --  Theoric married his daughter Amalasuntha to Eutharic of the Visigoths.  Eutharic died soon after. 

526-534  --  reign of Athalaric, grandson of Theodoric the Great, over the Ostrogoths in Italy.  Athalaric was only ten years old when he became the ruler of the Ostrogoths.  His mother, Amalasuntha, was regent.  The Gothic nobles pressured Amalasuntha to let them raise Athalaric.  They did not do a good job, leaving Athalaric a heavy drinker who engaged in terrible excesses, which ruined his constitution

527  --  Justinian I crowned emperor. 

533-554  --  Justinian's generals re-conquer North Africa and Italy from the Vandals and the Ostrogoths.

535  --  Belisarius given the commission to attack the Ostrogoths. 

534-536  --  reign of Theodahad, a nephew of Theodoric the Great.

535  --  working for Byzantine Emperor, Gen. Belasarius captured Sicily and then went into southern Italy.

536 --  Belisarius captured Naples and Rome.

536-540  --  reign of Witiges, husband of Amalasuntha's daughter Mathesuentha and King of the Ostrogoths.  He had his predecessor, Theodahad, killed after the death of Amalasuntha.   

537  --  Belisarius defended Rome against the Goths. 

Belisarius took both Witiges and Mathesuentha as captives to Constantinople.  Witiges died there, without any children.

After the death of Witiges, Mathesuentha married the patrician Germanus, a nephew of Justinian I by his sister Vigilantia.

540-541  --  Ildibad, king of the Ostrogoths.

540  --  Belisarius captured the Ostrogoth capital of Ravenna. 

541  --  the Ostrogoths elected Totila as their new leader.  He was able to recapture all of northern Italy and drive the Byzantines out of Rome.

544  --  Belisarius returned to Italy.   He recaptured Rome briefly, but his Italian campaign proved unsuccessful largely due to a lack of supplies and reinforcements by a jealous Justinian.

548  --  Justinian relieved Belisarius in favor of the eunuch Narses, who did bring the campaign to a successful conclusion. Belisarius went into a temporary retirement.

565  --  death of Justinian I. 

565-578  --  reign of Justin II. 

568  --  most of Italy lost in the Lombard invasion.



Return To Main Page

Return to Home Page (Vernon Johns Society)