The traditional date for the "Fall of Rome" is 476, when Odoacer, a Germanic chieftan, deposed the last Roman emperor actually ruling from Rome. The empire in the west had been coming apart for nearly a century, and the "Last Emperor" was merely one of a succession of puppet rulers put up by various barbarian kings. By this time there were several more or less independent German kingdoms established within the empire: the Vandals in Spain to North Africa, the Franks in what is now northern France, Belgium, and the Rhineland, the Visigoths in Spain and southern France, the Burgundians in Provence and Burgundy. And more were threatening to move in.from the north. Things had been getting bad since the beginning of the century, and despite the defeat of Attila and his Huns in 451, they kept getting worse. So the deposition of the last emperor was a mere formality. Despite this, patches of Roman authority survived for a time in odd corners of Western Europe, and most of the Germanic kingdoms continued to pay lip-service to authority of the Eastern Emperor for some time to come. Meanwhile the Roman Catholic Church assumed some of the authority of Rome, and built it's eccelsiastical Empire on the ruins of Rome's territorial one.