A Frankish Intermezzo

The Franks conquered Cologne in 355 – How will Rome react?

Cologne, in the beginning of the year 356 The Franks plundered and conquered Cologne. Thus, the northern border of the Roman Empire is open wide for the Germanic enemies. How did it come about that the city could be conquered at all, although it had such mighty stone walls. And how did the Roman central power react to the fall of its colony on the Rhine? You can find out in this episode. Frankish rule was not to last long in Cologne, but it clearly showed the weakness of the Roman Empire. A young aspiring Roman general named Julian sets out to restore Rome’s rule in Cologne and throughout Gaul.


Julian as portrayed by Giovanni Battista Cavalieri in 1583).

Roman Houses beneath today’s Cologne Cathedral

Often it is only cairns like these that untrained eyes like mine would only overlook. What can be seen here is a Roman wall, which was richly painted. (yellow stripe) Unfortunately, the color faded within a very short time, so that until now it has been avoided to expose it further. To protect the rest of the paintings in this way. This wall was part of a residential house which was probably destroyed in 355. As you can see, the house was not rebuilt. Another building was seamlessly built over the ruins.
Also this well shaft, of which only the inner stones are still there and need a present concrete casing as support, was demonstrably not rebuilt after 355. One can still clearly see the foundations that were laid directly above it.
Even if it is hard, try to imagine the iron grid without it. Underneath, you will find the supports of a floor heating system that kept the house warm. This house was only one block away from the property with the Dionsysos mosaic, which was also destroyed in 355.

Dionysos Mosaic

Also the house in which this magnificent Dionysus mosaic in a dining room was located was destroyed by the Franks in 355. Since new buildings were constructed directly on the ruins, the mosaic under the rubble remained well preserved and survived the millennia in good condition. It was only rediscovered during excavations for an air-raid shelter in World War 2. Today it is still in the same place in the Roman-Germanic Museum, which was built around it.

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