The final overthrow of the Western Roman Empire occurred in the year 476, but for the century preceding this date the empire had existed merely as a shadow of its former self. On more than one occasion the ancient capital of the world was taken and plundered by barbaric invaders, and one by one the provinces of the empire became the prey and new seats of power of various Teutonic tribes. Roman institutions, including Roman law, had been too long and too firmly planted in these provinces, however, to be entirely obliterated, by such conquests. Except in the case of Britain, the conquering race merely settled down as the ruling class amidst the great mass of the old inhabitants of the region; and by their greater numbers and their higher civilization, the conquered gradually impressed their institutions and laws upon their conquerors.