The Fall of RomeThe Roman Empire was without a doubt themost powerful governing body in the Mediterranean ever. Why did Rome fall?There was not any single cause to the fall of Rome.
It was many thingsoccurring in succession to each other. After the Punic wars with Carthage, Romeacquired many new lands that it did not have before. During peace timesit was easy to govern these areas but during war times it proved difficult. The government had to pay soldiers to patrol the frontiers of the empire;it could no longer rely on the loot to serve as the pay for the soldiers. This took a significant amount of money out of the Roman treasury.
Someemperors wanted to save money and made the army too small to have controlover such a large empire. The economy of Rome was also suffering. Rome was importing goods from its colonies but wasn’t exporting nearlyas much. This created an imbalance of trade.
The colonies were creatingtheir own finished goods and no longer relied on Rome for them. New coinswere then made out of lead and gold to devalue the currency. Merchantsnow charged more money because these new coins were not worth as much asthe old ones. This created inflation, this problem plagued the empire untilits fall.
The problem of succession also contributedto the fall of Rome. There was never a set system of succession. Afterthe death of an emperor, generals competed with each other for power. Oncesomeone gained power they didn’t rule for long; someone often assassinatedthem. This weakened the authority of Rome; corruption was common and lawwas almost non-existent. Diocletian tried to make reforms to makethe empire as strong as it was before.
He realized that the empire wastoo large for one person to govern, he split the empire in half and tookcontrol of eastern part himself. He then appointed a co-emperor to rulein the west. He also reorganized the problems in the civil service andmade them responsible directly to the emperor. He increased the size ofthe army and trained them better. To improve the economic health of theempire, Diocletian set limits on prices and wages to slow down inflation. To give some stability in agriculture and manufacturing, he ordered peopleto stay in their jobs.
There was no room for promotion. Diocletian diedin 305 A. D. In 324 A. D. Constantine took over as emperor.
He reunited the east and west under his own rule. He also built a new capitalat Byzantium, on the Bosporus. He named this city Constantinople. Constantinewanted a new capital that would be a Christian city, not a pagan one. Hecontinued the policies of Diocletian.
People saw no need to work hard withno chance of getting ahead. These reforms only slowed down the processof collapse. After Constantine’s death in 337 A. D. , the empire was againdivided.
To the north of the Rhine and Danube rivers,lived a group of people known as the German tribes. They were herders andfarmers who had migrated from Scandinavia. As their population grew, theybegan to look for new land. They decided that moving into the Roman Empirewas a good idea. The Roman army was spread thin and could barely cope withthe Germans. In the fourth century, the Huns, a nomadic people from centralAsia, began attacking the German tribes.
Thus the tribes looked for protectionfrom the Huns in the Empire. They received permission from the Emperorto live in the Empire. A couple of years later the Romans sent an armyto defeat the Germans and failed to defeat them. This proved that Romewas not invincible.
The Germans continued to sack the west; they invadedItaly and sacked Rome. Rome bought peace by giving the Germans most ofGaul and Spain. The Huns then marched into Rome and they were soundly defeatedby Rome and its German allies. The west of the Empire became a mess withno one in any real control.
In the east, Constantinople continuedto be the capitol city. Its rulers called themselves Roman emperors andits people were Roman citizens subject to Roman law. True, the westernportion of the Empire was crumbling, but all through the fifth and sixthcenturies the people of the east could say without a doubt that the RomanEmpire had not fallen. There was no certain official date whenRome was considered to fall. Many historians though, believe it was in476 A.
D. A small German chief, Odoacer captured Rome and proclaimed himselfking. The city of Rome was finally overthrown. Despite this, the peoplewho lived throughout the Empire considered themselves Roman citizens andfollowed Roman laws.
In the East Rome was still strong. Even today we haveadopted many of the Roman ways of life. Rome influenced every civilizationafter and in a sense we are all Roman citizens. The great Empire of Rome, the greatestpower to ever rule the Mediterranean had fallen. It was unthinkable.
Theirfaults in politics, economics and other things contributed to their fall. There was no one single cause; it was many things happening at once, whichcaused the fall of Rome. The leaders of today should look at Rome’s mistakesand be sure not to make the same ones again.