Reasons For The Fall Of The Roman Empire Essays

The Decline of Rome Empire

When we hear a phrase “the most powerful and magnificent state” the Rome Empire firstly comes to our minds. Even those, who have nothing to do with history know, that the Rome Empire was the queen between other states. It was invincible for enemies, stable for its citizens and unreachable for others. The city of Rome was considered to be the largest city in the world. The Rome Empire was founded in 27 B.C. and it was divided into Western and Eastern parts in 396 C.E. The Western part disintegrated in 476 C.E. unlike the Eastern – it existed up to 1453 C.E. It’s obvious that nothing is eternal. But what are those crucial events that brought to ruin such a magnificent state?

There are different points of view regarding the fall of Rome Empire. Researchers explain it differently. But most of them come together with a thought that the fall was only in the west. The eastern part continued it’s existing for several centuries and it actually reflected the original Roman culture. There are several external facts that influenced the fall of Rome Empire. The most crucial is the influx of barbaric horde. Barbarians took advantage of problems already existing in the Roman society – overpopulation, poor leadership, culture and moral decay. The fall of the Empire occurred not due to a war or revolution. The facts imposed on each other and lead to the slow fall. Moreover, in the last day of Rome Empire the barbarian leader entered the city of Rome unopposed and the military and financial power of Mediterranean was not able to exist anymore. When he entered the city, Rome has already lost the control of Britain, Spain and North Africa to Goths and Vandals. If we speak about the internal facts, that influenced the fall of Rome Empire, there are researchers who believe that the fall occurred due to the structure of the Roman society.

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Historian Polybus affirms that the Rome was a victim of its declining moral virtue. Edward Gibbon, for instance, claims that the Christianity badly affected the Rome. It was religion that leads to such consequences, as people were trying to rebuild the society in accordance to the postulates of the religion they shrove. Moreover, most barbarians were Christians. But if we take a look deeper, we can conclude that actual fall of Rome Empire occurred not due to the factors mentioned above. The actual split happened several decades earlier, when the Rome Empire was divided into two mentioned above parts. The reason of division was the massive size of its territories which extended from the British Isles to the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and into Africa. But the barbarians were always present along the northern border and Rome remained vulnerable to its attack. The situation aggravated because of Goths, who never wanted to conquer the Rome Empire, but to be a part of it. But once they caused a great war which lasted 5 years and affected badly the Rome. After Goth other barbarians did not stop to invade the city. All these factors obviously were a great threat for the Rome Empire, making it weak and unable to resist the pressure of invaders.

In conclusion, we can say that there were many factors that lead to sorrowful consequences. It was absence of army, which lacked both equipment and training and unstable government. Also unstoppable invades from the barbarians’ side, culture and religious decline. Rome’s fall ended the ancient world. However, western civilization has to be grateful to Romans. Consider Latin language- it gave birth to French, Spanish Italian and other languages. Also many European cities were founded by Rome. Nevertheless, Rome had fallen, its merits still exist in the modern world.

Fall Of The Roman Empire


There were many reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire. Each one interweaved with the other. Many even blame the initiation of Christianity in 337 AD by Constantine the Great as the definitive cause while others blame it on increases in unemployment, inflation, military expenditure and slave labour while others blame it on the ethical issues such the decline in morals, the lack of discipline of the armies and the political corruption within the Empire. Three major contributions that led to the collapse of the once great empire were: the heavy military spending in order to expand the Empire, the over-reliance on slave labour which led to an increase in unemployment, and the political corruption and abuse of power by the Praetorian Guard leading to the unfair selection of many disreputable emperors and the assassination of those not favoured by the Guard.
One of the main reasons of the collapse of the Roman Empire was the over expenditure on the military to constantly fund wars abroad. In order for the Romans to invade and conquer other provinces they had to spend heavily on their legions. The Roman armies and supply lines became over-stretched resulting in thousands of soldiers being recruited and deployed from Rome into other territories as invaders or defenders. They also depended on soldiers to defend the borders of the lands they had conquered from barbarian attacks which resulted in the increased manufacturing of weapons and more money being spent on soldiers. High military spending left the Romans with very limited resources for other essential government projects such as the building of more public houses and the development of roads and aqueducts as well as leading to inflation. The over-expenditure on the military led the citizens of Rome to refuse the policies and laws enforced by the government and riots were commonplace in Rome during its last century. Due to the Roman citizens growing distrust of the Empire less people volunteered to join their armies which forced the military to hire common criminals and non-Roman mercenaries. The government raised taxes to aid their military expenditure which added to the low morale of the Roman population with every citizen losing a third of their weekly wage. The money raised to spend taxes was wasted on soldiers who constantly had to be replaced until the Romans could no longer afford to send large garrisons of troops abroad leaving their own borders poorly defended and vulnerable to attacks. The non-Roman mercenaries were too proud to serve a weakening empire and they began to conquer parts of the Empire as the Romans were unable to afford to send detachments and reserves to reclaim these areas. The city of Rome was left very poorly defended due to the deployment of troops to other provinces within the Empire which were defeated and taken by the barbarians making it considerably easier for them to conquer Rome. In order to ensure their loyalty, the wages of the soldiers were doubled and they were often promised discharge payments such as land or money. The military also spent loads of money on the transport of food and grain to ensure their soldiers were fed, horses were also vital, the roads and bridges needed to be repaired constantly and weapons also needed to be manufactured. The Romans believed that luxury interfered with discipline and failed to see that the soldiers would begin to live a more lavish lifestyle with the money they were promised. When the Romans spent their gold and silver in order to expand they failed to conquer any lands that would replace their depleted mines.
Another main cause leading to the demise of the Roman Empire was the dependency of the use of slave workers. The number of slave workers increased dramatically during the first two centuries of the Roman Empire. Rome's dependency on slave labour led not only to a decline in morals, values and ethics but also the stagnation of new machinery to produce goods more efficiently and productively. The Romans were never short of slaves and treated them very sadistically which caused the slaves to revolt leading to a string of conflicts called the Servile Wars, the most famous one being the charge led by the gladiator slave, Spartacus. Common farmers who had to pay their workers could not afford to produce their goods at low prices and slavery was an ideal way to lower expenditure which saw a rapid increase in unemployment. During the last few centuries of the Roman Empire there was a massive rise in Christianity and the attitudes of slaves were changing and they were becoming socially accepted. Many of the slaves that Rome depended on were being freed lowering the production of goods and weapons, forcing the government to hire workers to be paid for a lot less work. The dependency of slave labour led to the Romans technology becoming inferior for the last 400 years of the Empire. They ultimately failed to provide enough goods for their increasing population and troops. They also failed to discover new ways of developing their technology or add to their income when invading other lands.

Political corruption was widespread throughout the Roman Empire but particularly in Rome and within the upper ranks of the Praetorian Guard. The superiority of the Praetorian Guard, which consisted of the most distinguished and decorated soldiers within the empire and personal bodyguards and counsel to the Emperor, led to the majority of the political corruption in the empire and grew to such an extent that the Praetorian Guard held secret meetings to conspire to overthrow the Emperor and to decide on who they saw as a suitable replacement. When the Emperor Tiberius was overthrown the Praetorian Guard auctioned the throne to the highest bidder for 100 years. Political corruption also led to many civil conflicts within the Roman Empire. The Romans failed to develop a suitable system to determine who the new emperor would be, unlike the Ancient Greeks before them who held elections. The decisions were made by the Senate, the Praetorian Guard and the army but in the end the Praetorian Guard had complete authority to choose the mew emperor who was often the person who offered the best reward to the Guard. For the majority of the 3rd century the title of the Emperor changed 37 times with 25 of them being removed by assassination and this contributed to the overall weaknesses, decline and the fall of the empire.
There is no definitive reason as to why the Roman Empire collapsed, if there was to be one defining factor I believe that the over-expenditure on military expansion as it put strain on the Roman government as it cost them many economic and military casualties as they were losing a load of money hiring soldiers to invade and often replace them when they died without gaining from the lands they conquered. In my opinion, this is the major factor pertaining to the collapse of the Roman Empire. The political corruption allowed the Praetorian Guard to be above the law and announce whoever they wanted as Emperor regardless of whether they were capable of the task. The dependence on slave labour caused high unemployment and the stagnation of technology for the last 400 years of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire is said to have completely collapsed when the German barbarians overthrew the last Emperor, Romulus Augustus in 476 and introduced a more democratic form of government which was very short-lived.

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