Jim asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

What caused the fall of the Roman Empire?


12 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Hello. I've personally learnt all about this subject in History classes, so I can help you a lot.

    There were many issues that brought about the fall of Rome, but they are primarily considered to be political, military and economic.

    -------------------------Political Problems--------------------------------...

    1. The senate became extremely corrupt and political instability came into existance. Consuls and officials would offer positions in office for those who could pay a lump sum of denarii (currency). Furthermore, they accepted bribes in exchange for favours of a wide assortment. A series of very incompetent, rather crazy Emperors were elected and the Plebians suffered as a result. Civil revolts sprung up, lead by rebellious citizens.

    2. Emperor Constantine divided the empire into two halves. He declared Constantinople the new capital of Roman society, claiming rule over all Eastern provinces. The Western Roman Empire lost its power over towns in the East, causing a great reduction in profits from the treasury and weakening them dramatically in warfare. Now their strength had been dwindled.

    -----------------------------Military Problems------------------------

    1. By 300 AD the majority of the Roman army was comprised of barbarian trained soldiers- much less effective than the superior infantry that Rome had in previous centuries. This made the battles against enemies very difficult, Rome no longer had a firm grip or control over military situations.

    2. Well at least Rome still had new recruits enlisting....Not! Another problem was that many of the Roman citizens who were expected to enlist in the legions refused and sneakily signed their slaves in their position. As you can imagine, the new forces were very sluggish, had low morale, didn't fight with courage and really, they couldn't care less about the development of Rome, after all they were servants to them!

    3. Ok, Rome's been run down a lot in warfare.. but we can still rely on the older, more experienced troops to back us up, right? Unfortunately for the Romans, many of the men who had gallantly served their nation years ago had retired to estates or farms and simply did not want to be bothered with government affairs.

    4. In remote locations under lenient Roman governing, it was common for soldiers to marry and adopt local customs, attitudes, values and beliefs, instead of keeping their original Italian heritage. This caused disloyalty, hesitation and disillusion worldwide among legions facing the same problems. Southern Britain is a great example. Oak tablets found by archaeologists show how most of the Roman army deserted or refused to carry out orders when fighting Pictish tribes in Scotland. They didn't want to destroy the culture they had integrated with. When Emperor Trajan requested the remaining men to campaign in Dacia, no one was eager to participate. This was a big issue because it accounts for a decline in moral obligations.

    5. Barbaric hordes of fearsome warriors gathered in the North/East of Europe in large groups, slowly gaining huge influence (Vandals, Goths, Huns). After Emperor Trajan's death in 117 AD, Hadrian took his place and adopted a defensive stance. He realised that Rome was no longer in the position to continue their expansion, and so he ordered the construction of thick stone walls bordering Roman land. The legionaries could barely hold their ground, having to defend such a wide, vast area. In fact, it was literally impossible to do so, as constant waves of barbarians aimed to break down the fortifications. Again, England is a good instance. Rome paid the Pictish tribes large sums of tribute so that they didn't attack. It was however, inevitable, and these nomadic tribes would soon occupy dominions within the Roman Empire, slowly breaking down the money within coffers and Roman authority itself.

    ----------------------Economic Problems--------------------------------

    1. Rome depended on its empire for funds, (farming practices and mining) it became very poor and had trouble coping economically. Rome had nothing to trade, and couldn't rebuild itself. In any war you need money to be victorious. Soon enough, other cities within the Empire stopped sending funds to Rome.

    2. During certain Imperators regimes, they debased the currency. This meant that a coin didn't have a default value. Instead, it was represented by the amount of silver it contained. When Emperor Claudius was in power, coinage wasn't even made up of 1% actual silver. As a result, severe inflation occured.

    3. High taxes was another issue which wasn't resolved easily. It caused distress and anxiousness among many classes in Ancient Rome.

    4. Disease most likely had a massive impact. Malaria and other plagues became regular occurences, killing up to 20% of Rome's population in 150 years. This meant significantly reduced numbers when it came to running all aspects of society, such as education, warfare training and the economy.

    ------------------The Official end to Rome's rule-----------------------

    1. The deciding factor. All this pressure was to much for Rome to handle, it had struggled endlessly with immense problems for hundreds of years. Alaric, leader of the Visigoths sacks Rome in 410 AD. Later, Rome is spared from being pillaged again - Attila the hun, another barbaric warlord decides to retire his reign in 452 AD but destroys many cities in Italy. 3 years after Rome is looted by Geiseric, King of the Vandals. So Rome endured a lot of economic damage and infrastructure demolishment.

    Glad to help.

    Source(s): Studied this topic extensively.
  • 1 decade ago

    The Roman Empire got too large to stay alive. In the beginning, the Republic of Rome was becoming powerful. This was due to its well trained, and very well disciplined armies. Why were they so motivated to be good soldiers? Because they were Roman citizens; they had a direct interest in keeping Rome powerful and well protected. However, as Rome's strength grew, the armies eventually ceased to be composed of motivated Citizen-Soldiers, but were instead made up of Provincials, underprivileged people from conquered territories. The balance of power thus shifted from the people to the provincial generals. At this point, the Empire was destined to collapse.

    In The Year of the Four Emperors, the Roman Empire's seat of power was seized four different times, each by an army from the provinces. As Roman historical trends began to collapse inwards, it became evident that it wouldn't last forever. The Empire began a period of only moderately evident decline, but, as barbarians moved in from the East, Rome had lost both its power and its flexibility. And so the Goths, the Franks, the other Goths, the Vandals, Pirates, corruption, and the HUNS slowly closed in on the Empire, and it was gone.

    The Romans still survived in one small way: Vatican City, the official language of which is Latin, is essentially the Roman Empire. They once controlled the civilized world. Now they have the smallest country in the world, at 0.17 square miles.

  • 1 decade ago

    As the saying goes, "Rome wasn't built in a day," and neither did the Roman Empire fall in a day. There are a number of reasons for the collapse of the Roman Empire — a decline that took place over many hundreds of years. The reasons are as follows:

    1. CHRISTIANITY - The rise of Christianity play a small role. Roman beliefs and values caused conflicts between Christians and those who continued to hold onto the old pagan philosophies. These conflicts led to persecution of the Christians, until the first Christian Emperor of Rome, Constantine, put a stop to the persecution.

    2. INTERNAL CAUSES – These includes political corruption, economic problems, and a series of leaders that were more interested in their personal gain than in the welfare of the common people.

    3. EXTERNAL CAUSES – These external causes includes;

    a. Disease and plagues that ravaged the population.

    b. Attacks and defeats from the Germans, Huns, and various barbarian tribes. These attacks and defeats weakened the Roman military decreasing the amount of territory controlled by the Empire.

    4. SPLITTING of THE EMPIRE INTO TWO (East and West)

    Emperor Diocletian split the Empire into two: East and West. The Eastern Empire would eventually become the Byzantine Empire, while the Western Empire would decline into nonexistence. The Roman Empire was finally destroyed on 476 AD, when the barbarian tribes removed the last Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustus, from power and Roman rule over Europe was no more.

    Source(s): Cliff's notes
  • DeSaxe
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" covers this subject most completely.

    However I would say that Rome fell because it's government became so corrupt and ineffective that it could no longer function anymore.

    Rome's military became corrupt and weak, often serving local governors & counsels, rather than Rome. Toward the end Rome was paying mercenaries to protect Rome while the Roman Legions were reduced to spoiled bodyguards, and used for internal political power struggles.

    Rome had a string of bad Emperors who spent the majority of their time securing their personnel influence and power rather than serving the Roman people.

    Trade, as Rome power became to wain the Roman provinces became to becoming more independent and started trading on there own rather to where Rome was not benefiting from the trade. Corruption and graft ran rampant and unchecked.

    Romans became lazy, and it's people became uneducated, it's education systems became a political toy, slavery had always been a problem in Roman cultural but the majority of work being done in Rome was done by slaves. Slaves began to be prominent in all levels of Roman society, and business. and industry. Factories, building, and farming, began using more and more slaves to provide it's labor. and employing less and less Roman citizens. Roman citizens were angered by this and this discontent was abused by everyone seeking to be a politician.

    Rome collasped from with in, until Barbarians finally gave Rome the finally blow. Rome ceased being a political power and changed into a Religous power.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    There were several variables involved in the fall of the Roman Empire. Most events in history can be attributed to several small things, decisions, people and/ or events which eventually erodes away something which seems invincible

    Rome's empire had grown so large it was difficult for one ruler to run it efficiently. It had been split up into east(Byzantine) and western sections ruled over by separate rulers.

    Decadence also played a part, as did the invasion of the tribes from the north.

    The economy was in trouble as problems such as inflation played a part.

    The rise of prominent religions such as Christianity and Islam.

    Source(s): http://ancient/ history,about.com
  • ?
    Lv 4
    5 years ago

    1. Economic troubles- when the emperor trying was making the army/military happy he paid them a lot, putting more taxes on the people which caused most of them (the wealthy) to flee to the countryside and set up their own little "kingdoms". 2. Military overspending- As I have said, gave the military more money to stay loyal. They also struggled to keep the military in order, and last of all couldn't communcate with each other fast enough to manage all the land they had. Hope this helped! 😃

  • 6 years ago

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  • do you mean what caused the fall of the western roman empire it will tell you on this website here

  • 1 decade ago

    The fall of the roman empire can attributed to several things rather than one particular thing. Poor rulers whom the people hated, mass wealth differences between the many poor and the few rich, and the people were split due to religious differences.

  • 1 decade ago

    internal corruption. the loss of what it meant to be roman. germanic invasions. lead poisoning.

    Source(s): AP world student and wrote two papers on rome getting an A+ on each and plans on possibly becoming a Roman historian
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