Decline of the Roman Empire Essay
There has been much debate over the main reasons for the decline of the roman empire, with many points contradicting each other, but the most important reasons in my opinion can be easily shown in this essay.
My first and most important point is that Romans were greedy. Evidence of this is that taxes were increased so that the emperors could afford the luxuries and to have more money, so they looked like they were very rich even though some emperors weren't. This caused the empire to decline because people would stop paying taxes so that Rome would be weaker and vulnerable to attack. I believe this to be the most important cause of the decline of the Roman empire because this caused other things to happen, like people would question the ruling of Rome which would cause wars and arguments about who would be the next emperor, which caused the Roman empire to split into east and west which in turn caused soldiers to quit or lose discipline which then left the defences vulnerable for their worst enemies (The Barbarians) to attack. I think that this is Rome's fault. On the other hand, a very close second would be that the barbarians attacked because the roman defences were weak, they wiped out most of the Roman empire by themselves and left a lot of Romans for slaves and just left a tiny bit of the empire so the Roman empire had to retire. This links to the Barbarians keeping attacking because the Roman soldiers would be distracted about taxes being raised, leaving the defences vulnerable for the barbarians to keep attacking.
The second most important reason that the roman empire declined is that the Barbarians attacked. The Barbarians attacked several times. Gaiseric was the first of their leaders. If the barbarians hadn't of attacked most of the Roman empire wouldn't of been took over. As a result of this, most Romans were took over or made slaves. Consequently, the Romans were weaker thus forcing the Roman empire to end. I do not think that this is Rome's fault though, it was the Barbarians who attacked them. This links to Romans were murdered because it could of been the attacking barbarians who killed them.
The next most important reason that the Roman empire declined is that 20 out of 23 emperors were murdered. Constantinople was one of them as he was murdered whilst on the toilet. Julius Cesar was another as he was stabbed to death. This caused political instability because when the news got round that Julius Cesar had been murdered, Constantinople had already been murdered. As a result of this, wild tribes attacked. You could argue either way on whether this is Rome's fault or not. This links to people arguing about who would be emperor because when the emperors were murdered powerful generals would argue and even have wars about who would be emperor.
The fourth most important reason that the Roman empire declined is that powerful generals kept arguing about who would be emperor. For instance Marius was one of the most famous generals of the roman empire but was never emperor, this caused anger so he stopped being a general. This would make the roman empire decline because the generals might quit if they don't become emperor leaving the defence unguarded which would also cause wild tribes to invade. I believe this to be Rome's fault because it was the powerful generals of Rome who were arguing. This links to people rebelled against their rulers because the powerful generals who didn't become emperor might rebel if they didn't become emperor.
The next most important reason that the Roman empire declined is that people rebelled against their rulers. People destroyed main buildings in the empire and maybe fight against them. They did this because the rules were strict and they didn't really get anything unless they were in the army. This caused the army to be busy with killing the people who are rebelling. As a result of this, the borders were weak thus leaving them vulnerable to be attacked. This is the Romans fault as it would be the Roman people who rebelled against their rulers. This links to the empire got too big and split into east and west because people had no choice on which part of the empire they would be in so they would rebel against that ruler.
The final reason I will talk about and the sixth most important reason is that the empire got too big and split into east and west. Diocletian split the Roman empire because it was too big and because it was getting too difficult to handle by one emperor. This caused the empire to decline because the Roman soldiers had no choice on which side it would be on so they would quit the army which caused the defences to be weaker which caused wild tribes to attack.
All in all, I think that the decline of the Roman empire was Rome's fault as most of the important factors were their fault. I believe that the Romans were greedy and that was the most important cause of the decline of the Roman empire as explained in my essay.
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.
Source: Essay UK - http://www.essay.uk.com/free-essays/history/fall-roman-empire.php
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