The Fall of the Roman Empire: Study Guide

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The Fall of the Roman Empire
Emperor Marcus Aurelius (reigned A.D. 161-180) – the end of his reign caused a loss of peace and prosperity: the Pax Romana •Tribes outside boundaries and pirates in the Mediterranean disrupted trade •Had no new sources of silver and gold and as a result the government raised taxes •Government starts minting coins with less silver and made more money with the same amount of metals which caused inflation- a drastic drop in the value of money coupled with a rise of prices •Soil in Italy and western Europe became overworked and unfertile, and years of war destroyed much farmland as well- this caused food shortage and disease which caused a population decline •Soldiers became less disciplined and loyal; they only gave loyalty to their generals- generals eventually have a power struggle to try to claim power •Government recruits mercenaries, foreign soldiers who fought for money to defend threats. These people would get paid less than Romans, but didn’t have loyalty to the empire like Romans did •Average Roman citizens also begin to lose their patriotism •In A.D. 284 Diocletian becomes emperor and restores order and increases strength by doubling the size of the military, setting fixed prices to stop inflation, and claimed he was a decedent of the Roman gods to try to restore prestige of the office of the emperor •He also realized that the empire was too big to be run by one person and divides into the East(Greece, Anatolia, Syria, and Egypt) and the West(Italy, Gaul, Britain, and Spain) •He appoints a co-ruler for the west, but still keeps overall power, and his half of the empire had the most wealth and had the greatest cities and trade centers •Diocletian retired in A.D. 305 because he was ill, and civil war breaks out immediately •4 rivals compete for power and Constantine comes out victoriously after what was believed to be a sign of a cross in the sky that prompted him to have crosses painted on his soldiers’ shields...
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