The Decline of the Han Dynasty and the Roman Empire

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The Han Dynasty and the Roman Empire were two of the most powerful entities to rule their respective parts of the world. The Han Dynasty dominated Asia from the Korean peninsula to present day Vietnam for more than four hundred years. The Roman Empire stretched from the present British Isles to present day Iraq, and lasted nearly five hundred years. The Eastern Roman Empire went on to last another one thousand years. Both the Han Dynasty and the Roman Empire enjoyed times of immense prosperity during their golden years. They both ended in chaos. How were their declines similar?

Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire, brought order to the vast lands Rome had conquered and brought an end to over one hundred years of civil war. He disbanded the large armies that had been recruited during the civil war and consolidated his power. The people welcomed the new dictator, and enjoyed peace and prosperity. With peace came increased trade and commerce, and ideas traveled freely along the Roman Empire's well designed roads. However, the emperors after Augustus were not as politically gifted as Augustus. Four emperors and fifty-four years later, the Roman Empire was once again thrown into a violent civil war.

After four coups in a single year, another line of emperors emerged. The line started by Vespasian was also a stable time. The Roman Empire reached its largest size during this time, and many historians consider those years the golden age of Rome. Inevitably, out of such a successful line of emperors, there would eventually emerge a bad apple. The emperor Commodus threw himself into immoral and violent practices, and gave no respect to any of the leaders. He was assassinated in 192 A.D., bringing an end to one century of stability. This date marked the beginning of the end.

The Romans gradually lost power, and barbarian people in the north frequently went on raids against the now disintegrating empire. The Roman Empire became steeped in debt as emperors...
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