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Reason for the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

By Procrastinate799 Apr 02, 2013 747 Words
Reasons for the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the most powerful empire prior to the middle ages. It is considered to have fallen in 476, when Rome’s last emperor was disposed of. Many Theories have been presented as to why it fell, from decline in morals and social policies to a mass lead poisoning. The real cause of the fall of the Roman Empire though, is political corruption and a failing economy due to over spending and over expansion on the military. The political corruption in Rome had gotten out of control, especially with the Praetorian Guards, the elite soldiers who directly defended the emperor. Sometimes these guards didn’t feel like they would find someone who was offering to pay them more than the emperor, or in some cases, like the story of Sejanus, commander of the Praetorian Guard for Tiberius, had put out an auction for the throne to the highest bidder. This caused a frequent change in untrained emperors, not yet ready to handle the power they had bought. The political system had fallen apart and the emperors had less and less control and spinning Rome into economic declines, plagues, poverty, and an overpopulated empire. This made Rome a giant target, holding the entire known world’s power weak and easily obtainable.

Another one of the main causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire were the constant wars and heavy military spending. Constant warfare required heavy military spending. Money that the empire could not afford to give away. The Roman army became over-stretched and needed more and more soldiers, but again, more soldiers meant even more money. The barbarians, who had been conquered many times, and other members from foreign conquered territories were allowed to join the army. This led to Barbarian knowledge of the Roman Military tactics. Men who had once served for the barbarians were now playing both sides of the field, staying true to their homeland and helping out their now “enemy”. The knowledge that the Barbarians gained of the Roman Military tactics and warfare style were not being used against the Empire and led to the take down of Rome by the Visigoth’s led by an ex army soldier, Alaric. Yes, Rome had a fierce army, but a large percentage of the army contained foreigners who would not fight as faithfully, in a similar way as in the Battle of Marathon and how Persia lost the war. The final shot was inflicted by these Barbarians and by 455AD the authority of Rome had started to disintegrate and thus the start of the Fall of one of the greatest empires of all time.

Together these causes created a ticking time-tomb that was just waiting to collapse the Empire. Without a long lasting, well trained leader to run the empire, the economy started to crash, and there was more money going into the military then could be afforded. This meant that cutbacks had to be made, and like corporate companies do in present time, the army started taking foreigners for cheaper labour. This backfired on Rome because since they had Barbarians on their side; the Barbarians had discovered their military tactics and were able to invade Rome which is what caused the end of the Empire. It is very unlikely that you are going to fight against a homeland when they are trying to fight back and take over. These factors caused a chain reaction which lead to defeat.

The reason that these factors are more important than Christianity and many other factors that also helped contribute to the decline of Rome was because they had the most direct effect. Maybe if the Praetorian Guards hadn’t been so greedy and open to any offer higher than their current wage, Rome would have lasted, because there would have been a long reign of leaders who had been properly trained to run an empire so big, they would’ve been able to handle the economy better and come up with solutions for the poverty bound nobles and improved the overall social behaviour of the community causing Rome to survive the middle ages...East and West.

"Rome.info Fall of the Roman Empire, Decline of Ancient Rome." Rome.info Rome Tourist Information, Ancient Rome Travel Guide. Tue. 9 Jan. 2012. <http://www.rome.info/history/empire/fall/>.

"The Fall of Rome." Tamos (portal). Tue. 9 Jan. 2012. <http://www.tamos.net/~rhay/romefall.html>.

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