The Fall of Rome
The Roman Empire was one that pertains to modern politics, in that, by studying Rome's trials and struggles, a modern nation might be able to overcome its own problems, perils, and challenges, and use its own opportunities, wisely. Therefore, it only makes sense for people of today to want to ask the question of why Rome fell. Some say that since all states and empires in history have fallen, the real question that should be asked is why Rome lasted for so long. Although it is obvious that states fall, the question asked should be about why Rome fell after such a long period of sustaining an empire. Many historians have decided to look at Rome's decline due to simultaneous attacks from different groups of barbarians. But, in order to answer the question of why Rome fell after a great period of upholding an empire, the first deeper questions to be answered should be about Rome's internal crumbling. One of these questions should be about how Rome's military came to a point at which it was able to be overcome by attacks from barbarians. Other questions should include the state of the economy, politics, and the infrastructure. With the answers to these questions, nations and states of today might be able to overcome an "inevitable" end, like that of Rome. One of Rome's major problems preceding its decline was the lack of respect for authority, among the people (both civil and military). This basically led to a lot of political chaos, because of all the corruption that was born, and it started to decay the military. Rome's economy was declining, after a long period of stagnation, especially because of the large-scale hoarding of bullion, which people of Rome started, and because the trade deficit of the eastern regions of the Empire served to stifle the growth of wealth in the west. Therefore, the major reasons for the fall of Rome, although at first glance might seem martial, are truly those that have to do with Rome's political and economic state. Starting in the 3rd Century, there was a decline in the value of money, which caused everything to cost more. The vast majority of the people in the Empire were peasants, and those who farmed, would have profited from the rise in the price of their crops. The others, who lived in cities, had rents fixed by five-year leases, causing their rents to not change until the end of the lease. Therefore, the majority of people did not suffer too much from this, and the landowners did not suffer much, either. The people who worked for the government were paid from the money obtained from taxes. Since taxes couldn't radically be raised, although the value of money was rapidly falling, the people working for the state were being paid less and less. This led to corruption. As historian A. H. M. Jones puts it (in Constantine and the Conversion of Europe), Soldiers could, and did, help themselves by looting, and civil servants by corruption and extortion: it was during this period that the custom grew up whereby civil servants charged fees to the public for every act they performedeven the tax collector demanded a fee from the taxpayer for the favor of granting a receipt.
This was really bad, as the soldiers ended up fighting, robbing, raping, and otherwise harassing their own country-men and women, calling this their means of getting food, clothing, and money to travel. As money became more and more worthless, the upper class began losing their noblesse oblige (the obligation of the nobles to state and society), the spirit of patriotism was vanishing in the middle class, the discipline of the military was decaying, and there was nothing to take the place of any of this. Hypertrophy was the worst thing that happened to Rome; Rome grew too big too fast. Because this happened, it became harder and harder for one person to rule over such a vast domain, the outskirts of which weren't really as secure as the rest. Because of...
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Nardo, Don. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. 1998: Lucent Books, Inc., U.S.A.
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"The Fall of Rome." http://www.acs.ohio-state.edu/history/isthmia/teg/Hist 111H/issues/rome1.html Ohio State University. 5/11/04.
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