The Decline Following a series of civil wars, a military government under Severan rulers restored order. Septimius Severan told his sons “to pay the soldiers, and ignore everyone else,” this set the tone for the new dynasty. For the next 50 years the Roman throne was occupied by whoever had military strength to seize control.
Invasions At the same time, the empire was troubled by a series of invasions. In the east the Persians made inroads into Roman territory. Germanic tribes poured into the Balkans, Gaul and Spain Invasions, civil wars, and plague almost caused an economic collapse in the 3 rd century.
Economy decline in trade and small industry. Farm production declined as crops were ravaged by invaders. Armies needed more than ever, but financial strains made it difficult for men to enlist and pay more soldiers By mid 3 rd century the state had to hire Germans to fight. What problems might this present?
New Life At the beginning of the 4 th century, the Roman Empire gained a new lease on life through the efforts of Diocletian and Constantine. The empire changed into a new state new governmental structure rigid economic and social system new state religion. Believing that the empire had grown too large for a single ruler, Diocletian divided it into four units each with its own ruler
Constantine Ruled from 306-307 AD Expanded policies of Diocletian Built new capital city in east: Constantinople Became center of eastern Roman world One of greatest cities in world
Problems and Solutions? Diocletian’s and Constantine’s political and military reforms enlarged two institutions--- the army and civil service drained public funds population was not growing so the tax base could not be increased to pay for the army and bureaucracy
Leads to more problems… To ensure the tax base and keep the empire going despite the labor shortage, the emperors issued edicts forcing workers to remain in their vocations. Hence jobs such as bakers and shippers became hereditary. Large landowner took advantage of depressed agricultural to enlarge their estates Temporarily successful
The Fall The Huns who come from Asia moved into eastern Europe and put pressure on the Germanic Visigoths. The Visigoths in turn, moved south and west, crossed the Danube River into Roman territory, and settled down as Roman allies. In 410 A.D the Visigoths sacked Rome. Another group, the Vandals, poured into southern Spain and Africa. In 476 the western emperor, Romulus Augustulus was deposed by the Germanic head of the army.
Theories Many theories have been proposed to explain the decline and fall of the Roman empire they include: Christianity’s emphasis on spiritual kingdom weakened Roman military virtues. Traditional Roman values declined as non-Italians gained prominence in the empire. Lead poisoning through leaden water pipes and cups caused a mental decline in the population. Plague wiped out one-tenth of the population. Rome failed to advance technologically due to slavery. Rome could not create a workable political system.
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