Presentation on theme: "AN EMPIRE IN DECLINE I can describe factors that led to the Roman empire’s decline and the ultimate rise of Christianity."— Presentation transcript:
AN EMPIRE IN DECLINE I can describe factors that led to the Roman empire’s decline and the ultimate rise of Christianity.
WEAKNESS IN THE EMPIRE After the death of Marcus Aurelius a series of problems began to weaken the empire. These economic, military, and political problems were difficult to solve. ECONOMIC The empire could no longer feed its many people. Farmlands had been destroyed by warfare. Lack of improvement in farming techniques led to the land being worn out. Taxes were high and many people didn’t pay them. With no money, the empire couldn’t pay its army. POLITICAL The size of the empire made it difficult to govern. It was difficult for news to spread. Many corrupt government officials. Cost of education increased People grew less informed MILITARY Rome was constantly at war. The empire needed larger armies Rome hired mercenaries, who weren’t as disciplined as regular Roman soldiers. The result was a weakened defense along the empire’s borders. TO SUM THINGS UP….THINGS ARE BECOMING A BIG MESS IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE. GROUP DISCUSSION: What kinds of things would happen if the U.S.A suddenly had these specific problems (economic/military/political)….Do we already have these problems?
DIOCLETIAN DIVIDES THE EMPIRE A rapidly changing series of emperors also weakened the government. During a 49 year period (from A.D ), Rome had 37 emperors. THAT’S AN AVERAGE OF A NEW EMPEROR EVERY 1.3 YEARS!!!! Some of these emperors were military leaders who used their armies to seize control. With emperors changing so often, the Roman people had little sense of orderly rule. In A.D. 284, the emperor Diocletian took power. He changed the way the army operated by permanently placing troops at the empire’s borders. He also introduced economic reforms, including keeping prices low on goods such as bread, to help feed the poor. During his reign, Diocletian no longer bothered to consult with the Senate. He issued laws on his own. Diocletian was an absolute ruler, one who has total power. Diocletian soon realized that he could not effectively govern the huge empire. In A.D. 285, he reorganized it in two, taking the eastern portion for himself. He chose this area for its greater wealth and trade, and its magnificent cities. He appointed Maximian to rule the Western Empire. The two men ruled for 20 years. GROUP DISCCUSION: Was Diocletian good for the Roman Empire?
Diocletian died as Rome’s last non-Christian emperor. In A.D 304 a civil war broke out over control of the empire. Four military commanders, including a man named Constantine, fought for control of the two halves of the empire.
CONSTANTINE Constantine was a western Roman military commander who fought to gain control of Italy during the civil war. In A.D. 312, he entered Rome as the new emperor of the western half. By A.D. 324, he had taken control of the Eastern Empire as well. The empire was reunited and Constantine became the sole emperor. In a bold move, Constantine shifted the empire’s capital from Rome to Byzantium (later named Constantinople). The city was well placed for defense and trade. Constantine enlarged and beautified his new capital. Today the city is called Istanbul (Turkey).
CHRISTIANITY For centuries, Rome tolerated the different religious practices of the people it conquered. Rome however would not allow the religions of subject peoples inspire rebellion. Many thousands of people were killed when such rebellions occurred. As Christianity spread throughout the people of the empire, many Roman emperors blamed Christianity for problems. The Roman emperor Nero blamed Christians for a fire that leveled much of Rome in A.D. 64. For nearly 300 years, Christians throughout the empire were persecuted, tortured, imprisoned, and executed. Roman emperors simply would not let go of their religions past. However, in A.D. 306, Constantine became the new emperor, and major changes began throughout the empire.
When Constantine became the sole emperor, he immediately outlawed and ended the persecution of Christians. Then, in the Edict of Milan, he made Christianity one of the empire’s legal religions and returned property that had been seized during the persecutions. Constantine also built churches, used Christian symbols on coins, and made Sunday a holy day of rest and worship. In A.D 380, the Roman Emperor Theodosius decreed Christianity as Rome’s official religion. Today, Christianity is the world’s largest religion, with an estimated 33% of the world’s population and 77% of Americans worshipping one of the many branches of the religion.