I. Fall of the Empire a. Pax Romana ended after 200 years.
b. Reasons why the empire fell: 1. Political: emperors had no written law about who would inherit the throne (sometimes a son, sometimes “adopted” an heir to the throne). i. Marcus Aurelius-kind emperor ii. Commodus- his son who became emperor; was cruel and hated. (continued)…
ii. Commodus- was strangled by the Praetorian Guard (emperor’s body guards). Guards sold throne to highest bidder, set bad example; legions fought each other for throne.
2. Economic: Emperors paid soldiers high wages to keep them happy, therefore, Romans had to pay high taxes. Also inflation (or a period of increasing prices) started. Prices of goods went up, money lost value. Instead, people returned to bartering.
3. Foreign Enemies: Romans fought each other, leaving frontiers open to attacks.
A. Diocletian and Constantine I a. tried to save the empire from collapse
b. Diocletian (ruled 284-305 A.D.): 1. fortified the frontiers to stop invasions. 2. reorganized the state and provincial govts. to make them work better 3. set maximum prices for wages & goods (to keep prices from rising)
4. ordered workers to stay in same job until they died (make sure goods produced) 5. officials responsible for taxes their community had to pay
6.established policy of “rule by divine right” (emperors right to rule came from the gods). 7. divided empire into two parts (east/west) and let someone else govern the west.
c. Constantine (ruled 312-337 A.D.): 1. to prevent people from leaving their jobs when things got bad, sons had to work in same job as their father.
2.to escape, wealthy people moved to villas (country estates); like indept. kingdoms; could support everyone who lived there 3. 330 A.D., moved capital from Rome → Constantinople (present day Turkey)
B. End of the Empire a. German attacks increased; their secret weapon: iron stirrup b/c the force of the charging horse was added to the force of the weapon. b. Many Germans crossed the frozen Rhine River & attacked
c. 410 A.D., German chief, Alaric, invaded Rome, burned records, and looted the treasury.
d. Roman Senate, “You can no longer rely on Rome for finance or direction. You are on your own.”