Empire Crumbles When the last of the “good emperors,” Marcus Aurelius died... ... He left his son, Commodus, in power. He was a savage ruler. He loved the bloodshed of the Gladiators. He bribed the army to support him.
Empire Crumbles This began the decline of Roman Empire. Commodus was not the only cause for decline... Many INTERNAL problems led to the end.
#1 Weak Corrupt Rulers After Commodus, emperors were a succession of generals, not politicians. They stole money from treasury to enrich themselves. They had to pay off soldiers.
#1 Weak Corrupt Rulers The government and economy fell to pieces. (inflation) The senate lost its power. Emperors were not safe. In 104 years, there were 29 emperors. ... most were murdered (assassinated).
#2 Mercenary Army The Roman Army had been made of citizen- soldiers, ready to defend their land. The Roman Army had been made of citizen- soldiers, ready to conquer new lands, to receive “payment” of real value.
#2 Mercenary Army The army was later filled with mercenaries- foreign soldiers fighting for pay-for personal gain. Rome’s strength had depended on loyal army.
#3 The Size of the Empire The empire had grown too large to be ruled from one place. Enemies from Asia, Africa and Northern Europe, attacked. Tribes that had been conquered poured over the borders causing the empire to shrink.
#4 Serious Economic Problems Eventually Rome stopped conquering new lands. no new sources of wealth no new resources Taxes became heavier. Huge unemployment developed. Rome paid an army that would not always fight.
#4 Serious Economic Problems Food became scarce, inflation common. Government made coins to pay for food; prices went up. Less value in money, value based on silver, but with less and... ... less silver per coin, becoming worthless.
Trying to Stop Decline Some emperors made efforts to stop decline of Empire. Diocletian-- persecuted Christians worked to strengthen Rome enlarged army Built new forts at borders
Trying to Stop Decline Diocletian (continued) improved tax collection had money to pay army divided empire in two to make it easier to rule chose the wealthy East, co-ruler given declining West
Romans Accept Christianity Diocletian retired and so did his co- ruler, leading to years of civil war. Generals fought each other. In A.D. 312 Constantine, a general, stood near a bridge with his troops, with a battle about to begin...
Romans Accept Christianity The sun broke through the clouds in the form of a cross, with the words, ”Under this sign you will conquer.” Crosses were put on his soldiers’ shields; they enjoyed an overwhelming victory. He believed the message came from Christian God; he vowed to become a Christian.
Romans Accept Christianity Under Constantine, Christianity was legalized and supported. Freedom to worship was not limited. Christianity soon became official religion. Capital was moved to Byzantium, renamed Constantinople.
Fall of Rome (external factors, the attacks on Rome) Constantine struggled to keep the empire together. At his death, invaders swept across the borders. They overwhelmed the empire. Invaders came from tribes to the north; Rome had defeated these tribes earlier, but they were too weak now.
Fall of Rome (external factors, the attacks on Rome) Goths- wore black, white faces like ghosts Vandals- destroyed parts of the city and painted it in blood Huns- used Roman tactics against them led by Attila Visigoths- winged helmets, stole most of food like vultures
Fall of Rome (external factors, the attacks on Rome) Rome was captured and looted. Roman emperor was powerless. Romulus Augustus 14 years old Captured by German general Sent to work on a farm No ruler remained in the West. A new Empire began in the East in Byzantium, called Byzantine Empire.