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The Birth of Christianity and the Fall of the Roman Empire

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1 The Birth of Christianity and the Fall of the Roman Empire

2 I. Life of Jesus Jesus was born in the Roman province of Judea in a city called Bethlehem around 4 BC. History of Jesus is from the Gospels in the New Testament His followers were twelve men called disciples, which means student or pupil.

3 Jesus would preach justice, compassion, and the coming of God’s kingdom
He would teach in parables or moral stories. Jesus angered the Jewish and Roman leaders because he forgave those who broke religious law, associated himself with sinners, and many claimed he was the “Messiah.”

4 Jesus was arrested as the Romans saw him as a threat to their authority
Jesus was sentenced to death by crucifixion. According to the Gospels, he resurrected 3 days after his death. According to Christians, this proved Jesus’ divinity

5 II. Birth of Christianity
Early Christians were converted Jews Gentiles or Non-Jews would be accepted into the religion by Apostle Paul. Paul would spread Christianity throughout the Roman Empire because of the Roman Roads. Rome was tolerant of many religions but would not let them inspire rebellion or challenge authority.

6 III. Persecution of Christians
When Gentiles joined the Christian movement, Rome became concerned Christians refused to worship the emperor Christianity appealed to slaves and women which caused alarm Nero blamed the Christians for the fire in Rome in 64 AD. For the next 250 years, Christians would be tortured and killed for their beliefs. (Crucifixions, burnt alive, fed to lions, etc)

7 IV. Christianity spreads throughout the Roman Empire
Constantine claimed the throne after a civil war broke out for control of Rome In a battle for control of Rome, Constantine had a vision of a cross in the sky with the words “In this sign you will conquer.” He commanded that crosses will be placed on all shields and battle flags Constantine would then stop the persecution of Christians and advance the power of Christians in the Roman Empire In 380 AD, Emperor Theodosius would make Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire

8 V. Economic Decline Poor farming tactics caused food shortages and prices increase Taxes were too high, that people stopped paying them Without tax money, the army was not being paid so the empire relied on Germanic mercenaries. Slave labor=Worker unemployment Roman currency becomes less valuable through inflation

9 VI. Diocletian Tried economic reforms liked fixed prices on food
Ignored the Senate for absolute control Put soldiers on empire’s borders Divided empire into two parts (Eastern and Western)

10 VII. Constantine After civil war, Constantine reunites the empire
Moves capital of the empire to Byzantium and renames it Constantinople (Today it is Istanbul) After his death, the empire would split once more

11 VIII. Germanic Invasions
Asian nomadic warriors known as the Huns would drive Germanic tribes to search for new land and protection in the Roman Empire. Without proper defenses the Germanic tribes would attack different parts of the empire. Visigoths would ask for protection from the Romans, but were treated very badly and forced to pay high food prices. Germanic Tribes Ostrogoths-defeated by the Huns Visigoths-Rebelled and attacked Rome Angles and Saxons-would settle in the British Islands Franks-settle in Gaul or present day France Vandals-conquered Spain and northern Africa. Would vandalize the city of Rome.


13 In 410 AD, Visigoths led by Alaric captured Rome, marking the 1st time Rome was conquered in 800 years. Again in 455 AD, Vandals would enter Rome and loot the city. A Germanic General Odacer took control from the last Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustus, in 476 AD marking the historic fall of the Western Roman Empire

14 IX. Byzantine Empire Rome’s Eastern Empire would endure for 1000 more years Stronger economically thanks to the convergence of trade between Asia, Africa, and Europe Cities were much larger and better fortified in the East The Black Sea would also serve as a natural barrier between Constantinople and potential invaders



17 E. Justinian Justinian would serve as Emperor from 527-565 AD
Justinian was successful in reuniting parts of the Roman Empire, but would not have enough money to keep the territory. Justinian Code - Revised and created a uniform code of laws based on Roman Law. (Marriage, Slavery, property ownership, women’s rights, etc) Wife Theodora influenced him to give divorced women rights and Byzantine wives could own land.

18 X. Rise of the Catholic Church
The Church of Rome would survive the Fall of the Western Roman Empire and would become the Roman Catholic Church. With no emperor in the West, the Pope would begin to accumulate power. The Pope claimed he was the head of all Christian churches including the Byzantine Empire, which caused a feud since the Emperor was the head of the Church in the East The Two sides would not help each other militarily when outsiders would invade The Pope turned to a loyal Germanic Tribe, the Franks and their leader Charlemagne The Pope would make Charlemagne the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, which angered the Byzantines The two sides excommunicated each other which caused a split into two churches: Roman Catholic Church Eastern Orthodox Church

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