The Fall of the Roman Empire

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is just a research paper I wrote for English my Sophmore year. Nobody has to read it. I'm just posting becuase I don't wanna lose it. My first research paper I got an 'A' on. It's just about how the Roman Empire came to fall.

Amanda Herbert
Ms. Cadle
English 2
29 April 2009
The Fall of the Roman Empire
Everyone has heard of one of the greatest betrayals of all time, the fall of Julius Caesar, but most have never heard of the actual truth of how the Roman Empire came crashing down. The Roman Empire was seriously declining. The economy began to stagnate. Too much money was being used to simply maintain the borders and unity of the Empire. The cities began to deteriorate. By the third century, the empire was being attacked from every direction. Internally, it was suffering from sheer size, and in 395, it officially split into two halves, the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire. In 410, the Western half of the Roman Empire was for all intents and purpose dead and in the hands of the various invaders. The Eastern Roman Empire was also in decline and was plagued by wars, external and internal. There was the economic decay that accompanied the political decay. Some add Christianity to the mix, or paganism that helped to lead the Eastern Empire to fall.
The Roman Empire fell because of itself. The Emperor and the Roman people should have done more to help and prevent it from falling. There are adherents to single factors, but more people think a combination of such factors as Christianity, decadence, lead, monetary trouble, and military problems caused the Fall of Eastern Rome. Even the rise of Islam is proposed as the reason for Rome’s fall. The Roman Empire not only expanded, but was modified by the conquered people. The structures of the Roman government changed to deal with new situations. There are many factors that caused the3 Eastern Roman Empire to fall. The Roman Empires biggest problem with what happened to it was decadence. Everyone believes it was other problems that made the Empire fall. Most historians believe that the fall of the Roman Empire is because of decadence, army problems, and religion problems.
The Eastern Roman Empire had many problems and one is decadence, meaning weak and immoral. Decadence threw the Roman Empire into turmoil. The Roman Empire had become too big to control easily. Soldiers or families in distant parts of the Empire adopted local customs and the empire was made up not only of natives from the Italian peninsula, but barbarians from the conquered lands. Corruption became rampant. Decay from the army came from the army itself, which grew weak from too long peace and they eventually stopped wearing their protective armor. This made them vulnerable to enemy weapons and to the temptation to flee from battle.
“But the decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquests, and, as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight . . .The emperors, anxious for their personal safety and the public peace, were reduced to the base expedient of corruption the discipline which rendered them alike formidable to their sovereign and to the enemy” (Gibbon 356).
Caesar who led Rome to its highest pinnacle of greatness, with Caligula and Nero bringing Rome into decadence in society that eventually lead to the sacking of Rome by German Barbarians and the fall of the Roman Empire. The truth of the matter is that moral and political corruption had been a staple of Roman life from its beginning. As stated on,
“To make such a distinction between the Rome of the first century and the Rome of the fifth century is to suppose that Rome had not become “decadent” while its soldiers raped, pillaged, and burned cities to the ground, its citizens routinely left unwanted children exposed to the elements and its magistrates forced captured slaves to kill each other in gladiatorial coliseums for the entertainment of bloodthirsty onlookers. Even lining the roads around Rome and Jerusalem with thousands of crucified rebels does not seem to be quite decadent enough for those who try establish connections between religious purity of a nation’s populace and the significance or its military power, nor did it incur enough divine wraths to bring about the empire’s end.”
The city Rome had really lost control of their Empire even prior to creating a single empire-wide religion, when Diocletian divided the Empire among four tetrarchs in 293. Two senior emperors each given the title Augustus, and two junior emperors, named Caesar, each ruled from a different city, none of them being Rome. The most agreed-upon cause of the loss of Roman power in the west and east by modern historians is the Germanization of the roman armies.
The fall of Rome also happened because of their armies. The armies did not have the best conditions in the beginning. Soldiers became hungry and clad in bits of boots and ghosts of great-coats, because their officers had pocketed the soldiers rations and pay. High ranking officers detoured soldiers money into their own pockets and actuaries demanded and took kick backs. The result was mutiny. Justinian’s armies in Africa and Italy mutinied for back pay, while, more commonly, soldiers bullied and extorting money from civilians because of their hunger. After a while the Roman Armies were replaced with barbarians. As stated on,
“Many barbarians served in Roman forces, the great majority of barbarians as volunteers, although prisoners of war and quotas from federated tribes were enrolled in the army. No general wanted regular Romans in the army. By the mid-fourth century the typical fighting force, as opposed to a more or less useless mass of men merely in uniform, appears to have been half imported. A generation later, imported soldiers formed the majority. Notorious, before the century was over, barbarian’s commanders of essentially barbarian armies had gained control over the empire’s fate.”
With that problems did break out. Part of the reason had to do with historical circumstances, the most important of which was large-scale barbarian penetration and settlement of Roman territory. Although most of the barbarian tribes who poured over the frontiers were German, the motive force behind the great movement of population was the Hunnic power. As also mention on,
“By c. 410, Goths, Vandals, Alans, and Suevi had made their way into Eastern Roman Empire directly as a result of the insecurity generated by the Huns beyond Rome’s frontiers.”
With all the new culture around the Roman Emperor was losing more and more control over his people. There was not much he could do to stop it. With all the different tribes immigrating, barbarians took their chance and attacked the Roman Empire. With their attack they took down the empire for good.
Religion problems had a lot to do with the fall of the empire. The emperors of Rome controlled the religion since emperors of Rome controlled the religion since emperors held the power to appoint bishops. Over time, Church leaders became influential and took away power from the emperor. Christian beliefs conflicted with the working of the empire. The emperors had the people believe in several Gods instead of just one. The emperors had the roman people believing in paganism, which associated with the worship of Jupiter, Juno, mars, etc. As mentioned on,
“There were some real weaknesses in Roman society, weaknesses great enough that it is perhaps not so surprising that the Romans would consider changing something even as fundamental as religion. Pagan religion itself had some growing weaknesses. By associating their gods with those of the Greeks, the Romans ended up absorbing Greek attitudes toward the gods. While the original Jupiter had been the embodiment of noble principles, the Greek Zeus was quite different—a god who spent his time cuckolding mortal men.”
Christians were thought to be a political problem. They would not swear an oath of allegiance to the emperor as a god, the equivalent of not saying the flag salute. To a person worried about political stability and sometimes invasion from without, Christian failure to support the emperor’s divinity meant political disunity and potential trouble. Christianity offered as escape from the burden of the law to most of the Romans. The Christian message was also good news to slaves. In the church, slaves were received as equals, and slaves could and did rise to high position within the church. This set up a bad message for the Roman Emperor. With Christianity around the emperor started looking like the bad guy. Christianity was a way for all people to be free and the emperors never wanted that to happen. The emperors could see they were losing power every day. As stated on,
“Above all, Christianity offered love. The Gospel message promises everyone love. People wanted to be loved and, no matter what Maslow, Roman Emperor at the time, says, this may just be the most fundamental element in the ‘hierarchy of needs.’ For the Christians, it certainly was. The love of God was more important than life itself, and many of them gave their lives out of love of their God and so that others might experience this love.”
Whether people like it or not, Christianity was taking over the lives of Roman people little by little.
These few problems were just part of it. Many blamed Rome being sacked on Christianity and the abandonment of the empire’s original gods. Wars broke out against Rome. Armies began to weaken. The emperor began losing power over what the Roman people do or believed. The Roman Empire’s economy was decaying big time, and with it the roman people. Soon was plagued Eastern Rome where it finally fell altogether. Many things lead up to the fall.  Some of the biggest problems that caused the fall were decadence, army problems and religious problems. Decadence made the armies become weak and was unable to protect the Roman Empire. Problems with the armies made the empires defenses weak. Christianity made the Roman people drop years of beliefs and made the Roman emperor lose his power over the Roman people. All of theses few problems can cause one empire to fall. This could always happen to people anywhere at and time.
Works Cited
Gibbon, Edward. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. New York, NY: the Modern Library, 1794.
Fall of Rome-Why Did Rome Fall? N.S. Gill. 1997. Ancient/Classical History. 15 April 2009.
History of the Vandals. Brian Adam. Illustrated History of The Roman Empire. 17 April 2009.
Roman Civilization. History 206. 17 April 2009.
Roman Religion. Roma. 17 April 2009.
Christianity in the Roman Empire. March 31, 2008. 17 April 2009.
Late Roman Military (from Diocletian to c. 600.). Richard Abels. Late Roman Military. 16 April 2009.
Rome Didn’t Fall in a Day. 16 April 2009.
Why Did the Roman Empire Fall? Frank E. Smitha. 2005. 15 April 2009.
The Philosophies and Religions of the roman Empire. Dr. C. George Boeree. 15 April 2009.

Submitted: April 19, 2010

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that's some essay!

Tue, October 19th, 2010 10:20pm


lol thanks. I did one on the Mayans last year. I just thought it was something interesting so I did it for my research paper freshman year. glad you liked it ^.^

Wed, October 20th, 2010 3:37am

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