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Thread: Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

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    Default Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

    A simple question --- How did one of the greatest empires in history go from this:



    To this:

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    Default Re: Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

    Quote Originally Posted by bushbush View Post
    A simple question --- How did one of the greatest empires in history go from this
    Ask ten historians (or read ten books) and you'll come up with eleven answers.

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    Default Re: Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

    Here I go:


    - Constant Roman civil warring in the 3rd century and onwards which drew soldiers away from the front to fight other Roman soldiers, and weakening the Roman army long enough for raiders/invaders to cross and plunder while armies and generals were away.

    - Complete Roman willingness to cooperate with foreign tribes/kings to fight other Romans to increase their power to eventually become the emperor when his rival Roman was dead. Of course the dues and payement given to the foreign armies (such as land and money) that was given to them for their service in the civil war...made their presence inside Roman lands much more permanent.

    On the second reason, note how 99% Romans in the second Punic war were completely unwilling to join Hannibal to gain power in Roman politics unlike in the later empire. My conclusion? TRUE ROMANS, VALUES, MORALS, AND RACIAL PURITY /sorry
    Last edited by Boyar Son; July 22, 2010 at 11:24 AM.
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    Default Re: Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

    On the biggest issues is the failure of the Empire to really ever mange to establish what the Greeks or even Roman Republic would have called rule of law or perhaps better seen as stable social/legal compact. In particular The empire never solved the general issue that brought down the Republic - The troops of Empire were more or less willing to march on thier own government. The Spartans and Athenian military leaders of the 5th and 4th century might not alway do what thier governments intended but there was [almost]no way they could convince their citizens soldiers to march on their own state. The result is that the effective military power of Rome was attenuated. If the Emperor himself could not lead major operations they could only be carried out either in a smaller form or by the most trusted of leaders, succession was always risky and no large effort to say subdue Parthia or fully conquer and at least cow Germania or Arabia could be tried.

    TRUE ROMANS, VALUES, MORALS, AND RACIAL PURITY
    The racial purity is a non-need. Remeber the Roman republic more or less held it allies more or less to its side even it its darkest days (both internal to the res publica and allies like Rhodes or the Massailoits). The key is the Republic at theat time had a woking legal framework that was asscribed to by it citizens - Scipio was not going to march on the Senate after his victory.
    Last edited by conon394; July 22, 2010 at 11:24 AM.
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    Default Re: Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

    Quote Originally Posted by conon394 View Post
    The racial purity is a non-need. Remeber the Roman republic more or less held it allies more or less to its side even it its darkest days (both internal to the res publica and allies like Rhodes or the Massailoits). The key is the Republic at theat time had a woking legal framework that was asscribed to by it citizens - Scipio was not going to march on the Senate after his victory.
    Oof course. Race does not even exist (correct me if I'm wrong), haplogroups however...
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    Default Re: Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

    internal wars like christians vs pagans
    economic crisis
    political chaos,bad leaders

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    Default Re: Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

    conquered by the Ottomans.

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    Default Re: Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

    Since we're all putting in our arm-chair 10 cents, I guess I will.

    The reasons are, first the general:
    -moral and civic disintegration
    -disintegrating political constitution, the creation of absolute monarchy, and the appearance of eunichs.

    And then, the immediate:
    -fiscal bankruptcy during the 4th century AD
    -the ever-ready endless streams of unbelievably hardy barbarians.
    Last edited by SigniferOne; July 22, 2010 at 12:35 PM.


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    Default Re: Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

    The empire really started it's decline in 285 A.D. when Alexander Severus died. For the next 50 years, 25 emperors ruled the empire. Which brings us to reason number 1, too many people were trying to gain control of the empire at the same time. To make things worse, the empire was under constant attack from barbarians tribes in the west and the sassanids in the east, which is reason 2. It was becoming impossible to defend both west and east at once, so the empire split.

    Theodosius became the last emperor to rule the entire empire. Soon, the empire was being overun by numerous barbarian tribes and in 476, when german mercenaries revolted and took Ravenna, the empire in the west fell.

    The Eastern Empire or, Byzantine Empire lasted for another 1000 years until in 1453 A.D. when the Ottomans took Constantinople.


    EDIT: wrote B.C. where I needed to write A.D.
    Last edited by Visiar; July 22, 2010 at 05:24 PM.




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    Default Re: Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

    Quote Originally Posted by SigniferOne View Post
    -moral and civic disintegration
    Great, so you are saying Republic politicians were less corrupted than Imperial politicians??
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    Default Re: Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

    Quote Originally Posted by SigniferOne View Post
    Since we're all putting in our arm-chair 10 cents, I guess I will.

    The reasons are, first the general:
    -moral and civic disintegration
    -disintegrating political constitution, the creation of absolute monarchy, and the appearance of eunichs.
    NOT AGAIN. If you ever managed to argue and provide some sort of evidence to support the view that moral decay was the reason for the fall of the western Empire, I will be convinced.

    Some reasons why SigOne's view doesn't even make sense:

    1. If moral and civic disintegration were the main reason why the Roman Empire fell, then this meant that the fall of the Empire can be prevented if the Romans could stop their moral disintegration.

    2. We have many examples of the Emperors and Romans actively working to ensure the survival of the Roman Empire, via codifications of laws, state sponsorship of higher education, active campaigning to prevent barbarians from crossing the borders of the Roman Empire and attempts to rebuild the army whenever they can despite the dwindling resources.

    3. This view totally ignores how the Eastern Roman Empire survived.

    4. SigOne has totally no clue about the sheer amount of research done that discredit his view as to why did the Roman Empire fell.

    Considering that the Eastern Empire survived for almost another millennia despite the so called moral and civic decay.

    The empire really started it's decline in 285 B.C. when Alexander Severus died. For the next 50 years, 25 emperors ruled the empire. Which brings us to reason number 1, too many people were trying to gain control of the empire at the same time. To make things worse, the empire was under constant attack from barbarians tribes in the west and the sassanids in the east, which is reason 2. It was becoming impossible to defend both west and east at once, so the empire split.
    I wonder how on earth did the Roman Empire recover from the crisis of the third century... Also, I don't recall 25 Emperors fighting for the rule of the Empire at the same time. Unless you are seriously telling me that Gordian III was still alive by the time Claudius Gothicus declared himself as an Emperor.

    Also, I highly doubt that Alexander Severus was even born in 285 B.C.


    Clearly someone who thinks he can answer a complex question with a simplistic answer and someone who doesn't even bothered to read about what the crisis of the third century is all about.



    If anything, I would argue that the reason why the Empire fell was because the challenges faced by the Empire from the third century onwards was far more greater than the problems faced by the early Empire.

    During the early Empire, the Romans wasn't facing large scale invasion on multiple front. There was no constant attacks on the frontier of the Roman Empire that required the Roman Emperor himself to be at the frontlines. Neither was there simultaneous attacks in Eastern and the Western parts of the Empire.

    One only has to look at the sure number of campaigns waged by the Romans against the Goths to understand how much more difficultly it is to hold an Empire together during the late Empire.

    Also, note the sheer number of barbarians migrating and pushing into the Roman Empire. The Gallic field army for instance, has suffered devastating loss trying to prevent the barbarians incursion into Gaul, with numerous units being destroyed in the process.

    I would like to see how well can the early Roman Empire hold against such odds as compared to the later Roman Empire. Given the circumstances faced by the Roman Empire from the third century onwards, I think it is remarkable that the Roman Empire managed to survive for so long. I highly doubt that any other Empire in their shoes would even hold on for so long.



    Quote Originally Posted by Boyar Son View Post
    Here I go:


    - Constant Roman civil warring in the 3rd century and onwards which drew soldiers away from the front to fight other Roman soldiers, and weakening the Roman army long enough for raiders/invaders to cross and plunder while armies and generals were away.
    Only if you ignore how did most rebellion during the 3rd century began. Generals and army rebel when they see an Emperor not being able to have a proper presence in the areas that was invaded. Generals don't suddenly decide that they should be an Emperor without any proper reason.


    - Complete Roman willingness to cooperate with foreign tribes/kings to fight other Romans to increase their power to eventually become the emperor when his rival Roman was dead. Of course the dues and payement given to the foreign armies (such as land and money) that was given to them for their service in the civil war...made their presence inside Roman lands much more permanent.
    Which wasn't even a big issue that cause the decline of the Roman Empire, given that the Romans recovered from the crisis of the third century, and secondly, the usage of barbarians in the Roman army weren't even a problem during the third century.

    If you are talking about the barbarians and their influence over the Roman Empire during the fifth century, you must not forget that the Western Romans did tried to rebuild their army, only to discover that they simply don't have the finance to build up an army of their own. Over-reliance on the foederati only took place when the Romans find it hard to rebuild any units that was lost during all those wars.




    On the second reason, note how 99% Romans in the second Punic war were completely unwilling to join Hannibal to gain power in Roman politics unlike in the later empire. My conclusion? TRUE ROMANS, VALUES, MORALS, AND RACIAL PURITY /sorry
    Well, given that Hannibal main aim was to sway the allies of the Romans over and the Romans know that they have nothing to gain by joining Hannibal, I fail to find any reason why the circumstances are even similar.

    Also, there wasn't any members that joined the barbarians in return for power. The Gallic-Roman aristocracy sided with several barbarian kings who was already part of the Roman Empire, and most of those barbarian kings are official representative of the Roman Empire in certain regions.

    Hence, there isn't anything wrong with working with someone that is given official titles by the Roman Empire himself.
    Last edited by ray243; July 22, 2010 at 02:58 PM.

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    Default Re: Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

    @ray

    You rebuttal, but make a clear point that I may respond properly or we'll just go in circles.

    Only if you ignore how did most rebellion during the 3rd century began. Generals and army rebel when they see an Emperor not being able to have a proper presence in the areas that was invaded. Generals don't suddenly decide that they should be an Emperor without any proper reason.
    who's talking about how rebellions began? I was talking about how Romans suffered raids that in time grew larger and more numerous because of a lack of troops to properly defend. This caused by civil wars or maybe desertion. why bring what you said up?

    Which wasn't even a big issue that cause the decline of the Roman Empire, given that the Romans recovered from the crisis of the third century,
    Not a big issue? are you saying this for the sake of just disagreeing with me? and look how far you take "recovered". the romans never found a cure for the civil wars and rebelling generals, this continued till the end of the western empire, and several emperors you can name that brought great peace came about just because of a civil war. Zenobia challenged Rome, the gallic empire split also. Large areas of land that have modern-day individual countries in them seceded from the empire. barbarian kings were rewarded with titles, tribes with allowance to settle large areas which caused the Roman empire to lose even more land because of their payment to foreign armies assisting them in civil wars. Please ray, civil war was a big problem, why discuss it? it's undeniable.

    When you say recovery, I KNOW you mean short peace under a powerful emperor. When his majesty dies...well you know the rest.

    If you are talking about the barbarians and their influence over the Roman Empire during the fifth century, you must not forget that the Western Romans did tried to rebuild their army, only to discover that they simply don't have the finance to build up an army of their own. Over-reliance on the foederati only took place when the Romans find it hard to rebuild any units that was lost during all those wars.
    I was talking about how some barbarian tribes were appeased with money and land later on, some given for their service. Thus Romans losing/giving away chunks of their empire after certain civil wars, that's all. The Romans didn't lose land everytime there was a civil war, but it was clear during that time Rome was weak and open to attack which could only be handled on a local level until an emperor was decided.

    Well, given that Hannibal main aim was to sway the allies of the Romans over and the Romans know that they have nothing to gain by joining Hannibal, I fail to find any reason why the circumstances are even similar.

    Also, there wasn't any members that joined the barbarians in return for power. The Gallic-Roman aristocracy sided with several barbarian kings who was already part of the Roman Empire, and most of those barbarian kings are official representative of the Roman Empire in certain regions.

    Hence, there isn't anything wrong with working with someone that is given official titles by the Roman Empire himself.
    Both times the Romans found themselves attacked by a dangerous opponent. 2nd punic war the Romans were unified against a foreign enemy. later empire, different romans enlisted foreign tribes/kings to fight other romans. both situations brought power in roman politics if they won. key difference being, Romans later on were willing to fight Romans for direct control of the empire while their republican counter-parts never dreamed of siding with hannibal to gain a permanent consulship or dictator position. Usually in the princeps era and dominate era, campaigns againt foreign opponents came after defeating the Roman rival. Republican era, defeating a non-roman opponent was essential in climbing the ladder to consulship.
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    Default Re: Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

    The constant barbarian invasions and Rome's inability to deal with them decisively, combined with the political strife and the civil wars.

    And the Jews.

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    Default Re: Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

    Quote Originally Posted by Boyar Son View Post
    @ray

    You rebuttal, but make a clear point that I may respond properly or we'll just go in circles.

    who's talking about how rebellions began? I was talking about how Romans suffered raids that in time grew larger and more numerous because of a lack of troops to properly defend. This caused by civil wars or maybe desertion. why bring what you said up?
    Mainly because I thought you were trying to argue that the pulling back of troops is the cause of the barbarian invasion to begin. My view is that the civil wars were a symptom of the invasions, not the other way around.

    Not a big issue? are you saying this for the sake of just disagreeing with me? and look how far you take "recovered". the romans never found a cure for the civil wars and rebelling generals, this continued till the end of the western empire, and several emperors you can name that brought great peace came about just because of a civil war. Zenobia challenged Rome, the gallic empire split also. Large areas of land that have modern-day individual countries in them seceded from the empire. barbarian kings were rewarded with titles, tribes with allowance to settle large areas which caused the Roman empire to lose even more land because of their payment to foreign armies assisting them in civil wars. Please ray, civil war was a big problem, why discuss it? it's undeniable.
    Because the Romans has recovered from civil wars numerous times, and there is also the fact that Eastern Roman Empire continued to experience civil wars and yet still managed to survive for almost 1,000 years after the fall of the western Empire.


    When you say recovery, I KNOW you mean short peace under a powerful emperor. When his majesty dies...well you know the rest.
    What short peace? I highly doubt that you can say that the reign of Diocletian and Constantine to be short.

    I was talking about how some barbarian tribes were appeased with money and land later on, some given for their service. Thus Romans losing/giving away chunks of their empire after certain civil wars, that's all. The Romans didn't lose land everytime there was a civil war, but it was clear during that time Rome was weak and open to attack which could only be handled on a local level until an emperor was decided.
    I don't recall any incident where the Romans gave away their lands to the barbarians after a civil war.

    Both times the Romans found themselves attacked by a dangerous opponent. 2nd punic war the Romans were unified against a foreign enemy. later empire, different romans enlisted foreign tribes/kings to fight other romans. both situations brought power in roman politics if they won. key difference being, Romans later on were willing to fight Romans for direct control of the empire while their republican counter-parts never dreamed of siding with hannibal to gain a permanent consulship or dictator position. Usually in the princeps era and dominate era, campaigns againt foreign opponents came after defeating the Roman rival. Republican era, defeating a non-roman opponent was essential in climbing the ladder to consulship.
    And that never happened towards the end of the Republic? Non-Romans troops were used by the various generals in the civil wars.

    Also, I don't recall the campaigns of Trajan happening as a result of defeating a rival ( Given that there wasn't a rival to begin with). Furthermore, what does that got to do with the fall of the Roman Empire?


    Assuming that your theory is the right reason for why the Western Roman Empire fell, how are you going to explain how the Eastern Roman Empire managed to survive based on your theory?

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    Default Re: Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

    I wonder how on earth did the Roman Empire recover from the crisis of the third century... Also, I don't recall 25 Emperors fighting for the rule of the Empire at the same time. Unless you are seriously telling me that Gordian III was still alive by the time Claudius Gothicus declared himself as an Emperor.

    Also, I highly doubt that Alexander Severus was even born in 285 B.C.
    Rome never fully recovered from the Crisis of the Third Century.

    I never said 25 emperors fighting to rule at the same time. I said for 50 years between 235 and 285 A.D. 25 emperors reigned.

    I didn't say he was born in 285 B.C.




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    Default Re: Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

    Quote Originally Posted by hellheaven1987 View Post
    Great, so you are saying Republic politicians were less corrupted than Imperial politicians??
    Nobody mentioned just the politicians. This is as much about the common average people. If we compare the Early Empire with the Late Empire, the entire court was completely corrupted by eunichs and the countryside was ravaged by tax farmers. Common people on the street were indolent, lost all religion, lacked any of the Roman patriotism and were lukewarm about serving in the military, about rooting out governmental corruption, etc.

    But if we compare Late Empire with the Republic, yes many of the Late Republican politicians and people were similarly deeply corrupt. That's why it collapsed.


    Quote Originally Posted by ray243 View Post
    1. If moral and civic disintegration were the main reason why the Roman Empire fell, then this meant that the fall of the Empire can be prevented if the Romans could stop their moral disintegration.
    Where did I say it was the main reason? As far as I'm aware I listed 4 reasons, and there didn't have to be a main one among them.



    2. We have many examples of the Emperors and Romans actively working to ensure the survival of the Roman Empire, via codifications of laws, state sponsorship of higher education, active campaigning to prevent barbarians from crossing the borders of the Roman Empire and attempts to rebuild the army whenever they can despite the dwindling resources.
    Yet those examples are dwarfed by the machinations of eunichs, the overwhelming delinquency of the aristocrats, and catastrophic shortage of native common Romans in the Roman army.
    Last edited by SigniferOne; July 22, 2010 at 05:33 PM.


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    Default Re: Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

    In truth, the Empire was a victim of its own sucess.
    The maintenance/preservation of the empire was a massive military exercise which had political and economic ramifications. Three centuries in decline (in the west) before it fell absolutely.

    That said, regarding the portray of Roman decadence, read Tacitus, AD 100, (1) and Ammianus, AD 370 (2)

    (1) Tacitus in his Germania warned that the moral virtues ans their simple lyfestile was creating a warrior enemy that the licentious Romans would be unable to resist: " In every home the children go naked and dirty, and develop that strenght of limb and tall stature which excites our admiration"
    (2) Ammianus, sounded a similar warning in his portray of Roman decadence, 40 years before Alaric sacked Rome, about the deliquency in Rome (the rich and the poor, c. AD 370)
    Brief excerpts:
    Deliquency, the rich and the common people:

    "Some men distinguished (as they think) by famous fornames, pride themselves beyond measure in being called...and many other equally fine-sounding indications of eminent ancestry..others resplendent in silken garments, as thoug they were to be led to death..when such men, each attended by fifty servants...their houses are frequented by idle chatterboxes..parasites..comparing them with the heros of old...some of them hate learning as they as they do poison and read with attentive care only Juvenal and Marius Maximus, in their boundless idleness handling no other books than these...but the height of refinement with these men at present is, that it is better for a stranger to kill any man´s brother than to decline his invitation to dinner...some of them, if they make a longish journey to visit their estates, or to hunt by the labours of others, think they have equalled the marches of Alexander or of Caesar...some of them shrink from the name of gamblers, and therefore desire to be called rather tesserarii,persons who differe from each other as much as thieves from brigands...As Cicero says " They know nothing on earth that is good unless it brings gains. Of their friends, as of their cattle, they love those best from whom they hope to get the greates profit..so much for the Senate"
    " Let us turn to the idle and slothful commons...they spend their life with wine and dice, in low haunts, pleasures, and the games. Their temple, their dwelling their assembly and the height of all their hopes is the Circus Maximus"
    ---
    That much of the Roman population had slipped in delinquency is unquestionable, the upper classes in particular. This delinquency had also an effect in on political moral, because the aristocracy largely withdrew from publical life.
    The later Roman empire, in other words, was a bankrput militarized state, a parasitic aristocracy and a hostile peasantry; significant parts of the empire ceased to be Roman at all, as barbarians tribes settled under official imperial approval and then without no approval at all. (for instance, Geiseric)
    Some of the "barrack" emperors were sucessful in temporarely defeating the Germanic invaders (for instance, Gallienus) but they were unable to achieve a decisive victory, probably because they had always one eye on attempted/actual usurpations by rival generals.
    As Ammianus commented " What fury of foreign peoples, what barbarian cruelty can be compared with the harm done by civil wars?"

    The East Empire, when the West Empire fell, carried on business for another 1000 years; some of the enemies were paid off in tons of gold ( ex,Attila); unlike the western epire, the eastern empire had a short land frontier to defend; after garrisoning the lower Danube, it could turn its attentions to Asia; any seaborne invasion was almost impossible.
    It seems to me that Justianian was the last truly decent Roman emperor -although Justinian´s reign wasn´t entirely glorious - aided by Belisarius, he reconquered much of the old Roman empire and he created the codification of the Roman law. But all of those who occupied the throne in Byzantium after him spoke another language -they spoke greek.

  18. #18
    Exarch's Avatar Praefectus Castrorum
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    Default Re: Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

    Quote Originally Posted by bushbush View Post
    A simple question --- How did one of the greatest empires in history go from this:



    To this:

    According to Gibbon, it was because they strayed from the spartanesque Roman way of life and adopted a hedonistic worship of Slaanesh, so like the Eldar before them, Rome fell because of too many donkey shows.

  19. #19
    Manuel I Komnenos's Avatar Rex Regum
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    Default Re: Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

    The Praetorian Guard..
    Under the patronage of Emperor Maximinus Thrax
    "Steps to be taken in case Russia should be forced out of war considered. Various movements [of ] troops to and from different fronts necessary to meeting possible contingencies discussed. Conference also weighed political, economic, and moral effect both upon Central and Allied powers under most unfavorable aspect from Allied point of view. General conclusions reached were necessity for adoption of purely defensive attitude on all secondary fronts and withdrawing surplus troops for duty on western front. By thus strengthening western front [those attending] believed Allies could hold until American forces arrive in numbers sufficient to gain ascendancy."
    ~General Pershing, report to Washington, 26 July 1917

  20. #20
    Shadowcry's Avatar Sōkō no yari
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    Default Re: Causes for the collapse of the Roman Empire

    Muslims obviously~
    or Asian Hordes both awesome answers.

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