The Fall of the Roman Empire

 Most of the historians believe that Roman Empire finished when Germanic leader Odoacer defeated the last Roam Emperor Romulus Augustus in 476 AD to become the first King of Italy.

However, some historians believe that Roman Empire did not fall in 476 AD, as the Eastern Roman Empire continued to exist for another 1000 years after that known as the Byzantine Empire. The term ‘Fall of Roman Empire’ usually refers to the fall of Western Roman Empire and it started in the 3rd century BC. due to different reasons:

  • Menace of Barbaric Tribes: Rome fought barbaric tribes like Goths, Vandals and Germans for many years and kept them under control. However, during the 3rd century BC empire military defeats against these tribes weakened the empire. These tribes slowly entered inside Roman territory and in 410 AD, Goths under the command of King Alaric, ransacked the city of Rome. However, it was not until Germanic military leader, Odoacer, defeated Romulus Augustus in 476 AD and became the King of Italy when the fall of Western Roman Empire took place.

  • Slave Trade paralyzation: Roman economy depended on slaves as they served their masters in their homes as well as worked in the fields, mines and mills of the empire. Roman military was the largest source of acquiring these slaves. As soon as the expansion of Roman Empire ended, this supply of slaves dried up. This affected negatively the economy of Rome because there was a sharp decrease in agricultural and industrial production due to lack of workers.

  • Division of Empire: Roman Emperor Diocletian divided the empire in eastern and western part in 285 AD. The step was taken to make the administration easier. It however differences between Eastern and Western parts of the empire and these internal problems weakened mainly the western part of the Empire.

  • Weakened Roman Military: Roman military owed its greatness to its legions. As the empire expanded, the demand for recruiting more soldiers increased. This demand could not be met by recruiting Roman citizens only so Roman commanders had to recruit Gauls, Goths, Thracians and Germans.  Non Roman soldiers defied their superiors so their actions eroded the discipline of legions and their ability to win wars which contributed to the fall of empire.

  • Rise of Christianity: The adoption of Christianity as the state religion in late 4th century AD, affected the values on which Roman Empire had such as the fact of Roman religion viewed emperor as God. Christianity ended this and traditional values were lost.
  • Political Instability: Internal conflicts and political instability weakened the empire from inside. The fights for succession pushed the empire into crisis. This instability gave enemies the chance to make territorial gains.


The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire 





questionnaire on falling of rome


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