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 The Fall of Rome

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The Great LEO

The Great LEO

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The Fall of Rome Empty
PostSubject: The Fall of Rome   The Fall of Rome EmptyWed Apr 14, 2010 4:21 am

[font:93eb=&quot]The Roman Empire of the fourth century AD
extended entirely around the basin of the Mediterranean Sea, including modern
Turkey, Israel, Egypt, and North Africa. Modern France (called Gaul) and modern
Spain and Portugal (Iberia) were entirely Roman. Modern England was Roman, but
modern Scotland and Ireland were barbarian (non-Roman, or noncivilized). The
northern borders of the empire were the Rhine and Danube Rivers. The lands
north of these rivers were occupied by a variety of tribes of Scandinavian origin
that the Romans called the Germans.[/font]





[font:93eb=&quot]Rome was engaged in border skirmishes
with the tribes north of the great European rivers. Strong emperors
occasionally extended the empire over the rivers while weak emperors tended to
lose those lands. The largest organized rival of the Romans was the Persian
Empire to the east, occupying modern Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The
Persians were the political descendants of the Parthians who had revolted away
from Greek rule following Alexander's conquests and thereafter resisted
successfully Roman invasions.[/font]





[font:93eb=&quot]The Romans had existed as an important
power for over 1000 years. They had brought stability, prosperity, and order to
the civilized West. Excellent roads connected the far reaches of the empire
with the capital at Rome. These were built originally for military purposes but
improved all communications and trade. Roman law kept the internal peace and 20
to 30 Roman legions defended the frontiers.[/font]





[font:93eb=&quot]All was not perfect, however. Emperors
held absolute authority. This worked well with good emperors, but incompetent
ones could do great harm. The rules for succession to the throne were never
clear, and debilitating civil wars often resulted. The bureaucracy that managed
the empire on a daily basis grew more corrupt, increasing the dissatisfaction
of the common citizen. The wealth of the empire gradually concentrated in the
hands of a minority while a large slave population did most of the work. The
borders of the empire were immense and put a strain on military resources
(500,000 soldiers defended a frontier that required 3 million or more to be
secure). Roman conquests had ceased in the second century AD, bringing an end
to massive inflows of plunder and slaves. Taxes increased and production fell
as the workforce declined. A plague may have killed 20 percent of the empire's
population in the third and fourth centuries, further reducing trade and
production.[/font]





[font:93eb=&quot]In the late third century, the Roman
Empire was split into eastern and western halves in an attempt to make for easier
rule and better control. In 323 Constantine became emperor after a civil war
and established his eastern capital at Byzantium, which he renamed
Constantinople. During the next century the eastern and western parts of the
empire gradually established separate identities, although nominally the same
empire. These identities were partially due to the different pressures brought
to bear on them from the outside and the local culture. The Western Empire was
predominately Latin; the Eastern Empire was predominately Greek (although they
referred to themselves as Romans). The Eastern Empire survived the cataclysm of
the third and fourth centuries because it had a larger population (70 percent
of the empire's total), better emperors, more money, and a far better army and
navy.[/font]
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