The Fall Of The Roman Empire
The Roman Empire is known as one of the, if the not the, greatest empires in history. The sheer size and manpower of the empire made it a force to be reckoned with. However, even with all its success, it eventually fell due to many factors. The fall of the Roman Empire is still an interesting topic of debate and research for historians to this day; many use the end days of the empire as a blue print for modern failed states.
Decline of the Empire
Many attribute the start of the decline of the empire with the assassination of Emperor Commodus, which commenced the year of the five emperors, which engulfed the empire in a fierce civil war as five claimants title of emperor battled it out.
Another reason that historians believe contributed to the fall of the empire was its split into two parts; a Western Empire and an Eastern Empire in 284 AD. This was due to the vast area that the Roman Empire was now governing, and it made it a logistical nightmare to effectively enforce rules and keep invaders at bay. However this created much friction and division, as the two empires were largely uncooperative, and in fact fought amongst themselves for resources.
One major area, which accelerated the demise of the Roman Empire, was its reliance on slave labour. During its early years, war booty and those enslaved as a consequence of war brought huge amounts of wealth to the empire through the slave trade. Over the centuries the empire almost entirely depended on slave labour to work in the fields and for craftsmen. However, due to the already vast area the empire covered, constant expansion grinded to a halt in the second century, which severely hampered the empire’s economy. High taxation was introduced to offset the effects but this was not helpful, as much of the rich avoided paying it, which further dampened the empire’s economy.
Perhaps the biggest reason for the decline of the Empire was the sustained attacks on its borders by Barbarian Tribes. As the Roman Empire grew, more outsiders and Barbarians were introduced into the army, whereas before only the citizens of Rome were allowed to be enlisted. These new soldiers usually had no loyalty to the empire itself, but rather, to individual commanders which many argue weakened the army, as it led to a loss of rigour and discipline which made the Roman army so successful in the past. Eventually the Roman Empire suffered many strings of defeats to Barbarian armies and the city of Rome finally fell in 476, effectively ending the Western Roman Empire. However, the Eastern Empire continued for another millennium.
The fall of the Roman Empire is of great interest to historians, and the factors and their significance contributing to the fall are still fiercely debated amongst academics. Many say that the fall of the Empire should be studied as to not repeat the mistakes.