The Fall of the Roman Empire
The crumble of the Roman Empire came after a reign of close to 500 years as the world’s supreme superpower (Gibbon 46). This fall has over the years been attributed by some historians to numerous, distinctive factors, ranging from the fall of the armed forces and tax wipe out to uncontrollable distractive forces of nature as well as the dynamism of the environment. Other historians opine that the fall of the Roman Empire did not fully transpire in 476 A.D. because of the fact that half of the eastern part of the Roman Empire carried on with its power for extra thousand more years under the Byzantine Empire (Gibbon 67). However, while the topics of how and when continue to be the main focus of contention, there still remain key factors that detail the factors that led to the disintegration of the Roman Empire. Therefore, this research paper explicates several key factors alleged to have been the sole reasons behind the crumble down of what was the world history regard as the greatest renowned empires of all time.
Indeed, the Roman’s armed forces faced a lot of opposition from numerous outside forces mainly contributed by the sustained defeats from invasion by the Barbarian tribes. These invasions were spearheaded by the animosity that existed between them and the Germanic tribes (Pelikan 21). These defeats lead to increased encroachments of these tribes such as the Goths into the Empire’s heartbeat. Despite the weathering of numerous uprising inside the empire by these tribes, it was not long before it was dismissed by the Visigoth King Alaric in 410 A.D. As if this was not enough, the Eternal City was under siege, and this time, it was under the Empire was under the mercy of the Vandals in 455 A.D. (Gibbon 81). These constant threats lead to the Empire’s final deathblow in 476 A.D. when the Germanic ruler Odoacer successfully staged an insurrection that saw Emperor Romulus Augustulus toppled over and never again did any Roman emperor rise to rule.
The second factor leading to this fall involved the numerous economic problems caused by expansion, military reckless spending, and excessive dependence on labor supplied by slaves. The Empire’s inability to manage outside forces was amplified by the growing economic crisis due to reckless spending by the military who constantly engaged in wars (Harper 173). Besides, major financial difficulties came as a result of inflation as well as oppressive taxation, which widened the gap between the rich and the poor. Additionally, excessive dependence on labor supplied by slaves created more problems to the already devastated Empire when it finally dawned on them that its supply of slaves who provided labor in the battlefield and craftsmanship as well as tilling their lands was slowly diminishing. This meant that, the Empire’s ability to sustain its commercial and agricultural production was also crippled and could no longer exercise full control of its territories. With such a great reputation, the Empire sought to expand its territory such as the Atlantic Ocean up to the Euphrates River, which led to its inability to fully assume its managerial and logistical roles (Gibbon 102). This was further increased by military overspending who were deployed to fight in and outside across different parts of Europe.
Thirdly, the fall of the Empire became obvious after corruption attacked the government from almost all corners of its officials coupled with political instability, which came as a result of inconsistent and ineffective leadership strategy increasing the Empire’s inability to manage and control internal and external revolts. There were numerous political chaos augmented by civil wars, which saw different emperors take the throne within a short span of time and this came after bloody fights that often claimed lives of many (Pelikan 59). The rot in the government and ineptitude that defined the then Roman leadership lead to the loss of public trust on the Roman Empire and thus leading to the ultimate failure. The spread of Christianity and rise of other new faith lead to the erosion of traditional values, which consequently increased the inability of the Roman Empire to continue its rule. For instance, the polytheistic Roman religion that glorified the state and held the view that the Roman emperor belonged to a divine class was displaced, and most of their beliefs were slowly washed away by Christianity (Harper 169). Consequently, most influential Christian leaders become constantly involved in political affairs, which advance more political nightmares for the Empire to control.
Lastly, the rise of the Western Roman Empire after the division of the Roman Empire into two separate empires namely, the Western and the Eastern Empires contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire (Harper 202). This was because of the fact that, these two empires failed to work together and became at loggerheads with each other over military help and share of resources. This made them unable to repel any outside forces against them leading to their final downfall.
In conclusion, this paper has clearly given facts and explicated several reasons behind the fall of the Roman Empire. The paper underscores key factors with regard to how and when they transpired leading to the ultimate fall of one of the greatest world superpower.
Gibbon, E. (2015). The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. New York : Delmarva Publications, Inc.
Harper, K. (2012). Climate Change during and after the Roman Empire: Reconstructing the Past from Scientific and Historical Evidence. Journal of Interdisciplinary History , 169-220.
Pelikan, J. (2014). The Excellent Empire: The Fall of Rome and the Triumph of the Church. Chicago: Wipf and Stock Publishers.