The fall of the Roman Empire came after five centuries as the world’s greatest Kingdom. There have been hundreds of reasons and factors that brought about the decline of the Empire. Its fall remains a subject of debate yet the reasons for the disintegration of the kingdom are well known. Some of them include the below-named.
One of the reasons for the fall was the Kingdom’s military losses to foreign attacks. The barbarian tribes were at constant war with the Roman Empire for years. These battles included neighboring kingdoms and tribes like the Germanic and Gothic tribes (Winkler, 2012, p. 1-50).
One other cause for the decline of the Kingdom was Political Corruption in leadership as well as the Praetorian Guard (Gibbon and Timson, 2016). The Praetorian Guard’s power, the elite soldiers that made up the Emperor’s bodyguard, brought about high corruption in the Empire’s political system and rose to the extent that the soldiers themselves had the sole decision on who ought to become the next emperor.
The Empire’s fall can also be attributed to Constant Wars as well as lots of spending by the military. Endless wars required that the army spends heavily. The Roman army started becoming over-stretched and expected to increase its numbers. Other tribes that had been conquered by Rome also joined the Roman Army (Womersley, 2014, p. 39-40).
In the time of the Roman Empire, there were civil wars, foreign wars, street wars, revolts, fires as well as natural disasters such as earthquakes, famines, plagues among others. These weakened the Empire by a significant bit through the destruction of property and deaths.
Loss of Traditional Values and the Rise of Christianity
The fall of Rome was also brought about by the spread of Christianity as well as moral decay and the loss of traditional cultural values. Some people reason that the rise of Christianity as a new faith largely contributed to the fall of the empire (Winkler, 2012, p. 1-50). The Edict of Milan legally allowed Christianity in Rome in the year 313 which later turned out to be the religion of the state 380. This brought about an end to years of Christian persecution, but also silently eroded the traditional Roman culture, beliefs, and values system.
Christianity was a replacement to the polytheistic Roman culture and religion, which gave the emperor a divine status. Christianity shifted focus from the state’s glory and placed it onto one God. Nevertheless, church leaders and popes took heightened roles in the state’s political system, which further complicated administration and governance. While Christianity may never have played a significant role towards curbing the civic virtue of Rome, many scholars have argued that its influence was also noted in economic, military, as well as administration(Mitchell, 2015).
Moral decay and promiscuous sexual conduct such as orgies and adultery, tied to Christianity also brought about the fall of the Empire. Emperors like Tiberius had groups of some young boys to please himself. The incestuous Nero was responsible for the castration of a male slave so that he could have him as his wife. Commodus together with his concubines stirred up wrath in Romans when he sat in the games or theatre dressed in feminine garments. Moral decay also affected the slaves and the lower class people.
Some religious festivals like Bacchanalia and Saturnalia and Bacchanalia were where all evil sacrifices, sexual promiscuity and inhuman acts took place. Sexually explicit acts and bestiality were also exhibited in the Colosseum arena to please the mob (Gibbon and Timson, 2016). Forced prostitution and Brothels flourished in the era. There was also massive alcoholism as well as cruelty towards man and animals. The loss of moral values tied to the introduction of Christianity happened to be the greatest factor for the fall of the empire, and this is well known to this day.
Gibbon, Edward, and David Timson. The Decline and fall of the Roman Empire: Volume Iv. 2016.
Mitchell, Stephen. A History of the Later Roman Empire, Ad 284-641. 2015.
Winkler, Martin M. “A Critical Appreciation of the fall of the Roman Empire.” The fall of the Roman Empire, 2012, pp. 1-50.
Womersley, David. “The Decline and fall of the Roman Empire.” The Transformation of the Decline and fall of the Roman Empire, 2014, pp. 39-40.