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The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


Title: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Author: Schmid.Laurie Last modified by: Home Created Date: 2/10/2008 11:12:29 PM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
The Roman Empire at its Height
  • The Roman Empire became huge
  • It covered most of Europe, North Africa, and some
    of Asia
  • The Empire reached its height under Emperor
    Diocletian (284-305 CE)

Expansion Good or Bad?
  • What are some problems that an empire or country
    might have by being stretched out too far?

The Decline Begins
  • 180 CE Marcus Aurelius died
  • His son, Commodus, took control of Rome
  • Commodus was a poor leader, killed by his
  • Time of disarray follows

Commodus from the movie Gladiator
Economic Troubles
  • Decline begins after the pax romana in 3rd
  • Invaders made trade unsafe on sea and on roads
  • The rich spent gold and silver on luxury items
    from Asia which drained Rome of these precious
  • Rome began making coins with less silver which
    caused inflation.

Economic Problems
  • Farmers lost land, unable to grow and sell crops,
    out of work (and famine)
  • People bought fewer goods, shops closed
  • Inflation occurred Rapidly rising prices. Money
    lost value because fewer taxes paid.
  • Coins lost value Less gold put in, people found
    out (caused inflation)
  • Bartering grew sell goods without using money
  • No taxes, no money

Economic Troubles
  • Inflation is a drastic drop in the value of money
    coupled with rising prices for items.
  • Agriculture decreased because of infertile soil,
    and farmland destroyed by war.
  • Food shortages
  • Spread of disease

Military Troubles
  • Germanic tribes were invading Rome
  • Soldiers no longer had discipline or loyalty to
  • Soldiers had loyalty only to their commanders,
    who fought not for Rome, but to try to become the
  • To defend Rome, mercenaries were recruited
    foreign soldiers who fought for money.

Military Problems
  • Military only in it for money (mercenaries)
  • No money to pay military weak military
  • Constant threat of invaders on empires borders
  • Weak military, unable to stop border invasions

Political Problems
  • Poor leaders weakened the government
  • Frequent fights for power
  • Many officials took bribes
  • Talented people chose not to serve due to dangers
    of government life

Political Troubles
  • Troubles in the empire made citizens lose
    patriotism for Rome
  • Being a political official was no longer thought
    to be an honor
  • Few people wanted to serve in the government
  • Out of 26 generals who became emperors, 25 met
    violent deaths.

Social Problems
  • Taxes were too great, many rich people stopped
  • People stopped attending school
  • Large number of people enslaved
  • Plague (disease) spread throughout Rome, killing
    1 in 10
  • Famine There was not enough food to feed people

  • 284 CE, Diocletian became emperor
  • Tried reforms (political changes)
  • Set price limits (if a person went beyond limits,
    put to death) and ordered workers to stay in jobs
    to death

Temporary Help
  • Diocletian in A.D. 284 became a strong leader
  • He doubled the Roman armies and hired German
  • Persecuted Christians
  • He divided the Roman empire into 2 sides
  • East Greek speaking
  • West Latin speaking
  • He took over the East, but Civil war broke out
    after his death

Dividing the Empire
  • Diocletian felt that the only way to save the
    empire was to divide it in half
  • Created two empires Western and Eastern
  • Western Empire Europe/ North Africa and city of
  • Eastern Empire Turkey/ Asia and city of
  • Two emperors, emperor in charge of Rome was senior

  • Took over the West part of the empire in A.D. 312
  • Moved the capital to a strategic location in
    Greece in the East in Byzantium and renamed it
  • He accepted Christianity

  • Rome continued to decline
  • Constantine moved the capital from Rome to city
    of Byzantium
  • City name changed to Constantinople (today is

Rome invaded
  • Western Empire unable to hold off German tribes
    on its borders
  • Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Franks, Vandals, Saxons
  • German tribes wanted warmer area, Roman riches,
    and to flee the Huns

  • Rome agreed to allow the Visigoths to live inside
    of Roman boundaries
  • Romans treated Visigoths badly
  • Visigoths rebelled and defeated the Romans
  • Visigoth leader, Alaric, captured Rome in 410 CE

  • Vandals followed Visigoths and spent 12 days
    stripping Rome of valuables (vandalism)
  • Many more German invaders followed
  • Finally, a German general named Odoacer defeated
    the western emperor Romulus Augustulus (14 years
    old, little Augustus)

The West Falls
  • The west faced worse problems than the east that
    was far from invaders
  • From A.D. 376 to 476, huge numbers of Germanic
    tribes poured into Rome to get away from the
    fierce Huns
  • Attila the Hun was a powerful chieftain who
    swept through the west

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The West Falls
  • Attila negotiated with Pope Leo I and withdrew
  • He died in 453 and was no longer a threat
  • Germanic tribes continued to invade and finally
    the west was no longer Rome
  • But the Eastern Roman empire will continue as the
    Byzantine Empire that will preserve Greek and
    Roman heritage.

The Fall
  • Romulus Augustulus was defeated in 476 CE
  • For this reason, this date is given as the fall
    of the Western Roman Empire
  • Western Empire was divided into many kingdoms
    that adopted many of the customs of Rome

Eastern Roman Empire
  • Although the Western Empire fell in 476 CE, the
    Eastern Roman Empire continued to prosper for
    1,000 more years
  • Became known as the Byzantine Empire