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The Decline of the Roman Empire


The Decline of the Roman Empire How could this mighty empire come to an end? Was it the corruption of the government? Was it economic collapse? – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Decline of the Roman Empire

The Decline of the Roman Empire
How could this mighty empire come to an end?
  • Was it the corruption of the government?
  • Was it economic collapse?
  • Was it the invasion of the Huns?
  • All of the above.
  • The decline happened slowly over centuries, from
    200 -476 A.D.

Political Problems
  • After 180 A.D., Pax Romana ended. Violence
    corruption took over as weak emperors bankrupted
    the government.
  • 28 emperors ruled from 192 to 284 A.D. (only 92
    yrs). Most were killed off.
  • During this political disorder, Roman legions
    fought each other instead of defending the
  • This warfare disrupted trade. Food shortages,
    high costs and unemployment began. (economic

  • Romans used to get money by conquering new
    lands. As the Roman empire stopped expanding, no
    new sources of gold and silver were coming in.
  • Money was needed to maintain the huge empire.
  • Army
  • Buildings Roads
  • To cope with the economic problems, the gov.
    minted new coins made of cheaper copper tin
    instead of silver gold, so the value decreased,
    causing inflation.
  • What is inflation? It is an increase in prices
    caused by a decrease in value of a currency.

Two good Emperors
  • These emperors stalled the collapse of the empire
    for about 200 years until 476 A.D.
  • Diocletian held off invading barbarian tribes
    created a co-emperor. He froze prices (penalty
    for breaking this law was death). He forced
    people to stay in their jobs forever.
  • Constantine the first Christian emperor. He
    created an eastern capital named Constantinople
    (today Istanbul in Turkey) a good trading port.
    Forced sons to take the same job as their father.
    He allowed landowners to chain workers to keep
    them on the farm.
  • In 395 A.D. the empire was officially split in

Constantine had divided the empire in half, each
ruled by a co-emperor, with the eastern emperor
in Constantinople as the senior partner
The two halves would gradually drift apart and
become, by 395, basically independent political
Fatal development for the West 65 of all revenue
came from the East but 66 of the entire army was
stationed in the West
Result was horrible and insoluble financial
crisis in the West Troops went unpaid, supplies
could not be purchased, bribes could not be paid
to barbarian chiefs, etc.
Division of the Empire into two independent
halves left the Western half very weak and
vulnerablejust as the Germans were renewing
their attacks on the frontier again
  • Migrated out of Scandinavia and northeastern
    Russia 500 BC
  • Since the start of the Roman Empire, Romans and
    German barbarians influenced each other, mostly
    through trade.
  • Germans began to enlist in the Roman army in the
    3rd century AD

  • Huns forced huge German migration
  • Nomadic people from Gobi Desert
  • Expert horsemen
  • Tried to invade China around 370 AD and were
  • Then turned westward and ultimately entered
    northern Europe
  • Terrorized German tribes who lived there
  • Germans migrated south to escape them

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  • Around 400 AD, entire tribes (Ostrogoths,
    Visogoths, Huns, Vandals) began to move into the
    empire simultaneously.
  • Capturing huge chunks of territory, settling
    there, and setting up kingdoms

  • In 451, the Visogoths Romans joined together to
    fight the Huns.
  • Attila turned on Italy, plundering the cities and
    terrifying people.
  • The plague took its toll on the Huns and they
    retreated. Attila died soon after.
  • Italy, now devastated, was open to invading

  • In 476, a German soldier Odoacer seized Rome,
    killing the emperor. He named himself king of
  • People now refer to 476 as the fall of Rome.
    However, the fall of Rome was much more complex.
  • This did not mean the end of Roman culture.
    Germanic rulers kept Roman laws, language and the
    Christian church.

Many barbarian kingdoms would not last long but
they did mark the way for the future Europe, as a
unified unit, was finished foreverreplaced by a
multitude of small, competing entities
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