There are many factors that are blamed for the Fall of Rome. On this page, the factors considered are
2. Vandals, and
3. Religion, including Christianity. (Roman Catholicism)http://ancienthistory.about.com/cs/r...llofrome_3.htmDecay
The Roman Empire had become too big to control easily. Soldiers or families in distant parts of the Empire adopted local customs and the Empire was made up not only of natives from the Italian peninsula, but barbarians from the conquered lands. Corruption became rampant.
Vegetius on the Decay
Decay of the army, according to Vegetius (5th century), the man responsible for the quote about preparing for war to ensure peace, came from within the army itself. The army grew weak from too long peace and stopped wearing its protective armor. This made them vulnerable to enemy weapons and to the temptation to flee from battle. Security may have led to cessation of the rigorous drills. Vegetius says the leaders became incompetent and rewards were unfairly distributed. See: "Vegetius on the Decay of the Roman Army, by Alfred P. Dorjahn and Lester K. Born. The Classical Journal, Vol. 30, No. 3 (Dec., 1934), pp. 148-158.
Historian Edward Gibbon on Decay and the Fall of Rome
"But the decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and, as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight.... The victorious legions, who, in distant wars, acquired the vices of strangers and mercenaries, first oppressed the freedom of the republic, and afterwards violated the majesty of the purple. The emperors, anxious for their personal safety and the public peace, were reduced to the base expedient of corrupting the discipline which rendered them alike formidable to their sovereign and to the enemy; the vigour of the military government was relaxed, and finally dissolved, by the partial institutions of Constantine; and the Roman world was overwhelmed by a deluge of Barbarians."
- Gibbon - Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Adrian Goldsworthy (How Rome Fell) on the Decay
For a long time, the Roman Empire functioned very well, and just like any other successful organization, to ensure its own survival and prosperity. In this case, the organization was the emperor and his administration. It amassed power and wealth and survived for centuries. However, the Empire was more than the top echelon and like a bone with osteoporosis that still looks alive and well at top, it was disintegrating from within. Sure, it was strong enough to fight off the barbarians, but such battles shouldn't have been taxing the Empire at all if the bones were really strong. Goldsworthy doesn't talk about brittle bones but an aging athlete because he says it was as though the athlete no longer had the capacity to resist disease or recover from injury. One final relatively gentle tap was all our weary athlete needed to topple.
* More on Decay
Christianity - Roman Catholicism
When Constantine established religious toleration in the Roman Empire, he took upon himself the title of Pontiff. Although he was not necessarily a Christian himself (he wasn't baptized until he was on his deathbed), he gave Christians privileges and oversaw major Christian religious disputes. He may not have understood how the pagan cults, including those of the emperors, were at odds with the new monotheistic religion, but they were, and in time the old Roman religions lost out. Although the path from pagan to Christian Rome had a few more hurdles, it was from the time of Constantine that Roman Christianity is dated. At this early point, however, the emperors of Rome controlled the religion since emperors held the power to appoint bishops. Over time, Church leaders became influential and took away power from the emperor. Christian beliefs conflicted with the working of empire.
Christian Emperors, Persia, and The Fall of Rome
This is a chapter from Frank Smitha's "Antiquity Online" about the division of the Empire into East and West and the reign, including conversion of Constantine.
Vandals and Religious Controversy
Vandals took over the Roman territory in Africa, just as Rome lost Spain to the Sueves, Alans and Visigoths. A perfect example of how interconnected all the "causes" of Rome's fall are, Rome lost revenue along with the territory and administrative control. It needed revenue to support its army and it needed its army to keep what territory it still maintained. See: "The Decline of the Roman Power in Western Europe. Some Modern Explanations," by Norman H. Baynes. The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 33, Parts 1 and 2 (1943), pp. 29-35.
Remnants of The Roman Empire
In this chapter from "Antiquity Online" -- about the 5th century Roman Empire, Frank Smitha shows the role of Vandals and religious controversies in the decline of Rome.
Among other points, Smitha says that Roman citizens living outside of Italy identified with Rome much less than their Italian counterparts. They preferred to live as natives, even if this meant poverty, which, in turn, meant they turned to those who could help -- Germans, brigands, Christians, etc.
Also see: The History of Florence, by Machiavelli.
Historian Edward Gibbon on the Fall of Rome and the Barbarians:
"The warlike states of antiquity, Greece, Macedonia, and Rome, educated a race of soldiers; exercised their bodies, disciplined their courage, multiplied their forces by regular evolutions, and converted the iron which they possessed into strong and serviceable weapons. But this superiority insensibly declined with their laws and manners; and the feeble policy of Constantine and his successors armed and instructed, for the ruin of the empire, the rude valour of the Barbarian mercenaries."
http://ancienthistory.about.com/cs/r...llofrome_4.htmEconomic factors are cited as a major cause of the Fall of Rome. Some of the major factors, like inflation, are discussed elsewhere. But there were also lesser problems with the economy of Rome that combined together to escalate financial stress. These include:
* Poor management,
* The dole (bread and circuses), and
Other Financial Problems
Collapse of the Roman Empire
In this article, Hugh Elton says that because the East survived when the West collapsed, institutional weakness and barbarian invasions, conditions common to both halves, are insufficient explanation for the Fall of Rome. Instead, Elton says the cause of the Fall of Rome lies in financial difficulties peculiar to the West. For those looking for a single cause, the best single explanation would be poor leadership rather than military failure.
The Dole and Barbarians
In this article, Grempel says the other side of Roman decadence was the dole. Millions were spent on bread (including pork, by the end of the second century) and circuses for the non-working poor. Barbarians ruled Rome and even when a Roman, Diocletian, regained control, he was influenced by the East. With Constantine came a barbaric Christianity and the move of capital from Rome to Constantinople.
Economic, Military, Gradual
Fall of Rome
This Ohio State site lists 3 single-issue models for the collapse:
1. Economic (lack of circulating currency and trade deficit, and other factors not clearly economic, like environmental change and decaying infrastructure)
2. Military (citizenship granted to all reduced the incentive to join the army), and
3. Gradual transformation (it never fell or fell to Islam).
Economic - Hoarding and Deficit
Fall of Rome
Causes of the Fall of Rome include economic decay through hoarding of bullion, barbarian looting of the treasury, and trade deficit; military decay through attrition and disorganization; and the lack of an effective military leader.
"One of the primary catalysts to the deterioration of the economy was the lack of circulating currency in the Western Empire. Two reasons for the lack of funds are wholesale hoarding of bullion by Roman citizens, and the widespread looting of the Roman treasury by the 'barbarians'. These two factors, coupled with the massive trade deficit with Eastern Regions of the Empire served to stifle the growth of wealth in the west."~ The Economic Collapse
http://www.roman-colosseum.info/roma...man-empire.htmRome The Late Empire [URL = www.wsu.edu/~dee/ROME/LATE.HTM]
Richard Hooker marks the Fall during the reign of Diocletian (284-305) when the Empire was split into two halves. Each half had a senior augustus and a junior caesar. Together these four rulers were known as the "tetrarchy." While the tetrarchy didn't last long, the division of the Empire became the norm.
Fall of Rome
Adrian Dorrington says the Empire was split not just geographically, but culturally, with a Latin Empire and a Greek one, the latter of which survived because it had most of the population, a better military, more money, and better rulers.
Lead and the Fall
A bibliography of sources since the nineteenth century that have suggested lead poisoning led to the Fall of Rome.
Rome and Roman Empire Maps
Frontiers of the Roman Empire
Source: [URL formerly at ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/1994/94.09.01.html] CR Whittaker's Frontiers of the Roman Empire.
The extensive empire put such a strain on Roman coffers Emperor Honorius sent letters to the Roman cities in England to tell them they'd have to fend for themselves. [This marks the end of the period of Roman Britain.]
By the third century, it was sometimes hard to tell Roman from barbarian. In addition, Romans regularly employed "barbarians," -- the Huns and Vandals -- sometimes in double crosses:
The Roman general Aetius used Huns in battle in Germany and Gaul, but then in 451 he used the Burgundians and Visigoths of this region to fight against Huns (led by Attila).
In a factional struggle with the leadership in Ravenna, the Roman comes africae invited the Vandal King Geiseric to Africa.
Causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire - Antagonism between the Senate and the Emperor
One of the main causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire was the Antagonism between the Senate and the Emperor. The Roman Emperor had the legal power to rule Rome’s religious, civil and military affairs with the Senate acting as an advisory body. The emperor had power over life and death. The powerful, spoilt, wealthy Roman Emperors inevitably became corrupt and many lived a debauched, deluded and immoral lifestyle. The Roman Empire saw many examples of antagonism between the Senators and the Emperors. Either the Senators didn't like the Emperor or the Emperors was at odds with the Senators.
Causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire - Decline in Morals
One of the main causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire was the Decline in Morals. The decline in morals, especially in the rich upper classes, nobility and the emperors, had a devastating impact on the Romans. Immoral and promiscuous sexual behaviour including adultery and orgies. Emperors such as Tiberius kept groups of young boys for his pleasure, incest by Nero who also had a male slave castrated so he could take him as his wife, Elagabalus who forced a Vestal Virgin into marriage, Commodus with his harems of concubines enraged Romans by sitting in the theatre or at the games dressed in a woman's garments. The decline in morals also effected the lower classes and slaves. Religious festivals such as Saturnalia and Bacchanalia where sacrifices, ribald songs, lewd acts and sexual promiscuity were practised. Bestiality and other lewd and sexually explicit acts were exhibited in the Colosseum arena to amuse the mob. Brothels and forced prostitution flourished. Widespread gambling on the chariot races and gladiatorial combats. Massive consumption of alcohol. The sadistic cruelty towards both man and beasts in the arena.
Causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire - Political Corruption and the Praetorian Guard
One of the main causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire was the Political Corruption and the Praetorian Guard. The power of the Praetorian Guard, the elite soldiers who made up the bodyguard of the emperor, led to political corruption and grew to such an extent that this massive group of soldiers decided on whether an emperor should be disposed of and who should become the new emperor! The story of Sejanus, who was the commander of the Praetorian Guard during the reign of Tiberius, illustrates the extent of the power of the Praetorians. At one point the Praetorian Guard sold at auction the throne of the world to the highest bidder.
Causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire - Fast expansion of the Empire
One of the main causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire was the Fast expansion of the Empire. The rapid growth in the lands conquered by the Empire led to the need to defend the borders and territories of Rome. The people of the conquered lands, most of whom were referred to as Barbarians, hated the Romans. Taxes on the non-Romans were high and constantly increased. Frequent rebellions arose.
Causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire - Constant Wars and Heavy Military Spending
One of the main causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire was the Constant Wars and Heavy Military Spending. Constant warfare required heavy military spending. The Roman army became over-stretched and needed more and more soldiers. The barbarians, who had been conquered, and other foreign mercenaries were allowed to join the Roman army.
Causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire - Barbarian Knowledge of Roman Military Tactics
One of the main causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire was the Barbarian Knowledge of Roman Military Tactics. The knowledge that the Barbarians gained of Roman style of warfare and military tactics by serving in the Roman army were eventually turned against the Empire and led to the sack of Rome by the Visigoths led by an ex-army soldier, Alaric.
Causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire - Failing Economy and High Inflation
One of the main causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire was the Failing Economy and high inflation. The Government was constantly threatened by bankruptcy due to the cost of defending the Empire, the failing economics, heavy taxation and high inflation was another Causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire. The majority of the inhabitants of the Roman Empire failed to share in the incredible prosperity of Rome. The amount of gold sent to the orient to pay for luxury goods led to a shortage of gold to make Roman coins. Roman currency was devalued to such an extent that a system of bartering returned to one of the greatest civilisations the world had ever known.
Causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire - Unemployment of the Working Classes
One of the main causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire was the Unemployment of the Working Classes. Cheap slave labor resulted in the unemployment of the Plebs in Rome who became dependent on hand-outs from the state. The Romans attempted a policy of unrestricted trade but this led to the Plebs being unable to compete with foreign trade. The government were therefore forced to subsidize the working class Romans to make up the differences in prices. This resulted in thousands of Romans choosing just to live on the subsides sacrificing their standard of living with an idle life of ease. The massive divide between the rich Romans and the poor Romans increased still further.
Causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire - The 'Mob' and the cost of the Gladiatorial Games
One of the main causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire was the 'Mob' and the cost of the Gladiatorial Games. If the thousands of unemployed Romans became bored this led to civil unrest and rioting in the streets. The 'Mob' needed to be amused - spectacular gladiatorial games had to be provided. The cost of the gladiatorial games was born by the Emperors, and therefore the state, and corrupt politicians who sponsored the games to curry favor and support with the 'Mob'. The cost of the gladiatorial games eventually came to one third of the total income of the Roman Empire.
Causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire - Decline in Ethics and Values
One of the main causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire was the Decline in Ethics and Values. Life became cheap - blood shed led to more blood shed and extreme cruelty. The values, the ideals, customs, traditions and institutions, of the Romans declined. The basic principles, standards and judgments about what was valuable or important in life declined. The total disregard for human and animal life resulted in a lack of ethics - a perverted view of what was right and wrong, good and bad, desirable and undesirable. Any conformity to acceptable rules or standards of human behaviour were being lost.
Causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire - Slave Labor
One of the main causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire was the Slave Labor. The number of slaves increased dramatically during the first 2 centuries of the Roman Empire. The Roman's dependency on slave labor led not only to the decline in morals, values and ethics but also to the stagnation of any new technology to produce goods more efficiently. Romans could rely on the slave manpower for all their needs but this reliance inhibited technological change and growth. The treatment of slaves led to rebellion and several Servile (Slave) Wars, the most famous being the revolt led by the gladiator slave, Spartacus. In the later centuries of the Empire and the advent of Christianity the attitudes towards slaves changed. With manumission (the act of freeing a slave) the number of slaves declined together with the manpower that Rome was dependent upon.
Causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire - Natural Disasters
One of the main causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire were the Natural Disasters. During the time of the Roman Empire there were not only foreign wars, civil wars, street fights, fires and revolts there were also natural disasters such as plagues, famines and earthquakes. As in all periods and societies the people looked for someone to blame and different religions to turn to.
Causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire - Christianity
One of the main causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire was Christianity. Life and the future seemed hopeless for the millions of people who were ruled by Rome where an early death was almost inevitable. Christianity taught the belief in an afterlife which gave hope and courage to the desperate. Eventually the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, proclaimed himself a Christian and issued an edict promising the Christians his favor and protection. Attitudes in the Roman Empire changed from being antagonistic to becoming pacifistic.
Causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire - Barbarian Invasion
The last of the causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire was the Barbarian Invasion. Rome had fierce foreign enemies. There were great Barbarian armies consisting of warriors such as the Visigoths, Huns and the Vandals. The final death blow to the Roman Empire was inflicted by these Barbarians. The city of Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 and by the Vandals in 455 signalling the disintegration of Roman authority and the Fall of the Roman Empire.