Honors European History-1
3 November 2014
The Raman Empires transition. Often times you hear people talk the about the fall of Roman as if it fell overnight; however this statement would be false. Roman didn't fall, In fact the Eastern Roman empire, which became the Byzantine Empire, last until 1453 C.E. The Western Roman Empire did not fall either; it was transformed over several centuries and became the western medieval world. Previous economic problems caused Emperor Diocletian to create economic and social reforms that would ultimately weakened the western empire, which would allow the transformation of the Western roman empire to begin. As centuries roll by, many social changes, reforms and beliefs within the Christian church, and the invasion of Germanic tribes would conclusively transform the Western Roman empire into successor states that became the medieval west. Diocletian's reign between 284 - 305 C.E., as the Roman emperor marks a very important era in Roman history. When Diocletian obtained power, the Roman empire had become too large to govern efficiently; it was facing attacks on all sides of its borders, and suffering from inflation. Diocletian implemented numerous reforms to try and combat these problems. His reforms can be attributed to the start of the transformation of Rome. The Roman Empire was constantly fighting off Germanic tribes that were coming down from the north and across from the western side of the empire. On top of this the Roman Empire was also feeling pressure on the eastern side of the empire from the Sassanid Persians and on the south side of the empire from the Vandals. The Roman armies were constantly off fighting these outside pressures. Traditionally the Roman armies were led by the emperor, which created a problem because with the Roman empire facing threats from multiple fronts at once, it was impossible for the emperor to command all the armies at once let alone rule an entire empire efficiently. To solve these problems Diocletian decided to split up the Roman Empire into four regions each with their own emperor. The split of the empire was known as the Tetrarchy. Diocletian also created the tetrarchy to help ensure smooth transitions between emperors. He recognized that an element of a successful empire entails emperors who pick their successors; through this he hoped that he could provide stability throughput the Roman Empire. The Tetrarchy never lasted very long, instead the Roman Empire split into the East and West, which will become increasingly important to the transformation of the Roman empire. To fix the economic problems Diocletian implemented 3 major reforms. Diocletian Increased the amount of silver in the coins, fixed maximum prices and wages for workers, and also restructured the tax system in hopes of distributing the financial burden among all citizens. These economic reforms inevitably backfired and put an even greater financial strain on the Roman empire. When Diocletian increased the amount of silver in the coins, it decreased the amount of gold in the coins, thus causing even more inflation. This attempt to create a reliable currency caused merchants to charge more money for goods. The Western Heritage textbook states, “To deal with it, he resorted to price control with his edict of Maximum prices in 301 C.E. For each product and each kind of labor, a maximum price was set, and violations were punished by death. The edict still failed” (Kagan et al). Diocletian's new tax reforms presented more taxes spread across the all the social classes. The new taxes had a greater effect on peasants; some peasants turned to wealthy Roman landlords to get refuge from the taxes. The landlords would cover the peasants taxes and in exchange the peasants would work the landlords land. From this the peasants became locked to the land they worked which became a trait attributed to medieval European culture.