Rise and Fall of Rome Notes Essay

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The Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire Why a Roman “Fall”

Instability caused by no real plan of succession

Generals fought for power

In one 50­year period there were 26 rulers

Trouble on the borders

Morally bankrupt leadership

High cost to maintain Army led to high taxes

Farmers left land and the middle classes fell into poverty

Moral decay of culture

Loss of faith in Rome

Values such as patriotism, discipline, and devotion to duty declined Attempts at Reform

Diocletian

Divided the empire into Eastern and Western regions so it would be easier to govern

Fixed the prices of goods and services so people could afford them Attempts at Reform

Constantine

Religious toleration of the Christians

Built a new capital at Constantinople

Diocletian and Constantine slowed decline but could not stop it. Other hypotheses for the collapse

Lack of innovation. Best indicator, the total lack of interest in geography.

Slavery. The attitude that any services could be bought, and therefore Romans need not bother with practical matters.

Religious cultism and mysticism

Lead poisoning? (not from lead pipe but from lead­based ceramic glazes) The Barbarians at the Gates

Pressure from Germanic tribes looking for safety

Huns pressured the Visogoths­410­ ran into the empire

Vandals­ 455­ sacked Rome

Series of invasions­ physical damage, but also intellectual

The East survives­ becomes Byzantium­ keeps the learning from the ancient world Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
, 1782
Edward Gibbon suggested four reasons for fall of Rome:

“Immoderate greatness”­­growth of bureaucracy and military

Wealth and luxury


Barbarian invasions (cause or symptom?)

Spread of Christianity Gibbon's errors

Too rosy a view of 2nd century A.D. conditions

Pushed notion of "decline" too far

Cultural biases (against Byzantines and monasticism)

Despite his errors, Gibbon's work has endured as few works of history have An Alternate View of the Fall of Rome
● Americans often idealize ancient Rome

We are impressed by its monuments.

It's the first ancient state that looks like a modern nation­state on the scale of the U.S.

Latin was used as the intellectual language of Europe until recent times

Many "religious" films about the life of Christ are actually films about Rome with a pious veneer. Reality Check

Rome was a stagnant, corrupt, brutal and petty society

Two suggested antidotes to the romantic view of Rome: o
Robert Graves'
I, Claudius o
H.G. Wells
Outline of History

Not once did the local populace ever rise up to oppose the barbarian invaders. Legacy of Rome


Republic Government


Roman Law


Latin Language


Roman Catholic Church


City Planning


Romanesque Architectural Style


Roman Engineering
­
Aqueducts
­
Sewage systems
­
Dams
­
Cement
­
Arch The Byzantine Empire ­ Rome Has Fallen!

Umm…. Not quite.

Sure, Rome is sacked by the Vandals.

But only the Western Empire crumbles!

The Eastern Empire exists for 1,000 more years.



Capital is Constantinople

Called the Byzantine Empire

The Byzantine Empire (340­1453)

The eastern half of the Roman Empire o
Consisted of southern Europe, Anatolia, Palestine, and Egypt o
Capital at Constantinople since 340 CE

Named after “Byzantium” o
The old name of Constantinople o
To distinguish from the Western Roman Empire Emperor Justinian

Comes from poor family.

Fabulous emperor.

He retakes some Roman provinces.

Is a good manager.

Builds the Hagia Sophia. Justinian’s…