Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Fall of Rome

The Roman Empire dominated the Mediterranean regions and established effective leadership as Rome progressed to its final stages of growth. As Rome remained in control of a large portion of the ancient world conflicts arose which lead to the fall of the Roman Empire. Just as the question of how Rome came into power is asked, it is inquired how it fell. There are several reasons for the fall of Rome, some more probable than others. Some of these reasons include political corruption, inflation, the halt of military campaigns, military expenses, and the invasions of the German barbarians.

Some even blame Christianity for the fall of Rome, as money was used to build churches which could have gone towards the maintaining of the empire. During the invasions of the German barbarians Christianity had become popular causing Roman citizens to become anti-war; some say that this made it harder for the defending of Rome against the invaders. However, it is argued that the Christians may have delayed the fall of Rome by providing a significant portion of citizens with a good moral code.

Edward Gibbon, a historian in the eighteenth century, believed that it was in fact the rise of Christianity which caused the fall of Rome. This view was stated in the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters in his multi-volume work, The History of the Decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Gibbon received much accusation for discrediting the Christian faith, more than he expected.

Based on the research I have done, I believe that the arrival of Christianity played a small part in the fall of Rome. The more realistic reasons follow:
- Overall decline in morals and ethics caused the streets of Rome to become unsafe because of crime.
- Political issues ensued because no official way for electing emperors was established; therefore, in the course of 100 years there were 37 leaders, 25 of which assassinated.
- Inflation arose, subsequent of Rome not conquering any new territories (no gold income).
- Military spending for the defending of the borders of Rome caused increased inflation.
- Invasion by the German barbarians.

Ward-Perkins, Bryan. The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization. Oxford University Press, 2006.

Heather, Peter. The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians. Oxford University Press, 2007.