One of the most influential and renowned periods of history was that of the Roman empire, as it was home to famous names, including that of Jesus Christ. For the longest time, Rome displayed itself as an unstoppable empire. The empire had a vast territory stretching from the Middle East to the Atlantic and included conquered lands such as Greece, Iraq, and several neighboring nations. At its peak, the Roman Empire ruled more than 60 million people until its downfall in 476 CE1. The fall of the empire signified the end of ancient times and the beginning of the Middle Ages.
Rome’s fall also meant the breakdown of trade and commerce since the Roman roads used to aid the movement of goods were not maintained. There are several factors discussed that led to the fall of the Roman empire. Scholars have had contradicting reasons about the main cause of the fall, with some specifying that the reasons depend on the side of the Roman empire under discussion, the western or eastern side2. Among them include political instability, invasions, economic downfall, and barbarians’ regime. This paper will discuss the fall of the Roman Empire, basing its arguments on the reasons for the fall.
In the first article presented by Benjamin Plackett, he argues that when claiming the causes that led to the fall of the Roman empire, one needs to clarify which side is talked about. Therefore, Plackett’s center of the argument is that fall of the Roman empire depends on the subject discussed, either east or west of the Roman empire. To support the claim, Plackett uses history to highlight the difference between the eastern and western sides.
The western Roman empire met its fall due to political instability. It fragmented and suffered economic disrepair within decades of it spit from the eastern Roman empire. The west lacked centralized control, and this was believed to be influenced by intrusions from the non-Roman tribes. At other times it was influenced by the traitors within the empire3. The west gradually lost control, and the local leaders managed its colonies. In some instances, the leaders who managed the colonies were Roman usurpers. They used a coup as a strategy to take control of the colonies. In other cases, the western Roman empire lost control over some territories due to barbarian regimes. Some of these barbarians were soldiers who worked with the Roman empire and used their knowledge to counter the Roman army4. Hence this shows that some of the reasons for the fall were internal, like having a decentralized government.
Additionally, due to the lack of a centralized government, the western Roman empire had difficulties obtaining taxes from its colonies. The lack of collecting taxes made it difficult to raise and maintain an army that would help take the expansion of barbarians in the colonies5. Although the west was collapsing slowly, the eastern Roman empire was succeeding in its ruling as they were more focused and coordinated efficiently. However, the east Roman empire came to fall later due to invasion by several armies, including the Persians6. Both sides fell due to different factors, making it necessary to differentiate which side one is referring to. Therefore, the author’s thesis is supported by the evidence presented.
Reviewing the presented information, Plackett presented the most critical aspects of the fall of the Roman empire. This is evident in the use of historical data to clarify the factors that led to the fall of both east and west of the Roman empire. For instance, the author uses the invasion of Persians to mark the time Rome lost its empire and the rise of barbarians who took some of the empire’s colonies. The author also uses politics to show that the fall of the roman empire began after its split since the western side endured difficulties compared to the eastern Roman empire. He also explains that the lack of taxes limited the west from affording an army that could have taken the already lost colonies. Therefore, aspects of politics and history were used as evidence to support the claims.
The second article by Marcus Magister highlights several reasons that collectively contributed to the fall of Rome. The first of these reasons is the economic crisis which was brought about by the decreased supply of enslaved people. The author supports this thesis by providing evidence for his claims. Rome’s economy depended largely on slave labor obtained from resistance forces of conquered nations. Therefore, when the empire was unable to conquer any longer, the supply of slaves dried up7. The author argues that corruption also contributed to the economic downfall as the Roman elites’ opulent lifestyle was filled with greed. Another reason highlighted by Magister is the existence of barbarians inside the gates. As the Roman Empire grew in size, the native Roman population grew smaller. The empire had to hire barbarian mercenaries who were not loyal to Rome, to defend the borders8. This issue resulted in a volatile political climate and corruption, leading to the empire’s downfall. The evidence provided by the author clearly supports his thesis as it elaborates on how the economic crisis and barbarians inside the gate resulted in the downfall of Rome.
Marcus Magister’s readings demonstrate an understanding of the practices during Rome’s downfall. He points out the practice of slavery as slaves were the only form of labor in Rome at the time. These enslaved people would be obtained from conquered nations as those who resisted were taken in as slaves9. The empire overly relied on human labor for several years, and it did not bother to pursue technological innovation, especially in agriculture. As a result, their lack of cheap labor and enslaved people to work in the fields contributed to economic relapse. Although both authors make a good argument, I feel Magister’s view was clearer since it explained how the issues of financial crisis and barbarians came into being.
Plackett’s article changed how I understood the subject by differentiating between the fall of the western and eastern Roman empires. My understanding was also changed as I discovered that if Rome had focused on itself instead of acquiring new colonies, it would have managed its affairs efficiently, and the fall would have been avoided. My background affects my perception of the reasons Roman fell. Growing up, I learned that having a household headed by focused parents it can lead to a united family that follows one direction. As a result, the roman empire had challenges in its governance, which paved the way for the numerous weaknesses that led to its fall. The articles present certain cultural issues like diversity and slavery. In today’s cultural issues, people in the US face diversity issues resulting from the existing prejudice against race. Thus, compared to the historical moments in Rome, there is still evidence of oppression that led to the nation’s instability.
Magister, Marcus. “The Fall of Rome and Its Effects on Post-Roman and Medieval Europe.” Medium. Medium, 2019.
Plackett, Benjamin. “Why Did Rome Fall?” LiveScience. Purch, 2020.
- Magister, Marcus. “The Fall of Rome and Its Effects on Post-Roman and Medieval Europe.” Medium. Medium, 2019.
- Plackett, Benjamin. “Why Did Rome Fall?” LiveScience. Purch, 2020.