Since the beginning of time, one has wondered why societies decline and fall. The Roman Empire was one of the greatest and most powerful societies that ever existed. They had power, wealth, and even a half of the world. They built one of the strongest and largest empire that world has ever seen. The Roman Empire lasted from 27 BC – 476 AD, a period exceeding 500 years. The decline of the Roman Empire complex and due to many reasons, including military, political, economic and social issues. It is hard to say that any one reason alone caused the downfall of the Roman Empire because they are all intertwined with each other.
Economic decline is a common reason for the fall of many societies. Rome went through as 200 year peaceful period which ended when Emperor Diocletian split the Empire into East and West in 285 CE. The capital was moved from Rome to Constantinople, in the East. This act solidified the downfall of the Western half of the empire. While the East continued to prosper, the West began to fall. Eventually the East overtook the West as its trade power grew and money flowed to Constantinople rather than Rome. This increased financial disintegration in the West. The west suffered a severe economic decline. The citizens of the west began to revolt against the empire.
The military of the Roman Empire was under constant warfare. The citizens revolted by not joining the army. In the past, citizens were lining up to serve the Empire. The military had to hire soldiers which was a heavy expense. Although these men were fierce fighters they had no loyalty towards the empire and thus they had no reservations in turning against their Roman superiors. Poor strategy joint with the declining quality of the soldiery opened the empire to increasing attacks. Overtime, these attacks overwhelmed the remaining small Roman military forces. Too make things worse, the Romans were spending an excessive amount of money on the military. The citizens felt this money could have been used to improve more demolished parts of Rome.
Socially, they was a decline in the interest of the citizens in public affairs. The citizens themselves had low confidence in the Empire. The decline of morals and values in Rome caused internal chaos and an increase in crime. The values, ideals, customs, and traditions of the Romans continuously declined. The basic principles, standards and judgments about what was valuable or important in one’s life declined as well.. The total disregard for human and animal life resulted in a lack of ethics. The Romans had a perverted view of what was right vs. wrong, good vs. bad, desirable vs. undesirable. Any conformity to acceptable rules or standards of human behavior were being lost.
Rome had been hurting politically. A line of ineffective emperors had reigned over the empire. Leadership within the senate was ineffective because of widespread corruption and incompetence. But most importantly, the emperor had lost control of the empire. He was unable to carry out his jurisdiction. Without a strong leader the empire waned as both the army and the Senate had no leader. The Praetorian Guard, the elite soldiers, who made up the bodyguard of the emperor, power grew to such an extent that this group of soldiers decided on whether an emperor should be disposed of and who should become the new emperor. At one point, the Praetorian Guard sold at auction the throne of the world to the highest bidder.
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