The reasons for the death of the Roman Empire

Traveling around Rome and Italy and admiring the preserved sights, each tourist ponders why such a strong civilization ceased to exist. The decline and collapse of the Roman Empire cannot be reduced to one single reason.

External enemies

One version refers the death of the Roman Empire to 410 AD, when Gothic tribes led by Alarich invaded the territory of Rome. The tribes were ready Christians, so they did not commit massacres and did not destroy buildings, but only robbed, took out jewelry, removed valuable jewelry from buildings.

According to the second version, Rome was destroyed to its founding later, in 476, the leader of the barbarian Germanic tribe of the Herul Odoacer, who forces him to abdicate the throne of the last emperor of Rome, young Romulus Augustus.

However, according to many researchers, the fall of Rome began much earlier and was caused not only by such obvious reasons as the raids of external aggressors. The onset of the crisis in the Roman Empire was marked back in the 3rd century, after the political, economic, religious and cultural life of the Romans deeply changed. Now historians name more than 210 causes of the fall of Ancient Rome. Let us dwell on some of them.

Lack of a strong leader

In the Roman Empire, a frequent change of emperors, rulers of provinces and provinces, lacking political power, authority and foresight, began to be observed.

Among the authorities more and more people of non-Roman nationalities appear, which also reduces authority and absolutely destroys the patriotic idea.


A significant proportion of the population of Rome during the period of decline was represented by representatives of barbarian tribes who did not have a developed culture and ideology. Due to the difference in the level of development of social relations, the assimilation of representatives of these tribes into Roman society is insignificant. However, Rome is forced to maintain peaceful relations with the barbarians, since a significant part of the army was formed from their ranks.

Army crisis

External enemies, advancing on all sides by small and numerous detachments, did not meet with resistance from the Roman army, weakened by poor maintenance and extreme exploitation, without strong leaders and not inspired by a patriotic idea.
The military commanders appropriated most of the salaries and allowances of the soldiers, so the lower ranks were extremely demoralized, and cases of looting directed against compatriots became more frequent. The ranks of the armed forces replenished slightly for a number of reasons:

  • Fertility decline;
  • The unwillingness of land owners to send their slaves and hired workers into soldiers and lose cheap labor;
  • Reluctance of city dwellers to join the army because of low earnings.

Sometimes these phenomena are associated with a movement such as pacifism. However, the main cause of the crisis is the destruction of the professional army, the loss of military discipline, the increase in the number of poorly trained recruits — former peasants — and barbarians who settled on the territory of the Roman Empire.

Slaveholders and Slaves

The official version of school textbooks: Rome ruined the slave system. The exploitation gave rise to indignation and rebellion of slaves, flaring up regularly. The uprisings were of various sizes: the homes of the landowners were burning, the tools and pets were destroyed, the slaves refused to work.

To suppress the revolts of the slaves, the help of the military was required, but they barely managed to repel the attacks of external enemies.

Slavery led to the extreme decline of agriculture, the destruction of the country's economy.

  • Read also: rebellion of spartacus

Economic crisis

The Roman Empire was experiencing a period of fragmentation into provinces, while large estates were divided into small ones, partially leased to small landowners and slaves. Subsistence farming began to prevail, the share of processing industries decreased, and the prices for the transportation of goods increased. Trade is in extreme decline, relations between some provinces are finally ending.

The state raised taxes, but the solvency of the population fell sharply, and there was nothing to pay taxes. Inflation was followed by a reduction in the amount of money in the country.

Small farms began to unite in communes or ask for protection from large land owners - the process of allocating large feudal lords and the final ruin of the small peasantry began.

Demographic crisis

The decline of the economy and the subsequent lean years caused famine in the country, a wave of infectious diseases. Mortality rises, fertility decreases sharply. The government issues several decrees on supporting families with children, on benefits for barbarian children, but in Rome the number of people of advanced and old age is steadily increasing, and society is aging.

Social reasons

At the same time, the authority of the ruling circles falls and the authority of capital, the richest people in the country, increases. The number of civil servants is increasing, the bureaucratic apparatus is growing, corruption is intensifying.

The middle class is gradually going bankrupt, urban culture, production and trade are in decline, mass riots are occurring. The second side is the so-called social apathy, the destruction of spirituality and patriotism.

The crisis of spirituality

The ideal of a harmoniously developed person, a proud Roman, who serves his city-state, gradually builds his life on the basis of social principles. There is a crisis of art: literature, architecture, sculpture.

Moral decomposition of the population is often associated with the flourishing of vices, debauchery, homosexuality.

  • Read also about the customs of Ancient Rome


One of the reasons for the death of the Roman Empire is the termination of persecution of Christians, which were legalized by decree of Emperor Constantine in 313. Starting this year, Christianity was recognized as an equal with the pagan faith. It is known that at the end of the 4th century this was followed by the destruction and plunder of pagan temples under the emperor Theodosius the Great, which was carried out by a crowd of Roman inhabitants under the leadership of Christian monks.

Even more destructive was the presence within the Christian teaching of various movements. They brought confusion and discord, divided the people, made them doubt, destroyed the integrity of the nation, weakened its resistance to external enemies.

Thus, the collapse of the Roman Empire is due to the totality of contradictions within the state, which has lost its political, ideological, religious integrity.

Watch the video: The Fall of Rome Explained In 13 Minutes (February 2020).


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