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What were the most important reasons for the decline of the Roman Empire? Why?
The seemingly unstoppable Roman Empire was bound to fall after the many aspects that made Rome such a dominant empire started to fade away. Rome was the center of the world and the thought that such a worldwide power could decline was unheard of. It was not built in a day; therefore it couldn't be destroyed in one day. The marvelous city declined for many reasons yet there are only a few major reasons that led to its diminish. Political, economic, religious, and outside forces were the major factors that led to the fall of the giant empire. Most of the problems came from within the city and were not caused by a major military defeat. Every decision that Rome made had a vast affect on city itself and the rest of the world. Many foolish decisions my terrible emperors weakened the city and eventually cause the many aspects of life to crumble.
At one time a common religion was a huge factor that kept Romans united. Once the right of free worship was denied Rome became an empire of raging anger. Christianity a new religion appealed to the majority of the people of the Roman Empire. The message especially appealed to the poor and the slaves; it was also something new to put their faith in. Christianity was spread like wild fire. The Roman emperors felt that Christianity was so influential that it could be a possible threat. Around 100 AD. the first persecutions of the Christians occurred. Many of the Romans had already committed to the faith of Christianity and they refused to abandon it because it was the most important part of their life. This led to many social problems as well as a decline in the patriotism that had once lived in the hearts of all Romans. The People objected to Roman politics and became independent of the government. By the time that Constantine legalized Christianity it was much too late and the Empire was too deep in disunity to recover. The decision to outlaw Christianity was a terrible decision and caused the once united empire to crumble.
Throughout much of the time that Rome existed, the Empire allowed the Germanic tribes to live peacefully within its territories. For many years the two groups lived harmoniously until the Huns pushed the tribes farther into Rome.
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Many political mishaps led to the fall of Rome. One of the major problems with the Empire was that it was a vast city, spreading from Spain to the Persian Gulf. The Roman government system was designed to control a city-state not a giant empire. Due to poor transportation methods the central government could not keep the vast area under its control. As a result to poor unity of the empire two capitals were created which added to the economic problems. Rome was split into two empires. The western region was much weaker and collapsed in 400 AD. The legions of soldiers often lost trust of emperors and were ultimately under the control of the general. Often a power hungry general would use the legion under his control to seize power to overthrow the emperor. An empire which couldn't control its own army was bound to end in anarchy. The emperors of the late Empire were not qualified to control such a vast region. Nineteen out of twenty consecutive emperors died a violent death while on the throne. Obviously, the people of Rome were not pleased with the job that the emperors were doing. However emperors such as Diocletine and Constantine prolonged the life of the Empire but could not stop its decline in the long run. Rome was once ruled by its people but was eventually ruled by power desperate tyrants.
The most significant factor leading to the fall of Rome was the decline of the economy. The government had many debts to pay. A way had to be found to fund public construction, maintenance of the roads and maintain its ever-important army. Therefore the citizens were heavily tried which they felt was excessive and unjust. Rome received much of its money from conquests but eventually this revenue stopped because there were no other wealthy rivals to conquer. Rome had never established an efficient system to make money. Eventually, due to inflation, money became worthless. Without national wealth many roads remained unrepaired and the empire once known for its public marvels began to erode. Their vast trade stopped because of the danger in traveling. The small farmers were greatly affected by the decline in trading. The small farmers eventually completely died out and Rome's main economic boost was lost. It was impossible to maintain the wealthy empire of Rome with so many economic problems and no matter what measures were tried the empire could not recover.
The Roman Empire did not fall in a day but rather fell victim to a gradual decline in the prosperity due to many illogical decisions made by the Romans themselves. All of the problems could have easily been prevented with the right leadership and common sense. Unqualified rulers caused political problems. The invasions were due to the mistreatment of the new settlers; this mistreatment was due to the Roman mentality to conquer all. Politics and poor management of the roads and public buildings due to the lack of funds to maintain them had a significant effect on the economy. Christianity was outlawed to keep all of the Roman citizens under complete control. With the right leadership all of the disastrous decisions could have been prevented and the reign of Rome could have been prolonged long after its fall in 476 AD.