Fall of the Roman Empire Presented to you by: Jocelyn Rhodes and Nikki Relyea
Time Line – Decline of Rome AD • 270 – Emperor Aurelian builds a new wall around city of Rome as protection against barbarian attack • 303 – Diocletian intensifies persecution of Christians; divides Empire into East and West as governmental reforms seek to control aspect of Roman life • 313 – Constantine grants toleration of Christianity • 325 – Universal Church Council of Nicaea was formed • 330 – Constantine makes Constantinople new capital of Eastern Empire • 378 – Barbarians defeat Romans at Adrianople • 380 – Christianity becomes official religion of Empire • 395 - Roman Empire permanently divided into East and West • 410 – Rome sacked by Visigoths; Saint Augustine writes City of God in defence of charges made against Christianity • 451 – Attila the Hun is defeated Romans and barbarians at Troyes • 455 – Rome sacked by Vandals • 476 - End of Western Empire; German barbarian, Odoacer, deposes line of Roman emperors in the West
Seven Reasons of Rome’s Decline • Division of Rome • Military Decline • Technology • Taxation • Politics • Depopulation • Religion and Christianity
Division of Rome • West • Latin as language • Roman Catholicism • Capital: Rome • Ended in 476 AD • East • Greek as language • Greek Orthodox • Capital: Constantinople • Ended in 1453 AD • Emperor Diocletian divided the Roman Empire into two halves, East and West. This was ruled by two co-emperors. This was finalized by 395 AD.
Politics • Rome degenerated into a totalitarian state – citizens though they were invincible • Unstable succession of Emperors – neither a hereditary or adoption techniques – not long-lasting or generally accepted • Emperor Honorius had a guardian named Stilicho. Stilicho was a Romanized barbarian, and he helped run the empire. • Allowed barbarian settlement on Roman soil.
Crippling taxes – brought down citizen pride Major inflation of prices also occurred at this time “sterility” in human harvest A plague also hit Rome at about this time Taxation and Depopulation
Technology • Rome did not advance in technology • Used slave labour, no need for machinery • Lack of advancements partially due to their education system – did not inspire the mind • Lack of technology – lack of military technology
Military Decline • Emperor Aurelian built a wall around city of Rome as protection against barbarian attack in 270 AD • Military was able to draft citizens in time of war, army became full of volunteers • Emperor Caracalla drafted any free-born inhabitant that wasn’t a citizen • Army started to plunder Roman cities • Western Empire was hit hard by invasions by Germanic tribes • Barbarians enlisted in army, started to gain high military status • Major battle lost at Adrianople in 378 AD • Rome sacked by Visigoths in 410 AD • Attila and the Huns invaded in 451 AD • German tribe called Vandals sacked Rome in 455 AD • German Barbarian Odacer deposes line of Roman Emperors in 476 AD
Religion in Rome • Religion was similar to Greek religion -> polytheism • Zeus = Jupiter, Aphrodite = Venus, Ares = Mars, etc. • Rome was tolerant of foreign religions • Were expected to respect Roman gods while in a Roman setting • Judaism was less tolerated -> Romans accepted it, but didn’t approve of it; Jews were allowed to become citizens • Jews lost privileges after revolt against Roman masters – 66-70 AD, 132-135 AD • Jews were blamed for the fire that wrecked Rome
Persecution of the Christians • Romans became more sensitive about Christian criticism and faith • Christians refused to worship Roman gods – if people confessed they were Christians, they were executed (eg. Paul and Peter) • At time of Diocletian – Christianity began to flourish • Launched vicious persecution of Christians – destroyed churches, burned scriptures, drove Christians from government positions, imprisoned clergymen • Christians had to sacrifice themselves to state gods under penalty of death • Courage of the martyrs strengthened commitment of true believers of Christianity
Christianity and Constantine • Constantine granted toleration of Christianity and was recognized as an official religion • His conversion made Christianity more important in Rome • He raised this religion to offset other forces threatening to break up the empire • After Constantine, Christianity became Rome’s official religion in 380 AD • Pagans were then persecuted by the Christians
Overall Impact • Christianity was a disintegrating force • Weakened the power of Rome to resist enemies • Won out because it offered a clear and simple message to people
Do you believe that if the barbarians had focused their attack on the Eastern Empire, that it would have fallen? Which do you find more important: military, politics or religion? Why? Do you think the division of the empire was a good decision? Do you think the persecution of the Christians had any particular effect, such as weakening the Christians or strengthening them? Do you think the Christians were any better than the pagans in their justification? Questions