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Thread: Why did Rome fall?

  1. #1 Why did Rome fall? 
    Forum Professor Pendragon's Avatar
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    Why did the Roman Empire fall? There are lots of different theories: from internal decay to rising barbarians. What was the crucial factor in tackling Rome?

    And another thing: did the Roman Empire live on in Byzantium, or was that a totally different empire?


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    i think the main reason was the rise in the " wild barbarien " ,
    but another small reason, they got gready, the caser/(to my knowlage)/ got progressivly more and more power seaking, thus getting into more and more bother,


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    I think the barb's indeed played a big role in tackling Rome, though not in the way we see in the movies.

    Usually the idea is that the empire had a static border, with Romans on one side and the barb's on the other. In reality Rome invited germanic tribes to enter the empire from about the early 3rd century. They were given some land by the Romans, payed tax and protected the empire against other tribes. In that way a limited number of tribes recieved a 'special deal', creating the situation of barb's fighting barb's at the border of the empire.

    This tactic worked out fine, until the empire weakened in the 4rd, 5th century. To get more money and soldiers, the Roman emperors invited more and more tribes to cross the border. In that way the gift of being part of the empire, the 'special deal', was given away at anyone who cared to recieve it. In time some tribes entered the empire which didn't play along nicely, like the Visigoths and the Vandals. After the Romans tought them how to fight orderly and make forts, they used it against the Romans themselves. The Vandals for example besieged Rome in the way the Romans themselves had tought them. The Romans had distributed nukes at random, and now they were used against them.

    Or that's at least one theory :wink:
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    Arrogance. They thought they couldn't lose, they got too wrapped up in conquest, they spread themselves too thing, and... no more Roman Empire.

    No big loss.
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pendragon
    IThis tactic worked out fine, until the empire weakened in the 4rd, 5th century. To get more money and soldiers...
    So why did the empire weaken?

    Simple [that's a joke] economics; over-expansion combined with poor upper management.

    Rome had a standing army; in order to maintain a standing army, a government must treat the soldiers well [college degrees, 50 hectacres of rich farmland, whatever]; Rome could afford to treat her soldiers well while she was conquering; conquering brings in wealth new to a government.

    When Rome stopped conquering places, she still had to maintain the army, but was not bringing in new wealth. Fixed costs, decreasing revenues. Not good.

    I believe the situation was accerbated by a series of rapid successions; each sucession required a hefty "gift" to the legions; I could be wrong about this.

    BTW, the Roman policy for conquest, "Conquer and absorb" is, in general, amazingly sucessful.
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beryl
    Arrogance. They thought they couldn't lose, they got too wrapped up in conquest, they spread themselves too thing, and... no more Roman Empire.

    No big loss.
    I definetly agree with this theory. They got greedy and power-hungry, always a formula for failure.
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    were they not greedy and power-hungry in their golden ages? If they were, then we still haven't explained why the empire crumbled in the 4th-5th century. :wink:

    And what if their opponents were equally greedy and power-hungry, shouldn't they have suffered the same fate?
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pendragon
    were they not greedy and power-hungry in their golden ages? If they were, then we still haven't explained why the empire crumbled in the 4th-5th century. :wink:

    And what if their opponents were equally greedy and power-hungry, shouldn't they have suffered the same fate?
    Good question, but I think the reason greed was a problem in the 4th and 5th centuries was because of the size of Rome. As it got bigger, more politicians got greedier and in turn led to the downfall. Their adversaries were not half the size of the Roman Empire, they were small tribes were one person being power-hungary didn't really affect such a large area.
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  10. #9  
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    Consider the implications of climate change, its impact on agricultural production, % of vessels lost at sea, pressures on barbarian tribes to move. Lessons with ramifications to the present. Remember Santayana's admonition.
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    Greed, stupidity and becomming to big.
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  12. #11 Re: Why did Rome fall? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pendragon
    Why did the Roman Empire fall? There are lots of different theories: from internal decay to rising barbarians. What was the crucial factor in tackling Rome?
    My opinion was that Rome as a city could not take advantage of the lucrative Silk Trade route . So the city of Rome became redundant , and more or less was thrown to the barbarians .

    Quote Originally Posted by Pendragon
    And another thing: did the Roman Empire live on in Byzantium, or was that a totally different empire?
    Correct Rome lived on in the new Byzantium afterall that is where Emperor Constantine decided to found this new city . Byzantium was situated in the optimum place to take advantage and control of the commerce between the Mideast and the Slik Trade Commercial route with China .
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    Interesting idea Brian, but was the silk trade with China really so crucial for the balance of power in Europe? Rome failed to profit from it, but so did it's mayor opponents (if the german and gallic tribes were indeed Rome's mayor opponents). So relatively there doesn't seem to be a change.

    But according to some it was the steppe peoples like the huns and mongols who initiated the demise of Rome (like the turks, also nomadic steppe peoples, ended the Byzantine empire), and those peoples may have had more opportunity to profit from the trade with China. So I think the link is an indirect one.
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  14. #13  
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    The failure to control new trade opportunity sounds more like a sympton that a cause.
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    Rome didn't fall until it recognized Christianity.
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    I suggest that until and unless one has read Gibbon's Decline and Fall in the unabridged version, then cogitated on it for a handful of decades, then any responses one makes are likely to be trite and wrong. (As opposed to Gibbon, who was scholarly and wrong.)
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  17. #16  
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    Wait a minute: there is an abridged edition of The Decline, etc.?

    I find the rapid succession of Emperors in the Year of Four Emperors [?] a wonderful example of the difficulty in distinquishing between cause and effect.
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by j
    Wait a minute: there is an abridged edition of The Decline, etc.?
    Virtually all the editions I have seen in bookstores (in the US and the UK) are single volume abridgements. There is a full electronic version available on-line, I think at Bartlett.
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  19. #18  
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    God, I live in a cave.

    BTW, what was Santayana's admonition?
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by j
    God, I live in a cave.
    BTW, what was Santayana's admonition?
    If you live in a cave you would have stalactites for neighbours. Do they ever drop in?

    Santayana declared, more or less, "those who forget history are condemned to repeat it".

    And a correction - in my prior post that should be Bartleby, not Bartlett.
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  21. #20  
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    Oh! If pushed I would have guessed someone like Churchill or Disreali. Not an American; the sentiment is very Franklin-esque, but the structure is more like P. Henry's.
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  22. #21 Why did Rome fall? 
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    Observing that there are a heckuvva lot of correct and thought provoking answers here. I think Pendragon's entry of February is among the better.
    My motive for being here is to add what amounts to a different way of saying what's already been said. In this case it's 'Murphy's 30th Law of Combat' -
    "If you take more than your fair share of objectives, you will have more than your fair share of objectives to take".

    The advise includes the taxation on expansionism, since the larger your borders become, the more difficult it becomes to defend them. The statements are fairly synonymous.
    I would add also that internal strife and in-fighting also contributed heavily to Rome's deterioration and conquest. Approximately the same dynamic brought down the pre Roman Grecian Civilization. Internal strife and turmoil (with Greece it was the Pelloponesian Wars <Sp?>) has characteristically contributed to a heavy toll in the rise and fall of great powers (Refer 'Hegel's Pendulum of History').

    I am curious to know what corrections may - inevitably - have been made of Eduard Gibbon's (unabridged) Decline & Fall, as the - not to be underestimated - Ophiolite has parenthetically proselytized.
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    A small addition: After about the 3rd century AD (or earlier?) the Romans had to give gold to their neighbours to prevent them from raiding the empire. The 'barbarian' peoples on the Roman borders really seemed to have developped a culture around gold: the more you had (and displayed), the higher your status. Some 'barbarian' leaders (especially Atilla the Hun) seemed to have been dependent on a steady stream of gold themselves, to secure their leading position in their tribe. If they couldn't give their soldiers gold regularly, they would be deposed. So the whole system worked well as long as the Romans could keep the gold streaming: the Romans payed off the barbarian leaders, who could then keep their own warriors happy and lazy. When Rome's sources of gold dried up, the system broke down and Rome lost it's empire. (my source: the BBC series "Terry Jones' Barbarians")

    But I guess this is mostly a description of Rome's fall, not a real explanation of it.

    Another suggestion: what if Europe simply became too populous? As long as the lands within the empire are highly populated and the regions outside it only sparsely and uncontiniously inhabited, it seems fairly easy to hold your border (even if you keep expanding it). Once regions such as present Germany get densely populated however, controlling them will be more difficult. Should be possible to find statistics to back this up (that is, if the 'barbarian' lands ever were sparsely populated).
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    Rome didn't fall until it recognized Christianity.
    :wink: Most sensible reply I've read yet.




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  25. #24 Why Rome Fell 
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    The fall of Rome is complex, and a culmination of many factors. I have to apologise that I haven't got any references to hand, however, from what I have read over the years I feel that the most crucial factors are:

    1. High overheads caused by long borders, corruption, and infrastructure maintenance, spending to keep the populace happy (games etc.);
    2. Loss of the tax base caused by the propesity for diseases to impact more severely on highly urbanised civilisations where large crowded cities exist, and good trade networks are able to spread the disease rapidly. At Rome's height of power none of its neighbours produced large staple food surpluses that it could utilise if there was a wide spread crop failure. These can be caused by external enviromental factors such as large volcanic eruptions (in 535AD a Krakatoa eruption led to 2 years without any summer). Being unable to import food, and having a large specialised work force reliant on the food Rome produced would cause wide spread famine.
    3. Loss of Roman identity caused by:
    a. large migrations into the Empire;
    b. decentralisation of power to local war lords because of infrastucture breakdown (i.e. Rome ceases to be as important in the lives of people in outlying regions);
    c. resentment over high taxation to cover deficits during times of strife;
    d. inability to protect the populace from attack.
    4. Destablisation of tribes outside of Rome's borders, and their increased aggressiveness.
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  26. #25  
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    I would addanother to Vulture's list, this seems to be a view of [some]modern historians.

    The failure of the military/senate to recognise that improved military tactics and weaponry is essential to any empire wishing to remain dominant.

    The above perhaps related to his 3(d) point

    or to put it another way,

    Complacency in the military of a type akin to that which existed in the British navy from 1805-1914, if you like a 'superiority complex'.
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  27. #26 Re: Why did Rome fall? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pendragon
    Why did the Roman Empire fall? There are lots of different theories: from internal decay to rising barbarians. What was the crucial factor in tackling Rome?
    The term: "The Fall of the Roman Empire" is more of an expression - a figure of speech than an actual historical fact

    And another thing: did the Roman Empire live on in Byzantium, or was that a totally different empire?
    Yes, Rome did continue on. It is amazing how little weight or relevance this concept holds when people speak of the Roman empire and it's so called "Decline". Remember, the phrase is: "Things Change" not "Things End". Rome didn't just vanish or die or....fall through the cracks. In terms of overall longevity, there was no decline. Instead Rome evolved. Like all great empire/civilisations, Rome was less a city and more of an idea. And good ideas just don't go away. They flourish. And the idea of Rome did not just relocate to Asia Minor, it spread and flourished as well. The basic theory of Romes social and political infrastructer grew and eventually consumed the better part of the known world.

    Now grant you this transition was not exactly.....smooth. People died in the process. And those who didn't were driven from their homes - there way of life. Many men who held positions of great power were reduced to nothing. In the first few centuries of the common era Rome spread across the majority of western Europe and the British Isles. Eventually the Roman empire lost it's military control over these provinces. Yet if there is one thing that history has taught us, it is that once a people have become conquered they are forever changed. Yes, Rome lost military control but it's methods for success were forever bread into the indigenous celts and germanics of the western continent. A large percentage of Roman officials even took up new lives in these new parts of the world. Through family and heritage their influence spread. Medieval fuedalism was an interesting offspring of Roman and barbaric thinking. No doubt that this Roman way of life was naturally alterd to fit it's new environment. After all, ideas are indeed flexible.

    Romes more intellectual views on democracy layed somewhat dormant within the Byzantium until the renaissance age. Now the cause or causes of the changing of Rome have already been well examined in many of the previous post. And I am sure that, at the time, many of these factors were not seen by citizens of Rome as some overall advancement of Romes influence but a rather immediate doom. From their practical point of view they were probably right.

    Yet the point here is not to think of Rome as a 'noun'. A place that once was but is no longer. Instead, think of Rome as a 'verb' - an act of doing. And the act of Rome still resonates to this day.
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  28. #27 Why Did Rome Fall 
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    Hi to Megabrain - you are right, but maybe not in the way that you may think. The big problem Rome had in the millitary arena was calvary. They just didn't have the large grass lands of the Russian steppes, to achieve the sort of mobility that they needed. Also in the later stages of the Roman Empire because of the breakdown of external trading routes, barbarian tribes had easier access to the steppe horses because of their closer proximity. Horses also cost a lot to maintain when funds are running low. You are just so right about superiority complexes, what do they say - winning nations are always fighting the way they did in the last war. If you are ever interested in exploring the nexus between resources and the cost of different military options. Have a look at Hearts of Iron II. It is not perfect but it give a good insight into the stretegic options of different nations during the build up to WWII. I can also recommend the Scorched Earth DVD Tiger Tank, which provides a real insight into just how inferior German tanks were at the start of the war and at the start of Operation Barbarossa. (I'm well and truly off topic now).

    Hi to Kolt - I totally agree, especially with Rome where its decline was definitely not a linear curve. More than anything else Rome was an idea. Its rise to power really began when it allowed non-Romans the chance of obtaining citizenship. This gave all people and even slaves the possibility of maybe oneday them or their children would become Roman's. This in turn led to people having a sense of belonging and ownership of their civilisation, of national identity. This concept has been passed onto us to this day, unfortunately not always with good results. Pax Romana!

    Thankyou for your responses, they were great to read.
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  29. #28 Who says the roman empire fell ? 
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    Who says the roman empire fell ?

    It is still very much alive, I believe its called the Catholic Church now.
    The hand of time rested on the half-hour mark, and all along that old front line of the English there came a whistling and a crying. The men of the first wave climbed up the parapets, in tumult, darkness, and the presence of death, and having done with all pleasant things, advanced across No Man's Land to begin the Battle of the Somme. - Poet John Masefield.

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  30. #29 Re: Who says the roman empire fell ? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by leohopkins
    Who says the roman empire fell ?

    It is still very much alive, I believe its called the Catholic Church now.

    A crude oversimplified point of view. Never-the-less, your actually right.
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  31. #30  
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    One might ask if the many reasons that the Greek-Roman civilization fanally collapsed were the same reasons that the Sumer-Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Hindu and other civilizations collapsed. Most school books on Ancient History used to focus on only the rise and then move onto the next civilization. The decline process was not pupular, but my reading of civilizations is that there were many similarities in both their rises and declines. There was a pattern, but this pattern is not a subject historians like to dwell on because they don't like to use the "decline" label. It seems to them to be subjective. But if they don't call the period before the end of a civilization "decline," what should they call it?

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  32. #31 Re: Who says the roman empire fell ? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by leohopkins
    Who says the roman empire fell ?

    It is still very much alive, I believe its called the Catholic Church now.
    Jeesh Leo - at least look up the word first...

    "Empire: A political unit having an extensive territory or comprising a number of territories or nations and ruled by a single supreme authority."

    I'm not sure a few square metres in the corner of someone else's back yard qualifies, however much whiskey in your glass.... :wink:
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  33. #32 Re: Who says the roman empire fell ? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    Quote Originally Posted by leohopkins
    Who says the roman empire fell ?

    It is still very much alive, I believe its called the Catholic Church now.
    Jeesh Leo - at least look up the word first...

    "Empire: A political unit having an extensive territory or comprising a number of territories or nations and ruled by a single supreme authority."

    I'm not sure a few square metres in the corner of someone else's back yard qualifies, however much whiskey in your glass.... :wink:
    The Catholic church is pretty much world wide, therefore it has extensive territory. It IS a political unit AND is ruled by a single supreme authority...The Holy See at the Vatican.
    The hand of time rested on the half-hour mark, and all along that old front line of the English there came a whistling and a crying. The men of the first wave climbed up the parapets, in tumult, darkness, and the presence of death, and having done with all pleasant things, advanced across No Man's Land to begin the Battle of the Somme. - Poet John Masefield.

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    THe implication of the definition I used is that it rules over nation states, I accept it may have an influence but that's as far as it goes, I would see it as being more of a benign cancer, as empires go.
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  35. #34  
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    Rome didn't fall until it recognized Christianity.
    This is a good observation! Christianity very much presided over the collapse of the society. But did Christianity spread because the Greek-Roman society was sick and declining or was it sick and declining because Christianity was killing it?

    My view is that Christianty became popular because the system was collapsing and that the new faith hastened the fall. But social scientists contend that civilizations do not rise and fall and that they just change form and continue on. So, in their eyes, this is still the Greek-Roman civiilization!
    So, I ask (in a new post) where did they leave off and our Christian civilization begin?


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  36. #35  
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    Now isn't that funny, the Dark Ages began at pretty much the same time as Christianity took hold...
    Come see some of my art work at http://nevyn-pendragon.deviantart.com/
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    I think people started worrying more about their place in the empire so much that they forgot about actually keeping that empire afloat. Everything about late period Rome just seems to reek of decadence and infighting.

    Christianity's problem is that it originally created too much order, which resulted in a lot of entropy (as all excessively orderly systems have a lot of entropy to them).
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    I, too, believe their arrogance got the best of them. However, I find it interesting to always consider what would have happened had they not fallen. Christianity may have not been so popular now-a-days if they had not fallen...
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    One needs to view 'Rome' as a civilization akin to modern western civilization. It morphed more than fell. Analogies to the USA etc. miss the concept of 'Rome'. Rome rising as a city until it's end as a political empire covers close to a millenium with peaks and valleys along the way in terms of influence. the final days of emperors is more like studying 'the weather' rather than the longer term 'climate of Roman centuries.

    'Rome' as a city eventually was supplanted as the power center of western civilization but the Roman Empire morphed into less of an entity of political ideology into one of social ideology...it's power anchored in the Cathioic Church.

    In more recent times an analogy is the rise of the English supremacy during and after the time of Elizabeth the First. British influence is often but not always synonomous with power based in London. In the latter half of the 19th century the power center of British civilization shifted to the USA and continues today. The British Empire (as a generic term) has never declined...it's called the United States today. the United States is a continuation of the rise of power under Elizabeth the First.

    The British civilization has varied greatly from the fight with the Spanish Armada to the American carriers ruling the seas in 2007. So too was Roman civilization quite variable over it's timeframe. In a quirky way British civilization via the USA entering the modern technological world is shifting power elsewhere to Asia. What is Japan? A new center or is it an extension of Wstern civilization? Even China is becoming part of the western civilization...power based in Beijing but embracing economic and cultural influence that have a sinuous line leading back to Elizabethan Britain.
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  40. #39  
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    Rome didn't fall until it recognized Christianity.
    Now that is real insight! All the other explanations pale by comparison. When we consider that the Greek-Roman civilization was the product of the Greek-Roman religion, and that the religion was what bonded the people into that society, one has to come to the conclusion that the society and civilization came to an end when half the people converted to Christianity. That was about 350 CE! That is when it “died”. And, that was the birth of Christian society and civilization which has not yet died but its secular age is hauntingly similar to the Hellenic Age!

    Why, then, did Christendom lose the big empire it had inherited from the Romans? Because Christianity was a more effeminate faith and Christian pacifism was not turning out good fighters, for one thing. Actually much of the people wanted it to end anyway.

    When it ended, they figured that would be when Christ returned and they lived day to day expecting that to happen soon. They wanted to see the rich citizens left to burn in hell. There were frequent riots in which the old Roman temples were torn down and looted. The economy fell on hard times, the population was dwindling, the common people were being collectivized and barbarians becoming Christians and filling the army ranks and even becoming administrators.

    The end of the Hellenic upper class ended civilized life and the Dark Ages began. We had another sort of a dark age during the 14th and 15th centuries when the Church became corrupt and we were hit by the plague. Looks to me like we will be slipping down into the third and last such age later in this century, judging by what I see going on now . . .

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    Excerpt from the Urantia Book...


    71:1.14 The great weakness in Roman civilization, and a factor in the ultimate collapse of the empire, was the supposed liberal and advanced provision for the emancipation of the boy at twenty-one and the unconditional release of the girl so that she was at liberty to marry a man of her own choosing or to go abroad in the land to become immoral. The harm to society consisted not in these reforms themselves but rather in the sudden and extensive manner of their adoption. The collapse of Rome indicates what may be expected when a state undergoes too rapid extension associated with internal degeneration.
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    That is interesting . . .the Uranta source. What year were those laws passed? Of course, the process of decline is a complicated thing and what you have included surely played a part.

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    I have no idea, I just looked in the book and I didn't see anything.
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  44. #43 Re: Why did Rome fall? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pendragon
    Why did the Roman Empire fall? There are lots of different theories: from internal decay to rising barbarians. What was the crucial factor in tackling Rome?
    The barbarians are not the cause - this was pervasive and not new or unique. But there may be a unique factor which propelled the gradual cracks, crevices and crumblings of Mighty Rome, and there appears only one factor, and it occured in 70CE, some 300 years before the big thud:

    'WHEN FREEDOM OF BELIEF - BECAME ROME'S GREATEST WAR'.

    The smallest nation stood up to Rome's depraved decree to worship Ceasar. What was touted as 3 weeks work, took Rome and all its legions 7 years, with a human toll of 1.1 million, the destruction of Jerusalem and Masada, and which was seen by all nations, its events faithfully recorded by a scribe as it happened [Flavius Josephus]. Rome lost the war - its decree was not accepted for the first time - only by one nation. Vespasian refused the crown of victory. Soon early christians followed this rebellion all across Europe, intertwined by a host of nations and groups which saw Rome as not invincible.

    The right to freedom of belief began in Jerusalem, in what is the greatest defence of belief in all recorded history.
    Monotheism is the ultimate Scientific Theory.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jellyologist

    'Rome' as a city eventually was supplanted as the power center of western civilization but the Roman Empire morphed into less of an entity of political ideology into one of social ideology...it's power anchored in the Cathioic Church.
    Here, western civilization is represented by the OT, which was boomed across Europe by the newly emerging Christians, who saw Israel as no more, but saw its history and heritage as the basis for humanity. One only has to try and imagine any western civilization without the OT laws, which turn all of the western world's Institutions today. There could be no western civilzation if Rome continued - her tarred roads were only to subjugate all who disobeyed her decrees - with better efficiency. Democrasy and alphabetical books were introduced via Greece into Rome and Europe - Greece being the first to translate the OT into another language. It appears the OT entry here was via a long and purposeful route, and it appears also that no other document or scripture could have done the job.
    Monotheism is the ultimate Scientific Theory.
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    This is why Rome fell.
    Many historians believe that when the military became more important than the state, the nation will collapse. Julius Ceasar, a politician who fear the jealousy of his enemies is the first Roman General who marched in Rome and take power. I simply believe that they got drunk with their greatness...and became lazy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ezra
    I don't know..... So................................................ ...........................
    In that case, why post anything. Cut the crap - make meaningful posts, or have them deleted,as I have deleted half a dozen 'yup' and 'ahhuh' specks of rubbish from you.
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    She's currently enjoying a 7-day ban for the several dozen "ahuh's" that *I* deleted and blatant name-calling in another thread since HomoUniveralis gave her a "first and final warning" at some point.
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    Rome fell as you will fall with your sciences...........complacenet about things, having reached the top..........when other ways exist.......more difficult ways, less EWOK........to know the ways of space-time.
    if ever there was a time for opportunity, it is when opportunity has yet to define THIS "time"
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    let's not go all new-age about this - a society collapses when its need for resources outstrips the availability of resources

    be that resource a willing source of soldiers to defend the empire or grain to feed the masses so they don't revolt - if the cost to make a living becomes too high, something has to give
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Properly mastering space-time has farming benefits........gravity is a wind of sorts which does represent a major ingredient to farming.........as farmers would know.
    if ever there was a time for opportunity, it is when opportunity has yet to define THIS "time"
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    could you elaborate ?
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Quote Originally Posted by looking4recruits
    Rome fell as you will fall with your sciences...........
    It's not "you", it's 'we', we are all in this together. Rome may have fallen but their ideas, sciences and technology's have evolved and are still with us today, who's to say that they won't still be with us in 2000 years time ?
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    Am I the only one who thinks that the Fall of Rome sounds nice an dramatic but Rome just might have transitioned or changed over many decades or centuries until it no longer was as dominant as before (while having contributed to various aspects of following civilization)? Its not like it vanished overnight as far as I know, right?
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    Gravity?
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    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo
    Am I the only one who thinks that the Fall of Rome sounds nice an dramatic but Rome just might have transitioned or changed over many decades or centuries until it no longer was as dominant as before (while having contributed to various aspects of following civilization)? Its not like it vanished overnight as far as I know, right?
    Yeah, I pretty much said the same thing a couple pages back
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    In a way it's like the breaking up of the Soviet Union. In 1992 the people, the cities, much of the military etc were all still there, they just didn't feel 'soviet' anymore. I think it was really the same with the Roman Empire, like Kolt described at page 2:
    Quote Originally Posted by Kolt
    Like all great empire/civilisations, Rome was less a city and more of an idea. And good ideas just don't go away. They flourish. And the idea of Rome did not just relocate to Asia Minor, it spread and flourished as well. The basic theory of Romes social and political infrastructer grew and eventually consumed the better part of the known world.
    and:
    Quote Originally Posted by Kolt
    Yet the point here is not to think of Rome as a 'noun'. A place that once was but is no longer. Instead, think of Rome as a 'verb' - an act of doing. And the act of Rome still resonates to this day.
    So before deciding how Rome 'collapsed', and if it collapsed at all, we have to first define what the Roman Empire was all about. And I agree here with Kolt that what we call the Roman Empire was a set of ideas and practises, hanging over Europe like a blanket that sometimes thickened and sometimes thinned but never completely disappeared.

    What did it mean to be part of the Roman Empire for, say, a farmer in Gaul? It meant living sedentarily in a stone house, paying taxes in exchange for some level of security, maybe sending your son to school and later to the army to advance in the ranks. It meant accepting that one is part of a much bigger whole than his family or tribe, and striving to someday become a real Roman Citizen himself, someone who's really part of this advanced, modern system.
    When the central government of the empire weakened (for various reasons that are well described in this thread) our farmer from Gaul didn't give up all those ideas and practises, but he stopped identifying them with the Roman Empire. Instead he identified them with new kingdoms, with the Catholic Church, and sometimes with 'super kingdoms' like that of Charles the Great (and later the "holy Roman Empire", centered in Germany). And in Byzantium this link between the ideas and practises we call 'Roman' and the concept of a Roman Empire stayed alive for several centuries.

    This suggests an answer to the other question that often comes up: is the present hegemony of the United States a kind of empire that can collapse lik the Roman Empire, do all 'empires' collapse someday? Well yes they can, when suddenly everyone in the world stops identifying such ideas as the free market, democracy, secularism etc with this 'US Empire' then the 'empire' has collapsed, but not the ideas. The concepts of 'Europe', 'United States', 'China' etc can be dropped and forgotten anytime by their peoples even if they all keep living the way they used to, just like the concept of 'Soviet Union' was dropped (by most people, not all) in just a couple years.
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    this is the same response I had for th GrecoRoman ? In the previous thread. With some additions to tie it into the modern world.

    I love my history and from what I can see ...


    Roman hasn't really fallin it has more like evolved and changed names. The concepts of both Greek and Roman Govts was and is Democracy. So as long as Democracy survives so have Rome and it's way.

    I'll talke for granted you know the story of how Emperor Constantine Converted the public faith of Rome from "Pagan" to Christian. As the pollitical powers of Rome developed so did wealth and power. The Rothchilds have actually had an unbelievable amounts of political control since 600 AD striaght thru now in modern 2007. The Greco-Roman era hasn't really ended just been blended into the world society that has been being created since that time when Democracy came about. Notice how the mottos on currency are in LATIN.

    Nothing is an accident. Society needs control, but it's to bad the control comes from the power of milenia worth of the same greedy blood lines. Yup they lie, steel, and control your freedom. Rome hasn't fallin it's just moved across the ocean. The U.S. is very much in a state of decadence and greed like that of the Roman era you question. All great civilizations are the same run by the same people and blood lines that have been around for thousands of years. With pretty much the same methods of control, Democracy, failed socialism, failed communisim, and well hidden fascisim. Greco Rome didn't dissapear it's only evolved and changed names and locations over the years.

    I addition. When the European memebers of Rome are siad to have broken off from Rome it's not entirely so. The Roman Empire of Constantine's construction became the Holy Roman Empire. Well the Holy Roman Empire turned into the Prusian Empire which full existed until Hiltler came around. At the turn of 1900's is when the last bits of the Great Roman Empire blended in with the rest of the world and captialist gains. We still have the Rothchilds around with emense global political control with Swiss Banks, the Fedaeral Reserve, and the Bank of England.
    So in essence if the people Running Rome are still around would that mean that Rome is still here in a sense?
    " I KNOW NOT WHAT WEAPONS WORLD
    WAR III WILL BE FOUGHT WITH, BUT I KNOW WORLD WAR IV WILL BE FOUGHT WITH STICKS AND STONES." - A.E.
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    Quote Originally Posted by To See What Is
    The Roman Empire of Constantine's construction became the Holy Roman Empire. Well the Holy Roman Empire turned into the Prusian Empire which full existed until Hiltler came around.
    Are you sure there are such direct links? I'm sure the Prussians would've like to think so, and many other nations have tried to link up with the Romans to increase their legitimacy (the Russian Romanov family for example). But often such claims of 'blood ties' were just advertisement tools.
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    The British Empire fell harder and faster than Rome.

    If America is not careful, if the US is not vigilant on matters of "latest discoveries that mean something", they will be next.
    if ever there was a time for opportunity, it is when opportunity has yet to define THIS "time"
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    Quote Originally Posted by looking4recruits
    The British Empire fell harder and faster than Rome.
    Harder? That is questionable. The Empire broke apart., but its constituent elements are, for the most part, doing rather well. The descent into anarchy and loss of creature comforts that accompanied the Roman Empire's fall does not seem to have afflicted the British Empire, apart from a fewof the African member states.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pendragon
    Quote Originally Posted by To See What Is
    The Roman Empire of Constantine's construction became the Holy Roman Empire. Well the Holy Roman Empire turned into the Prusian Empire which full existed until Hiltler came around.
    Are you sure there are such direct links? I'm sure the Prussians would've like to think so, and many other nations have tried to link up with the Romans to increase their legitimacy (the Russian Romanov family for example). But often such claims of 'blood ties' were just advertisement tools.
    I don't see it so much as blood, but money. Yes the money and blood lines cross over from generation to genertion, but it's always about money when it comes to kingdoms and countries. The rothchilds are a perfect example of this. They have had some sort of " known " political pull since 600 A.D. to the present date.

    That's more of what I wa getting at. It's not whom rules, but who owns the money.
    " I KNOW NOT WHAT WEAPONS WORLD
    WAR III WILL BE FOUGHT WITH, BUT I KNOW WORLD WAR IV WILL BE FOUGHT WITH STICKS AND STONES." - A.E.
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  63. #62 Re: Why did Rome fall? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pendragon
    Why did the Roman Empire fall? There are lots of different theories: from internal decay to rising barbarians. What was the crucial factor in tackling Rome?
    The "Barbarians" (which were basically former nomads living outside the immediate borders of the Roman Empire) gradually assimilated into Roman society, some becoming great generals and soldiers. The primarily Roman-Germanic mixing produced a new societal structure. So they didn't need to "tackle" Rome initially and couldn't have anyway, although many great successful battles took place. The Battle of Hadrianople led by Fritigern, leader of the Goths, against Emporer Valens was one such battle. The Emperor himself was slaughtered and his troops cut down. The Goths were soon pacified by other troops, however. Many such quarrels between the two peoples took place..but what set the Empire open to Germanic invasion was the destruction of the Huns, who supplied the Roman infantry and kept the germanic tribes at bay.
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    I don't get the (B)barbarians. Victors are supposed to write history. I know there were battles, but I sense that something incomprehensibly asymmetric took place.
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    I'd say the collapse was from a variety of factors, some already pointed out quite well from other posters.

    1. The lack of a reasonable succession system for choosing an emperor. Not only did you get incompetents but the internecine battles significantly reduce the availability of good experienced troops.

    2. The need for constant expansion and tribute to supply the means to maintain the troops and patronage system.

    3. The devastation of plague on the population, particularly the plague from Marcus Aurelius' failed invasion of Parthia.

    4. Points 1 & 3 forced the Romans to change their defensive strategy from one of static borders/quick response to one of absorption/fall back attrition. This led to the devastation and depopulation of some of the most productive farmlands, furthering the cycle of not enough population to support the limits.

    5. Point 4 eventually caused the need for more population and the only quick means was to incorporate friendly "barbarian" tribes. Unfortunately for the Romans these tribes would only agree to settle peacefully in distinct geographic settlements--essentially setting up extensive non-Roman colonies within the empire. This would not have necessarily been fatal if the "barbarians" were not as technically advanced in warfare as the Romans and the Romans weren't used to dealing duplicitously with outsiders.

    Of course the Eastern half held on for another 1000 yrs so you can't say the whole thing came atumblin' down.

    I
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    I think that Roman Empire collapsed on its own weight and couldnt sustain its provinces. The provinces, at least some of them but mostly all of them benefited from being under roman rule but the time came they no longer needed the roman rule. Romans couldnt also successfully defend its provinces from aggression, internal wars etc. provinces adopted the language, the law and also culture to some extend but the roman interests were a far cry from their own. Id say that even if barbarians hadnt weakened Rome the empire was on the way out.

    Barbarians didnt have to attack Rome out of the blue; they might have been invited to help safeguard the empire, and that would initially be a useful tactics, but in the long run Romes subjects turned against being kept under a leash. Barbarians themselves found out that the job protecting Rome is a hard toil and a dangerous one at that, badly paid and less profitable then siding with potential assailants who might be the ticket to become loaded in a short time.
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    roman army get pandemic disease from carthago and bring it in europe. That disease killed many thousand people in rome empire so they get weak for barbarian attacks...i think that is one of the reasons..sorry my bad english
    WHY!!
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    The decline and fall of the Roman Empire, specifically the Western half, is a subject that has many different proposed causes. From Christianity, barbarians, economics, civil war, to mental sickness caused by the Roman's lead based pipe systems, people give many reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire, but I believe there is a bit of truth to all of it.

    The Roman Empire as we know it arose out of the decadent and decaying Roman Republic. From the murder of Tiberius Gracchus in 133 B.C. to Octavian's assumption of the title Augustus, the Roman Republic had entered a period of growth, wealth, and political instability. Finding itself the dominant power of the Mediterranean, Rome saw a massive influx of culture and wealth from the newly conquered eastern provinces. Eventually the Republic fell into civil war thanks partly to the new wealth and also to the adoption of a professional army after the Marian reforms. After a final civil war, Octavianus Caesar accepted the title of Augustus from the Senate and would go on to be the first Roman Emperor.

    For the 1st 200 years or so things were pretty good in Rome. Although the Pax Romana had few speed bumps, like Nero and Caligula, overall Rome was ruled by competent men who worked hard for the glory of the Empire. We really start to see Rome's problem's emerge after the death of Marcus Aurelius.

    Economy: The Roman Economy, like nearly all states before the Industrial Revolution, was agrarian. Although there was a large population of free farmers, Rome's most productive and powerful agricultural centers were large, slave worked plantation style estates. These plantations, owned by a few wealthy families used the Empire's massive supply of slave labor to produce enormous surpluses. While the Republic had relied upon a large population of free farmer/soldiers who would provide their own equipment, Rome's ever expandign wars meant men would be farther away from their farms for longer periods and since the 2nd century BC many aristocrats had bought the farms of these farmer soldiers an consolidated them into massive estates. By the time of the Empire these estates dotted the Empire. While these agricultural centers were able to produce much wealth for the Empire, it is believed the massive reliance on slave labor may have greatly stifled technological growth. The families and owners of these estates often times grew vary powerful and there are records of these powerful families financing and supporting various sides in one of Rome's many civil wars for their own benefit.

    Another aspect of the Roman economy was trade. Rome united the entire Mediterranean world under one banner, allowing trade from all corners of the Empire to occur. Wine from Italy and Greece could be traded to Britain for wool while wheat from Eygpt arrived in Rome itself to feed the hungry masses in the form of the Empire's famous dole. The problem was the Roman trade system was extremely fragile, as if one region was cut off from its trade partner in another, then the complex trade network that developed would fall apart to the great harm of both parties. During the Crisis of the Third Century chaos was so rampant throughout the Empire that various provinces were unable to trade with each other thanks to the many civil wars, foriegn invasions, and general chaos that ensued.
    Although Emperors like Diocletian and Constantine were able to return the Empire to a measure of peace after the Crisis, Rome's economy was irreversibly harmed and only became weaker as the Rome entered another period of civil wars.

    Government: Rome's government during the Principate (i.e.. when the Emperor and Imperial administration maintained a facade of Republican principles) was extremely similar to the Republic's administration system of the provinces. Although the Emperor was supreme commander of the legions and the ultimate authority within the Empire, the provinces were still ruled by men of the senatorial class who answered directly to the Emperor. With their small staffs the Romans relied a great deal on the local self government throughout the Empire, with the central government being mainly concerned with taxation, army maintainance, and other projects. After the death of Marcus Aurelius, decadence in Rome and civil wars became much more common. In addition to social strife, incursions by foreign peoples like the Sassanids, Germans, and others increased the chaos in the Empire. This 50 year decade, called the Crisis of the Third Century, nearly brought Rome to its knees and facilitated the need for a large, centralized bureaucracy. Under Diocletian, the government's size and powers were greatly expanded, the number of diocese (an administration territory) were doubled. Although such large administrations were large, cumbersome, and prone to corruption, these new government could cope with civil war, invasions, and economic instability far more effectively than the previous form of Rome governance.

    Military: The Roman Empire's existence and the source of the Emperor's power was the Roman Army. From Augustus up to Diocletian, the Roman army was a force of about 23-27 self contained legions posted primarily along the Rhine, Danube, and East, with a legion or two in northern britain, Egypt, Africa, and Spain. The Legions were incrediblly effective military machines and wherever various legions were posted, they often became an integral part of that area's economy and government. However, the Legions had a problem with the dealing with the raiders that crossed the Rhine, Danube, and Euphrates. While the legions were very powerful and highly trained, they were mainly organized around the idea of fighting an open field battle against a large enemy army that had intruded into Roman territory. However, throughout the Empire's middle and late history, a trend of small raiding parties that would enter the empire, sack and destroy some setlements, and retreat became more prevalent. THe legions found these raiders difficult to fight as detaching a small force from the legion, lets say a cohort, would often mean detaching soldiers who were spread out, organized in various economic or governmental duties, and sending them out, which coudl be quite harmful to the Empire. After the rise of Diocletian, an attempt was made to fight the problem. The Empire's military was split into 2 types of soldier, the limitanae, or border guards, and the comitatenses, or field soldiers. While there is some debate as to whether the limitanae were just militia or in fact regulars who served at the border and the overall effectiveness of the system, the Romans tried to create a light line of border guards that would be able to hold the enemy long enough, if attacked, so that the comitatenses, or field army, could be marched into contact with the enemy from somewhere in the rear. The Romans also began to downsize the legions, with the comitatenses legions comprising 1000-2000 men instead of the old 4000-6000 numbers. While these smaller contingents weren't necessarily faster than the old legions, they were able to deal with local incursions more easily since hte system was based more on smaller contingents than larger ones. Another controversy is whether the addition of more cavalry to the Roman field armies at this time had a serious affect on Roman military effectiveness or not. While it is argued by some that the addition of more horse to these regiments made them faster on the scene, others contend that such horse regiments still carried significant numbers of infantry and infantry still made up the bulk of the Empire.
    THe Battle of Adrianople is often seen as when the Roman Army started going serious decline. Until the battle Roman forces, while composed of significant numebrs of Imperial and barbarian peoples, were still organized as Roman regiments and commanded by Roman officers. After the roman army was decisively defeated at adrianople by the goths, Emperor THeodosius was forced to allow Barbarian peoples as allies of the Empire, in the Empires armies, but under their own chieftans. This reform, although a necessity to be able to rebuild the Empire's decimated forces, effectively eliminated much of the control Roman commanders had under their supposed forces.
    Despite all these issues, the Roman military, right up till the fall of the west, was still composed of dedicated and highly trained regulars and was a formidable force.

    Religion: Rome was mainly an eclectic society before Christianity was declared state religion by Theodosius. Composed of many different pantheons and philosophies, Rome tolerated most religions in its borders, with the few exceptions being Judaism, Christianity, and the Druids. WHile Rome's main problem with Judaism and Christianity was the offensiveness of monotheistic religion to them and both religion's aversions to the various Roman practices that carried religions connotations. The Druids were mostly destroyed for their refusal to obey Roman dominance, a something Rome practiced towards all peoples it conquered: Obey or Die.
    Christianity offers a very interesting part of Roman and western history, as several historians have put forward views that Christianity, when compared to cult of the Unconquered Sun, Neo Platonism, or Platonism, should not have been the religion that would eventually become the dominant faith of the Empire. WHile many parallels have been drawn between the fall of Rome and the rise of Christianity, from Edward Gibbons's theory that Christianity emasculated Rome's martial tradition, which runs up against the religious motivation used by Heraclius int the 7th century and the Crusades, to the idea that Christianity's adoption destroyed the glories of greco-roman philosophy, the fact is that Rome's decline and many its problems can be traced to political, economic, and military reasons that started far in advance of Christianity. While I do not overrule the thought that Christianity may have had some harmful effects on Roman civilization, Byzantine history gives us quite a bit of evidence that Christianity may have helped unite the Empire and improved its sense of solidarity.
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    Quote Originally Posted by To See What Is
    Quote Originally Posted by Pendragon
    Quote Originally Posted by To See What Is
    The Roman Empire of Constantine's construction became the Holy Roman Empire. Well the Holy Roman Empire turned into the Prusian Empire which full existed until Hiltler came around.
    Are you sure there are such direct links? I'm sure the Prussians would've like to think so, and many other nations have tried to link up with the Romans to increase their legitimacy (the Russian Romanov family for example). But often such claims of 'blood ties' were just advertisement tools.
    I don't see it so much as blood, but money. Yes the money and blood lines cross over from generation to genertion, but it's always about money when it comes to kingdoms and countries. The rothchilds are a perfect example of this. They have had some sort of " known " political pull since 600 A.D. to the present date.

    That's more of what I wa getting at. It's not whom rules, but who owns the money.
    Yeah, money gives you the power to choose the King. It also gives you the power to choose a newer, better king if the existing king isn't doing what you want.

    This basically means you have a gun pointed at the king's head, and you can pull the trigger any time you want. If he tries to kill you , on the other hand, he may quickly find he has a lot more political opponents than he thought he did.
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    The Holy Roman Empire and the Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire are two entirely different entities.

    The Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire was the eastern half of the Roman that lived on after the Western Roman Empire had died. Based in the highly populated and wealthy lands of Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Anatolia, and the Balkans, the Byzantine Empire would live on till 1453 when Sultan Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire finally conquered Constantinople.

    The Holy Roman Empire was a state founded in Western Europe by Charlemagne when he was crowned Emperor of the Romans by the Pope in 800 A.D. The Papacy, who had for several centuries beforehand relied upon the Byzantine Empire to provide for its security, found itself under threat by both the nobility of Rome and the Lombard Kingdom of northern Italy. Byzantium itself was unable to spare any military aid as it was trying to defend itself from the Muslims in the East and the Bulgars that had settled along the Danube. The Pope therefore called upon Charlemagne to protect him from the Roman nobility and the Lombards, which Charlemagne easily did. The Papacy and Holy Roman Emperors justified their assumption of the title Roman Emperor based on the idea that when the Roman Empire of the West fell it transferred its authority to the Papacy, who in turn appointed a new Roman Empire in the West. While Charlemagne was the greatest Holy Roman Emperor, his empire fell apart after his death and the Holy Roman Empire as it is commonly understood really arose with the Otto the Great, who defeated the. Otto's Holy Roman Empire would essentially comprise most of Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Burgundy, the Low Countries, Switzerland, and Northern Italy and would last until it was dissolved by Francis II during the Napoleonic Wars.

    There was never a Prussian Empire and even though Prussia was able to unite the German states into the German Empire, Austria in reality carried the tradition and history of the Holy Roman Empire. In the end the Byzantine Empire was the real Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire attempted to restart the Roman Empire in the west, with some success until the death Frederick II.
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  71. #70  
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    The simple answer is this: #

    Rome fell because they spread themselves too thin. If you have an empire covering a quarter of the inhabited world where you butcher and enslave the natives you're conquering, eventually you're going to push people too far.

    That kind of empire can't be sustained on such a large scale.

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    Then how come the Romans sustained such an empire for nearly 250 years before finally feeling the strain of "spreading themselves too thin?" Why did the Eastern Roman Empire survive until 1453 A.D.? And how exactly did Rome spread itself too thin? The Roman military numbered around 27 legions and around an equal number of auxiliary legions throughout much of the Principate, a good 250, 000 men or so. That number is comparable to the army of Louis XIV, who fought his wars mainly around the geographic area of France. Rome's fall cannot be summed in simple sentence phrases that completely bypass the complex social, political, and military issues that Rome had to face throughout its history. Rome fell not because it spread itself too thin, but through a number of factors, including economic depression, frequent insurrections and civil wars, and so on.
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    Look at what you just said... about numbers... an army of 250,000 for the area of france...

    Europe, parts of the middle east, northern africa... 250,000 men you say for all that?

    It's a good number for sumwhere the size of france. But for a whole continent?

    Not going to work in the long run. Especially when other empires are springing up around you.

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    Though if I stop being proud, I accept totally what you have said.

    Though I do think they spread themselves too thin.

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