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"Discuss The Reasons For The Decline And Ultimate Fall Of The Western Roman Empire, Evaluating Internal And External Influences."

1712 words - 7 pages

When looking for the reason for why the roman empire fell it is impossible to just focus on one set of reasons for the collapse of this great empire. We can not focus alone on either internal or external reasons. Instead we must look at both.The Roman Empire at its peak governed over most of the Eastern world. After the death of Julius Caesar, who had destroyed the Roman Republic, an empire was the easiest was to keep the state going#.There were many external reasons for this collapse. Most of which seemed to come from the ever increasing size of the empire itself. The Roman Empire of the fourth century A.D. extended entirely around the Mediterranean Sea, including modern Turkey, Israel, Egypt, and North Africa. Modern France (called Gaul) and modern Spain and Portugal (Iberia) were entirely Roman. Modern England was Roman, but modern Scotland and Ireland were barbarian (non-Roman, or non-civilised). The northern borders of the empire were the Rhine and Danube Rivers. The lands north of these rivers were occupied by a variety of tribes of Scandinavian origin that the Romans called the Germans.Rome was engaged in border skirmishes with the tribes north of the great European rivers. Strong emperors occasionally extended the empire over the rivers while weak emperors tended to lose those lands. Although the largest organised rival of the Romans was actually the Persian Empire to the east, which occupied modern Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The Persians were the political descendants of the Parthians who had revolted away from Greek rule following Alexander's conquests and, thereafter, successfully resisted Roman invasions.The fact that the empire had stretched so much made it more difficult to defend. Maintaining an army to defend the border of the Empire from barbarian attacks was a constant drain on the government. Military spending left few resources for other vital activities, such as providing public housing and maintaining quality roads and aqueducts. Frustrated Romans lost their desire to defend the Empire. The empire had to begin hiring soldiers recruited from the unemployed city mobs or worse from foreign counties. Such an army was not only unreliable, but very expensive. This also forced the emperors to raise taxes.The empire itself had also become so stretched geographically that it had become impossible to manage it successfully. that was the reason that the army had begun to take the form of a very different 'Roman' army than times before. Now the army on the outermost borders of the empire consisted mainly of mercenaries and the like. These people were fighting for money, not for the ideal or the glory of Rome.Although it was not just on the outer borders of the empire that the whole idea of Rome and what it stood for was beginning to fail. Even within the city itself things had changed since the early days of the empire. Morals and values were always very important to the roman way of life. Those morals and values that had kept...

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