Reasons for the Fall of Rome

Reasons for the Fall of Rome
#1 Barbarian Invasions
When Roman soldiers were withdrawn from the
Rhine-Danube frontier in 3rd century AD to fight
in civil wars in Italy, the Roman border was left
open to attack.
Germanic hunters and herders from northern
and central Europe began to raid and take over
Roman lands in Greece and Gaul.
In A.D. 476, Odovacar, the Germanic general,
overthrew the last of the Roman emperors
(Romulus Agustulas) and made himself ruler of
#1 Barbarian Invasions
From then on, the western part of the
Empire was ruled by Germanic tribal
Roads and bridges were left in disrepair
and many fields were left untilled.
Pirates and bandits made travel unsafe.
Cities declined and trade and business
began to disappear.
#2 Decline in Morals and
Violent crimes made the streets of the larger
cities in the Empire unsafe.
There were 32,000 prostitutes in Rome during
the reign of Trajan.
Emperors like Nero and Caligula wasted money
on lavish parties, where guests ate and drank
until they became ill.
Growth of the Roman passion for cruelty.
Example: watching gladiatorial combats
#3 Environmental and Public
Health Problems
Some historians believe that the leaders of
Rome were killed by consuming excessive
amounts of lead.
Only the wealthy could afford to have lead pipes
in their homes as well as lead utensils.
However, this theory is challenged by the fact
that the eastern part of the Empire survived long
after the decline of the Western part.
#4 Military Spending to Defend
the Empire
Spending so much money to maintain an army,
left few resources for other activities such as
providing public housing and maintaining the
quality of public roads.
Had to hire soldiers recruited from the
unemployed city mobs or foreign countries. This
army was unreliable and expensive.
Taxes were raised frequently. This hurt the
businessmen and farmers, which in turn hurt the
#5 Inferior Technology
Even though the Romans were responsible for
building marvelous roads, bridges, and
aqueducts, as well as establishing the first
system of medicine, they failed to invent new
machines or find new technology to produce
goods more efficiently.
Therefore, the Romans were unable to provide
important goods for their growing population.
#6 Inflation
Inflation= increase in prices
Once the Romans stopped conquering new
lands, the flow of gold decreased.
However, the Romans continued to use gold to
purchase luxury items. This meant that there
was less gold to make coins.
As the amount of gold used in coins decreased,
the coins became less valuable.
Merchants had no choice but to raise the prices
on goods sold.
# 6 Inflation
Eventually, people stopped using coins
and began to trade goods for goods,
rather than using money. This is known as
Salaries had to be paid in food and
clothing. Taxes were collected in fruits and
#7 Political Corruption
The Romans never created an effective system
to determine how new emperors were selected.
The choice of a new emperor was open to
debate between the old emperor, the Senate,
the emperor’s private army.
Gradually the emperor’s private army gained
complete control to choose the new emperor.
#7 Political Corruption
However, in A.D 186, the army strangled
the new emperor and the practice of
selling the throne to the highest bidder
During the next 100 years, Rome had 37
different emperors, 25 of whom were
#8 Rise in Christianity
Historians believe that Christianity made its
followers into pacifists (those who oppose
This made it difficult to defend Roman lands
against barbarian invasions.
They believe that the Church attracted
qualified leaders whose talents were needed
to deal with the problems that the Roman
Empire faced.
Believed that money was being used to build
churches and monasteries, rather than being
used to maintain the Empire.
#9 Unemployment
A farmer who had to pay workmen could not
produce goods as cheaply as a farmer who
used slave labor.
Therefore, slave owners were able to sell
their crops for lower prices.
As a result, farmers could not compete with
these low prices and were forced to sell or
lose their farms.
Thousands of these unemployed men filled
the cities of the Empire, where there were not
enough jobs to accommodate them.
#10 Urban Decay
Most Romans were not rich and had to live in
small, smelly rooms in apartment homes with 6
or more stories called islands.
At one time, there were 44,000 apartment
houses within the city of Rome.
First floor apartments were not occupied by the
poor since they cost $400 per year.
The upper apartments that the poor rented for
$40 per year were hot, dirty, crowded, and
#10 Urban Decay
Anyone who could not pay rent was forced
to move out and live on the crime-infested
Due to this fact, the cities began to decay.