The Fall of the Roman Empire

The Fall of the Roman Empire
The Fall of the Empire happens in 3 parts.
1. The Empire becomes weak.
2. Two leaders return the Empire to power.
3. The Western half of the Empire falls.
1. The Empire becomes weak
• 180-300 AD
– Marcus Aurelius’ son, Commodus, rules.
• He was irresponsible, and made things worse.
• Other Problems
Barbarians disrupting trade.
Far Eastern goods become popular.
Soil struggles to provide enough food.
Germanic Tribes (the Goths) keep attacking.
Political leaders become corrupt and weak.
Diocletian and Constantine
2. Diocletian and Constantine
• Diocletian rules from 284-305AD.
– Doubled the size of the Roman Legions.
– Persecuted the Christians to make Emperor
– Divided the Empire into two halves, each with
their own Emperor.
• Eastern Half (Greek-speaking, big cities, trade)
• Western Half (Latin-speaking, farming, poorer)
• Diocletian took the Eastern half for himself.
• Constantine
– 311 AD, four rivals fight for power in Rome.
• Constantine wins the western half in battle.
• “In this sign, go conquer”
– Later, he takes over the Eastern half as well.
– Passed the Edict of Milan, persecution of the
Christians stops.
• Christianity becomes official religion of the Empire.
– He moves the capital to Byzantium, which he
renames Constantinopole.
• Better trade, easier to protect, and Christian.
• Both Empires are now Christian.
3. Barbarians overtake the Empire
• Germanic Tribes who live in northern Europe, strike
now that Rome is weak.
• Also, the Huns from Russia are moving South.
• First, the Goths move into Rome, trying to run from
the Huns. They destroy the city. 410AD
• Then the Huns move into Rome, destroying the
Roman Empire.
– Attila the Hun
– The Huns attack Constantinople, but can’t get it.
• 476AD, Last Roman Emperor overthrown by the
• The Western Half is fallen, the Eastern half lives on.
Alaric and the Visigoths sacking Rome
Attila banqueting
Barbarian Kingdoms 530 AD