The Fall of the Empire

And So It Begins….
• The Pax Romana established
by Emperor Augustus lasts for
200 years.
• There were revolts and
problems throughout the
empire during this time, but
the peace lasted.
• By about 125 A.D. Roman law
is standardized- This meant
that legal procedures were the
same in all parts of the Empire.
How the Empire Falls…..
• The emperors had no written rule
about who was to inherit the throne
upon an emperor’s death.
• Sometimes it was inherited by a son,
other time a son was adopted as an
• For example, Marcus Aurelius became
emperor in 161 A.D.
• He was kind, intelligent, and devoted
to duty.
• His son, Commodus was the opposite.
He was so cruel and hated that he was
strangled by his Praetorian Guard who
sold his throne to the highest bidder.
• What was the Praetorian Guard?
How the Empire Falls…..
• This set a terrible precedent. (What is a
• For the next 100 years legion fought legion to
put its own emperor on the throne.
• By 284 A.D. Rome had 37 different emperors.
• Most were murdered by the army or the
Praetorian Guard
How the Empire Falls…..
• To stay in office and emperor had to keep the soldiers who
supported him happy.
• To do this he paid them high wages. (what are wages?)
• This meant more and more money was needed for the
army payroll.
• As a result the Roman citizens had to pay higher taxes.
• Romans also began to suffer from inflation. (Rising prices)
How the Empire Falls…..
• Since there were no new conquests, gold was no
longer coming in to Rome, yet a lot of gold was going
out to buy luxury items. (define luxury)
• This meant there was less gold to produce gold coins.
• Money began to loose its value.
• People began to barter instead of use money. (what
does it mean to barter?)
How the Empire Falls…..
Foreign Enemies:
• While the Romans fought each other over politics and
money, their frontiers were left open for attack. (what
is a frontier?)
• Germanic hunters and herders from the north began to
raid Greece and Gaul.
• Trade and farming in those areas declined.
• Again cities began to build protective walls around
Diocletian and Constantine
• These two emperors tried very hard to save
the Roman Empire from collapse.
• He fortifies the frontier to stop
• He reorganizes the state and provincial
governments to make them work
• To keep prices down, he set a
maximum price for wages and goods.
• To make sure goods were produced, he
ordered workers to stay in the same
job until they died. (why would he
need to do this?)
• He also made the city officials
personally responsible for the taxes
their communities had to pay.(What
might this mean?)
• He established the official policy of rule by divine
• This meant that the emperors powers and right
to rule came not from the people, but from the
• He also realized the Roman Empire covered too
much area for one person to rule well, so he
divided it into two parts.
• He allowed someone else to govern the western
provinces, while he ruled the richer eastern
Constantine I
• In 312 A.D. Constantine I became Emperor.
• He decreed that the sons of workers had to follow their
father’s trade.
• The sons of farmers had to stay and work the land their
fathers worked.
• The sons of ex-soldiers had to serve in the army. (Why
does he do this?)
• To escape government pressure and control, wealthy
landowners moved to their villas or country estates.
• Most villas were like small independent cities.
• Each villa produced its own food and goods to meet the
needs of everyone who lived there.
Constantine I
• Despite the changes by
both Diocletian and
Constantine, the Roman
Empire continued to
decline in the west.
• In 330 A.D. Constantine
moved the capital from a
dying Rome east to the
newly built city of
Constantinople in
present day Turkey.
End of the Empire
• German attacks increased,
especially in western Europe.
• In 378 A.D. a Germanic group
defeated Roman legions at
the battle of Adrianople.
• They were able to defeat the
Romans because of an
invention borrowed from the
Huns-the iron stirrup.
• The stirrup made the cavalry
stronger than infantry
because the force of the
charging horse was added to
the force of the weapon.
• By 400 A.D. Rome had
grown quite weak.
• In 410 A.D. the
Germanic chief Alaric
and his soldiers
invaded Rome.
• They burned records
and looted the
• The Roman Senate told
the people, “You are on
your own.”
• What would happen if
our government said
this to us today?
End of the