Christianity and the Fall of Rome


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  • Diocletian Promoted by Praetorian Guard in 284 CE 293 CE – Reform – divided Empire into East and West 2 Senior Emperors Augusti, assisted by junior emperors Caesares Also reformed bureaucracy, reorganized provinces, military reforms Standing armies on frontiers mobile units in provinces for rebellions Cavalry becomes as important as infantry Recruiting of Germanics and other non-Romans Serious attempt to eradicate Christianity Churches dismantled, scriptures burned, persecution, sacrifice to emperor or die – martyrs
  • Constantine was a Caesar, fought other Caesar Maxentius for control at Milvian Bridge in 312 First Emperor to Convert to Christianity Edict of Milan (or Edict of Toleration) frees Christians from persecution Established Constantinople as new capital of Rome (Byzantium) Built Hagia Sophia in 360 CE
  • Archaeological Evidence – population decline all over Europe from 400-600 CE. Very low 600-1600 Plague Not enough farmers – food supply not secure Taxation – couldn’t afford large families Can’t defend selves – hiring barbarians and mercenaries
  • Antoine plague 165-180 AD in Rome Up to 40% of the population dies Smallpox or measles AKA Galen’s plague – he described it Brought back with soldiers from east Gloucester – smallpox or epidemic of measles
  • Tax revenues sucked up by the army Minted more coins to pay the army, inflation goes up, price controls Farmers can’t make enough to be a farmer Mosaic is from Pompeii – farmers making olive oil Circus maxiumus – 200 000 people – bread and circus, not DOING anything No expansion, no more plunder and slaves
  • Mercenary armies, military anarchy Blatantly corrupt – used for political power Discipline gone – not making camps anymore Drinking parties, flabby Gradual decline over 900 years
  • Stilicho is a Gothic general in the Roman Army – essentially rules the West while Honorius (Theodosius’ son) is a boy Beheaded in 408 CE after defeating the Visigoths, but agreed to pay Alaric to help feed the Italian peninsula Alaric realizes he is not going to get paid and sacks Rome in 410 Alaric founds a capital at Toulouse in 418 and works out an elaborate way of sharing the land, est. own justice system
  • Theodoric took power from Odoacer – invited him to dinner then sliced him from collarbone to thigh "The wretch cannot have had a bone in his body," he is reported to have commented, surprised by the effect of his stroke. Killed his wife, son and brother too. Actually was a pretty good king, but made it clear he was Gothic Sassanids had taken much of the middle east already
  • Battle of Adrianople – emperor Valens (just before Theodosius) lost important battle to Sassanid Empire
  • Christianity and the Fall of Rome

    1. 2. Divides the Empire – East and West Diocletian 284 - 305 A.D.
    2. 3. Political Fragmentation Cont’d Constantine the Great 306-337 CE Hagia Sophia
    3. 4. Political Fragmentation Cont’d. Theodosius 379 - 395 A.D. <ul><li>Christianity is official religion </li></ul><ul><li>Advocate of the Nicene Creed (325 CE) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Statement of Christian Faith by bishops in Nicaea </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Click here to go to an English Version of the Nicene Creed </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Banned pagan worship </li></ul><ul><li>Closed pagan temples </li></ul><ul><li>Abolished Olympic Games 393 CE </li></ul>
    4. 6. Mass grave at Gloucester The “Antoine Plague” 165 - 180 A.D.
    5. 7. Farmers making olive oil in Pompeii More Coins, more inflation Bread and circuses
    6. 8. <ul><li>Political Corruption </li></ul><ul><li>Loss of discipline </li></ul><ul><li>Use of mercenaries </li></ul>
    7. 9. Weak Emperors Barbarian Generals Romulus Augustulus 475 – 476 A.D. General Stilicho – Tangled with the Visigoths under Alaric – ruling for Honorius Honorius – emperor at age 10 (395-423 CE) Alaric, King of the Visigoths, sacks Rome in 410 CE 476 CE Odoacer (Visigothic general) deposes last emperor Romulus Augustulus End of Western Rome
    8. 10. Germanic Peoples Visigoths, Saxons, Franks, Alammani, Burgundians, Vandals, Goths Sassanid Empire (Persians) Huns invade Rome 451CE under Attila Theodoric the Great 493-526 CE First Gothic King of Rome
    9. 12. Former Roman Empire 526 CE
    10. 13. Legacies <ul><li>Christianity </li></ul><ul><li>Architecture and Technology </li></ul><ul><li>Law and Government </li></ul><ul><li>Language </li></ul><ul><li>Art, Literature, Philosophy </li></ul><ul><li>Eastern Empire continues as Byzantium until 1453 </li></ul><ul><li>Preserves Greco-Roman knowledge </li></ul>Icon of the Archangel Michael on enamel