The Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 6, Section 4
A Century in Crisis End of Marcus Aurelius’ reign as emperor (A.D. 161-180) brought about end of Pax Romana. Ruler’s after Marcus Aurelius had no idea how to deal with the giant empire and its problems.
Rome’s Economy Weakens Hostile tribes and pirates disrupt trade. Empire at limit of expansion and lacks new sources of gold and silver. – empire raised taxes as a result – empire minted coins with less silver inflation resulted
Rome’s Economy Weakens Agriculture faced serious problems – Harvests were increasingly meager because soil lost fertility. – Years of war destroyed farmland. Serious food shortages, disease, and population decline resulted.
Military and Political Turmoil Roman military in disarray – less disciplined soldiers – allegiance to commanders, not to Rome itself – recruiting of mercenaries who were less loyal to Rome Less loyalty among average citizens – Earlier Romans cared more about the Republic. Later Romans lose their sense of patriotism.
Emperors Attempt Reform Diocletian Reforms the Empire – Becomes emperor in 284. – Severely limits personal freedoms. – Doubles size of Roman army. – Controls inflation by price fixing. – Divides the empire Greek speaking East (takes for himself) Latin-speaking West (appoints a co-ruler) – Kept overall control. – Retired in A.D. 305, but civil war broke out. – Four rivals competed for control, including the commander Constantine
Emperors Attempt Reform Constantine Moves the Capital – A.D. 312 Constantine gains control of the western part of the empire. – A.D. 324 he secures the eastern empire and the system of a single ruler. – A.D. 330 Constantine moves the capital from Rome to Byzantium on the Bosporus Strait between Europe and Asia. – The center of power shifts from Rome to the east, Constantinople.
Western Empire Crumbles– Germanic Invasions A.D. 370 the Huns move into Europe causing the Germanic peoples to flee into Roman territory. A.D. 410 Germans invade and overrun Rome itself and plunder it for three days. Attila the Hun In 444 the Huns unite under Attila and terrorize both halves of the empire. In 452 the Huns advance against Rome, but fail in conquering the city due to famine and disease. Attila dies in 453.
The Western Empire Crumbles – An Empire No More 14-year-old emperor Romulus Augustulus ousted by German by German forces in 426. Roman power in the western half of the empire ceases to exist. The eastern half of the empire comes to be called the Byzantine Empire, and flourishes for 1,000 years. The Byzantine emperors ruled from Constantinople. The Byzantine emperors saw themselves as heirs to the power of Augustus Caesar.