The Fall of the Roman Empire
- By 476 AD the western half of the Roman Empire had collapsed. The Crisis of the Third Century was that the entire Roman system – social, military, economic –collapsed and the empire began disintegrating. This happened due to a number of different reasons:
- Unrest among common people: Roman society was divided into free persons and slaves. The slaves had no rights and had to work very hard for their masters. This caused unrest among them.
- Taxes: As the empire expanded, more and more people had to be conscripted into the army. This required money for salaries so people from all the Roman territories were heavily taxed. This caused great unrest and revolt from some parts of the empire who felt disconnected from the Emperor.
- Barbarians: The Romans called everyone outside the Roman Empire barbarians and thought they lacked culture and morals. However, they had to sometimes enlist their help in protecting their far-off territories where the tired Roman army could not or would not go. The Barbarians (Germanic tribes such as the Vandals and the Visigoths) not only took over the land they were sent to protect but also weakened the social morals of the troops.
- Christianity: the rise of Christianity made people believe that a peaceful life of service was possible and they did not want the join the army. It also taught that all men were created equal in the eyes of God which threw off the balance of slaves and free persons.
- Praetorian Guards: the Praetorian guards were a special class of soldiers encamped within Rome charged with protecting high-ranking officials in the city. They misused their special powers by accepting money to assassinate emperors, bullied people under them and on the people whom they were sworn to protect. Their position in society was weakened because of this.
- Asterix and Obelix is a famous comic book that is based on the rebellion of territories within the Roman Empire. Try and find one of the Asterix and Obelix comic books and learn about the Gaulish rebellion.
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