Roman Empire Overexpansion

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To start with, it can be said overexpansion was responsible for the failing economy of the Empire which then in turn contributed to causing the fall of the Roman Empire in the West. Firstly, ancient agriculture had a significant role to play in the shortcomings of the economy. It suffered from two limitations; the lack of modern machinery so the productivity of a slab of land depended massively on how much labour was available to work it and the lack of chemical fertilisers so output was generally quite low. Therefore, “In the economically ailing west, a decrease in agricultural production led to higher food prices.” This decrease was due to high taxation on marginal land driving it out of cultivation. In addition to this, transport was very…show more content…
The army therefore had always been the largest item of expenditure in the Empire. This was exacerbated by events in the early third century whereby the Sasanian dynasty (Res Gestae Divi Saporis) came to threaten the Romans on the Eastern front (Persia). Now this was before the split of the Empire so is perfectly relevant to the West’s problems. Between 237-272 AD, the Sasanians launched a major offensive of Roman Mesopotamia capturing the three major cities of Carrhae, Nisbis and Hatra whilst also inflicting further defeats of the Romans in response to their counterattacks. Two Emperors had also been killed in Valerian and Numerianus, with the latter being made an example of… “They flayed him and made his skin into a sack. And they treated it with myrrh and kept it as an object of exceptional…show more content…
At its peak, the border of the Empire measured over 20,000 km from the Atlantic coast of northern Britain, through Europe to the Black Sea, and from there to the Red Sea and across North Africa to the Atlantic coast. Therefore in order to guard this huge expanse many soldiers were required. The one hundred and eighteen kilometer stretch of border known as Hadrian’s wall, guarded at all times by at least fifteen thousand men, is a prime example of just how far from Rome and just how many soldiers were needed. However, unable to recruit enough soldiers from the Roman citizenry, Emperors like Diocletian and Constantine began hiring foreign mercenaries to prop up their armies. The ranks of the legions eventually swelled with Germanic Goths and other barbarians, so much so that Romans began using the Latin word “barbarus” in place of “soldier.” While these Germanic soldiers proved to be fierce warriors, they also had “little or no loyalty to the empire”, and their power-hungry officers often turned against their Roman employers. However this claim can be rebuked by looking at Ammianus Marcellinus’ review in 370 AD of the army in action, in which there is no evidence whatsoever that the standard of discipline or loyalty had fallen in any severe way,
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