The Differences Between East And West Rome

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The final centuries of the Western Roman Empire are remembered as some of the most tumultuous years in European history. What was once the mightiest state in the world bent beneath a myriad of tribal raids, economic failure and internal fragmentation. It is not in any way universally accepted by historians that it was solely the incursions of these so-called ‘barbarian’ tribes which saw the West ultimately crushed yet miraculously allowed the Eastern half of the empire to survive another millennium, in fact this outcome was probably due to a variety of factors. Yet it is clear the migration-fuelled assaults on the Roman world in the late 4th and 5th centuries had a far more devastating impact on the western provinces than those in the east. This essay will evaluate three key factors which explain to some extent the disparaging destinies between East and West Rome. Firstly, the slumping of the western economy in comparison with the Eastern Empire. Secondly, the internal strife which saw the west devolve into civil war and disjunction, weakening it to barbarian hostility. And finally, the external pressure as faced by both sides of the empire, as a succession of peoples from outside imperial Europe sought entry into the empire – peaceably or otherwise. It is likely a combination of all these elements as well as many others that led to the eventual usurpation of the old Roman heartlands by barbaric successor kingdoms. For centuries Rome had been the de facto power of Europe,
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