Essay on The Fall of Rome

860 Words 4 Pages
As of the second century, A.D., the Roman Empire measured nearly 3,000 miles from east to west and nearly 2,000 miles from north to south, with its total land area approximately one-half of the continental United States. Its population at this time, at its peak under Augustus, had increased from 50 million to as high as 70 million. At the time, only the empire of China had a populous that paralleled with the Roman Empire, and no other human group under a single government was as large as these two.

The era of “decline and fall” began with the death of Marcus Aurelius in A.D. 180, in which the great age of the Pax Romana ended. There was evidence from scholars who have written hundreds of volumes on the problems the empire faced,
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Rivals contested him as the ruler, however, he was relentless and reigned for some twenty years before voluntarily retiring to a palace at Split, in his native of Illyria (modern Croatia).

When Diocletian’s guiding hand was removed, years of dreary fighting amongst rulers ensued, Constantine I emerged as the sole winner. By 324, he had disposed of all rivals, and for a brief period there was again, one empire and one emperor. Unlike Diocletian, Constantine ordered complete freedom of worship throughout the territories under his control (Edict of Milan) This was the beginning of the adoption of Christianity by the empire, however, it could not solve the immediate problems it encountered: rivalries and warfare among emperors and would-be emperors, the threat of barbarian invasions and the economic decline of the West. The destruction of the West was also due to high taxation and rising prices, which by the third century, turned the prosperous cities of the early empire to heavily fortified outposts whose citizens had lost all real self-government.

Fortunately, due to the reforms of Diocletian and Constantine, the empire held off barbarian attacks for the most of the fourth century. There was brutal warfare between the Romans and their barbarian neighbors, however they were becoming similar in nature. After the Visigoths were permitted in 376 to be permitted to be admitted to Roman territory and being ruthlessly oppressed by corrupt roman
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