Unit 1 Chapter 2 Lesson 2 Decline and Fall of the Empire

Culture A series of internal problems weakened the Roman Empire.
Government Under the leadership of two strong emperors, the struggling empire underwent significant changes.
Government Foreign groups invaded Rome and conquered the western half of the empire

Decline and Fall of the Empire

ESSENTIAL QUESTION 1 What internal problems weakened the Roman Empire?

Late in the second century A.D. A.D., Rome began to decline. The empire still appeared as strong as ever to most who lived under its control. Yet a series of internal problems had begun that would put mighty Rome on the road to ruin.

Economic and Social Difficulties During the second century A.D. A.D., the empire stopped expanding. The end of new conquests meant an end to new sources of wealth. Officials grew desperate to pay the empire’s growing expenses, including the rising cost of maintaining its army. As a result, the government raised taxes. This caused a hardship for many citizens.

Other aspects of Roman society suffered as well. For example, many poor Romans found it harder to become educated—as the cost of education grew out of reach. In addition, distributing news across the large empire became more difficult. As a result, people grew less informed about civic matters.

Decline in Agriculture A decline in agriculture also weakened the empire. Throughout Italy and western Europe the soil had become difficult to farm due to constant warfare and overuse. As a result, harvests grew increasingly weak.

The use of slave labor added to the problem. Like other societies throughout history, the Romans practiced slavery. The slaves were mainly war captives who were forced to work in the fields. The use of slave labor discouraged improvements in technology that might have improved farming. As Roman agriculture suffered, disease and hunger spread and the population declined.

Military and Political Problems Meanwhile, Rome’s once powerful military began showing signs of trouble. Over time, Roman soldiers in general became less disciplined and loyal. They pledged their allegiance not to Rome, but to individual military leaders.

Feelings of loyalty eventually declined among average citizens as well. In the past, Romans eagerly engaged in civic duties and public affairs. Roman politics, however, grew increasingly corrupt. Politicians became more interested in financial gain than in public service. As a result, many citizens lost their sense of pride in the government. They no longer showed a willingness to sacrifice for the good of Rome

ESSENTIAL QUESTION 1 What internal problems weakened the Roman Empire? Answer- heavy taxation, cost of  and distribution of news, decline in , growth of discouraged improvements in technology, military disloyalty, and public corruption

ESSENTIAL QUESTION 2 What changes did Rome undergo?

Rome Divides into East and West

Despite all its difficulties, the Roman Empire continued on for another 200 years. This was due in part to the strong leadership of two emperors: Diocletian (DDy•uh•KLEE•shuhn) and Constantine.

Power Shifts East Diocletian became the leader of Rome in A.D. A.D. 284. He restored order to the empire by ruling with an iron fist and tolerating little opposition. In addition, he took the bold step of dividing the empire into east and west as a way of making Rome’s immense territory easier to govern. Constantine

Constantine succeeded Diocletian as emperor and took two steps of great significance. The first occurred in A.D. A.D. 313, when he declared an end to all attacks on Christians. By allowing Christians to worship freely, he played a key role in Christianity’s growth. Constantine’s second significant action came in A.D. A.D. 330. He moved the capital of the empire from Rome to the Greek city of Byzantium (bih•ZAN•tee•uhm), which then became known as Constantinople. The new capital signaled a shift in power from the western part of the empire to the east.

ESSENTIAL QUESTION 2 What changes did Rome undergo? Answer- Rome split into an eastern and empire and the capital moved from Rome to .

ESSENTIAL QUESTION 3 What brought about the fall of Rome?

In addition to internal difficulties, the Romans faced another major problem. Foreign groups were swarming all around Rome’s borders. Soon they would invade, and the empire’s slow decline would turn into a rapid downfall.

Invasion and Conquest A number of Germanic peoples and other groups lived beyond Rome’s borders. During the late 300s, these groups began pushing into Roman lands. Their reasons for invading varied. Some came looking for better land or to join in Rome’s wealth. Many others were fleeing a fierce group of invaders from Asia known as the Huns. Eventually, the Huns themselves would invade the empire. In 476, Germanic tribes conquered Rome. It was this date, according to most scholars, that marks the fall of the Western Roman Empire. 

ESSENTIAL QUESTION 3 What brought about the fall of Rome? Answer- Outside invaders like the peoples eventually overran the empire and conquered the western half.  Their reasons for invading varied. Some came looking for better land or to join in Rome’s .

Review- What significant event occurred in 476?

The Roman Empire officially fell to Germanic invaders