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In the late fourth century, the Western Roman Empire crumbled after a nearly 500-year run as the world’s greatest superpower. Historians have blamed the collapse on hundreds of different factors ranging from military failures and crippling taxation to natural disasters and even climate change. Still others argue that the Roman Empire didn’t really fall in 476 A.D., since its eastern half continued for another thousand years in the form of the Byzantine Empire. While just how—and when—the Empire fell remains a subject of ongoing debate, certain theories have emerged as the most popular explanations for Western Rome’s decline and disintegration. Read on to discover eight reasons why one of history’s most legendary empires finally came crashing down.
ROME'S CHALLENGE - WHY DO PROTESTANTS KEEP …
The best example of an ideal dictator was a Roman citizen named Cincinnatus. During a severe military emergency, the Roman Senate called Cincinnatus from his farm to serve as dictator and to lead the Roman army. When Cincinnatus stepped down from the dictatorship and returned to his farm only 15 days after he successfully defeated Rome's enemies, the republican leaders resumed control over Rome.
One of the innovations of the Roman Republic was the notion of equality under the law. In 449 B.C.E., government leaders carved some of Rome's most important laws into 12 great tablets. The Twelve Tables, as they came to be known, were the first Roman laws put in writing. Although the laws were rather harsh by today's standards, they did guarantee every citizen equal treatment under the law.
It is the fourth-most populous city in the …
The early Roman Republic often found itself in a state of constant warfare with its surrounding neighbors. In one instance, when the Romans were fighting the Carthaginians, Rome was nearly conquered. The people of Carthage (a city in what is today Tunisia in north Africa) were a successful trading civilization whose interests began to conflict with those of the Romans.
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Elagabalus was only Caracalla's cousin, but his maternal aunt campaigned for him to lead Rome. The explanation for his rise is simple after that. "If you want to understand how the Roman Empire ended up having at the very top of the pyramid someone who was more or less wildly inappropriate," Ando says, "one answer is that they never gave up on blood as a rule of succession."
Legend: Romulus & Remus - Ancient Rome for Kids
The reign of Nerva (96-98), who was selected by the Senate to succeed Domitian, began another golden age in Roman history, during which four emperors–Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius–took the throne peacefully, succeeding one another by adoption, as opposed to hereditary succession. Trajan (98-117) expanded Rome’s borders to the greatest extent in history with victories over the kingdoms of Dacia (now northwestern Romania) and Parthia. His successor Hadrian (117-138) solidified the empire’s frontiers and continued his predecessor’s work of establishing internal stability and instituting administrative reforms.
Roman Mosaics - Ancient Rome for Kids
The fate of Western Rome was partially sealed in the late third century, when the Emperor Diocletian divided the Empire into two halves—the Western Empire seated in the city of Milan, and the Eastern Empire in Byzantium, later known as Constantinople. The division made the empire more easily governable in the short term, but over time the two halves drifted apart. East and West failed to adequately work together to combat outside threats, and the two often squabbled over resources and military aid. As the gulf widened, the largely Greek-speaking Eastern Empire grew in wealth while the Latin-speaking West descended into economic crisis. Most importantly, the strength of the Eastern Empire served to divert Barbarian invasions to the West. Emperors like Constantine ensured that the city of Constantinople was fortified and well guarded, but Italy and the city of Rome—which only had symbolic value for many in the East—were left vulnerable. The Western political structure would finally disintegrate in the fifth century, but the Eastern Empire endured in some form for another thousand years before being overwhelmed by the Ottoman Empire in the 1400s.