Fall of the Roman Empire
Rome ruled a vast empire for over 1,000 years. They controlled much of Europe located around the Mediterranean Sea including Spain, Italy, as well as Turkey, Egypt and other North African territories. However, their large empire would eventually be their downfall. Like many empires, the decline happened gradually due to many economic, social, and political problems.
Many of the issues that led to Rome’s decline were due to government and economic corruption. Rome’s economy was based on slave labor. By relying on slave labor, there was a large gap between the rich and the poor. The rich grew wealthy from the labor of their slaves while the poor struggled to find work. As Rome’s conquests began to end, so did their import of slaves. This would cause a labor shortage that disrupted agriculture production. This, in turn, created more stress on the already weakened economy.
Many people sought power and the emperor was often overthrown by a new incoming power. Bribery, swindling, and corruption in the Senate further weakened Rome as it suffered through a series of bad emperors. Rich people bought votes and gave favors to friends, with the emperor’s position given to those who paid the most. For many years Rome lacked stability, eventually causing Rome to be divided into the Western and Eastern empires. The two empires drifted apart, and the Eastern empire grew while the Western empire declined into economic crisis.
The expansion of Rome made it very difficult to govern and protect. Rome was under constant attack from Barbarian invasions. Germanic tribes including the Goths, Visigoths, and the Huns moved in from Europe to attack the weakening Roman Empire. This constant warfare required heavy military spending, which took money away from where it was needed. The Roman army became overstretched and needed more soldiers than they had. Without adequate protection or the means to supply it, the city of Rome finally fell to Germanic Tribes in 476 AD.