Fall of the Roman Empire
Rome ruled a vast empire for over 1,000 years. They controlled much of Europe located around the Mediteranean 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 problems 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 their slaves while the poor could not find enough work. As Rome’s conquests began to end, so did their import of slaves, and they faced a drastic decline in labor disrupting agriculture production. This created more stress on the already weakened economy.
Many people wanted to be in control and the emperor was often overthrown by a new incoming power. Bribery, graft, 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 and the emperor’s position was given to those who paid the most. For a long time there was no stability. Rome was eventually divided into two, the Western and Eastern empires. The two empires drifted apart, and the Eastern empire grew while the Western empire declined into economic crisis.
The growth 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 weak 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 that they did not have. Without adequate protection or money to supply it, the city of Rome finally fell to Germanic Tribes in 476 AD.