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Station 8: Military Spending
Maintaining an army to defend the border of the Empire from barbarian attacks was a
constant drain on the government. Military spending left few resources for other vital
activities, such as providing public housing and maintaining quality roads and aqueducts.
Frustrated Romans lost their desire to defend the Empire. The empire had to begin hiring
soldiers recruited from the unemployed city mobs or worse from foreign counties. Such
an army was not only unreliable, but very expensive. The emperors were forced to raise
taxes frequently which in turn led again to increased inflation.
Station 9: Barbarians
As they Roman Empire grew larger they conquered nearby lands and the people living
there became part of the empire. Those Rome conquered were often forced to serve in
the Roman army. These soldiers were often not particularly loyal to the empire and
therefore were not up to the expected skill levels of a Roman legionnaire.
Eventually many more of these people poured into the empire for protection. A barbarian
tribe known as the Huns was sweeping in from the East and chasing what was left of the
other tribes into the Roman Empire. Many of these people did not speak Latin and
wanted little to do with Roman culture or society. The empire simply could not afford to
take care of these people. Taxes, as a result, were raised significantly.
Wrap up:
1. Rate these problems on a scale of 1-9 with 1 being the one you think was the main
reason the empire fell and 9 being the reason you think mattered the least.
2. Explain why you think the problem you ranked as 1 was the main reason the
empire fell.
3. Choose 2 of the problems above and explain how they might apply to the United
States today.
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