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Ancient Rome: The Decline of the Roman Empire Causes that Led to Downfall 1. Disruption of Trade- Raids from barbarians and by pirates on the Mediterranean. 2. Gold & Silver Drain- Frequent wars, lavish spending by the wealthy. 3. Inflation- To pay off debts, government raised taxes and coined more money with less silver. 4. Poor harvests- Farms had been taken over by wealthy in the East- less food, higher prices. 5. Military decay- Recruitment of foreign mercenaries; fighting among military commanders for the throne; question of loyalty and discipline. 6. Political- Declining economic, military, and social conditions; high personal cost of holding political office; citizen indifference and loss of patriotism. Steps Diocletian Took To Improve the Empire Became emperor in 284 AD, retired in 305 AD because of civil war. 1. Doubled the size of Roman armies. 2. Fixed costs to control inflation. 3. Divided the empire into eastern & western, each half had its own emperor. Constantine’s Actions for Reform Became emperor of western half of empire in 312 AD. 1. Extended reforms of Diocletian and restored concept of one ruler. 2. Edict of Milan was set up in 313 AD ending persecution of Christians and allowed freedom of religion. 3. Moved capital from Rome to Byzantium (Constantinople) in 330 AD. Served as crossroads for trade, easy to defend against attack, and strongly Christian.