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Fall of the Roman Empire
1. External Issues => Barbarian Tribes Attacking
2. Internal Issues => Disease, Famine, War
Problems Start for Rome
1) Rome Loses Battle of the
Teutoburg Forest (9AD)
1) Roman trained German
leads Germanic tribes
2) Wipe out 3 Roman
Legions = affected psyche
of Rome
Stop expanding, and
decide to hold at the
Rhine river
2) Without expansion there is
less money & slaves coming in
to Rome
Problems Start for Rome
1) Roman Senators become wealthy landowners whose
wealth is NOT tied to the military or trade. As such:
1) Roman Senators more invested in taking the throne to give
themselves wealthy grants of land and other perks/bribes
Civil Wars rage from 193 C.E. onward devastating the countryside
2) Senators promised more and more money to soldiers to
fight for them (So the Senator could become the Emperor)
This emptied Rome’s coffers
The Empire in Crisis: 200CE
•Rome No longer
has a powerhouse
•Barbarians like
Visigoths &Vandals
raiding Roman
•Trying to get away
from the HUNS
•Roman army uses
Barbarians as
Diocletian Splits the Empire: 294 CE
 Diocletian split the Empire in two with two consuls in each half
 He hoped it would reduce civil wars and help defend the borders better
 But by increasing the size of the army and adding numerous more government
officials he just ended up helping make Rome become poorer faster!
Problems in Western Rome
1) Numerous plagues strike Western Roman Empire wiping out
laborers & soldiers
2) Roman Senators ban themselves, and their workers, from
military service:
Less troops for the army = hire mercenaries = less money
Senate has no vested interest in helping keep the army
strong/modern and let it fall behind technologically
Shortage of workers = shortage of goods and trade
Less trade = less money
3) With less money Rome increased taxes on provinces and the
People became resentful of the government = unrest
People started joining Christianity where poor = good
Christianity said you shouldn’t worship the Emperor and that he is not a god = more
Emperors of the West
406-407 Marcus
407 Gratian
407-411 Constantine III
409 Constans II
409-411 Maximus
411-413 Jovinus
412-413 Sebastianus
414-415 Priscus Attalus
421 Constantius III
423-425 Johannes
425-455 Valentinian III
455 Petronius Maximus
455-456 Avitus
457-461 Majorian
461-465 Libius Severus
467-472 Anthemius
468 Arvandus
470 Romanus
472 Olybrius
473-474 Glycerius
474-475 Julius Nepos
475-476 Romulus Augustulus
Civil Wars in Western Rome Continued:
•24 Emperors in 80years
•Most killed predecessors to take power or over threw them in a civil war
•No stability or good leadership led to weakness.
Problems in Western Rome
 Western Roman Empire started making
deals with the invading Barbarian tribes
(Vandals, Goths, etc.) for them to fight in
the Roman Army in exchange for them
being given land within Roman borders
 These tribes wanted protection from
the Huns (Attila!)
 However, as Rome treated the new
barbarians poorly and as Rome became
poorer it couldn’t pay the barbarian
 Visigoth General (Alaric) takes his
Roman-trained army and sacks
Rome to get money and food for
their people (410 CE)
Attila the Hun:“The Scourge of
Other Nomadic tribes fled from Attila into Roman territory
causing destruction in their way.
Though he never sacked Rome or Constantinople he did invade
Gaul, etc numerous times
Attila the Hun:“The Scourge of
Attila’s Empire was right on the edge of the Roman Empire (and almost as large)
Barbarian Invasions: 4c-5c
End of the Western Roman Empire
Eastern Rome Remains Strong
 Still had trade with Asia which kept it wealthy
 Had a smaller border to defend from Barbarian invaders
 Stronger leaders and less civil wars
Allowed Eastern Rome to survive and thrive as the Byzantine
Constantine: 312 – 337CE
• Emperor of the East (Byzantine Empire – Preserve
Roman Culture)
• Founded Constantinople - Site of Byzantium
• Modern Istanbul
• Well set for trade and defense (lasted until 1456CE)
• Had a vision of a cross in the sky
before the battle of Milvian Bridge
•Won the battle and took it as
a sign to follow God
•Changed laws to be more
lenient towards Christianity.
•Became Christian on his death
Constantinople: “The 2nd Rome”(330CE)