FOCUS 2B

  The Decline of the Roman
Rome suffers an economic and military
As people’s loyalty and service to the
empire decrease, only the armies remain
active in politics.
       A Century of Crisis
A.D. 161-180 – reign of Marcus Aurelius,
last of Five Good Emperors
A.D. 180 – Marcus Aurelius dies and
Roman empire begins its decline
Rulers that followed weakened Roman
    Rome’s Economy Declines
1. Pax Romana
   a. Trade flourished
   b. Gold and silver taken from conquered
      territories added to Rome’s wealth
   c. Surplus of food
2. Above listed resources disappeared in 3rd
   century A.D.
      Rome’s Economy Declines
3.   Trade was disrupted
4.   Wars were frequent and a financial drain
5.   Wealthy overspent on luxury items
6.   Gold and silver supplies drained
7.   No new sources of precious metals
    Rome’s Economy Declines
8. Efforts to cover expenses
   a. Taxes raised
   b. Minted coins contained less silver
9. Inflation, severe drop in value of money
   plus a rise in prices, resulted
     Rome’s Economy Declines
10. Food sources dwindle
    a. Western harvests meager due to
       overworked soil
    b. Farmland destroyed by warfare
    c. High taxes forced small farmers to
       give up their land
    d. Cheap slave labor discouraged technological
Rome Faces Military Upheaval
1. Military crisis contributed to economic
2. Roman armies were constantly at war
   with invaders, “barbarians”
3. Use of mercenaries caused collapse in
   loyalty to the empire
           Roman Politics
1. Lack of loyalty was key in feelings of
2. Political office no longer an honor
3. Only armies active in politics
4. See chart text page 160
Diocletian institutes many reforms, creating
an Eastern and Western Empire, but fails to
ensure orderly succession.
Constantine moves the capital of the Roman
Empire to Byzantium, shifting the center of
power east.
   Emperors Attempt Reform
1. Roman empire survived another 200
2. Empire’s life prolonged by emperors who
   divided it
   a. Eastern
   b. Western
Diocletian Reforms the Empire
1. A.D. 284 – Diocletian becomes emperor
2. He restored order and increased the
   empire’s strength
3. Diocletian governed as an absolute ruler
4. He limited personal freedoms
Diocletian Reforms the Empire
5. Reforms
   a. Drafted prisoner of war and hired
      German mercenaries
   b. Set fixed prices for goods
   c. Ordered farmers and workers to
      remain on their farms and jobs for life
   d. Personally proclaimed he was a descendant
      of Roman gods
   e. Persecuted Christians
Diocletian Reforms the Empire
   f. Divided empire
      1. Greek-speaking East
      2. Latin-speaking West
      3. Appointed himself co-ruler of west
      4. Each ruler chose an assistant who
         was to be their successor
6. A.D. 305 – Diocletian retires and civil war
Constantine Moves the Capital
1. A.D. 312 – Constantine gains control of
    Western empire
2. A.D. 324 – Constantine takes control of
    Eastern empire
3. A.D. 330 – Constantine moves capital
   from Rome to Byzantium (bih –ZAN-
   a. Strategic for trade and defense
   b. City renamed Constantinople
Internal and economic problems and
invading tribes bring down the Western
Roman Empire.
Although Rome’s power is gone, it’s
cultural heritage endures.
  Invaders Overrun the Western
Western Roman Empire in decline for many years
Causes of final collapse
a. Internal problems
b. Separation of West from East
c. Invasions
A.D. 376-476 – Germanic invasions
a. Drove out Romans
b. See text page 161
       The Huns Move West
1. German invasions were result of the Huns
   moving into Europe
2. Huns were Mongol nomads from central
3. Read description of the Huns text page
        Germanic Invasions
1. Winter 406 – Rhine River froze allowing
   warriors to cross on ice
2. 410 – Alaric (AL-ur-ihk) crosses Alps to
   attack Rome
              Attila the Hun
1. 444 – Huns unite under Attila (AT-uhl-
2. Attila attacked both western and eastern
   halves of empire
3. A.D. 452 – Attila’s attack on Rome foiled
   by famine and disease
   a. Pope Leo I negotiates their withdrawal
4. 455 – Gaiseric saks Rome
        Rome’s Last Emperor
1. Roman emperor of west becomes
2. Romulus Augustulus – last Roman
   emperor and their power in west
3. Eastern half of empire becomes
4. Byzantine empire flourishes until 1453
            KEY IDEAS
The Roman Empire splits in two.
Economic, military, and political decay and
outside invaders bring down the Western
Roman empire, but the Eastern half survives

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