As the Roman Empire began to unravel, technology fell behind as they could not adapt to changing circumstances quickly enough. Rome fell because its technological systems were insufficient to keep the state functioning.
A series of wars had destroyed most of the empire, and the remnants had become a ragged collection of semi-independent city-states. But now the barbarians were inside the gates of Rome itself, the last remnants of the Imperial forces had fled, and the future was bleak.
The fall of Rome in 476 AD occurred as a direct consequence of the lack of maintenance and innovation in the Roman military, economy, and government. In 496, two rival emperors fought each other to death, leaving no apparent heir.
In 506, half of the army rebelled against the ruling emperor; and in 507, the same thing happened again. In 508, a conspiracy to kill the emperor resulted in a civil war. By 510, the empire was on the verge of collapse, so German tribes annexed it.
In 533, the last emperor was forced to surrender, and the empire became a collection of independent city-states. As the empire collapsed, the government and infrastructure crumbled.
With no military to protect them, the civilian population fell victim to invaders from the north, east, and west. The empire was looted for its precious metals, and the cities and towns were razed. The ruins of ancient Rome lie hidden beneath a thick layer of soil, covered with grass and trees.
Reasons for the Fall of Rome
There is no question that Rome was the greatest empire the world has ever known. It lasted nearly five centuries and dominated almost half the earth’s landmass. Its armies conquered Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. It built roads, bridges, aqueducts, cities, and temples across the globe.
But the empire did not last because it was great. Rome collapsed because it was weak and overstretched. In its later years, the kingdom suffered from poor technology, political divisions, corruption, and an inability to adapt to new threats.
The collapse of the Roman Empire is a classic example of why you must keep abreast of technology. If your business or organization falls behind technologically, you will fail to stay competitive in today’s global economy.
The following are the main reasons:
The unemployment rate in Rome during the 5th and 6th centuries was between 25%-30%. Most historians agree that this had a significant impact on the fall of the Roman Empire.
People no longer felt as if they were participating in the process, and they became bitter, rebellious, and unhappy. When unemployment rose to more than 90% in the late 6th century, Rome was utterly destroyed within a decade.
Because of slave labor, many small farmers lost their land and moved into cities. Rome’s fall had its roots in several factors. One of the most important ones was slavery. Slave labor allowed for larger farms that were more profitable than rural areas. The government of Rome encouraged this by making it possible for citizens to purchase enslaved people.
Thousands of people lived in cramped and dark rooms in the city. These buildings deteriorated and became dirty, crowded, and dangerous.
The houses were too small for many people to live comfortably. In the winter, families had to share bedrooms and even bathing facilities. In the summer, the heat and stench of the outdoor ovens often drove them back indoors. The tiny, cramped apartments made the city’s population denser than any other ancient settlement.
Many of the people of Rome were poor. There was no money for schools, clean water, public baths, or even a garbage collection system. People died by the hundreds in the streets.
Rise in Christianity
A Christian pacifist is someone who refuses to fight for Rome. They refuse to help defend Rome. They spent more on building churches than maintaining the empire. Curches attracted the talented leaders of Rome rather than assisting Rome in solving its problems.
One way for the early Christian church to justify its existence was to point to the fall of the Roman Empire and argue that the end of the world was near because Rome had already fallen. They claimed that the Christian movement must have been God’s answer to the imminent threat of global annihilation because Rome had failed.
However, there were no signs of the apocalypse when Christianity was growing. The opposite was true. Although the fall of Rome served as a powerful metaphor for many Christians, in reality, it was not a cause for concern for the early church people.
It’s important to understand that in ancient times there was no democracy. In Ancient Rome, the emperor ruled the entire Roman Empire by himself. In those days, the emperors often did not even have a title – they had a name.
You need a system to decide who the new emperor should be to have a title. However, as I said, in the old days, the emperors never bothered to establish such a system. Many emperors became emperors by bribing others.
They had no way to know if they were getting a bribe. They could not tell whether their supporters were loyal to them or if they were traitors. That is why all emperors rely on their supporters and their army.
It means that Rome has never had a democratic system. The emperors always had their supporters or their army. They did not need to ask the people what they wanted.
The empire collapsed because of the loss of morale in the military, which meant that they could not defend themselves against foreign invasions. It caused a domino effect because, without solid defenses, cities and towns became vulnerable to attack. After Rome’s fall, invading barbarians took over some of the most important cities.
Many historians point to one thing as the cause when Rome fell: barbarians from outside the empire. The barbarians first came overland through Italy, but they didn’t stop there. After defeating Roman armies at places like Dura Europos in Syria, they sailed into the Black Sea and continued onward into Europe.
Their invasion was swift, surprising, and overwhelming, and their culture had the same values and customs as the Roman Empire. They did not care for the Romans. It included a lack of respect for Roman law and a disregard for Roman traditions.
Barbarians invaded Rome, looted it, raped it, and killed its people. The barbarian invasion was one of the leading causes of The fall of the Roman Empire.
A decline in morals and values
Crime and violence rose in cities. Roman passion for cruelty increased. The truth is that the people who did the looting, raping, and killing were the Romans themselves. Greed and lust for power ruined society’s morals and values. They forgot what their culture was supposed to stand for.
The fall of Rome was not only due to military failure but also to the decline of morality and values.
The Romans, raised with high moral standards, began to lower them. They believed that force was the only way to solve problems and that there should be no opposition from the people.
Environment and public health problems
The people living inside the Roman Empire experienced social and political turmoil and unrest. The wealthy were the only ones exposed to lead, but this theory is often challenged and disproved.
The Christian community, in particular, was blamed for the social breakdown, political chaos, and the collapse of the empire, primarily because they were perceived to be too powerful and to have too much influence over public policy.
However, this argument ignores that the Romans faced significant problems within their society. The actual cause of the fall was environmental problems, specifically, a severe drought. The ancient Romans could not overcome such a significant problem, so their society collapsed.
Roman citizens living in cities, such as Rome that had no access to freshwater grew used to washing themselves in salty seawater. Eventually, the Roman Empire began to rely too heavily on saltwater instead of freshwater sources, and the citizens began to suffer from severe health problems.
Excessive Military Spending
Maintaining an army to defend Rome’s borders was a constant drain on the government.
Rome collapsed because slavery was a fundamental component of its economy. As the Roman Empire grew, enslaving people to do all the dirty work became necessary. It was not until the empire began to spend more and more of its income on its military that the empire grew so large that Rome could no longer sustain itself financially.
Egypt was too far away from its source of economic growth. And even if they had been able to return to Egypt, their financial position would have been too weak to deal with the growing power of Carthage.
Its citizenry could no longer afford to pay the enormous taxes needed to support the army. So, the empire fell, and the slave economy went into reverse.
Since Rome relied so much on human and animal labor, they made the people labor for the state and made them do the work of the state. In the 2nd century BC, the Roman Senate declared that all men were born free and equal, but that after the age of 14, they were born into slavery (manumission) and had to serve the state. They failed to invent new machines that could produce goods more efficiently.
They had to import most of their necessities from the Far East. The Romans imported their clothes and food, wine, olive oil, and furniture. They even imported enslaved people from their neighbors in Spain.
They did have some machines, and thus they could not build buildings and other structures. Romans had steam engines and windmills that powered water mills. They also had some mechanical clocks that could count time.
They could not invent new technology and sufficient infrastructure to improve their already existing production methods.
Once Rome stopped conquering land, the flow of gold into the Roman economy stopped. Coins were less gold, coins became less valuable, and merchants raised prices.
The rise of inflation throughout the Roman Empire was because the government of the day started to issue debt instead of using taxes for its expenditures. It meant that if the price of food went up, the government would have to spend more money on food, but at the same time, it wouldn’t be getting any more money from taxes.
The result was that the government had to borrow money to pay for food, making the currency less valuable. It got so bad that people started stealing each other’s gold jewelry.
Because of inflation, the purchasing power of money decreased, people began borrowing money instead of using cash, and prices rose again. When the economy collapsed, people started to sell their belongings to survive.