The…ploof…of Rome

Today we did some excellent historical research, using a handful of secondary sources to compile a list of factors that led to the fall of Rome:

  • Move of the seat of power to Constantinople
  • Persian Empire centralizes power
  • Northern tribes (Gaul + Germany) unite in Gallic Empire
  • Climate change – agricultural and economic downturn
  • Migration of Northern people
  • Class polarization
  • Internal strife – apathy and lack of civic unity
  • Usurping emperors in 3rd Century, civil wars
  • Military  made up of foreign mercenaries
  • invasions of non-Roman outsiders
  • Multiculturalism – nation of immigrants
  • Empire is too big
  • Visigoths migrate and rampage
  • Bureaucratic nightmare
  • Collapse of military pride
  • Visigoths sack Rome (410) – more of a psychological assault
  • Vandals in Gaul, Spain, Britain (Anglo-Saxons move in) – territorial decline
  • Vandals sack Rome (455), then move into North Africa and disrupt trade
  • Romulus Augustus is deposed (476)
  • Loss of tax base
  • Militarization of landowners
  • Unemployment
  • Decline in education and literacy

Then we scored each point  on a scale of 0-10 – no impact to catastrophic impact. The five highest scoring points conveniently fit into 5 different categories:

1) Apathy and internal strife: social problem

2) Empire is too big: political problem – ungovernable

3) Decline in education and literacy: cultural problem, which leads to economic problems

4) Collapse of military pride: military problem – no longer defensible

5) Disruption of trade: economic decline


An empire needs to be governable, defensible, culturally and economically strong, and it has to have subjects who want to be a part of it!


Then we threw it all out the window and looked at the Roman empire not as falling but as evolving into the middle ages, the culture of the Church, the lord-serf relationship, and the foundation of much of Western culture.

Also…this guy:

Fall of Rome Song


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