Fall of Roman Empire

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The Roman Empire reached its zenith in 117 AD under Emperor Trajan of the Antonine dynasty. The empire encompassed lands from modern day England to Egypt, and had a population of up to sixty-five million people, roughly twenty-one percent of the world’s population in the second century. Roman influence was adopted throughout all its lands and helped shape modern day Western society. Events that attributed to the decline of the Western Roman Empire began as early as 9 CE. Within this essay three different authors’ interpretations of three topics will be discussed: Christianity and its effect on the Western Empire, barbarians affect on the Roman military, and the splitting of the empire. It is important to note that the Western empire did not fall overnight, the empire succumbed to a gradual breakdown of political, economic, and social institutions over the course of four hundred years. A brief abridgment of the fall of the Western Empire can begin with the Teutoburg Forrest in 9 CE. The crushing defeat the Roman forces is the earliest sign of events that lead to the Western Empires demise. Roman expansion into Germanic territories was essentially halted and the assimilation of the Germanic tribes was a failure. Later, barbarian tribes from this region will pressure the Roman authority along its boarders. Three hundred years later Emperor Diocletian creates political and economic reforms in an effort to strengthen the empire against growing external threats. He felt that the empire had grown to size that was too large for one to rule. He splits the empire into two halves and implements the rule of tetrarchy. He intended to strengthen the empire but inadvertently sets the stage for the Western empires fall. Emperor’s Gratian and Theodosius further divide the Eastern and Western empires by focusing their reigns around Christianity and the persecution pagans.
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