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Historiography of the fall of the Western Roman Empire Sincewhen Edward Gibbon published the first volume of his The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman EmpireDecline and Fall has been the theme around which much of the history of the Roman Empire has been structured.
Timespan[ edit ] The Fall of the Western Roman Empire was the process in which it failed to enforce its rule. The loss of centralized political control over the West, and the lessened power of the East, are universally agreed, but the theme of decline has been taken to cover a much wider time span than the hundred years from For Cassius Diothe accession of the emperor Commodus in CE marked the descent "from a kingdom of gold to one of rust and iron".
Toynbee and James Burke argue that the entire Imperial era was one of steady decay of institutions founded in republican times, while Theodor Mommsen excluded the imperial period from his Nobel Prize-winning History of Rome — As one convenient marker for the end, has been used since Gibbon, but other key dates for the fall of the Roman Empire in the West include the Crisis of the Third Centurythe Crossing of the Rhine in orthe sack of Rome inand the death of Julius Nepos in He began an ongoing controversy by attributing a significant role to Christianity in the Western Roman Empire's fall, which is no longer accepted by modern Roman historians.
The story of its ruin is simple and obvious; and, instead of inquiring why the Roman empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long. The victorious legions, who, in distant wars, acquired the vices of strangers and mercenaries, first oppressed the freedom of the republic, and afterwards violated the majesty of the purple.
The emperors, anxious for their personal safety and the public peace, were reduced to the base expedient of corrupting the discipline which rendered them alike formidable to their sovereign and to the enemy; the vigour of the military government was relaxed, and finally dissolved, by the partial institutions of Constantine; and the Roman world was overwhelmed by a deluge of Barbarians.
Comparison has also been made with China after the end of the Han dynastywhich re-established unity under the Sui dynasty while the Mediterranean world remained politically disunited.
Alternative descriptions and labels[ edit ] Main article: Late Antiquity From at least the time of Henri Pirenne scholars have described a continuity of Roman culture and political legitimacy long after He challenged the notion that Germanic barbarians had caused the Western Roman Empire to end, and he refused to equate the end of the Western Roman Empire with the end of the office of emperor in Italy.
He pointed out the essential continuity of the economy of the Roman Mediterranean even after the barbarian invasions, and suggested that only the Muslim conquests represented a decisive break with antiquity.
The more recent formulation of a historical period characterized as " Late Antiquity " emphasizes the transformations of ancient to medieval worlds within a cultural continuity. The Empire had large numbers of trained, supplied, and disciplined soldiers, as well as a comprehensive civil administration based in thriving cities with effective control over public finances.
Among its literate elite it had ideological legitimacy as the only worthwhile form of civilization and a cultural unity based on comprehensive familiarity with Greek and Roman literature and rhetoric.
The Empire's power allowed it to maintain extreme differences of wealth and status including slavery on a large scale and its wide-ranging trade networks permitted even modest households to use goods made by professionals far away.
The cursus honoruma standardized series of military and civil posts organised for ambitious aristocratic men, ensured that powerful noblemen became familiar with military and civil command and administration.
At a lower level within the army, connecting the aristocrats at the top with the private soldiers, a large number of centurions were well-rewarded, literate, and responsible for training, discipline, administration, and leadership in battle.
Under a series of emperors who each adopted a mature and capable successorthe Empire did not require civil wars to regulate the imperial succession. Requests could be submitted directly to the better emperors, and the answers had the force of law, putting the imperial power directly in touch with even humble subjects.
Heavy mortality in — from the Antonine Plague seriously impaired attempts to repel Germanic invaders, but the legions generally held or at least speedily re-instated the borders of the Empire.
Crisis of the Third Century The Empire suffered multiple serious crises during the third century.The Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth trope as used in popular culture. Well, it looks like this is The End.
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