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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Rome's Decline in the West and Trouble in the Roman Empire

Rome's Decline in the West
By the middle of the second century A.D., the Roman Empire faced many problems. For one thing, several emperors, including Constantine, tried to keep the Roman Empire strong. However, even the efforts of strong rulers could not protect the empire from decline. It had grown too large to be managed easily. In addition, the empire's rule was being challenged by peoples both outside and within.

Trouble in the Roman Empire
A Roman historian living in the third century A.D. contrasted the period he lived in with the earlier days of the empire. "Our history," he wrote, "now plunges from a kingdom of gold to one of iron and rust."

The Pax Romana, which brought peace for two centuries, ended during the A.D. 160s.
At this time outsiders began to attack the empire along its borders. These people were known to the Romans as barbarians. The Greeks had developed this term because they thought the speech of outsiders sounded like "bar, bar, bar."

Throughout much of the A.D. 200s, outsiders threatened the empire on three sides. Germanic tribes from the north attacked Greece and Gaul. In the east the Persians attacked Roman territory in Asia. In the south an African people called the Berbers (BER»berz) raided Roman lands in northern Africa.

To make matters worse, many Roman emperors ruled poorly during these uneasy times. No one seemed to be able to govern such a large region, and civil wars often broke out. Tyrants seized control of the government in Rome, but they often ruled only a short time before being overthrown and killed. Twenty-five different emperors ruled in less than 50 years.

Roman citizens began to lose respect for their rulers during this time. Even the soldiers who fought to keep the Roman Empire together felt little loyalty toward it. Instead they gave their loyalty to their generals, who were fighting one another.

The political conflicts within the Roman Empire caused its economy to suffer. Trade declined, and Roman money lost value. The prices of food rose dramatically, bringing many hardships to the Roman people.

What problems did the Romans face during much of the A.D. 200s?


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