Monday, June 26, 2017

The Fall of the Roman Empire in the West

The fall of the Roman Empire in the west.
The success of Christianity within the empire was in part due to a growing sense of insecurity among many people. During most of the A.D. 200s, the Roman empire experienced dreadful confusion, civil war, and barbarian invasions. If not for the efforts of two emperors, Diocletian and Constantine, the empire probably would have collapsed. Their reforms and reorganization of the empire postponed final collapse for about 200 years. Diocletian divided the empire administratively and appointed a co-emperor to help govern the vast territory more efficiently. Constantine continued these reforms and established a second capital at Constantinople, from which the eastern provinces of the Roman empire could be more efficiently administered. After Constantine’s death, however, the administrative division eventually became a permanent division into what ultimately became to two separate empires.

As the two parts of the empire drifted apart, both came under increasing pressure from invading barbarian tribes like the Huns. The wealthier and more populous eastern half was able to defend itself better than the relatively poor, agrarian western half. Weakened within as well as by attacks from outside, eventually the western half of the empire collapsed in A.D. 476, when Romulus Augustulus, the last emperor of Rome in the west, was defeated and killed by invading barbarians. Actually, no such thing as a single fall occurred, but instead the empire gradually disintegrated. Despite this “fall” of the Roman Empire in the west, the eastern Roman empire, usually called the Byzantine Empire, continued to exist for nearly another thousand years. Roman imperial traditions were preserved even after the collapse of the western empire through the continuance of the Roman Church, the only imperial institution to survive relatively intact. Through the church, Roman ideas and civilization remained an important base on which a new civilization would eventually be built in western Europe.

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