August 6, 2014

Roman Empire and its Fall - Medieval Europe

The Medieval Europe: The period from 600 AD on wards till 1500 AD is known as the Medieval age, in European history. It did not begin exactly at the same time in all the countries of Europe. Historians divided the medieval period into two parts. From the beginning of the fall of Roman empire till 1000 AD is called the Early Medieval Age and from 1000 AD to 1500 AD the Later Medieval Age. The beginning of the medieval age is marked by the fall of the Roman empire. The early medieval period has been termed as the “Dark Age”, because chaos and degeneration became prevalent everywhere. The central authority of the government became weaker and exploitation of the common people increased. The medieval age saw the emergence of a new religion Islam, which became internationally important.
On the political front, Medieval Europe saw the rise of the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantine Empire with its capital at Constantinople. This empire held sway over whole of East Europe till about 1400AD. The Romans proved to be great warriors and conquerors. It was because of their ability and wisdom that strong rulers evinced. After the fall of the Roman Empire in about 800A.D, Emperor Charlemagne established his power over a vast area-comprising modern France, Germany and a part of Italy. This empire lasted till his death and by about 1000 A.D another empire called the Holy Roman Empire was established. Thus towards the end of 14th century, Europe's political map had undergone many changes with many rulers holding power in different parts of Europe at different times. 

Rome was not built in a day. Similarly the decline of the Roman empire was not the work of a sudden or abrupt event but a long-drawn-out process spreading over nearly three centuries. The death of Marcus Aurelius in AD 180 was a turning point in the history of the Roman Empire. The safety, security and integrity of the empire was threatened from within and without. In fact the steady decline of the empire started from the latter half of the second century. Before their final decline in A.D.476 there were many successful emperors like Diocletian (A. D . 2 84-3 0 5) Constantine I the Great (A.D. 306-337) and Theodosius I the Great (A.D.378-395).

Causes for the down fall of the Roman Empire
The decline of the mighty Roman empire of the Caesars was wrought by time and nature, Hurricanes and earthquakes. Fires and inundations reduced the works of ages into dust.
The influx of wealth into the country brought in its wake moral degradation. The Romans lost all their old virtues of discipline and duty to the state.
The growth of the Christian church formed “a state within a state”. In policy and action, the church stood against the empire.
The political mechanism of Rome with her constitution was quite unsuitable to an empire. A corrupt and expensive bureaucracy further worsened the situation. Rome became a big empire and territorially it became vast and impossible to control it. The Romans did not treat their colonial people well. The administration was weak and relaxed. Frequent wars also contributed to her decline.
Decline of the Roman Empire
As Roman Empire expanded trade, industry too increased. Colonial people were exploited and their wealth flowed into the capital. Romans gave up hard work and wanted their slaves to work and fight. The empire was a Republic in theory but in practice Rome began to be governed by emperors. The people lost their freedom of speech which was so valuable. Senate and general assembly included wise people. When dictators came to power senate became subservient to them. In society, atmosphere became tense and suffocating. The indifferent attitude of masses towards their rulers became a cause for the downfall.

There was no regular law of succession under the Roman legal system. The internal disputes, action of a Alison and groupism weakened the empire. Thus vastness of Empire, frequent civil wars, luxurious life of Romans, despotism of Roman emperors, confused social atmosphere, high taxes and invasion of barbaric tribes led to the downfall of Roman Empire.

Barbarian Invasions:

When the star of the empire was falling into evil days, the stunning blow to the tottering empire was given by the barbarian invasions. These invasions shook up the Roman solidarity. Barbarians like the Goths, Huns and Vandals poured into the country in large numbers and waited for the most opportune moment to strike at the trunk of the withering empire. Their aim was to loot the people of the conquered territories. The soldiers of the barbarian tribes had no love for the country but often revolted against weak rulers. Thus the barbarian invasions disturbed the internal peace. Under this condition the kings failed to realize taxes from the people. They felt unsafe and insecure. In this way the circumstances bound the kings, Lords and the common people to accept the new system of feudalism.

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