The Roman Empire stood in great power for many decades. Rome for a period of time was considered the center of civilization for years. The empire was beautiful and even though attracted many invaders, was very well protected by the walls surrounding the empire and of course the powerful army. Some people believed that the Roman Empire would last forever.
Under the rule of Diocletian and later Constantine the empire was split into Western and Eastern parts of Rome. The emperors said that the reason for that was to make it easier to govern. The emperor chose to govern and build the capital in the Eastern part and gave the Western part to a co-emperor. The reason for that might have been that the eastern part was much richer in resources and had better lands for farming. There may have been other reasons for that such as the Eastern part did not produce enough food for both parts of the empire and by separating them they’d have to produce their own food and depend upon themselves. This was the beginning, to a long struggle of the Western part that was now basically left alone. Many reforms came in to law to keep the empire together, such as toleration of Christianity to avoid their rebellion since there were a lot of them. In 313 a.d. the Church started taking part in government which slowly took power away from the emperor. More reforms like fixing prices and giving more freedom of worship kept the empire together but definitely would not last long. This is so because these reforms were made to fit people today taking away from the emperor but they never thought of what’s going to happen after the emperor does not have anything left to give. Which would occur very soon if things were going down as fast they were. There was no one to take matters into their hands so the empire was left to the people themselves to govern.
The people of the Western empire at first just continued with their lives because the division of the empire did not have an immediate cause on the Western part surely had a long term one. Soon people started realizing that the Eastern part has almost separated from them taking everything all these people fought for together. People started getting mad because now separated they did not have enough resources to support a whole empire. Citizens started loosing hope and their loyalty to the emperor or the Church. These people at first blamed the co-emperor for letting the East separate but soon understood that the emperor meant for all of this to happen and lost hope. The Christian Church takes a great role in government, since the co-emperor could no longer control the empire with all the revolts against him. Soon Christianity became the official religion of the Romans. Rome was slowly falling, the only thing that was still kind of keeping the empire together were the rich nobles who were making money by making the peasants work for them for very little pay but these peasants needed money to feed their families so they worked. Also many problems stood in the way when the Church wanted to also take part in political issues as well as religious. Many arguments took place deciding on this issue.
The people could hardly support themselves and their families with the tremendous taxes, inflation, which developed over time, and bad harvests. As life got harder in the West over time taxes got so high that people could no longer bear such burden. The nobles or the highest class were the only ones who could survive and took advantage of the poor who worked for low wages just to survive.
The long-term military causes were the threatening northern tribes. There were many immediate causes that would rise if anyone attacked Western Rome, such as very weak military due to poverty of the Western Empire. The soldiers were no longer loyal to the army and their emperor. There weren’t many that would risk their lives for the empire. Now there were many foreign soldiers who served for pay, that made it that much harder to be able to hold a large army. There wasn’t the kind of discipline they had in the army before.
There were many causes that also relate to Political, Social, Military, or Economical that I did not mention because they may not have been as important. There were very many causes both immediate and both long-term that led to the fall of Western Rome. In conclusion I would like to mention that many things led to the fall of Rome and it would be very hard to avoid this due to the many mistakes made along the path that led to the fall of Western Rome.
1. The Decline and fall of The Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon. Copyright 1995.
2. Fall of Roman empire, by Michael Grant. Copyright 1996
3. Huns, Vandals and The Fall of Roman empire, by Thomas Hodgkin. Copyright 1996.
4. Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia. Copyright 1995.