The Decline of the Roman Empire
The founding of Rome goes back to the earliest of days; civilization. It is so old, today it is known as “the eternal city”. Modern historians believe it was founded in the year 625 BC. Early Rome was governed by kings, but after seven of them had ruled, the Romans took power over their city and ruled it themselves. They instead had a council known as the senate which ruled over them. From this point on one speaks of the “Roman Republic”.
The Roman Empire was strong and very successful for a time. It was founded on family values, geography, military strength, and wise leadership. It grew because of political, social, economic, military and religious strengths. However, when the very things that make a civilization flourish start to decline, the civilization was lead to a downfall.
The first reason for the downfall was economic decay. The rulers of Rome had very expensive lifestyles. To help their image they needed money, which resulted in taxing the poor. In response to the taxation, the poor fled to barbaric lands, squeezing the middle class out of existence. The poor made up a large percentage of the population in Rome. Barbarians disrupted trade on the Mediterranean Sea. Rome’s gold and silver were being drained into buying luxuries from China, India, and Arabia. The government decreased the silver content in money and the value of money also decreased. In 285 Emperor Diocletion, who split the empire into a Western and Eastern empire, attempted to curb the inflation. He issued an edict that fixed the maximum prices and wages throughout the Empire. It was an unrealistic idea that failed. The emperors and citizens knew the tax issue needed to be resolved. They decided if a poor person could not pay their full share, it was the tax collector’s responsibility to pay the rest. This concept wiped out a whole class of moderately wealthy people.