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Old February 3rd, 2011, 09:13 PM   #1
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Was the Fall of the Roman Empire inevitable ?


Could the Roman empire, like China, have survived to this day federating Europe and the Med ? Or was its fall inevitable

To help in answering this question you might consider the following thought experiment: YOU have mental control of each and every Roman head of state starting 100 AD. Can you keep the Roman Empire together and for how long ? What needs to be done that has not been done/tried by the Romans ?

A part of the question might be: was it a necessity to split the empire in half (eastern/ western) or should it have been kept as one entity (as the Chinese did) ?
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Old February 3rd, 2011, 09:23 PM   #2

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Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. All empires come to an end, times change.

They didn't consciously 'split it in two'. The vulnerability and economic inferiority of the Rome location made it wise to move the capital to Constantinople. Then once you start putting brothers, sons, other people in charge in one or the other the split is inevitable.

However the Eastern Empire toddled on until 1453 in one form or another. Sure it was a bit pitiful at the end, but only in 1000 had a peak of power. Total of nearly 1500 years, even if you dont count the earlier republic.

That is pretty good going.

Anyway what's this Chinese Empire? I thought the Manchus went early 20th century? Then the Japanese decimated a lot of it. Then Mao came along etc etc, so I dont quite follow the connection. Bit like saying the British empire is still going because Gibraltar, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are part of it.
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Old February 3rd, 2011, 09:54 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by johnincornwall View Post
Anyway what's this Chinese Empire? I thought the Manchus went early 20th century? Then the Japanese decimated a lot of it. Then Mao came along etc etc, so I dont quite follow the connection. Bit like saying the British empire is still going because Gibraltar, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are part of it.

Well, whatever one may call it, the entity known as China is still alive and well. It covers about 9 mio square km (more than the Roman empire at its greatest extent) and is the most populous entity on earth with over 20% of the world's population.
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Old February 3rd, 2011, 10:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomar View Post
Could the Roman empire, like China, have survived to this day federating Europe and the Med ? Or was its fall inevitable

To help in answering this question you might consider the following thought experiment: YOU have mental control of each and every Roman head of state starting 100 AD. Can you keep the Roman Empire together and for how long ? What needs to be done that has not been done/tried by the Romans ?

A part of the question might be: was it a necessity to split the empire in half (eastern/ western) or should it have been kept as one entity (as the Chinese did) ?
Actually, the Chinese Empire did split in two or even more fractions several times all along its long history.
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Old February 3rd, 2011, 10:50 PM   #5

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Rome fell apart because of it's bad emperors. If you notice, whenever Rome had a good leader, it thrived. When it had an emperor like Nero or Caligula, it suffered. All empires have been determined on how good their leaders are.
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Old February 3rd, 2011, 10:57 PM   #6

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And their citizens...
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Old February 3rd, 2011, 11:08 PM   #7

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Roman Empire fell because it was a heterogeneous empire. In spite of Hellenization in most of its empire, people lived in the empire usually spoke different languages with completely different cultures and customs. When Roman Empire fell, it was nearly impossible to reunite all of the different people by conquest.

This was not the case for China. Shihuangdi, the first emperor, established a very strong sense of national identity for Chinese. Chinese used pretty much the same language(speaking different dialect but same written words and styles) and shared the same culture. Even though China was fragmented several times in history, pretty much everyone believed re-unification was inevitable and necessary. And it was.
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Old February 3rd, 2011, 11:15 PM   #8
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Rome fell apart because of it's bad emperors. If you notice, whenever Rome had a good leader, it thrived. When it had an emperor like Nero or Caligula, it suffered. All empires have been determined on how good their leaders are.
Must entirely disagree; in fact, the empire thrived during the rule of Caius (aka Caligula) and most of the reign of Nero.

The performance of the leader is of course relevant for any autocracy; however, the Roman Empire inherited from the late Republic a quite competitive bureaucratic system, which considerably lessened the impact of each Emperor's qualities (both bad & good); that is one of the explanations on why the empire was able to survive at all the crisis of the third century.

The Fall of the western empire was a far more complex issue (including its very definition to begin with), the object of study & controversy for centuries; an excellent recent analysis is the superb The Fall of Rome And the End of Civilization, by Bryan Ward-Perkins

Amazon.com: The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization (9780192807281): Bryan Ward-Perkins: Books
Amazon.com: The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization (9780192807281): Bryan Ward-Perkins: Books

.
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Old February 4th, 2011, 01:22 AM   #9

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Partially I agree with sylla: I say partially because the good rullers added their value in preservation and evolution of the systel, whyle the bad rullers were wellfare consumers, and evolution blockers. the empire ned to evoluate, perpetually, because the internal and external theatre changed from few decades to anothers. When the "elasticity" capabilty weakened, the empire weakened. The moving at Constantinople was good, but this doesn't means would been not good to move again in the west, latter.
The emperors, good or bad, allways had to deal with at least two or three dilemas:
1. to centralise the power-this would brought a good internal control, but an expansive and consequently weak control at borderlines. a shared control would increased the borders control, but also the danger of civil wars. thus, the Diocletian sharing was good, at the time, but only in few decades becomed obsolte. So, Constantine got a big deal by recentralising it in Constantinople. Latter, delaying the sharing process, lead to the split of the empire.
2. to expand the economy, or to focus it in a well controled zone. The first variant would brought gains in the future, but high costs in present. The second would brought an healthy economy, but would been not able to support entire teritories.
3. Religion&traditions: to mentain old tradition, or to follow the current of changing&evoluation of masses afinities. The first would supressed current tensions, but would weakened the masses trust and beliefs, leading to powerful hidden tensions, which would broke out sooner or latter. The second would weakened the power of religion, as a manipulation mean. here, to choose the proper ideology&religion to replace the old one, was a formidable dificult task. Finally was just a partial success: never again, the empire would had an as stronger instrument in religion, as Octavian had.
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Old February 4th, 2011, 01:54 AM   #10

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Must entirely disagree; in fact, the empire thrived during the rule of Caius (aka Caligula) and most of the reign of Nero.
I think its too easy to say that - Caligula was lucky. If the empire had suffered from a significant outside threat, Caligula wouldn't have been a particularly great wartime leader. The same can be said for Commodus, IMO, who scraped through because his father had spent his last years beating the hell out of the Germanics before dying, and when Commodus offered them a treaty so he could get back to the comfort of Rome, they gladly accepted.
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