Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > World History Forum > Ancient History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

Ancient History Ancient History Forum - Greece, Rome, Carthage, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and all other civilizations of antiquity, to include Prehistory and Archaeology discussions


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old December 26th, 2014, 04:40 AM   #101
Citizen
 
Joined: Dec 2014
From: mr
Posts: 4

I'm sure we've had this question plenty of times, however I can't find them, and we have a few new people to contribute. Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.
cvhj is offline  
Remove Ads
Old December 26th, 2014, 04:42 AM   #102

Isoroku295's Avatar
Priapus
 
Joined: Jan 2009
From: In the Past
Posts: 8,392

Quote:
Originally Posted by cvhj View Post
I'm sure we've had this question plenty of times, however I can't find them, and we have a few new people to contribute. Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.
what?
Isoroku295 is offline  
Old December 28th, 2014, 04:57 PM   #103

benzev's Avatar
Scholar
 
Joined: Feb 2011
From: Scotland
Posts: 725

Starman has championed a view that Christianity destroyed the Western Roman Empire (WRE).
Summarising his posts, it seems This view is based upon the following observations:-

1.The relative temporal adjacence of the triumph of Christianity to the demise of the West.
2.The premise that the reason for the Empire's demise was lack of soldiers/ lack of commitment based upon the influence of Christianity dampening conscription and
weakening the performance and/or loyalty of troops to the Roman state.
3. Reports of instances where Christians refused to fight as soldiers.
4.The authorship c 426CE by Augustine of Hippo of his treatise 'City of Gd' in response to inferences that Christianity had undermined the WRE.
5. The Empire weathered the third century crisis and that of the fifth century was no worse. Ergo, the difference must have been Christianity.


Taken together as stated, these appear initially a strong case. However, there are considerable arguements against each of these observations and the interpretation of each and also against the overall conclusions drawn.

I will deal with each of the above points in turn:

1. It is an understood fact that from the reign of Constantine I onward, Christianity was progressively prevalent, first as the increasigly favoured state religion (formally so after 380) then as a prerequisite to advancement amongst those participating in domestic careers and politics and finally in military circles. From the death of Constantine in 337 onwards, all Emperors were Christian with two brief exceptions. In the 380s the Altar of Victory was symbolically removed from the Senate
House.Yet the Empire (East, then West) failed to eject the Visigoths from 376 onwards and following the Vandal/Alan/Suevi invasion across the Rhine of 406/7 the WRE failed both to eject these invaders too and also to prevent first the sack of Rome itself in 410 and 455 and then the loss of controlled territory such that by 439 the WRE was no longer financially viable and by 476 had been extinguished altogether.

There is therefore a perceived, approximate temporal correlation between the Christianisation of the Empire and its collapse, with a short time lag. This might be coincidental but the hypothesis is reasonable to consider. However, to tie the two together requires an elucidation of the mechanism by which one might exert a causative effect on the other and adequate evidence that such mechanism was in fact in operation and not one or more other possible causes.

2. The mechanism Starman has proposed for the failure of the WRE was that its citizens were so alienated from it by Christianity and its pacifist tenets that they were not available in sufficient numbers to man the army, which therefore depended increasingly on mercenaries and drafting in of barbarian groups to maintain its manpower.One would therefore require to see (a) Evidence of mass resistence to conscription by a large proportion of the population (b) Evidence that this resistence arose from Christian pacifist tenets (c) Confirmation that as a result of these the manpower requirement could not be met or that barbarian manpower was turned to as a result (d) Proof that these shortfalls or deficiencies so crippled the Roman army that it was unable to halt incursions by the barbarians in the late 4th and 5th centuries.

That is a lot to ask, given the state of evidence now available.
However, we can consider the following:

a. Was Christianity pacifist once dominant in the Roman State?
Political preeminence was first achieved under Constantine the Great, who was supposedly inspired in battle through a vision incorporating the phrase 'In Hoc Signo Vincas', 'In this sign you will conquer'. The religion was therefore from the start of its dominance considered an aid to battle and there are other instances in other nations of adoption of Christianity for this purpose.

b. Neither Constantine (who followed Diocletian in reforming and stregthening the army) nor his successors would have supported a cult which clearly and openly undermined the military power of the state. Indeed, it was believed that divine support would ensure its military strength.

c. Peter Heather in 'Fall of the Roman Empire' noted that Christianity replaced paganism politically with some ease: the Emperor, formerly Pontifex Maximus/Deus and Dominus, still stood as head of religion and the representative of the divine on Earth. Accordingly Christianity was now utilised to support the state in every way, not in opposition to it.

d. This is reflected numismatically: coins of the fourth century frequently represent the Emperor or soldiers with Chi Rho or the Labarum.Coins also show the Emperor mounted in action, while a prolific series of the 340s and 350s show a Roman soldier stabbing a fallen horseman, or dragging a barbarian from a burning hut: with the legend 'The Good Times are Back!" These were issued by an openly Christian Emperor and administration.

e. Having at last achieved control of the Roman state, it seems unlikely that in a harsh world of realpolitik in which defeat meant death and despoliation, that Christians of the Empire would not fight to maintain what they saw as divinely ordained and supported against pagans, heathens and Arian Christians.

The following websites have interesting articles about Christianity and its development under the Empire:

The Early Christian View of War and Military Service
The Early Christian View of War and Military Service- in The Herald, Christian magazine.

The Early Church, War and Pacifism By Dr. Robert Morey (Evangelical scholar)
The Early Church, War and Pacifism- Dr Robert morey. I mention this with some reservations as I do not like nor support a lot of what is said by him. However, there seem to be some interesting historical points raised in the context of this article..

Both articles seek to demonstrate that the Church lost many or most of its pacifist principles- if they were ever of primary importance- once it had achieved political power within the WRE.Indeed it would be strange were it to proceed so suicidally as to undermine the state which now nurtured it. The first article asserts that PACIFIST PRINCIPLES RETAINED ONLY BY RELIGIOUS MINORITIES AFTER THRID CENTURY A.D. And in a world where subsistence was barely above poverty and survival was always the first concern, few people could have had the leisure to become pacifist or saintly to such a degree. One of the appeals of Christianity was, and is, that it offers a great deal- eternal life and bliss- for a relatively small 'effort' compared with some other religions. Elsewhere Christianity proved perfectly adaptable to and supportive of warfare and it seems unlikely that Rome would have been any different.

Indeed, the first article quotes as follows:-

THE CHURCH’S RISE TO SECULAR POWER AND SUBSTITUTION OF HUMAN DECREES OR ORIGINAL BIBLE TRUTHS LEADS TO ABANDONMENT OF EARLY PACIFIST PRINCIPLES

"As the Church increased in wealth and power and the government gradually ceased to insist on Pagan rites in public service, objection to war declined. The conversion of Constantine virtually made the Church an agency of the Roman state."72 "It is generally thought that the accession of Constantine to power, the Church as a whole definitely gave up her anti-military leanings, abandoned all her scruples, finally adopted the imperial point of view, and treated the ethical problem involved
as a closed question. Allowing for a little exaggeration, this is broadly speaking true. The sign of than cross, to which Jesus had been led by his refusal to sanction or to lead a patriotic war, and on which he died for the salvation of men, was now an imperial emblem, bringing good fortune and victory. The supposed nails of the cross, which the Emperor’s mother found and sent to him, he had made into bridle-bits and a helmet, which he used in his military expeditions. "In 314 A.D. The Synod of Arelate enacted a Canon, which, if it did not, as many suppose, threaten with excommunication Christian soldiers who insisted on quitting the army, at least
left military service perfectly free and open to Christians. Athanasius, ‘the father of orthodoxy,’ declared that it was not only lawful, but praiseworthy, to kill enemies in war...In 416 A.D. non-Christians were forbidden to service in the army. Historians have not failed to notice, and is some cases to deplore, the immense
compromise to which the Church was now committed."73 "In 416 A.D. an order was decreed with the result that pagans were not admitted to the army. All the soldiers had become Christians; or, in the other words, all the Christians had, with few exceptions, denied Christ."74 "Says Clarkson, ‘it was not till Christianity
became corrupted that Christians became soldiers.’"( Essays on the Doctrines and Practice of the Early Christians.)75 "Christian...became soldiers...when? When
their general fidelity to Christianity became relaxed: when, in other respects they violated its principles... In a word, they became soldiers, when they had ceased to
be Christians."76 K.H.E. De Jong: "The increased worldliness of Christendom had naturally resulted in an increased number of Christian soldiers." (Refusal
of Military Service Among the Early Christians, Leiden 1905.)77 "Another circumstance that operated in the same direction (Christians becoming soldiers) was the
gradual and steady growth throughout the Church of a certain moral laxity, which engaged the serious and anxious attention of Christian leaders as early as the time of
Hermas (140 A.D.) and had become an acute problem by the time of Pope Kallistos (216-222 A.D.): This abatement of the primitive moral rigor would naturally assist the
process of conformity to the ways of the world."78 "The departure from the original faithfulness was, however, not suddenly general. Like every other corruption, war
obtained by degrees. During the first two hundred years (approximately) not a Christian solder is upon record. In the third century, when Christianity became partially
corrupted, Christian soldiers were common. The number increased with the increase of the general profligacy, until at last, in the fourth century, Christian became
soldiers without hesitation, and perhaps, without remorse. Here and there, however, an ancient father still lifted up his voice for peace; but these, one after
another, dropping from the world, the tenet that war is unlawful, ceased at length to be a tenet of the church. "Such was the origin of the present belief in the
lawfulness of war. It began in unfaithfulness, was nurtured by profligacy, and was confirmed by general corruption...Had the professors of Christianity continued in
the purity and faithfulness of their forefathers, we should now have believed that war was forbidden.79"

References numbered within: 72 Collier’s Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 612 73 Cadoux The Early Church and the World, pp. 588-589 74 Tolstoy The Law of Love and the Law of
Violence, p. 65 75 Dymond An Inquiry into the Accordancy of War with the Principles of Christianity, p. 80 76 Ibid, p. 87 77 Cadoux Early Christian Attitude to War,
footnote, p. 250 78 Ibid. p. 250 79 Dymond An Inquiry into the Accordancy of War with the Principles of Christianity, pp. 87-88


The first article above also quotes a number of instances of Christian soldiers refusing to serve, but almost all of these date pre-Constantine; ie the soldiers were objecting to the rule of those who persecuted Christians or were at least non-Christian.

As regards Starman's assertion that the Roman state evidenced a lack of manpower and turned to barbarians in default, personally I agree with him: but it should be
noted that neither Goldsworthy nor Heather are able to assert either this or the influence of Christianity in the fall of the WRE (nor any other authorities I am aware
of). Indeed, while Goldsworthy comments on the 'invisibility' of the Roman army in the ifth century crisis, he states that our knowledge of both the strength of the
Roman army at any time in the fourth or fifth centuries, or the population of the WRE through this period is simply far too incomplete to draw any conclusions. As such, again, no statement as regards the influence of Christianity can be given though in the light of the above, it is hard to see how any mechanism might explain its influence.

Even Augustine's 'City of Gd', written in response to assertions that Christianity was responsible for the woes of the Empire, was written not in response to any
specific reason provided but in response to the intense psychological shock engendered by the sack of Rome by the Visigoths in 410CE which caused many pagans to blame Christians for removing the altar of Victory and bringing disaster to the Empire. Had there been a specific reason- the lack of manpower for instance through
Christian-inspired draft dodging- then Augustine would have had to address this directly. He does not.

Even though pagans may still have been in majority in the Senate in the 380s and the usurpation of the pagan Eugenius achieved some success in 392-4CE, Christians
fought against him and overthrew him. If even many senior persons like senators remained pagan, surely even more of the lower classes would have retained ancestral
ways yet as stated in the above quotes, in 416CE the pagans were turned away and the army -already weakened- became Christian.


Further, there are alternative mechanisms which may account for the weakness perceived in the Roman military response to the 4th/5th century crisis;

I. The reforms of Diocletian and Constantine to the military structure of the empire may have spread available forces extremely thinly along the frontiers in small
units to check raiding. Far smaller units and fortifications are seen in the late Empire. Because, as Heather states, the State was in a compact with property owners
to protect their assets to maintain loyalty and because small scale raiding had become endemic, it was necessary to alter the strategic stance and goals of the
military to reduce the effects of such raiding. Cavalry forces were indeed increased, but Goldsworthy states that this was primarily in limitanei forces to increase
ability to stop raids. Central armies to prevent larger scale incursions were, relatively, weakened and the border forces may have proven difficult to concentrate in a
crisis and even if available, their effectiveness in normal line of battle may have been impaired.


II. Economic reforms by Diocletian (and probably Constantine) such as price-fixing and the progressive removal of freedom to choose a career (to an hereditary basis)
must have placed the population under intense economic pressure and effectively reduced many to serfdom, especially in agricultural areas. The division of citizenry
into a two-stream Honestiores/Humiliores system must itself have had the effect of removing the loyalty of many from a system in which they were second-class citizens,
with little stake in the system and far less protected by law.
This is seen in an increasing tendency to brigandage, the rise of the Bagudae under the middle-late Empire. Even in the 440s Aetius was diverting strength to crush these, at the behest of a state now devoted to the needs of- and requiring the loyalty and taxation from- the Honestiores. Such effects would themselves have reduced available military manpower and commitment to the state: it is also possible that there was a
declining population generally.

III. Goldsworthy cites civil war as a primary cause of the weakening of the WRE. Though it commenced seriously from the 230-280s, he states that it was so endemic by the fourth century that hardly a decade passed without one. The war against Magnentius in the West in 350-1 is supposed to have been especially costly in manpower.

Comparison of the fifth century crisis to the third is interesting. They were by no means the same. To start with, the primary threat in the third century arose to the
Eastern Empire - before Constantinople had been founded remember- from Persia and from the Goths. While both were formidable, Goldsworthy feels each was considerably
inferior in strength to Rome and most especially, neither group sought conquest. The Persians sought stability for a new dynasty by recording victories over their most
dangerous adversary. The Goths primarily raided, albeit on a large scale, by land and sea, especially in the Balkans and Asia Minor.The external threat was greatest in
the period 245-275 and while Eastern defences collapsed for a time, they were soon restored.

In the fifth century, the major difference- emphasised by Heather- was the advent of the Huns. His view is that this caused the Gothic invasions- for settlement- in the 370s. Unable to penetrate Asia this time because of Constantinople and the Roman navy, they rattled around the Balkas like a pinball for two decades before turning
West, partly through the machinations of Stilicho. The secondary effect of the Huns was the Vandal/Alan/Suebic invasion of 406/7, again for permanent conquest and directly in the West. Neither group was ever removed and in contrast to the third century, no extant West Roman army was able to demonstrate a battlefield superiority
to a sufficient degree to do so.The tertiary effect of the Hunnic advent was the arrival of the Huns on the Danube by the 420s, which paralysed further Roman response to Vandal/Alan incursions in Africa until the mid 460s, by which time the WRE was on its last legs.


None of this can be construed as proof what actually caused the demise of the WRE. However, I have sought to demonstrate that while Christianity may conceivably have been a factor in the fall, it was not the dominant factor, or cannot be proved to have been so.

Last edited by benzev; December 28th, 2014 at 04:59 PM.
benzev is online now  
Old December 29th, 2014, 05:02 AM   #104

starman's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2014
From: Connecticut
Posts: 2,841

Quote:
Originally Posted by benzev View Post
2. The mechanism Starman has proposed for the failure of the WRE was that its citizens were so alienated from it by Christianity and its pacifist tenets that they were not available in sufficient numbers to man the army,
Great post, benzev. Interesting and well-researched. But to address the above, throughout much of the 4rth century, down to the 380s at least, christians did serve in substantial numbers. Not all cut off their thumbs to avoid service. But interestingly, prior to Adrianople, Valens is said to have had to implore his men to fight. I believe Ammianus was referring to this period when he claimed the problem wasn't scarcity of soldiers but "they weren't doing their jobs." I submit that even when christians didn't resist conscription, they weren't enthusiastic about fighting (at least not for the empire). Reading Goldsworthy gave the impression of an enfeebled army even by 378-82, when it had a difficult time dealing with the goths and had to accept their presence on Roman territory.


Quote:
One would therefore require to see (a) Evidence of mass resistence to conscription by a large proportion of the population
See Late Roman Infantryman 236-565 besides Goldsworthy's tome. Cutting off thumbs to avoid service seems to have become more widespread, and recruits even had to be transported in what amounted to cages to prevent desertion.

Quote:
(b) Evidence that this resistence arose from Christian pacifist tenets
It is true that only two specific examples of christian pacifism as a reason for avoiding fighting can be cited AFAIK, but it's perfectly reasonable to assume that many others, more obscure, felt that way, and I don't know of any other reasons given by others who refused to fight or wanted to avoid service.


Quote:
(c) Confirmation that as a result of these the manpower requirement could not be met or that barbarian manpower was turned to as a result (d) Proof that these shortfalls or deficiencies so crippled the Roman army that it was unable to halt incursions by the barbarians in the late 4th and 5th centuries.
It's quite instructive that after the desertion of Stilicho's barbarian troops in 408 the West was practically powerless to deal with alaric.



Quote:
b. Neither Constantine (who followed Diocletian in reforming and stregthening the army) nor his successors would have supported a cult which clearly and openly undermined the military power of the state. Indeed, it was believed that divine support would ensure its military strength.
You know, ever since the late second century, the Romans were getting a bit apprehensive that the spread of christianity would undermine them militarily. My impression is, they tried everything, every trick in the book, to stop christianity but nothing worked....By the time of Constantine, they evidently felt that they had no choice but to try to get christian support or reconcile church and state.

Quote:
Accordingly Christianity was now utilised to support the state in every way,
Unfortunately it was more the other way around. The state made all the concessions and doesn't seem to have gotten much meaningful support in return.

Quote:
Both articles seek to demonstrate that the Church lost many or most of its pacifist principles- if they were ever of primary importance- once it had achieved political power within the WRE.Indeed it would be strange were it to proceed so suicidally as to undermine the state which now nurtured it.
Sure which now nurtured it, after centuries of trying everything to stamp it out. Memories of persecution didn't go away so soon or easily. Even after constantine there was Julian.


Quote:
The first article asserts that PACIFIST PRINCIPLES RETAINED ONLY BY RELIGIOUS MINORITIES AFTER THRID CENTURY A.D.
Gee, I thought Martin of tours was fourth century. Augustine did give the OK to service but not until the end of the fourth century in Contra Faustum.

Quote:
Elsewhere Christianity proved perfectly adaptable to and supportive of warfare and it seems unlikely that Rome would have been any different.
Rome had the disadvantage of being the state the christians suffered under for many years, hence has issues with.


Quote:
"In 314 A.D. The Synod of Arelate enacted a Canon, which, if it did not, as many suppose, threaten with excommunication Christian soldiers who insisted on quitting the army, at least
left military service perfectly free and open to Christians.
Oh sure, service was often just fine. But killing? It's noteworthy that Martin came from nearby but wasn't so enthused about fighting.


Quote:
"In 416 A.D. an order was decreed with the result that pagans were not admitted to the army.
I don't think there were many pagans left by then anyway.

Quote:
As regards Starman's assertion that the Roman state evidenced a lack of manpower and turned to barbarians in default, personally I agree with him: but it should be
noted that neither Goldsworthy nor Heather are able to assert either this or the influence of Christianity in the fall of the WRE (nor any other authorities I am aware
of). Indeed, while Goldsworthy comments on the 'invisibility' of the Roman army in the ifth century crisis, he states that our knowledge of both the strength of the
Roman army at any time in the fourth or fifth centuries, or the population of the WRE through this period is simply far too incomplete to draw any conclusions. As such, again, no statement as regards the influence of Christianity can be given though in the light of the above, it is hard to see how any mechanism might explain its influence.
It's interesting that African strength was pathetic; the comitatenses mentioned in the Notitia Dignatatum don't appear to have even existed in 429-31. Boniface had just barbarian mercenaries, in a strongly christian region.

Quote:
Even Augustine's 'City of Gd', written in response to assertions that Christianity was responsible for the woes of the Empire, was written not in response to any
specific reason provided but in response to the intense psychological shock engendered by the sack of Rome by the Visigoths in 410CE which caused many pagans to blame Christians for removing the altar of Victory and bringing disaster to the Empire. Had there been a specific reason- the lack of manpower for instance through
Christian-inspired draft dodging- then Augustine would have had to address this directly.
I think much of the problem is the fact that christians didn't preserve writings unfavorable to them. Had it not been for the fact that Origen directly quoted a critic in his own work we'd probably know nothing about him.


Quote:
Even though pagans may still have been in majority in the Senate in the 380s and the usurpation of the pagan Eugenius achieved some success in 392-4CE, Christians
fought against him and overthrew him.
From the east.

Quote:
If even many senior persons like senators remained pagan, surely even more of the lower classes would have retained ancestral
ways
I dunno..from the start christianity appealed most to the lower classes.



Quote:
The reforms of Diocletian and Constantine to the military structure of the empire may have spread available forces extremely thinly along the frontiers in small
units to check raiding. Far smaller units and fortifications are seen in the late Empire. Because, as Heather states, the State was in a compact with property owners
to protect their assets to maintain loyalty and because small scale raiding had become endemic, it was necessary to alter the strategic stance and goals of the
military to reduce the effects of such raiding. Cavalry forces were indeed increased, but Goldsworthy states that this was primarily in limitanei forces to increase
ability to stop raids. Central armies to prevent larger scale incursions were, relatively, weakened and the border forces may have proven difficult to concentrate in a
crisis and even if available, their effectiveness in normal line of battle may have been impaired.
Julian did OK on the Rhine.


Quote:
II. Economic reforms by Diocletian (and probably Constantine) such as price-fixing and the progressive removal of freedom to choose a career (to an hereditary basis)
must have placed the population under intense economic pressure and effectively reduced many to serfdom, especially in agricultural areas. The division of citizenry
into a two-stream Honestiores/Humiliores system must itself have had the effect of removing the loyalty of many from a system in which they were second-class citizens,
with little stake in the system and far less protected by law.
This is seen in an increasing tendency to brigandage, the rise of the Bagudae under the middle-late Empire. Even in the 440s Aetius was diverting strength to crush these, at the behest of a state now devoted to the needs of- and requiring the loyalty and taxation from- the Honestiores. Such effects would themselves have reduced available military manpower and commitment to the state: it is also possible that there was a
declining population generally.
Nothing could beat the population losses to plague c 260s--just prior to military recovery.

Quote:
III. Goldsworthy cites civil war as a primary cause of the weakening of the WRE. Though it commenced seriously from the 230-280s, he states that it was so endemic by the fourth century that hardly a decade passed without one. The war against Magnentius in the West in 350-1 is supposed to have been especially costly in manpower.
Just over a decade later, Julian had a big enough army to take to Persia in 363. The State was still able to mass big enough armies, in theory, anywhere--prior to the christian triumph. I'm very skeptical of the significance of civil wars.


Quote:
In the fifth century, the major difference- emphasised by Heather- was the advent of the Huns. His view is that this caused the Gothic invasions- for settlement- in the 370s.
I don't doubt the Huns essentially forced germanic groups to seek new homes in the empire instead of just launching temporary raids. But IMO that doesn't explain the Roman failure to defeat them and throw them out. Or at least control them continuously. The main problem was military weakness. And the worst of that was after the desertion of barbarians in 408 i.e. the empire had become dependent on them for lack of willing citizen recruits or fighters, in the new christian age.


Quote:
Unable to penetrate Asia this time because of Constantinople and the Roman navy,
But I saw a map indicating the Huns not only bypassed Constantinople but entered Asia Minor--albeit briefly or on a small scale.

Quote:
Neither group was ever removed and in contrast to the third century, no extant West Roman army was able to demonstrate a battlefield superiority
to a sufficient degree to do so.
Exactly.

Quote:
The tertiary effect of the Hunnic advent was the arrival of the Huns on the Danube by the 420s, which paralysed further Roman response to Vandal/Alan incursions in Africa
Na the Huns were employed by Aetius in the 430s and preoccupied with the east in the 440s. The west just didn't have the strength to deal with barbarians on its own, it needed other barbarians, which it didn't have in sufficient numbers in africa....


Quote:
However, I have sought to demonstrate that while Christianity may conceivably have been a factor in the fall, it was not the dominant factor, or cannot be proved to have been so.
I think it was. I suspect some historians are reluctant to blame it, despite Gibbon's example, because it would upset christians.

Last edited by starman; December 29th, 2014 at 05:09 AM.
starman is offline  
Old January 3rd, 2015, 02:06 AM   #105

caldrail's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 4,708
Blog Entries: 15

Quote:
I think it was. I suspect some historians are reluctant to blame it, despite Gibbon's example, because it would upset christians.
yet christianity has always been a militant religion at heart. Only today is it seen as something a bit wishy washy. Further, Constantine patronised and later adopted christianity as a means to hold his crumbling empire together. He did so because he saw benefits from that association, making christianity almost a branch of government. The reasons for the decline of the west are more to do with social factors than religion.
caldrail is offline  
Old January 3rd, 2015, 02:53 AM   #106

AlpinLuke's Avatar
Knight-errant
 
Joined: Oct 2011
From: Lago Maggiore, Italy
Posts: 19,811
Blog Entries: 19

Quote:
Originally Posted by caldrail View Post
yet christianity has always been a militant religion at heart. Only today is it seen as something a bit wishy washy. Further, Constantine patronised and later adopted christianity as a means to hold his crumbling empire together. He did so because he saw benefits from that association, making christianity almost a branch of government. The reasons for the decline of the west are more to do with social factors than religion.
It's always a great historical exercise to imagine if and how a pagan Roman Empire would have found a way to embed the incoming barbarian population or if and how it would have been able to limit them.

It's out of doubt that Christianity found a way to do this [not only Franks converted to Christianity, but after the fall of Roma, the German Emperors were Christian Emperors and not rarely the Emperor was Roman Christian or Sacred ... and so on ...]. And these "new Christians" were so well motivated to find a way to resist to the impact of Islam between 8th and 10th centuries CE.

The problem is that the diffusion of Christianity is a long process starting in a visible way centuries before of the end of the Western Empire, so that to evaluate for real a pagan Empire we have to start from one of these assumptions:

* Jesus wasn't
* Jesus preached a reformed Judaism, and Paul didn't spread a new religion, but His reformed Judaism
* Jesus and Paul created Christianity, but Christianity hadn't great success remaining a local cult limited to Middle East

As we can understand, these premises would change a lot the history, at least the social history, of the Roman Empire. And for sure Constantine would have had no Christianity to offer to the Roman Civitas as new religion.
AlpinLuke is offline  
Old January 3rd, 2015, 04:08 AM   #107

funakison's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Oct 2012
From: Between a rock and a hard place
Posts: 5,294
Blog Entries: 1

Back to the opening post for a sec.

The decline and fall of the Roman empire took place over centuries and whilst Christianity flourished at this time i doubt that it had any real impact on the demise of the empire.
In fact it is likely the Rome succumbed for a number of reasons.

Corruption
Civil wars
Disease most notably malaria.
Failing Agricultural
Economic collapse
Barbarian invasions
funakison is offline  
Old January 3rd, 2015, 04:12 AM   #108

starman's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2014
From: Connecticut
Posts: 2,841

Quote:
Originally Posted by caldrail View Post
yet christianity has always been a militant religion at heart. Only today is it seen as something a bit wishy washy.
It was militant enough in matters of belief and doctrine. Not so militant in fighting for the Empire. Martin didn't live today.

Quote:
Further, Constantine patronised and later adopted christianity as a means to hold his crumbling empire together. He did so because he saw benefits from that association....
Funny that Diocletian and other hard pressed emperors saw no such merit in christianity, but instead sought to suppress it. By Constantine's time, after having tried everything to do so, without success, the State felt it had no choice but to try to accomodate the christians. But there were few if any benefits for the State; the approach neither strengthened the empire nor saved it.


Quote:
The reasons for the decline of the west are more to do with social factors than religion.
Another poster mentioned division of society into humiliores and honestiores. But what else was new? Society had been stratified since the struggle between the orders. But martial spirit was quite strong.

Last edited by starman; January 3rd, 2015 at 04:15 AM.
starman is offline  
Old January 3rd, 2015, 04:32 AM   #109

Kirialax's Avatar
Megas Domestikos
 
Joined: Dec 2009
From: Blachernai
Posts: 4,281
Blog Entries: 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by starman View Post

Another poster mentioned division of society into humiliores and honestiores. But what else was new? Society had been stratified since the struggle between the orders. But martial spirit was quite strong.
How does one measure martial spirit?
Kirialax is offline  
Old January 3rd, 2015, 05:58 PM   #110
Citizen
 
Joined: Jan 2015
From: Florida
Posts: 2

If you leave an unfinished cup of coffee on the counter for a couple of days it turns into 'not' a cup off coffee. That's chaos, degeneracy, quantum entanglement. Same happens to our bodies, our civilizations. So, Christianity was not the sole cause of Rome's fall, but one of many. For the first couple of centuries Roman Christians benefited from but did not participate in the affairs Roman society, except to perhaps vote themselves more bread from Egypt. Eventually, with the Senators and Equestrians owning all the land, worked by slaves, the cities nothing but mobs - they turned to mercenaries for their physical salvation. So Christianity was not the sole cause of collapse, but it was't helpful either. As Gibbon said, they exchanged their 'Pagan' pantheon for a Christian pantheon. Change is usually, statistically, not good. Change was anathema to ancient Egypt, and they had the longest run of anyone.
batkinso1 is offline  
Reply

  Historum > World History Forum > Ancient History

Tags
christianity, destroy, rome



Search tags for this page
Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Late Antique Christianity and Resistance to Rome Kirialax Ancient History 6 February 8th, 2014 07:40 AM
Why did Christianity finally become Rome's state religion Carolina Medieval and Byzantine History 1 January 17th, 2013 01:42 PM
Christianity and Rome Publius Aelius Hadrianus Ancient History 11 November 15th, 2011 05:51 PM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.