ny Different Aspects: Army,Citizens, BarbarianismPersonally I think that all these reasons are linked and headed by thedecline of the Roman emperor.
The deficient Emperor role led to the lackingmilitary response to invasions,civil war and peasant uprisings.ROMAN EMPIRE AND ITS EMPEROREver since the adoptive system which was installed by Marcus Aureliuswas never reinstalled after his death,effective leadership in governing Rome waslacking. It was clearly visible that the Roman Emperor was the backbone of Romanstability and therefore the strength of the Roman army was also crucial inensuing the empire’s stability.
But this stability was drastically altered whencorruption and necessary errors were committed.ECONOMIC, BARBARIAN AND MILITARY PROBLEMSThe Roman Empire was plunged into military anarchy and raided bybarbarous Germanic tribes causing a major burden from an economic standpoint.Emperors, feeling pressure from all directions, resorted to manners whichdepleted army and citizen moral. The personal dreams of empirical leaders wasnever capable of re-stabilizing the Empire after the invasions.
For instance,Constantine created a substantial field force where he recruited many regimentsfrom Germany. He greatly increased the German generals (1). Aurelius alsointroduced the German element into the Empire. He established a precedent forsettling Germanic peoples, barbarians to the Romans, in Roman territory to trysecure peace(2). He felt the only way to preserve the Empire was to host allthose who wished to live within its territory.These German units under Roman commanders did not easily fall to thetraditional Roman discipline and command. The reluctance to submit to Roman ruleallowed Rome to lose the tactical superiority that it once had and enjoyed overthe German barbarians.
This loss of tactical supremacy destroyed the elite,disregarding their once owned power and thus causing change on top of the RomanEmpire elite. According to Andre Piganiol,The destruction of the elite handedover power to a new oligarchy of the newly wealthy and of high officials whocame from barbarous elements of the population(3). Piganiol continues to statethatconquered nationalities had in no way lost consciousness of their originand many were the means of resistance to the unifying will of Rome(4)Economically wise, the war against the Germans led to terrible financialburdens on the Empire. To obtain funds for the military, emperors confiscatedgoods, exacted forced labor, and debased the coinage by minting more currencywithout an increase in the supply of precious metal.(5) Through this thecitizens withdrew their loyalty to Rome which deeply affected the middle class.In the Piganiol essay, Piganiol clearly emphasis the fact that the Roman statewent bankrupt in the third century because it was incapable of continuing to payits officials and it was incapable of paying its armies without recourse toconfiscations,monetary falsifications requisition in kind, unpaid services.(6)Another major move the emperor and his empire introduced the citizens ofRome involved the citizenship issue.
In approximately 212 AD, recruits had beenpicked from among provincials, who were attracted by the promise of freecitizenship and its advantages. With citizenship no longer necessary forenlistment, the poor, weak class of the empire were drawn to the army because ofthe weapons and artillery(7). Personally I think that the major reasons whyloser class societies were drawn to the artillery aspect of the army was so theycould steal the empires wealth. This behavior would probably lead to thedestruction of Roman cities, and destruction of farmlands and economic trade.Civil war also played a negative role in the Fall of the Roman Empire.This was made possible when emperors became afraid of their own troops and thepossible rebellion against them. Therefore the emperors to remain on theirthrone were sometimes obliged to buy the emperor powers from soldiers and othermilitia men. The lack of conventional loyalty and honor towards the emperor ledto a character change in the Roman soldier.
ROMAN SOLDIERS BEFORE AND AFTERBefore the Civil War the Roman soldier was considered as probably thegreatest fighting force in all of the Western World.During the Pax Romana period, the Roman soldier used his superiororganization and training to conquer nations. He was extremely disciplined andprofessional. He and his army were literally the wall which protected Rome.Their fighting willpower would allow them to remain on the battlefield no matterwhat and how long battles were needed for victory. They would join the army atthe age of eighteen. Their recruitment was localized and usually hereditary.They were not allowed to marry while on service.
Their employment includedpolice duties, checking and rounding up local raiders.(8) The army had twopurposes, first to fight wars of conquest and satisfy the emperors desires forglory, booty, and expanded territory. Second, to suppress the unrest in outlyingprovinces.
(9)But all this seemed to be changing later on in the empire with theemperors change in attitude and the allowing of barbarous German tribes into thearmy. Emperors resorted first to the population of the barbarous regions of theempire regions, then to foreign barbarians. In the reserve army, the highestregarded men were the barbarians units.
These officers occupied the highestranks up to that of master of the militia. With all the favoritism toward theGerman unit the Roman soldiers began to feel inferior and secondary in theirrole of defending the empire. The military commanders began to use theirmilitary troops to cease the thrown and its governing power. They began neglecting its duty of defending its borders and disrupted the eternal life ofthe Empire.(10)Although they continued to fight in well framed units, their overallwill to train and discipline required for fighting was almost unnoticeable.Emperors continued to play a negative role in the allotment of foreigners totake control. In Piganiol’s essay he mentions that the, emperors disarmed thecitizens and trusted the defense of the empire to mercenaries.(11) Valens was aclear example of the corruption in the higher class of the empire.
He was activein suppressing the lives of officers, whereby he defrauded men of their portions,clothes and military equipment.Favoritism towards the barbarian units of the army, corruption towardsthe state and its people, gives ample reason why such a revolt in the Romanarmy occurred. Towards the end of the empire the Roman army’s qualitiesdeteriorated. The legions failed to defend borders, the army began to consistpredominately of the peasants (citizenship issue). The change in the soldiersattitude explains in the lack of loyalty to Rome and the lack of leadership inmilitary leaders.In conclusion, the Roman army defeated itself. It began as a powerhousebut by some uncontrollable and ignorant errors it collapsed. It was violatedinternally by the emperors and their soldiers and externally by the barbaroustribes.
The lack of soldier loyalty to Rome, began with the lack of Rome loyaltytowards soldiers. By allowing citizenship to almost anyone it negated theimportance the higher class society had in Rome. Almost anyone could be a Romansoldier, almost anyone could have access to arms and almost anyone could usethese arms in their favor.
The allowance of the German entrance in the armyintroduced doubt in the mind of the veteran soldiers. Therefore, Rome hurtitself. One does not know if it could have continued its dominance, but onecould clearly say that its dominance brought its disappearance.END NOTES1) Lynn Hunt, Thomas Martin, Barbara Rosenwein, R.Hsia, and Bonnie Smith. TheChallenge of the West: Peoples and Cultures from Stone Age to 1740. Toronto: D.C.
Health and Company, 1995.2) Ibid3) Piganiol, Andre. The Causes of the Ruin of the Roman Empire. Decline andFall of the Roman Empire: Why did it Collapse ?: Donald Kagan.
ED. Donald Kagan.Massachusettes: D.C.
Health and Company, 1962, p.87.4) Ibid, p.875) Marvin Perry, Myrna Chase, James Jacob, Margaret Jacob, Theodore Von Laue.Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics ; Society.
Boston: Houghton MifflnCompany, 1996.6) Piganiol, Andre. The Causes of the Ruin of the Roman Empire. Decline andFall of the Roman Empire: Why did it Collapse ?: Donald Kagan. ED. Donald Kagan.
Massachusettes: D.C. Health and Company, 1962, p.88.
7) Marvin Perry, Myrna Chase, James Jacob, Margaret Jacob, Theodore Von Laue.Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics ; Society. Boston: Houghton MifflnCompany, 1996.8) Jones, A.
H.M. A General History of Europe: The Decline of the Ancient World.London: Longman Group Ltd. 19669) Lynn Hunt, Thomas Martin, Barbara Rosenwein, R.Hsia, and Bonnie Smith. TheChallenge of the West: Peoples and Cultures from Stone Age to 1740.
Toronto: D.C.Health and Company, 1995.10) Marvin Perry, Myrna Chase, James Jacob, Margaret Jacob, Theodore Von Laue.Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics ; Society. Boston: Houghton MifflnCompany, 199611) Piganiol, Andre. The Causes of the Ruin of the Roman Empire. Decline andFall of the Roman Empire: Why did it Collapse ?: Donald Kagan.
ED. Donald Kagan.Massachusettes: D.C. Health and Company, 1962, p.88.BIBLIOGRAPHYJones, A.
H.M. A General History of Europe: The Decline of the Ancient World.London: Longman Group Ltd. 1966Lynn Hunt, Thomas Martin, Barbara Rosenwein, R.
Hsia, and Bonnie Smith. TheChallenge of the West: Peoples and Cultures from Stone Age to 1740. Toronto: D.C.Health and Company, 1995.Marvin Perry, Myrna Chase, James Jacob, Margaret Jacob, Theodore Von Laue.Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics ; Society. Boston: Houghton MifflnCompany, 1996.
Piganiol, Andre. The Causes of the Ruin of the Roman Empire. Decline and Fallof the Roman Empire: Why did it Collapse ?: Donald Kagan. ED. Donald Kagan.
Massachusettes: D.C. Health and Company, 1962.