The Roman Empire is among the greatest empires to ever exist. However, just like many empires that preceded it, it eventually collapsed. Writers Heather and Ward analyze the nature of the fall of Roman Empire, and one aspect of it they both agree with is that it was very violent. Heather and Ward disagree with the traditional notion, the fall was a smooth transition as the Barbarians were assimilated into the rest of the Roman culture.(Ward, 52) The two writers depict an image that shows huge disruption of the normal lives of the Romans. Economic and social collapse to the levels seen in pre-civilisation.
The reason for these two writers has a similar opinion on the fall of the Roman Empire because most of the western world was built on the foundations established by the Roman Empire. The way of life of most European countries imitates that of the Romans. Ward singles out North Africa as among the regions of the Roman Empire that were first to collapse. The regions fell to the Barbarian tribes who took control of these regions and forced the local communities to comply with their way of life.(Ward, 83) As can be seen the way of life in these regions are different from the rest of Europe. Had there been a smooth transition the regions would have had somehow similar cultures.
According to Heather (134), there is a limit to the level of control that could by exerted by the Roman Empire throughout its territories. Heather compares managing the Roman Empire during the time similar to trying to control a territory between five to ten times the sizes of the European Union in the modern world. The distance between the territories in North America and the Capital was too great that it would take an official approximately 3 months to travel across the Empire, Heather argues that the speed at which information travels across the empire simply did not allow the Romans to exert maximum control over their other territories.
(ThoughtCo, 2017) also states that some territories were not worth the effort. He gives Germany as an example of a territory that was draining the Roman Empire. In order to maintain control of the territory, they required at least 5000 troops to be stationed there. Of which they would require at least 225 tons of grain a month to maintain these troops. However, the problem was that in Germany good farmland ends at the Rhine hence Germany wasnt capable of feeding the troops stationed there all by itself. Heather compares this to North Africa which produced over half a million tons annually. North Africa alone catered for two-thirds of the empires needs, yet little effort was made to maintain hold of the territory.
Ward-Perkins comes to the conclusion that the fall of Rome can be traced to random events such as the invasion of the Huns, to which the Romans had no control over. Chance refers to luck. Ward explains this through the Eastern side of the empire which survived for a longer period until the fall of Constantinople. He explains this as not a mere strategy by the Romans but because luckily the geographical nature of Constantinople made it defensible. The heartlands of eastern prosperity were protected by a thin line of the sea from the barbarians.
Ward-Perkins, Bryan. The fall of Rome: and the end of civilization. Oxford University Press, 2006.
Heather, P. "The Fall of Rome: A New History." (2005).
ThoughtCo. (2017). What Factors Caused the Fall of the Roman Empire?. [online] Available at: https://www.thoughtco.com/what-was-the-fall-of-rome-112688 [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017].
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