The fall of the Roman Empire took place on May 29 1453 A.D at the collapse of Constantinople. It referred to the steady breakdown of the economy of Rome and the strike of Barbarian invasions. The reasons given for the fall include decadence, Christianity, monetary and military-related problems. The fall is also attributed to imperial incompetence and the rise of Islam. However, the date for the fall of the Roman Empire is debatable as there are other dates attributed to the fall. An example of this is the traditional date of fall that is given as September 4 476 (Gibbon, 1960.p.364).
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To get to the root of what the Roman Emperors would have done to prevent the fall of the empire there is a need to understand the main causes that led to the fall so that the counteraction that would have prevented the fall can be established. The efforts that the emperors would have applied to prevent the fall would include reinstallation of the Roman army to stable conditions due to the reduced capacity as a result of attempted invasions and corruption of the administration. This is the case because the emperor was the backbone of the empire and was to work with the support of the Army to ensure the strength and stability of the empire. As a result, the fall resulted from the incapability of the Army and the Emperor to defend their kingdom. He felt the only way to preserve the Empire was to host all those who wished to live within its territory (Heather, 2006.p.347).
The Roman Emperors would have escaped the fall if they did not attempt the effort to create peace among the German Barbarians and the Romans within the empire through freely accommodating the Barbarous populations. This is so because the German aliens did not fall into the Roman traditional rule, discipline, and command which further resulted in the loss of tactical superiority over the foreigners. This situation led to the destruction of the top Roman Empire elite leading to the handover of power to a new oligarchy of the Barbarous wealthy (Gibbon, 1960.p.400).
The use of alternative means to get funds for the military against invasions would have avoided the fall as the means they used that included confiscation of goods, use of forced labor, and the making of no value supported currency resulted in the withdrawal of the loyalty of the citizens thus greatly affecting the middle class. This also made the empire bankrupt thus incapable of paying its officials and the army. The emperors would have failed to recruit the loser class societies into the Army as they used their positions to steal the empire’s wealth that meant the destruction of Roman cities, farmlands, and trade (Heather, 2006.p.398).
They would also have avoided the fall by not giving regard and favoring the barbarian units of the reserve army as it led to the inferiority of the Roman soldiers. This further led to internal strive among the Roman and the Barbarian soldiers, therefore, leading to neglect of duty in defending the borders against invasions. Another effort that the emperors would have used to avoid the fall of the Empire was arming the citizens and not putting full trust in the defense of the mercenaries (Gibbon, 1960.p.424).
A clear example of this was Valens who carried out corruption in the higher class of the empire by suppressing officers by defrauding them of their clothes and military equipment. This further led to a lack of loyalty among the members of the force. The upholding of the Roman morals and values would have avoided the fall of the empire as Emperors like Caligula and Nero were well known for wasting money on lavish parties which would otherwise have been channeled to strengthening the Empire (Heather, 2006.p.420).
The uphold of health standards would also have been useful in avoiding the fall as many environmental and health problems led to a high death rate of the wealthy. There was a high prevalence of disease due to poor shelter and increased alcohol use that increased the incompetence of the major public. The unity of command in choosing new emperors between the old emperor, senate, Praetorian Guard, and the army was not there. This led to the take of this role by the Praetorian Guard to choose, then selling of the position to the highest bidders. Due to this, the number rose to thirty-seven of those who were twenty-five were removed from office by assassination contributing to the overall weakness of the Empire (Gibbon, 1960.p.450).
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The creation of employment by universalizing the labor force acquisition to paid labor rather than slave labor that brought about cheap produce that competed away the farmers who paid for labor would also help avoid the fall as this situation led to a generally increasing economic burden and crime that further led to the fall of the empire. The emperors would also have avoided the fall by watching the continuously increasing inflation due to overspending of gold without further acquisition of it (Heather, 2006.p.428).
The fall of the Roman Empire can greatly be argued to have been self-inflicted as it began with the lack of loyalty towards the empire’s soldiers that led to the lack of commitment of the soldiers in serving the empire. Further, the allowance of the German entrance into the army and preference for the Roman soldiers resulted in a lack of commitment to defend the empire. Other factors that can be addressed to avoid the fall include solving the inferior technology, urban decay, unemployment, decline in morals and values, and political fraud.
- Gibbon, Edward. The decline and the fall of the Roman Empire. Plain label Books, 1960.434-476
- Heather, Peter. The fall of the Roman Empire: a new history of Rome and the Barbarians.Illustrated.Oxford University press, 2006.385-431