Thousands of migrants attempt to flood the gates of America. Infants shrieking, clinging to their mothers. Crowds of refugees pack together, sharing the same mindset; Let us in. But what keeps them out? The United States military ensures the majority of migrants are not permitted to enter America. Like the military forces today, Rome had a similar system of border control. In 122 CE, Emperor Hadrian constructed a wall in an attempt to keep Rome free of barbarian migrants. The wall was guarded by small troops of soldiers, whose purpose was to defend Rome. However, even Hadrian’s Wall could not keep the barbarian migrants out. The Roman Empire fell due to the migration of barbaric people into Rome.
To understand Rome’s fall, one must understand the events leading up. At the time, all emperors were worshipped as gods. But a new religion was emerging, claiming a new god; that religion was called Christianity. The leader of this religion was Jesus Christ. During Tiberius rule (14-37), Jesus Christ was crucified. Until the reign of Constantine, Christians were often persecuted. However, in 313, the Edict of Toleration was issued and Christians were no longer persecuted. In the end, Christianity weakened Rome, allowing barbarians to enter the Empire. Theodosius I (379-359), was the last ruler in Constantine’s line to rule over a unified empire. The Western Empire had grown weaker than the East, due to constant invasions by barbarian migrants. After Theodosius died in 395, the Roman Empire split into 2, the East and the West. Up until Rome’s fall, the Western Empire remained weaker.
Next, one must understand the barbaric migrants and how they came to be in Rome. The Visigoths were a wandering Germanic tribe from the northeast, with connections to the Goths. Originally, they were agriculturists from Dacia (now Romania). In 376 BCE, they were attacked by the Huns; a nomadic tribe residing near the Caspian Sea, and driven south into the Roman Empire. However, this arrangement did not last long, and they eventually went to battle against the Roman emperor Valen and his army. The battle of Adrianople in 378 BCE was one of the first times the Romans came into direct conflict with the Gothic migrants. The Visigoths tremendously defeated the Roman army and killed Valen. After the battle, the migrants began to wander Rome in search of a place to settle. Valens successor, Theodosius I, allowed the Visigoths to settle in Moesia. In 395, under the present leader Alaric, moved from Greece to Italy, invading Rome repeatedly. Finally, in 410, the Visigoths were able to conquer the city of Rome. The new leader Ataulphus settled the Germanic migrants in southern Gaul, then Italy. After the Visigoths conquered Rome, the Western Empire began to fall.
In addition, the migrants did more than just conquer. Roman societies began to collapse. In northeastern Gaul, Roman culture disappeared along with landowners land. In Spain and Italy, Romans survived by making deals with the Visigoths. If the landowners did not make deals with the migrants, then they faced losing their basis of living. Meanwhile, Rome was fading away due to the effects of the barbarian rule. Rome was the central location for taxation and government. After the Roman city was captured, taxation ceased and so did the Roman economy. In addition, the Roman culture was drastically affected. During the Roman Empire, elites learned to read and write through a lengthy and pricey education. This learning was in preparation for jobs within the bureaucracy. But when the Roman government fell, so did the need for education. Consequently, Latin was only designated for churchmen. All in all, the Germanic immigrants took away the Rome’s tax foundation used to fund various protective measures.
Finally, in 476, Germanic ruler Odoacer dethroned the emperor of the West, Romulus Augustulus. The East continued as the Byzantine Empire. Odoacer, eliminating a central ruler, appointed several princes and kings. The fall of Rome represented the fall of literacy, exceptional architecture, advanced economy, and rule system. During the Roman Empire, high taxation ensured that Rome would have a strong army. Under the new barbaric rulers, the army was an assortment of ill experienced landowners. The landowners then had to fight alongside the migrant soldiers who has once defeated them. The new barbaric kings tried to make up for the inconvenience by abolishing tax obligations. No matter how hard the Visigoths tried, Rome would never return to the Pax Romana.
Rome’s fall could be blamed on the migration of Visigoths into the Roman Empire. The migrants stripped Rome of taxation and consequently created a weaker defense system. They discarded the notion that Latin was important and ended the era of notable advances. Like the modern-day migration epidemic faced by President Trump, no wall could keep the Visigoths out of Rome.
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