In this blog post, I will explain how, and why, Rome was overrun by barbarians.
For hundreds of years, Rome ruled most of Europe with little resistance. The barbarians outside the border were not strong enough to take on Rome’s army, but by AD 200, it was becoming clear that Rome couldn’t hold it’s borders. The glory days of the five ‘good’ emperors had passed, and a new sector of emperors came in, known as the 20 short emperors. In a period of fifty years, from 234 to 284 AD, 20 emperors ruled the empire, and most got to the seat by murdering their predecessor. During this time of turmoil, Rome’s borders collapsed quite a bit.
After this, the new emperor, split the empire in half, knowing that it was too big to handle. For a short while, the empire was stable, but all that changed in 378, when the eastern emperor, Valens, was killed at the battle of Adrianople, at the hands of barbarians, the Visigoths. After this, his successor, Theodosius, united the empire under his rule for a short amount of time, the last emperor to do so.
The next emperors in the Roman empire were weak. The eastern emperor couldn’t control his territory, and the western emperor, Honorius, saw Rome sacked by the Visigoths. After that event, Rome began to decline. The last emperor who truly ruled well was Valentinian the third, and he was assassinated in 455 AD. Rome finally fell to barbarians completely in Ad 476.
WHY did Rome fall?
There are some good answers to the question. Here are the questions and answers.
Q: Why did Rome’s border collapse?
A: The 20 emperors greatly weakened the borders by fighting each other rather than combine and fight one enemy. The barbarians finally realized that they were going to have to team up to actually get anywhere against Rome. This is what they did, and that is how the borders weakened.
Q: Why did the 20 emperors even happen?
A: Probably because of family unrest. All of these emperors were related, so some must have thought that the seat was rightfully theirs.
These two questions are just a couple of examples, but the main question is…
How did the western empire survive for so long?
We are not quite sure why yet, and we probably will never know. All we know is that the empire fell and the dark ages began, spelling the end of a Europe ruled by barbarians and empires.