The Fall of Rome

Essential Question

What caused the “Fall of Rome”?

The Fall of Rome

Activity 1: Mini-Q What Were the Primary Reasons for the "Fall" of Rome?

Mini Q-What Were the Primary Reasons for the “Fall” of Rome_.pdf

Activity 2: Outline - What Were the Primary Reasons for the "Fall" of Rome?

Essay Outline

At its height, the Roman Empire stretched from Britain south to Egypt, and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf. But by the end of the 100s, emperors had to give up much of that land. The empire was too big to manage well.

Rome had to defend itself constantly. Attacks came from Germany in the north and from Persia in the east. Problems came from within the empire, too. Disease killed many people. Taxes were high. Food was scarce because so many farmers went to war. To increase food production, German farmers were invited to work on Roman lands, but they were not loyal to Rome. Rebellions soon followed.

The emperor Diocletian took power in the late 200s. His solution to Rome’s problems was to split the empire into two parts. Diocletian ruled the east. He appointed a co-emperor to rule the west.

Soon after the political and economic power of the Western Roman empire moved to the East. Eventually, the capital of the Roman Empire moved from Rome to a new city in the East, Constantinople.

Once the capital moved to the eastern empire, German barbarians started more attacks on Roman territory in the north. During the late 300s, an Asian group called the Huns began attacking a group called the Goths. As the Huns pushed farther into the Goth territory, the Goths were forced into Roman territory. Eventually, the Goths penetrated deep into Italy and destroyed Rome.

After the destruction of Rome, more groups began invading the Roman territory. The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes invaded Britain. The Franks invaded Gaul. The Frankish king Clovis, one of the most powerful German kings, built a large kingdom in Gaul. Meanwhile, the east was menaced by a fearsome new Hun leader named Attila. In 476 another barbarian leader overthrew the Roman emperor and declared himself king. This ended the western empire.

Barbarian invasions were not the only causes of Rome’s fall. The empire was too big, making it difficult to rule efficiently. The government also suffered from corruption. As these problems grew, wealthy landowners left Rome. They preferred to build armies and protect their personal estates. Only the poor were left in the city. Rome was no longer the great center it had once been.

Discussion Questions

  • Why did Rome fall?

  • What was the most important factor in Rome's fall?

  • What evidence could you use to prove why it was the most important factor in Rome's fall?

Activity 3: Why did Rome fall?

Using the information from this lesson, answer the questions in a thinking map. Complete this assignment digitally or on paper. It will be collected in your portfolio.

Extension Activities

Fall of the Roman Empire | World History | Khan Academy

NEWSELA: Eight Reasons Why Rome Fell