Trade routes and the economy in general had already been in decline in Western Europe for several hundred years before the fall of the Western Empire. All of the World’s Money and Markets in One Visualization, From Richer to Poorer: Venezuela’s Economic Tragedy Visualized, The Richest People in Human History (Part 1), 38 Incredible Facts on the Modern U.S. Dollar, 31 Fascinating Facts on the Early History of the U.S. Dollar, Infographic: The World’s Strangest Currencies. But in the end, there was no straining at the gates, no barbarian horde that dispatched the Roman Empire in one fell swoop. History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Since the Roman Empire was so large and most of the citizens were farmers, it had quite a bit to offer other countries and empires around it. By the time Rome became an empire, the territory covered by the term "Rome" looked completely different. Artist: Joseph Benoit Suvee. Rome had conquered much of the known world. This made them vulnerable to enemy weapons and provided the temptation to flee from battle. And still, others question the assumption behind the question and maintain that the Roman empire didn't fall so much as adapt to changing circumstances. Each coin was a bronze core with a thin coating of silver. Ostia was the most significant port since it was the closest main one to Rome; it sat at the River Tiber’s mouth and was just 15 miles away from Rome. This is easily the most argued question about the fall of Rome. But the city of Rome continued to exist. The British traders depended on the Romans for the Empire’s security - when it collapsed and Europe seemed to be taken over by Barbarians, traders didn’t have the guarantee that their goods would get through. “Lead in Ancient Rome's City Waters.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. This began in the early 4th century with Emperor Constantine, who was actively involved in Christian policy-making. Rome’s population was one million and this amount required many different things which were brought back through trading. "The Fall of Rome: Facts and Fictions." The barbarians, which is a term that covers a varied and changing group of outsiders, were embraced by Rome, who used them as suppliers of tax revenue and bodies for the military, even promoting them to positions of power. } The Romans also imported beef, corn, glass, iron, lead, leather, marble, olive oil, perfumes, timber, tin and wine. "The Roman Empire and Trade". How was the newest war, thermae, palace, or circus to be paid for? Certainly, the people who lived through the takeover would probably be surprised by the importance we place on determining an exact event and time. How Did Rome Fall? Trade generated vast wealth for the citizens of Rome. By decreasing the purity of their coinage, they were able to make more “silver” coins with the same face value. The loss of Spain meant Rome lost revenue along with the territory and administrative control, a perfect example of the interconnected causes leading to Rome's fall. That revenue was needed to support Rome's army and Rome needed its army to keep what territory it still maintained. It was trade that allowed a wide variety of goods to be imported into its borders: beef, grains, glassware, iron, lead, leather, marble, olive oil, perfumes, purple dye, silk, silver, spices, timber, tin and wine. By importing goods from other countries they could raise their living standards and have more luxuries. Hyperinflation, soaring taxes, and worthless money created a trifecta that dissolved much of Rome’s trade. Some see the rise of Christianity as putting an end to the Romans; those who disagree with that find the rise of Islam a more fitting bookend to the end of the empire—but that would put the Fall of Rome at Constantinople in 1453! In the end, the arrival of Odoacer was but one of many barbarian incursions into the empire. Just as the Fall of Rome was not caused by a single event, the way Rome fell was also complex. The army grew weak from a lack of wars and stopped wearing their protective armor. In fact, during the period of imperial decline, the empire actually expanded. However, with a finite supply of silver and gold entering the empire, Roman spending was limited by the amount of denarii that could be minted. By the time of Marcus Aurelius, the denarius was only about 75% silver. Web. The eastern half became the Byzantine Empire, with its capital at Constantinople (modern Istanbul). Merchants also found the Mediterranean became a danger zone as there no authorities were available to control pirate activity as far north as the English channel. Ostia also had ships arrive there from France and Spain. The fall of the Roman Empire plunged Europe into the Dark Ages and decentralized the region. Some historians maintain that it was the split into an eastern and western empire governed by separate emperors caused Rome to fall. Adding more coins of poorer quality into circulation did not help increase prosperity – it just transferred wealth away from the people, and it meant that more coins were needed to pay for goods and services. Only barbarian mercenaries were to be paid in gold. Getty Images/Charles Phelps Cushing/ClassicStock. That influx of conquered peoples and lands changed the structure of the Roman government. This made financing the pet-projects of emperors challenging. They preferred to live as natives, even if this meant poverty, which, in turn, meant they turned to those who could help—Germans, brigands, Christians, and Vandals. They used their road network to transport from one country to another: Spain, France, the Middle East and north Africa were the main trading partners. And so the Western Roman Empire would cease to exist by 476 A.D. Ott, Justin. Some of the arguments about the Fall of Rome focus on the geographic diversity and the territorial expanse that Roman emperors and their legions had to control.. 4th-century mosaic in the vault of a mausoleum built under Constantine the Great for his daughter Constantina (Costanza), who died in 354 AD. Q: How did the fall of Constantinople affect the age of exploration? forms : { Economic factors are also often cited as a major cause of the fall of Rome. Some of the major factors described are inflation, over-taxation, and feudalism. However, it had only the weight of 1.5 denarii. 6594–6599., doi:10.1073/pnas.1400097111. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. How did trade affect ancient Rome? Iowa State University Capstones, Theses, and Dissertations. It reached its greatest extent in the second century CE. With soaring logistical and admin costs and no precious metals left to plunder from enemies, the Romans levied more and more taxes against the people to sustain the Empire.