Analyze similarities and differences in the collapses of Rome (200-600 CE) and Han (50 BCE-220 CE). 

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The fall of Rome and the collapse of the Han Dynasty in China had many similar causes. Both empires were vast, and the leaders of each empire had a hard time administering control over the entire territory. In addition, both Rome and the Han were subject to outside invasions. The Romans were attacked by the Goths, Vandals, and other Germanic tribes. Part of the reason the Germanic tribes were menacing Rome was that the fearful Huns had dislodged them from their traditional lands. The rise of powerful Byzantine Empire in the East (after Diocletian had divided the Roman Empire into eastern and western parts in the third century) also diverted the attacking barbarians to Rome. Like the Romans, the Han were invaded by invaders. These invaders were called the Xiongu, who later coalesced with other groups to become the Huns.

Additional problems that plagued both Rome and the Han were high taxation rates that people tried to avoid. In Rome, the rich tried to hide from taxation, meaning the burden fell to the poor. Rome had stopped importing slaves when its expansion slowed, so the bulk of the tax burden crushed the poor. In the Han Dynasty, the cost of administering the empire also resulted in high taxes that the hard-pressed peasants could not pay. They often fled when the tax collector showed up. Both Rome and the Han were administered by weak leaders who were often corrupt. In Rome, the emperors were killed so often that there were constant changes of leadership.

The major difference between the collapse of Rome and the Han is that Christianity played a role in the fall of Rome and not the collapse of the Han. Christianity had been legalized with the Edict of Milan in 313, and the new faith challenged the beliefs and traditions of the Roman Empire, including the belief that the emperor was divine.