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Decline of the Roman Empire What do you think was the most significant problem that led to the decline of the Roman Empire?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The Roman empire basically over- extended itself. Bad leadership and worse decisions, coupled with a large area to defend and a huge army to feed caused the empire to be too weak to defend itself.

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accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I feel the Roman Empire was a victim of its own success in so many ways, and had become unmanageable and bureaucratic. Clearly with any question like this there are going to be a number of different factors, but this to me is one of the root causes that allowed the other problems to become more troubling and eventually resulted in the downfall.

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Inuk Lee eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In such a large empire that lasted so long, there is no one answer that can be given. All of the people above pointed out different reasons of why the empire came to an end. And in my opinion all of them are good answers. However, I'd like to point out one new perspective. The eastern empire, that is, Constantinople did not fall. It lasted for much longer until the Ottoman Turks in the 15th century. And even during the 5th century much of the resources...

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Jamel Bandy eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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jilllessa eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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thelaoshi | Student

There are so many possible factors to consider in this question! I agree with jillessa's response above, but I'd like to add another specific factor: political corruption.

As time went on, Rome's government became increasingly oppressive and authoritarian, and as a result it began to lose the support of the people. Officials were increasingly corrupt - for example, even the system of choosing an emperor became tainted. The Romans never successfully created a system for choosing new emperors. Originally, the choice was intended to be made through debate between the old emperor, the Senate, the emperor's private army (the Praetorian Guard), and the Roman army. However, the Praetorian Guard gradually gained complete authority to choose a new emperor. The new emperor would then reward the Guard, which became increasingly influential as time went on. In the last 100 years of its existence, the Roman Empire had 37 emperors - and 25 of them were assassinated.

The corruption of the Roman Empire's government divided the people of Rome at the very time when they needed to be most unified - when they were facing external attacks.