What internal problems weakened the Roman empire?

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bohemianteacher4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

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Rome remained a powerful country for many years but began to spread its armies thin by sending them on quests in different directions.  A large population of Christians and Jews had also migrated into the city.  When two infamous emperors came into power, Caligula and Nero, the people suffered at their expense.  Both men squandered Rome’s funds and resources.  Political corruption was problematic for the citizens of Rome.  The Romans did not have a  system for putting an emperor into power.  As a result, the control of choosing an emperor was obtained by the Praetorian Guard.  The Guards began to look at the position as a seat to given to the individual who could provide the highest rewards.  The Guards actions led to the willful strangulation of an emperor by the members in 186 A. D.  Over a 100 year period, Rome experienced the murder of 25 out of 37 emperors.  The lack of consistent leadership and the methods used to appoint emperors and killing the rulers weakened Rome. 

Wealthy men were the landowners who held the agricultural industry in compliance through the use of slaves.  Small farmers could not compete with the wealthy landowners.  They did not have money to pay for additional help.  The wealthy landowners gained more control over the population’s food supply.  Many farmers lost their farms and could not feed their families or find work.  They moved to the city hoping for work but were met with high unemployment rates and lack of food.  The people became a burden in the city, and many people stole to survive.  Grain had to be imported on several occasions to feed the people. 

Under Marcus Aurelius inflation became a problem.  Rome was no longer attacking and gaining wealth from other places.  However, the money was spent as if it would not run out on luxuries for the wealthy.  The coin system depreciated, resulting in prices being raised to make-up the difference in product cost and coin values.  Taxation began to change, resulting in transactions between tax collectors and others occurring in the form of articles of goods or produce as a replacement for coins. 

Housing for the wealthy was comfortable, spacious, and met their needs.  With so many poor people living in the city, the city began to erode.  Rent was high, resulting in people being forced to live in the streets.  Crime and filth became an everyday event. 

Excessive spending on Rome’s army resulted in a massive financial drain.  As the salaries and rewards for the men decreased, it became necessary to recruit some of the poor and unemployed.  The army became undependable, and recruits were hard to train correctly and house.  The emperors did not know what else to do but raise taxes, causing increased suffering for the poor.

The last straw occurred when the Roman Army had to be pulled away from holding back the barbarians who frequently tried to invade the city.  Instead, the armies had to direct their attention to civil unrest in Italy.  The result was the Germanic invasion which led to the fall of the Roman Empire.  

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