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Thread: Preventing the fall of Rome

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    Caudillo thekinguter's Avatar
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    Preventing the fall of Rome

    Under what circumstances would it have been possible to save the Western Roman Empire after 400 A.D? What changes must've been done?
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    I am the mob orimazd's Avatar
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    One of the most important things is that they deal with the Vandal invasion properly. Losing Africa, which supplied Rome with enough grain to feed a huge population was one of the nails in the coffin.

    Alternatively, Belisarius accepts the Western crown when the king of the ostrogoths offers it to him.

  3. #3
    Also, you'd almost have to completely alter the development and character of Roman society during the centuries leading up to the fall.

    Another thought. What if Gaiseric had settled down in Rome and crowned himself, or a puppet, emperor?

  4. #4
    If Majorian had managed to recapture Africa from the vandals I would say that the western empire could have lived for a while longer, but Ricimer's time as generalissimo in the western empire destroyed its relations with the eastern empire and weakened the western empire even further, hard to think that was even possible xD

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Majorian

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    Quote Originally Posted by Viking_Manstein View Post
    If Majorian had managed to recapture Africa from the vandals I would say that the western empire could have lived for a while longer, but Ricimer's time as generalissimo in the western empire destroyed its relations with the eastern empire and weakened the western empire even further, hard to think that was even possible xD

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Majorian
    Maybe a while longer, but I'd say it requires something extraordinary to make it more than that; clearly, in his time, the whole region was in flux with much of his realm recently reconquered. It'd only take another Emperor falling, or a mistimed uprising, and everything would fall apart again as it did when Majorian died. Now, had he lived to a ripe old age, retaken Northern Africa, and installed a competent and secure successor for a few more decades I think things would start to look up for getting the empire past 600 AD, but how likely is that, given what was going on in the western empire at the time?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Avernite View Post
    Maybe a while longer, but I'd say it requires something extraordinary to make it more than that; clearly, in his time, the whole region was in flux with much of his realm recently reconquered. It'd only take another Emperor falling, or a mistimed uprising, and everything would fall apart again as it did when Majorian died. Now, had he lived to a ripe old age, retaken Northern Africa, and installed a competent and secure successor for a few more decades I think things would start to look up for getting the empire past 600 AD, but how likely is that, given what was going on in the western empire at the time?
    You are right indeed.

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    I agree.
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    Well, how about sending Edward Gibbon and a detachment of Alien Space Bats back in time?

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    Caudillo thekinguter's Avatar
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    @Buczkwoski: Well I was asking for short-term solutions (post-400 AD) that might saved the Empire (temporarily of course) for another couple hundred years. More unlikely scenarios have ocurred in World History and it seems societies adapt to the social, political and economic circumstances they live in.

    Now for the Vandals thing, those kind of details are the ones that could've saved Rome. What if Atilla was given the emperorship? Seems an unlikely scenario, but i've read crazy uplausible historical facts before.
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    I don't think that sort of thing ever happened-- officially giving the imperium to a barbarian. Even at the end, when it was basically entirely controlled by barbarians, it would have been considered improper for Odoaker to become the emperor, which is why he (and his predecessors) supported puppets instead.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by orimazd View Post
    I don't think that sort of thing ever happened-- officially giving the imperium to a barbarian. Even at the end, when it was basically entirely controlled by barbarians, it would have been considered improper for Odoaker to become the emperor, which is why he (and his predecessors) supported puppets instead.
    I agree. A barbarian could never have become emperor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Viking_Manstein View Post
    I agree. A barbarian could never have become emperor.
    Depends on what you mean by "barbarian". Odoacer certainly wasn't a good candidate, from the way he's portrayed in history books. However the empire had had plenty of emperors from the provinces... Syrians, Spaniards, Illyrians, Thracians, you name it.

  13. #13
    Peter Heather: 'the fall of the roman empire', is an interesting read. He gives an account of the roman political system, and comes to the conclusion that it was more than able to take on the incursions of the "barbarian", only in times of changing of emperors was the empire really weak. The arrival of the goths (and those who followed in advance of the huns) during such a crises was what pushed it over the brink.
    One of the strong sides of the book is also the analysis of the workings of the nomadic huns - I can strongly recommend the book.

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    Field Marshal Cybvep's Avatar

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    In 400 AD it was probably too late. Start 100 years earlier and maybe there would still be hope. Outposts which were hard to defend should have been abandoned ASAP and economic reforms which would make the Empire less dependant on slavery would have to be started early.

    Barbarian invasions are not the only cause of the fall of the Roman Empire and they are probably not even the most important one. Internal structure and geographical position of the Empire were just as important.

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    Removing the concept for an absolute monarch would be a start, and spread out the power to the subordinates, in order to remove these dangerous succession crisis. Or is that too unrealistic?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zzzzz... View Post
    Removing the concept for an absolute monarch would be a start, and spread out the power to the subordinates, in order to remove these dangerous succession crisis. Or is that too unrealistic?
    Too unrealistic.

    Augustus made a point of being princeps rather than a monarch, and his rule was at least nominally not absolute. As for the dispersal of power... one big problem the Romans had was that it was already too spread out. Every aristocrat wanted to take his quick stint plundering the provinces. Administration was non-existent and corruption was rampant.

    And it was precisely because of competition between those magnates that you wound up with Caesars in the first place. (i.e. "So, let me get this straight... i show up somewhere with a Roman army and i become rich and powerful? Well, what works against non-Romans might just work if i march on Rome... well, that would be one way to deal with my creditors and stomp my rivals...")

    So i think the concept of the absolute monarch actually sort of came after the practice, as it were.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tskb18 View Post
    Too unrealistic.
    I see.

    Correct me if I'm wrong. But Rome was a monarch by the time of Diocletian, replacing Augustus' Princepate. Which wouldn't help with this "Everybody wants to be an emperor" disease.
    So, you would say that the aristocratic nature of Rome is more of a problem rather than the too much centralisation of power?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zzzzz... View Post
    I see.

    Correct me if I'm wrong. But Rome was a monarch by the time of Diocletian, replacing Augustus' Princepate. Which wouldn't help with this "Everybody wants to be an emperor" disease.
    So, you would say that the aristocratic nature of Rome is more of a problem rather than the too much centralisation of power?
    I think that unclear succession was a large problem. Theoretically, current emperor nominated his successor, and often adopted him, so it was sort of hereditary. Good thing was, that you could theoretically choose only the most able people to be emperors. Practice was different, of course. It also meant that anybody from right circles could make a bid for emperorship. That resulted in endless coups, countercoups and civil wars. If the title of Emperor were to be inherited only in one family by blood, it might help to stabilize the empire somewhat.

    Of course, even with this arrangement, there could be the same power struggles, but instead of usurpers bringing their own puppet emperors, they would fight for the position of puppetmaster of current emperor. But it might bring at least some stabilization. What do others think?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zzzzz... View Post
    So, you would say that the aristocratic nature of Rome is more of a problem rather than the too much centralisation of power?
    The aristocratic nature of Rome were the reasons for the civil wars in the Republic time. The establishment of provinces with standing armies and governors completely wrecked the internal power balance both in the Roman society as a whole and especially between the large aristocratic families. In a period of less than 100 years Rome had to endure the Gracchi brothers and the bloodshed when they and their supporters were killed off, the war between Marius and Sulla and then Ceasar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jorsalfar View Post
    The aristocratic nature of Rome were the reasons for the civil wars in the Republic time. The establishment of provinces with standing armies and governors completely wrecked the internal power balance both in the Roman society as a whole and especially between the large aristocratic families. In a period of less than 100 years Rome had to endure the Gracchi brothers and the bloodshed when they and their supporters were killed off, the war between Marius and Sulla and then Ceasar.
    To be fair, the system worked quite well before the professionalisation of the army. The Romans managed to dominate the western and central Mediterranean and dealt with all the major powers in the region decisively. There was no shortage of slaves, no lack of external enemies and the armies weren't as dangerously loyal to their generals as during the late republic, so the Romans weren't so focused on fighting each other.

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