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 Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?

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TheodericAur
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PostSubject: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Fri 30 Dec 2011, 19:30

It seems that the Roman Empire pulled itself apart rather than expand.

Can anyone explain this phenomenon?

Kind Regards - TA
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Mikestone8
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Sat 31 Dec 2011, 17:29

Well, all empires stop expanding at some point, if only when lines of communication get too long.

Rome, however, had pretty much stopped expanding by the death of Trajan, but went on another century before getting into any difficulty to speak of, and a couple more before really getting into trouble. The (probably inevitable) halt to its expansion didn't bring it down in any immediate way.
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DarkLight
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Wed 04 Jan 2012, 15:23

Afternoon all,
Here's my two penn'orth on the failure of Rome...

In terms of size, it couldn't really get much bigger than at the end of Trajan's reign, and it was already overstretched in terms of communication, as Mikestone rightly says. To efficiently govern any territory you have to have co-ordination and communication, and more importantly you have to be able to respond to any military threats quickly. Rome reached a size where it became no longer possible to expand any further, which was limited by the technology they had available to them. However, it proved capable of maintaining its size for a long time.
In terms of its collapse, personally my view is that the nature of the Roman Empire had changed beyond recognition by the 5th Century AD, and Roman culture, politics and religious practises were totally different in comparison to, for example, Rome under Augustus, and while the empire was significantly larger, the same issues with communication and defence existed back then, The difference was that Rome had assimilated a totally alien belief structure in Christianity. This changed so many elements of Roman culture that collapse was inevitable. The power of the Roman Empire was its military, and its political ruling classes as well as its emperor. By the time of the successors of Constantine I, the Roman army was no longer the force it was, and was dominated by mercenaries and colonial auxiliaries. The mighty cohorts of Roman citizens seen after the Marian reforms were no more. The political classes were to some extent suborned by religious leaders, and Rome's pantheon of gods were no more, so Rome had lost its spiritual base and its military base, two major elements which made the empire strong in the first place. Instead its military strength was weakened, and its culture dominated by an imported religion. Collapse was inevitable. This to me explains how the western empire fell, but doesn't explain how the Eastern empire was able to continue for another thousand years. Any thoughts on that?
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Mikestone8
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Wed 04 Jan 2012, 16:18

Combination of demographics and geography.

The Eastern Empire was both more densely populated than the West and more urbanised, which in turn meant both richer per capita and more easily able to collect tax revenues. Townies are more concentrated, and can pay cash where peasants have to pay in kind, which is a nuisance to the tax-gatherer, who generally loses money converting the kind into cash.

Also, until the Arabs started to move (which didn't happen till the 7C) the East had a better strategic position. With the desert frontiers quiescent, it had only two relatively short borders to defend, on the lower Danube roughly from Belgrade to the Black Sea, and in Armenia and the upper Euphrates. These were close enough together to keep lines of communication short, and within easy reach of the Empire's best recruiting ground in Asia Minor. So things pretty much held together till the 600s, and even then, once they gave up the struggle in Africa and Syria, they were again able to hold on in Anatolia and the Balkans. The fatal blow didn't come till the Turkish invasion of the 11C.

By contrast, the Western Empire had a long, straggling border running from Serbia to Scotland, which had to be defended with less money and manpower. Unsurprisingly, it went down a lot faster.

I don't think the change of religion did any harm. Maybe the reverse. After all, the Eastern Empire was more thoroughly Christian then the Western, yet as observed it survived a good deal better.
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Sun 08 Jan 2012, 04:17

Just a thought, but could trade have been one of the reasons why the East survived longer than the west?

The Near East was a major crossroad between the Far East, the West and the North. With goods flowing in from China, India, Persia, Arabia, Africa and from the North via the Black Sea.

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brenogler
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Fri 20 Jan 2012, 22:38

I do think that reaching the limits of expansion did have some effect.
While Emperors could celebrate a new conquest to allay discontent in Rome everything seemed to go quite well (apart from the usual internecine backstabbing), but celebrating a few decades of peace and stability didn't have the same effect.

It seems rather similar today, with everyone saying that the end of unsustainable expansion must mean collapse.

May I have a few decades of peaceful stasis?

glen
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Vizzer
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Sun 24 Jan 2016, 14:09

@Islanddawn wrote:
Just a thought, but could trade have been one of the reasons why the East survived longer than the west?

The Near East was a major crossroad between the Far East, the West and the North. With goods flowing in from China, India, Persia, Arabia, Africa and from the North via the Black Sea.

This article from the Journal of Interdisciplinary History suggests a climatic reason. The nub of the article can perhaps be summed up by the following sentence:

'In seeming contrast to broader dry conditions in France, the increase in eastern precipitation and generally humid conditions in the eastern Roman Empire resumed or continued as those provinces reached their political and cultural apogee.'

For 'France' here read Gaul and the wider western Empire. The article is perhaps too over-reliant on sparse scientific data but it's certainly food for thought.
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Sun 24 Jan 2016, 20:00

@Vizzer wrote:
@Islanddawn wrote:
Just a thought, but could trade have been one of the reasons why the East survived longer than the west?

The Near East was a major crossroad between the Far East, the West and the North. With goods flowing in from China, India, Persia, Arabia, Africa and from the North via the Black Sea.

This article from the Journal of Interdisciplinary History suggests a climatic reason. The nub of the article can perhaps be summed up by the following sentence:

'In seeming contrast to broader dry conditions in France, the increase in eastern precipitation and generally humid conditions in the eastern Roman Empire resumed or continued as those provinces reached their political and cultural apogee.'

For 'France' here read Gaul and the wider western Empire. The article is perhaps too over-reliant on sparse scientific data but it's certainly food for thought.


Vizzer,

coincidentally they are discussing the same "fall" of the Western Roman Empire on a French messageboard. For the moment I find the most argument in the message of Darklight from 4 January 2012...
One of the French contributors on the debate says that for him the most important influence came from the lack of leadership, no strong general anymore, who was able to galvanise the masses and who could keep the unity of command in the Roman society, a kind of dictatorship who obliged again the rules and discipline...and again more hardship for the too "civilized" population and less luxury for the upper-class...
It is also my opinion that it was the infight at the top, which was one of the greatest causes of the decline...

Kind regards, Paul.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Sun 24 Jan 2016, 22:33

@PaulRyckier wrote:
 For the moment I find the most argument in the message of Darklight from 4 January 2012...


I think Mikestone8's suggestions make most sense. From the little I have read on this subject, the Western Roman world gradually dissolved as a result of mercantile, military, cultural and demographic decline. Also successive immigrations and invasions of "barbarians" gradually altered the shape of society. The point about agrarian economies becoming more important than - replacing? - the urban is also surely important. And weren't there successions of plagues and famines that took their toil?

It would seem that collapse of the Western Empire was indeed inevitable, but is it naïve to blame it on the spread of Christianity, as Darklight suggests? What did Gibbon say about this? I know it took him several volumes and a decade or so to examine the reasons for the decline and fall, but can anyone summarise his findings in a short post for us? I believe Gibbon did look at the religious question, but is it true he was something of an anti-Christian sceptic? Is Decline and Fall still considered to be an authority, or does it tell us more about Edward Gibbon and his times than it does about the collapse of the Western Roman Empire?


“The theologian may indulge the pleasing task of describing Religion as she descended from Heaven, arrayed in her native purity. A more melancholy duty is imposed on the historian. He must discover the inevitable mixture of error and corruption which she contracted in a long residence upon Earth, among a weak and degenerate race of beings.”


I remember my father saying to me that he envied me that I still had Gibbon to read: alas, half a century later, and I still haven't got round to it. But I've seen that film with Alec Guinness. Seriously, wonder how accurate that was? I think the Hollywood offering - which was, to be fair, considered to be "intelligent" in 1964 -  just looked at the start of the rot.



I blame Sophia Loren.

PPS  "Another damned fat book, Mr. Gibbon? Scribble, scribble, scribble, eh Mr. Gibbon?"   Smile   Remark attributed to George III.


Last edited by Temperance on Mon 25 Jan 2016, 10:35; edited 1 time in total
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Mon 25 Jan 2016, 08:30

The simple answer to the original question has to be yes as the empire demonstrably ceased to expand and the empire demonstrably began to fail after that point. The causality connecting the two events however is quite complex.

One "event" that proved to have huge significance but which went almost unnoticed at the time due to its gradual degree of progression was the Saharan encroachment on North African arable land, the primary source of the grain that quite literally fuelled the central Roman economy. There is practically no official record of its decline in terms of quantity as its huge political importance in the power structure by which individual emperors rose to prominence and consolidated their power meant that there was - rather ironically - an increasing dependence on the fiction of its plenty as its availability diminished. The first inkling of a crisis came in the reign of Aurelian when he drastically restructured the "alimenta" to change the dole from grain to bread - in other words the state stepped into the process and tightly controlled the conversion of the resource into bread, thereby retaining the annona (distribution of supplies to civilian and military recipients) while being better positioned to husband the quickly vanishing resource. A few decades later Diocletian, faced with the out of control inflation which had been bound to result from earlier measures typified by such an intervention, rewrote the rules entirely regarding both state responsibility for the dole and indeed its right to distribution at all.

Diocletian comes in for a lot of stick from Christian historians who tend to focus on what they term his "persecutions" of their faith, and there is no denying that he certainly clamped down on what we would call religious freedoms in his time. In fact Christians fared no better or worse than almost anyone else lower than equestrian class in his reforms, which were designed almost exclusively to arrest economic decline and return the Roman state to one which could comfortably support its armies. His draconian measures attempted to forcibly retain the fundaments of economic growth as he saw them (sons of fathers in specific artisan disciplines were obliged by law to take up the same trade), civilian mobility was drastically curtailed, any potential gainsayers to his autocratically enforced rules were declared public enemies (Christians amongst them), and so on.

His reforms historically can be demonstrated to have been at best a temporary arrest of an inevitable decline, and at worst actually something that hastened it in the long term - his "new Rome" required a level of subdivision, a level of bureaucracy, and such a plethora of new laws that it became administratively impossible to maintain. However we at least have Diocletian to thank for the first official admission that the real crisis underpinning the whole decline was the increasing inability of the empire to feed itself. In his "edict on maximum prices" Diocletian explained that bread's exemption from the edict was in the hope rather than expectation that a replacement for the once bountiful granaries of Egypt and Africa could be found. There was no admonition of African provinces for their diminishing quotas, simply an open admission that the land there just couldn't produce grain as before any longer. And rather untypically for Diocletian, who was one of Rome's most hard-headed and least religiously sentimental emperors, he actually included in the edict an order for every citizen to pray to Annona for the future of the state. The choice of goddess speaks volumes.
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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Mon 25 Jan 2016, 10:06

Reading the above, I'm irresistibly drawn to say, But it's all just physics, init?

When the fuel for fusion dries up and the expansionary force can no longer resist the inward pressure from gravity, the star goes Bang.

But out of destruction comes creation until the energy is so dispersed that it all ceases.

Sorry, I'm in a strange mood, it's probably lack of sunlight.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Mon 25 Jan 2016, 10:23

@ferval wrote:
Reading the above, I'm irresistibly drawn to say, But it's all just physics, init?

When the fuel for fusion dries up and the expansionary force can no longer resist the inward pressure from gravity, the star goes Bang.

But out of destruction comes creation until the energy is so dispersed that it all ceases.

Sorry, I'm in a strange mood, it's probably lack of sunlight.


Gosh, you are, ferval. What a cryptic post.

Serious question - where did the Eastern Empire obtain its food? Were supplies of grain still plentiful there?

Was it all really about food/economics or had the vision of Empire been lost? Where there is no vision the people perish and all that; this does not relate necessarily to religious vision but to a purpose or belief which unifies the group - or nation - or empire.

But I know nothing at all about this topic, so I should really shut up. I feel silly for mentioning Gibbon now. All out-of-date stuff, I suppose, that no one bothers with these days. But his prose style is nice.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Mon 25 Jan 2016, 10:49

Temp wrote:
Serious question - where did the Eastern Empire obtain its food?

The Eastern Empire successfully oversaw a change from state-subsidised food supplies to market-driven availability and prices mainly due to it being best positioned geographically to encourage self-sufficiency within its political borders. However it still wasn't until as late as the 8th century before the real dividends of depending less on subsidised imports and more on sustainable home-grown produce began to filter back into the economy in terms of large GDP surplus. It could do this better than its Western counterpart mainly due to its freedom from absolute reliance on the inherited estates system as prevailed in the west. The village- and town-based agrarian economy proved itself to be much more sensible in the long run, even if certain early emperors actively pursued policies of imposing the more standard Roman model on the system, normally using tax collection as the logic for such reform. However for various reasons they ultimately failed to do so, and in fact quickly realised - to their credit - that this was probably just as well.

The cohesion of the agrarian economy in the East produced one of history's longest continuously successful economies of all time in which - by the standards of the times - famine rarely intervened, and so it continued until ultimately it was destroyed by 13th century crusaders. As a model for the area however it was revived by the pragmatic Ottomans, and arguably enjoyed almost as much success under them until - as with the crusades - the interconnectivity upon which it relied was disrupted drastically for political reasons in recent times.

Using a simple maxim of "you grow that which is sustainable in quantities guaranteed to create a surplus while supporting an optimal population size" might still work in the region if the southern Balkan states, Greece and Turkey ever could be amalgamated again within one agrarian economy.

EDIT: In 2005 the economist Branko Milanovic applied current calculations as used by the IMF and World Bank to calculate Byzantian GDP around the year 1000CE. It comes out at between 8 and 12 billion dollars in today's money. To put that in perspective this places the Eastern Roman Empire/Byzantium ahead of India and only behind the USA, China and the EU in terms of domestic product should it exist today, and by far the world leader in its day. For a non-industrial society to achieve this requires consistent food surplus over very long periods.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Mon 25 Jan 2016, 12:26

I found this on the internet. It is from an article written by (I think, but I'm not sure) someone called Donald MacGilivray Nicol. So Egypt continued to supply grain to the Eastern Empire - to Constantinople, but not to the West? Did these supplies cease abruptly after the Persian conquest of Alexandria in 642? Did the powers in Constantinople see this coming? Presumably they did. Hope these are not daft questions (really).


The security and wealth provided by its setting helped Byzantium survive

for more than a thousand years. Constantinople was a state-controlled, world

trade centre which enjoyed the continuous use of a money economy - in contrast

to the localized systems found in the west. The city's wealth and taxes paid

for a strong military force and financed an effective government. Excellent

sewage and water systems supported an extremely high standard of living. Food

was abundant, with grain from Egypt and Anatolia
and fish from the Aegean.

Constantinople could support a population of a million, at a time when it was

difficult to find a city in Europe that could sustain more than 50,000.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Mon 25 Jan 2016, 13:04

Temp wrote:
Did these supplies cease abruptly after the Persian conquest of Alexandria in 642?

Yes, and it proved a blessing in disguise for the Byzantines. The abandonment of any dependency on Egypt's grain by Constantinople was not ignored by Chalcedonian Christian commentators in Egypt who, even before eventual subjugation by Islamic invaders, vented their political spleen at their Byzantine "protectors" for placing less value on souls than loaves of bread (the Alexandrian patriarch at one point tried to excommunicate the emperor). However the same lads were so thoroughly horrible anyway (and making quite a profit from grain sales too!) that when the Arabic invasion began the Muslims were supported so completely by Coptic and other Christians that their influence was snuffed out overnight, as were also any realistic Byzantine ideas about ever getting the territory back.
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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Mon 25 Jan 2016, 13:50

The Ostrogothic Kingdom of Theoderic the Great, circa 490;



This political entity shrank after Theoderic's death and was eliminated entirely by Justinian's War against the Goths.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Mon 25 Jan 2016, 14:08

While the colour looks impressive on a map, Trike, it in no way reflects actual control exercised by Theoderic during his "kingdom". Likewise the areas outside the coloured bit also are misleading. As viceroy to the Byzantine emperor (his actual title, not "king") and as de facto king of the Visigoths, Theoderic's influence extended way beyond the bit he ostensibly reigned over, and in some cases one could argue he held even more in those places sometimes than within his so-called borders.

If Theoderic (as invited to but decided against) had classed himself a Roman citizen above his Ostrogothic identity and had adopted the title emperor he might have gone down in history as an almost seamless continuation of the Western Roman empire's glorious and ancient traditions. Instead he is presented as definitive proof of its having already died at that point. The truth however is somewhere between the two, just as the truth of the borders of the lands within his effective control would present a much patchier picture than the one you have posted.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Mon 25 Jan 2016, 17:36

@nordmann wrote:
Temp wrote:
Did these supplies cease abruptly after the Persian conquest of Alexandria in 642?

Yes, and it proved a blessing in disguise for the Byzantines. The abandonment of any dependency on Egypt's grain by Constantinople was not ignored by Chalcedonian Christian commentators in Egypt who, even before eventual subjugation by Islamic invaders, vented their political spleen at their Byzantine "protectors" for placing less value on souls than loaves of bread (the Alexandrian patriarch at one point tried to excommunicate the emperor). However the same lads were so thoroughly horrible anyway (and making quite a profit from grain sales too!) that when the Arabic invasion began the Muslims were supported so completely by Coptic and other Christians that their influence was snuffed out overnight, as were also any realistic Byzantine ideas about ever getting the territory back.


Well, I've now got myself in a real pickle: trying to find out about all this Chalcedonian and Coptic stuff, I consulted my trusty MacCulloch. Big mistake. Mention of "Miaphysitism" and "Dyophysite 'Nestorianism' " has added to my confusion and my despair. This is the passage that caught my eye. I wish it hadn't:

All this was thanks to the large number of Eastern Christians who hated the decisions of the Council of Chalcedon and decided to ignore or oppose them. It took a long time for those who felt like this to make a formal break with the Church authorities who had accepted the Council's pronouncements. Of the two opposite points of view excluded by Chalcedon, Miaphysitism and Dyophysite 'Nestorianism', it was the Miaphysites who most worried the emperors in Constantinople. The Miaphysites' power base, Alexandria, was one of the most important cities in the Eastern Empire, essential to the grain supply which kept the population of Constantinople in pliant mood, and Myaphysites continued to have support in the capital itself...

Is any of this relevant to our OP? Probably not. Was, indeed, any of this relevant to the message of Christianity, or was it all about power-grabbing and profiteering? Is that what really did for the Empire? Nothing changes, does it? Poor Jesus - no wonder He wept. Who can blame Him?

I shall post something about Upstairs Downstairs now. Less complicated.



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Vizzer
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Mon 25 Jan 2016, 21:59

@Temperance wrote:
I feel silly for mentioning Gibbon now. All out-of-date stuff, I suppose, that no one bothers with these days. But his prose style is nice.

Don't feel silly at all Temp. And neither is Edward Gibbon out-of-date. If anything Aunt Kitty's pet pupil was a man far ahead of his time. What is silly is the knee-jerk rejection of classic (yet unread) works and texts on the assumption that simply because they are classic, or old, then that must mean that they are also fuddy duddy. That was the default approach of so many academics in the 1960s and 1970s and has subsequently been found out time and again. A truly silly approach in itself.

If you do nothing else in 2016 other that read Gibbon's History then that will have been a year well spent.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Tue 26 Jan 2016, 07:35

Thank you for the kind and encouraging words, Vizzer - really appreciated.

It is such a vast subject - and a bewildering one. And running through it all is the Church/State issue - trying to find out who - as the Empire changed over several centuries - believed what and why. Who were the politicians; who were the egotistical intellectuals; who were the crackpots; who were the genuinely spiritual? An awful lot of "saints" emerged out of this period; but who, if any, were really saintly?

But that is another story.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Wed 27 Jan 2016, 21:38

@nordmann wrote:
The simple answer to the original question has to be yes as the empire demonstrably ceased to expand and the empire demonstrably began to fail after that point. The causality connecting the two events however is quite complex.

One "event" that proved to have huge significance but which went almost unnoticed at the time due to its gradual degree of progression was the Saharan encroachment on North African arable land, the primary source of the grain that quite literally fuelled the central Roman economy. There is practically no official record of its decline in terms of quantity as its huge political importance in the power structure by which individual emperors rose to prominence and consolidated their power meant that there was - rather ironically - an increasing dependence on the fiction of its plenty as its availability diminished. The first inkling of a crisis came in the reign of Aurelian when he drastically restructured the "alimenta" to change the dole from grain to bread - in other words the state stepped into the process and tightly controlled the conversion of the resource into bread, thereby retaining the annona (distribution of supplies to civilian and military recipients) while being better positioned to husband the quickly vanishing resource. A few decades later Diocletian, faced with the out of control inflation which had been bound to result from earlier measures typified by such an intervention, rewrote the rules entirely regarding both state responsibility for the dole and indeed its right to distribution at all.

Diocletian comes in for a lot of stick from Christian historians who tend to focus on what they term his "persecutions" of their faith, and there is no denying that he certainly clamped down on what we would call religious freedoms in his time. In fact Christians fared no better or worse than almost anyone else lower than equestrian class in his reforms, which were designed almost exclusively to arrest economic decline and return the Roman state to one which could comfortably support its armies. His draconian measures attempted to forcibly retain the fundaments of economic growth as he saw them (sons of fathers in specific artisan disciplines were obliged by law to take up the same trade), civilian mobility was drastically curtailed, any potential gainsayers to his autocratically enforced rules were declared public enemies (Christians amongst them), and so on.

His reforms historically can be demonstrated to have been at best a temporary arrest of an inevitable decline, and at worst actually something that hastened it in the long term - his "new Rome" required a level of subdivision, a level of bureaucracy, and such a plethora of new laws that it became administratively impossible to maintain. However we at least have Diocletian to thank for the first official admission that the real crisis underpinning the whole decline was the increasing inability of the empire to feed itself. In his "edict on maximum prices" Diocletian explained that bread's exemption from the edict was in the hope rather than expectation that a replacement for the once bountiful granaries of Egypt and Africa could be found. There was no admonition of African provinces for their diminishing quotas, simply an open admission that the land there just couldn't produce grain as before any longer. And rather untypically for Diocletian, who was one of Rome's most hard-headed and least religiously sentimental emperors, he actually included in the edict an order for every citizen to pray to Annona for the future of the state. The choice of goddess speaks volumes.



 
Nordmann,

"One "event" that proved to have huge significance but which went almost unnoticed at the time due to its gradual degree of progression was the Saharan encroachment on North African arable land, the primary source of the grain that quite literally fuelled the central Roman economy."

In the time I did a lot of research for the old BBC messageboard for a similar quesiton of the decline of Rome. And already then I read about the over exploitation of the North-African granary. But I had a vague rememberance of an American article, which pointed the decline of the Roman Empire as a result of economical mismanagement...
Of course you had also the Vandals in North-Africa, who caused a slowing down to the agriculture production, but the decline was already started before...

Did some research on the web today...
http://www.novaroma.org/nr/Monetary_economy
http://www.roman-empire.net/articles/article-018.html
http://explorersfoundation.org/glyphery/260.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crisis_of_the_Third_Century
http://www.examiner.com/article/the-economic-collapse-of-the-roman-empire
http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-journal/1994/11/cj14n2-7.pdf


Will later give my comments...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Wed 27 Jan 2016, 22:15

The best article to understand the subject is perhaps the last item that I provided:
http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-journal/1994/11/cj14n2-7.pdf
Read once on the end the conclusion:
"In conclusion, the fall of Rome was fundamentally due to economic detoriation, resulting from excessive taxation, inflation and over-regulation"

Kind regards, Paul.
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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Thu 28 Jan 2016, 09:57

Paul, it might be worth noting the source of that reference; the Cato Institute, an American think tank dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace. It's not exactly agenda-free therefore although I'm not qualified to comment on the scholarship in the article.

http://www.cato.org/about

Here is an assessment of Cato from an equally ideologically driven source, and one which can't use apostrophes properly so immediately suspect, but which allows one to reflect upon the context of your article's conclusions.

http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/cato-institute
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Thu 28 Jan 2016, 10:04

Too many people wrote:
... the fall of Rome ...
A loaded assumption.

When properly analysed there is little that typified the "fall" of Rome, its manner, its nature and its causes, that did not in some way have a precursor in that empire's history already, sometimes several. The decline of its influence on the Italian peninsula was proportionately mirrored by its increase in power and influence from its base in the Hellespont, so who is to say it fell at all?
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Fri 29 Jan 2016, 21:19

@ferval wrote:
Paul, it might be worth noting the source of that reference; the Cato Institute, an American think tank dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace. It's not exactly agenda-free therefore although I'm not qualified to comment on the scholarship in the article.

http://www.cato.org/about

Here is an assessment of Cato from an equally ideologically driven source, and one which can't use apostrophes properly so immediately suspect, but which allows one to reflect upon the context of your article's conclusions.

http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/cato-institute


ferval,

I knew that Bruce Bartlett was focused on the liberal economy...if you search the web on the "Roman economy" it is aways the same trio that you meet:
Michael Rostovtzeff
Ludwig von Mises
Bruce Bartlett

and their theory is best summarized in the link that I already provided:
http://www.novaroma.org/nr/Monetary_economy

About the three from wiki:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Rostovtzeff
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_von_Mises
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Bartlett

About the inflation:
https://mises.org/library/inflation-and-fall-roman-empire

After one has read that all one can make the understanding that after the crisis of the third century due to mismanagement of the state by the successive ruling classes the empire degraded slowly from within...? A nearly continuous state of civilian war with the armies as powerbrokers and the needs of the new rulers to pamper their armies, which kept them in power...?And due to this state of uncertainty and repression you had especially in the West a trend of small landowners seeking the protection of more powerful landlords and as such preparing the circumstances of the following feodality...?

Was Caesar and the Principat the start of all the trouble, would a collective ruling class as the Senate have been a better alternative, a bit the organisation of the later Venice Republic or the Dutch Republic of the 17th century? In fact it was only under Augustus that the Roman principat has had its best time...?

Kind regards, Paul.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Fri 29 Jan 2016, 21:40

@nordmann wrote:
Too many people wrote:
... the fall of Rome ...
A loaded assumption.

When properly analysed there is little that typified the "fall" of Rome, its manner, its nature and its causes, that did not in some way have a precursor in that empire's history already, sometimes several. The decline of its influence on the Italian peninsula was proportionately mirrored by its increase in power and influence from its base in the Hellespont, so who is to say it fell at all?


Completely agreeing with you, Nordmann.

And although the West was going more and more independentely and only in the East the Roman empire continued for another 1000 years, the idea of the Roman Empire lived on in stuctures and organizations...even a Clovis recognized still a Roman Emperor...and as I mentioned in my message to Ferval, there was a slow evolution due to circumstances preparing the later feodal reality...there was never an abrupt change...but an evolution changing one organisation to another....
I had the same discussions with the "Middle Ages"...no intermezzo between two periods...but an evolution where elements of the past were still present and where new and! old ideas came gradual on the foreground....and yes there were years when this evolution was a bit quicker than other periods...

Kind regards, Paul.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Sun 31 Jan 2016, 09:13

Well, to be honest, I rather go along with Iggy Pop.

Here are his reflections (on Gibbon actually):


http://www.ucd.ie/cai/classics-ireland/1995/Pop95.html

"America is Rome. Of course, why shouldn't it be? All of Western life and institutions today are traceable to the Romans and their world. We are all Roman children for better or worse.... I learn much about the way our society really works, because the system-origins - military, religious, political, colonial, agricultural, financial - are all there to be scrutinized in their infancy."

Rome didn't fall; Rome lives on; Rome is an attitude of mind. Nothing changes because, as PP over on another thread pointed out, "We don't want them (things) changed."

We are indeed all "Rome's children". Good old Iggy - nicely put.

But to be fair - as well as honest - no discussion of this would be complete without serious consideration of the following. And Brian's friends missed out Lex Romana which is today "the basis for most of the legal systems of the civilised world" - whatever civilised means.



Last edited by Temperance on Sun 31 Jan 2016, 11:49; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Wild punctuation.)
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Sun 31 Jan 2016, 21:19

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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Sun 31 Jan 2016, 22:54

Thank you for the links, Paul.

I am confused. The sentence hasn't disappeared. I meant Pontius Pilate: it was a reference to some dialogue I quoted over on the Historical TV and Radio thread. All best forgotten.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Mon 01 Feb 2016, 08:38

Iggy's little essay was commissioned and printed by the Classics Association of Ireland - and here is as good an opportunity as any to extol that organisation's virtues. If one is interested in ancient Greece and Rome and wishes to join an organisation to that end which - unlike many of its ilk - is mercifully eclectic, snobbery-free, and genuinely encouraging of its members' (sometimes rather individualistic) approaches to the study then one can do worse than begin with them. I've attended a few events over the years and always had a great time, and also always came away having painlessly learnt a lot more than I could have imagined going in. They have a pretty well-structured and amenable web presence too so non-Irish residents can engage with their activities quite easily.

For a flavour of their activities and engagement here's a link to their latest newsletter.

PS: Temp, I think Paul was referring to the post to which your "PP" reference pertained. That has indeed disappeared, as you deleted it if you recall. Didn't we have a thread one time about Pontius Pilate and who or what he might really have been? It might be worth resurrecting it (pardon the pun) and adding Bowie's interpretation to the debate. The historical treatment of the character is also worth looking at - his vacillation between friend and fiend apropos the "official" Christian propaganda that includes him speaks volumes about the alternate societies and times in which the various interpretations have popped up.
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Mon 01 Feb 2016, 22:03

@Temperance wrote:
Thank you for the links, Paul.

I am confused. The sentence hasn't disappeared. I meant Pontius Pilate: it was a reference to some dialogue I quoted over on the Historical TV and Radio thread. All best forgotten.



Temperance, you are right the sentence is still there. And I reread three times your message, but assuming it was the quote of Iggy Pop I didn't read three times not that quote but only your assumed message Embarassed ....
"Nothing changes because, as PP over on another thread pointed out, "We don't want them (things) changed.""

But, you, English Wink are as bad as those Dutch ones, with their only initials Wink  and one as a Belgian has to guess then what those Dutch mean...and those English Wink ...

Kind regards, your friend Paul.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Tue 02 Feb 2016, 11:21

Hi Paul,

I'm sorry I confused you. Actually my post is still there: Historical TV and Radio thread, Saturday 23rd January 2016. I quoted part of the dialogue between Jesus and Pontius Pilate there. Pilate is played by David Bowie (Iggy's chum). He does not sing Webel Webel in the YouTube clip.

HI nordmann,

I don't think we ever had a Pontius Pilate thread, but there was much interesting discussion about this "invented man" on the Golden Age thread. I intruded on your debate with Tim. One of us had a huff: I'm not sure who - you, me or Tim - but I think it must have been you, because you locked the thread.

I might start a PP thread, but it is rather offering myself up as a lamb to the slaughter. But then why not? I think Pontius Pilate (as you point out) is a fascinating character. We know he lived - there was a big stone with his name on it - but that's about it. The Gospels created him really - and succeeding generations have done the rest.

As is pointed out in the Ann Wroe biography: "Pilate's story has become the story of ourselves". That's what I'd like to explore.

But do I hear groans from everyone else? Probably.
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Tue 02 Feb 2016, 14:33

Temperance

'The Gospels created him really - and succeeding generations have done the rest.'

There is also quite a lot about him in Josephus and Philo.  Where he is most notable by his near absence is amongst Roman writers, just one mention in Tacitus and that is in connection with Jesus. 
“Nero substituted as culprits and punished in the most unusual ways those hated for their shameful acts, who the crowd called ‘Chrestians’.  The founder of this name, Christ, had been executed in the reign of Tiberius by the procurator Pontius Pilate.  Suppressed for a time, the deadly superstition erupted again not only in Judea, the origin of this evil, but also in the city, where all things horrible and shameful from everywhere come together and become popular.” 
regards
Tim
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Tue 02 Feb 2016, 14:55

Have you read the Anne Wroe biography, Tim? I think it's brilliant.

Wroe points out that the only "direct evidence" we have for the man is one inscribed stone and a few small coins. The documentary sources for Pilate all, she says, have their biases. They give versions of Pilate's character, "but so wrapped up in propaganda or agendas that it is difficult to detect what, if anything, may be true in them."

His character may be unknown to us, but as a dramatic character he is superb.

How amazed the Pontius Pilate of history would have been to know that we would still be talking about him 2000 years after his death and that, after Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, he was destined to become the most famous Roman ever.

And I wonder how PP would have felt had someone told him that, unlike Caesar and Mark Antony, his name would be mentioned regularly in temples all over the Empire - and all thanks to the crazy Jewish dreamer he condemned to death.

Odd how things turn out, isn't it?


PS Did you and nord ever decide whether he (Pontius Pilate, not nordmann) was a prefect or a governor or a procurator - or was he sort of all three?
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Tue 02 Feb 2016, 21:32

Hello Temperance, no I have not read it.  The documentary sources for Pilate do I am sure have their biases but that is true of most documentary sources.

I would add Augustus Caesar to your list of famous Romans but yes how many people could easily name a Roman governor of the province of Asia, for example?

I think I can safely say that Nordmann and I are in complete agreement (and it is not often that happens) that he was a Prefect not a procurator.  Governor is just a modern translation used for both positions, used in the Cambridge Ancient History for example.  The difference is that it appears to bother Nordmann while it does not bother me.  However, it does bother me when I see a Legion translated as a 'brigade' (division would be more accurate).

regards

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Wed 03 Feb 2016, 10:04

Actually Pilate's real role (as opposed to the one assigned him in the bible stories) is germane to the original OP, whatever title he officially laboured under. While Rome maintained pretty uniform bureaucratic definitions and roles throughout its provinces in the early empire years Syria/Judea represented something of an exception due to its function as a border with Rome's biggest enemy of the time as well as how it had been assembled.

The primary function of defining a province was fiscal and the roles and responsibilities assigned to their governance, as well as the official relationship between the military and civic authorities reflected this primacy. Military deployments were as often conducted to ensure revenue flow (be it to assist or knock into shape a local governor) as they were to engage any organised enemy in battle, probably more so. In the Middle East however that relationship was almost unique in its day in that the military governance of the region frequently superseded the civic and Pilate's principal responsibilities would have had less to do with civic ordinance than with applying military solutions to the three big challenges of the area - holding the Parthians at bay, securing the land routes essential to the transfer of goods from Egypt (hugely important given Egypt's role in literally feeding the body politic at the centre of the empire) and subduing local aggression directed against both of these aims.

We can assume from the historical evidence that this military-heavy approach to administration worked at the time in the region. We know the Parthians were kept at arm's length. We know the trade routes were never seriously threatened, and we know that local aggression was vehemently and effectively subdued. Throughout this period the political definition of the region chopped and changed a few times, veering towards and away from nominal autonomy as situations dictated, but never once involving a let-up in the concentrated military presence Rome insisted on maintaining in the region. Pilate may have been a prefect, but in effect he was a legate, and following the large rebellion in 70CE all pretence to a civic title (prefect/procurator) was dropped. From then until Diocletian's time only military legates were appointed.

Any analysis of a "failing" empire inevitably focuses on Diocletian's reforms - a response to decline in some ways and a catalyst for further decline in others. When Diocletian rejigged the area's political constitution and in fact shifted the whole thing over to a basically civic model which he tried to impose on the whole empire this was when control of the region began to unravel. The administration that Byzantium inherited (and did little to alter) was essentially one civic in structure and - it seems - one that they hoped could be kept that way given that the threat from the east had diminished. Their folly was proven when eventually a joint Sassanid-Jewish invasion came "out of nowhere" (proof that the real military threat in the region had been consistently ignored or underestimated by the civic governance) and overran the province (by then actually three provinces called Palæstina I, II and III). A mere 22 years later the same thing happened again with a Muslim invasion also underestimated by the region's administrators.

What is evident is that Rome's (and Byzantium's by extension) failure to maintain a military based administration in the region backfired on it in the end. What is therefore also evident is that its undoubted success in subduing and controlling the region in the early empire years was down to the fact that it did just that, and in that context Pilate's true role and responsibilities in the region must also have been as a central component in that structure. If the bible story has any basis in fact then Pilate would by default have judged any unrest in the region first and foremost in terms of what was expected of him by way of military response. This doesn't quite square with the character as depicted in the story, nor with his crisis of conscience which forms an integral part of the tale. Josephus's apparent account of how Pilate got his aqueduct built, as well as Philo's account of the "shield incident", certainly both point to a man less adept at political administration as he was at getting things done in typical military fashion - unilateral decision making backed up by force.

When Rome evolved a more "democratic" model in the region in later years they lost it. So at least in Palestine's case the issue had less to do with expansion or reduction of territory but in how the central powers calculated what exactly represented good return for their investment in the region. Military investment was obviously judged too expensive and - probably as with Britain too - it was therefore deemed unfortunate but completely more acceptable to abandon entire provinces than seek to generate revenue in the long term through immediate high-risk expense. This can be interpreted as evidence of a weakening in Roman power but it can also be interpreted as a pragmatic response to a realistic analysis of what previous large investment had actually yielded in the long term.
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Wed 03 Feb 2016, 11:24

What have the Romans done for us? Seems the Aqueduct was not very popular in some circles;

Aqueduct Riot
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Wed 03 Feb 2016, 14:25

And for no apparent reason, though Josephus was a bit of a toady when recording observations about Romans (probably for very good self-survival reasons) so just what happened to piss everyone off is not clear at all.

The most likely explanation was that Pilate simply used the "holy treasury" (I ask you!) as it was intended to be used - for essential civic works - but did so over the heads of Caiaphas & Co. And one can't really imagine a spontaneous show of such plucky and open defiance on the part of the locals without at least some shit-stirring by the high-priests and their cronies along the way, so something had certainly put their collective nose out of joint. If that was the case then Pilate's tactic of deploying soldiers in an effective "undercover" way at street level (the British have used similar tactics in Northern Ireland over the years at IRA funerals and the like) was spot-on from a military point of view, and by all accounts got the job done too.

I like the bit where Josephus implies that Pilate, bless 'im, had told the soldiers not to hit the locals too hard but the cads ignored him. If I was him I would have washed my hands of them completely. Oh, wait ....
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Wed 03 Feb 2016, 22:22

@PaulRyckier wrote:
And although the West was going more and more independentely and only in the East the Roman empire continued for another 1000 years, the idea of the Roman Empire lived on in stuctures and organizations...even a Clovis recognized still a Roman Emperor.

There was an abrupt change both in the West and the East. The very fact that we talk in terms of the East ‘continuing for another 1000 years’ is evidence that the Western Roman Empire did end. And the fact that we talk of the Eastern Roman Empire outliving the Western by a thousand years is itself also indicative that the Eastern Roman Empire also ended. That attempts were made to revive the Western Roman Empire (even while the Eastern Roman Empire was still in existence) is further evidence that the empire had ended. Needless to say such ‘revivals’ were likely to cause confusion. For example during one of these ‘revivals’ the world witnessed the bizarre spectacle of the ‘Roman empire’ and the ‘city of Rome’ waging war with each other. The end result was a battle fought at Tusculum in 1167 in which (and as if the scenario wasn’t weird enough already) both sides then managed to lose.

The debate whether the revived ‘Roman empires’ were genuine or not has nonetheless rumbled down through the ages. 200 years after Tusculum another Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV spent less than a day in Rome in 1355 (for his coronation) before returning to his native Bohemia.  For this he was roundly criticised by the Italian humanist Francesco Petracco (Petrarch) who was disappointed because he had hoped that Charles would become a real Roman emperor of a real Roman empire and reside in Rome.

Later Petrarch would become involved in a public slanging match with French cleric Jean d’Hesdin on the very issue of the legacy of the Roman empire. Petrarch had called for the Pope to return from Avignon to Rome and d’Hesdin had responded by saying that the papacy was better off in France since Italy was corrupt. An outraged Petrarch replied with a scathing Invectiva Contra Eum Qui Maledixit Italie (Invective Against He Who Criticizes Italy).

It's a remarkable, seemingly uncharacteristic and somewhat confused rant by the poet historian on an issue obviously close to his heart. And poor d’Hesdin bears the brunt with Petrarch berating him for his impudence and referring to him as a ‘Gaul’ and a ‘barbarian’ as terms of insult. In the Invective he writes:
 
'Babilon illa vetustior funditus ruit, Troia itidem et Carthago, Athene insuper et Lacedemon et Chorintus, iamque nil penitus nisi nuda sunt nomina. Roma non in totum corruit, et quanquam graviter imminuta, adhuc tamen est aliquid preter nomen. Muri quidem et palatia ceciderunt: gloria nominis immortalis est ... Non prius alme urbis quam totius orbis fama deficiet; semper altissimus mundi vertex Roma erit ... Negabit magnum aliquid fuisse, cuius post tot secula reliquie nunc etiam tante sunt, ut nec Gallia nec Germania nec ulla barbaries se illarum glorie conferre audeat?

Babylon of old crumbled to dust, Troy likewise and Carthage, Athens too and Sparta and Corinth, are now nothing at all except empty names. Rome, however, is not completely gone, and although seriously weakened, is still more than just a name. Her walls and palaces did indeed fall but her glorious name is immortal ... No other city has been built that has such fame: Rome will always be the capital of the world ... Can one deny the greatness that was, of which after many generations even the ruins are still overwhelming, glory the like of which neither Gaul nor Germany nor any other barbarian country dares compare itself?'

Petrarch seemed to be wanting to have his cake here and eat it too. On the one hand he was in denial that Rome was no more, while on the other hand he was indignant that ‘barbarous’ countries such as France, Germany and Bohemia should claim to be the heirs of Rome’s legacy.

In the 1750s  the debate was picked up by French philosopher Francois-Marie Arouet (Voltaire) in his Essai sur les moeurs et les esprit des nations. Intriguingly, while contemplating the coronation of Charles of Bohemia as Holy Roman Emperor, (and Voltaire then giving his oft-quoted verdict on that institution), he completely ignores the input of Petrarch in the affair and even fails to acknowledge his existence at all. One wonders if (in writing Petrarch out of history) Voltaire was striking a blow back for his beleaguered fellow countryman d’Hesdin four hundred years earlier.
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Thu 04 Feb 2016, 17:31

As an aside, I note that this thread started in 2011, pretty well at the start of this site, and resurrected in 2016, was started by someone who then appeared to immediately leave the site, he has made no other posts although I think he may have been on the late Englishistory site.  The next 2 comments were from people who again have left awhile ago, I think darklight was on the BBC site.

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Wed 10 Feb 2016, 21:42

@Vizzer wrote:
@PaulRyckier wrote:
And although the West was going more and more independentely and only in the East the Roman empire continued for another 1000 years, the idea of the Roman Empire lived on in stuctures and organizations...even a Clovis recognized still a Roman Emperor.

There was an abrupt change both in the West and the East. The very fact that we talk in terms of the East ‘continuing for another 1000 years’ is evidence that the Western Roman Empire did end. And the fact that we talk of the Eastern Roman Empire outliving the Western by a thousand years is itself also indicative that the Eastern Roman Empire also ended. That attempts were made to revive the Western Roman Empire (even while the Eastern Roman Empire was still in existence) is further evidence that the empire had ended. Needless to say such ‘revivals’ were likely to cause confusion. For example during one of these ‘revivals’ the world witnessed the bizarre spectacle of the ‘Roman empire’ and the ‘city of Rome’ waging war with each other. The end result was a battle fought at Tusculum in 1167 in which (and as if the scenario wasn’t weird enough already) both sides then managed to lose.

The debate whether the revived ‘Roman empires’ were genuine or not has nonetheless rumbled down through the ages. 200 years after Tusculum another Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV spent less than a day in Rome in 1355 (for his coronation) before returning to his native Bohemia.  For this he was roundly criticised by the Italian humanist Francesco Petracco (Petrarch) who was disappointed because he had hoped that Charles would become a real Roman emperor of a real Roman empire and reside in Rome.

Later Petrarch would become involved in a public slanging match with French cleric Jean d’Hesdin on the very issue of the legacy of the Roman empire. Petrarch had called for the Pope to return from Avignon to Rome and d’Hesdin had responded by saying that the papacy was better off in France since Italy was corrupt. An outraged Petrarch replied with a scathing Invectiva Contra Eum Qui Maledixit Italie (Invective Against He Who Criticizes Italy).

It's a remarkable, seemingly uncharacteristic and somewhat confused rant by the poet historian on an issue obviously close to his heart. And poor d’Hesdin bears the brunt with Petrarch berating him for his impudence and referring to him as a ‘Gaul’ and a ‘barbarian’ as terms of insult. In the Invective he writes:
 
'Babilon illa vetustior funditus ruit, Troia itidem et Carthago, Athene insuper et Lacedemon et Chorintus, iamque nil penitus nisi nuda sunt nomina. Roma non in totum corruit, et quanquam graviter imminuta, adhuc tamen est aliquid preter nomen. Muri quidem et palatia ceciderunt: gloria nominis immortalis est ... Non prius alme urbis quam totius orbis fama deficiet; semper altissimus mundi vertex Roma erit ... Negabit magnum aliquid fuisse, cuius post tot secula reliquie nunc etiam tante sunt, ut nec Gallia nec Germania nec ulla barbaries se illarum glorie conferre audeat?

Babylon of old crumbled to dust, Troy likewise and Carthage, Athens too and Sparta and Corinth, are now nothing at all except empty names. Rome, however, is not completely gone, and although seriously weakened, is still more than just a name. Her walls and palaces did indeed fall but her glorious name is immortal ... No other city has been built that has such fame: Rome will always be the capital of the world ... Can one deny the greatness that was, of which after many generations even the ruins are still overwhelming, glory the like of which neither Gaul nor Germany nor any other barbarian country dares compare itself?'

Petrarch seemed to be wanting to have his cake here and eat it too. On the one hand he was in denial that Rome was no more, while on the other hand he was indignant that ‘barbarous’ countries such as France, Germany and Bohemia should claim to be the heirs of Rome’s legacy.

In the 1750s  the debate was picked up by French philosopher Francois-Marie Arouet (Voltaire) in his Essai sur les moeurs et les esprit des nations. Intriguingly, while contemplating the coronation of Charles of Bohemia as Holy Roman Emperor, (and Voltaire then giving his oft-quoted verdict on that institution), he completely ignores the input of Petrarch in the affair and even fails to acknowledge his existence at all. One wonders if (in writing Petrarch out of history) Voltaire was striking a blow back for his beleaguered fellow countryman d’Hesdin four hundred years earlier.


Vizzer, thank you very much for your thougts.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Wed 17 Feb 2016, 11:46

How to live the Latin way;

Roman Life Lessons

tips on shopping, bathing and how to deal with drunk relatives;


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PostSubject: Re: Did the Roman Empire start to fail when it ceased to expand?   Wed 17 Feb 2016, 16:27

Concerning the original question, although the Roman Empire did continue to expand after Augustus up to Trajan it was on a far more limited scale than for say the previous 200 years.  This has been put down to the defeat it suffered in 9AD, however, it may more be to do with the relative lack of places for the Empire to economically conquer other than Parthia which it was unable to conquer.  I had to do an extemporary sermon in 2009 as the visiting preacher failed to arrive.  I contrasted the defeat that had occurred 2000 years ago, with which Augustus was well aware, with the teenager growing up in Galilee whose followers were to ultimately transform the Roman Empire, about whom Augustus would have known nothing.

Tim
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Res Historica History Forum :: The history of people ... :: Civilisation and Community-