Dubbed a great event in history, Roman Empire is a collective term referring to the time when Rome, North Africa especially Egypt, Europe (West Europe and South Europe), Queen’s land (Britain) and Asia Minor were under the influence of dictatorial rulers (Wolfram 3). Extant literature in history shows that there are many reasons that contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire.
Which would make such an organized empire to fall? Historians interests is finding out the factors that led to the fall of the great empire and the possibility of another collapse of an empire recurring. It is widely believed that history has a way of recurring and therefore for western historians, the probability that such an event will ever occur again intrigues their interests (Wolfram 12). What led to the fall of the Roman Empire and the Rise of Feudalism?
The dominant reason was rivalry between the council and the monarch which caused animosity between the ruling arms of the land, where the council acted as a legal advisory to the Emperor and therefore their rivalry contributed to their leadership being ineffective.
Other reasons as to “why the Roman Empire fell is lack of morals in the whole of Roman Empire (Wolfram 17)” and where even the monarch and the senate lead an immoral life, also corruption sieved its way to the Praetorian Guard where they mandated themselves into deciding whether a Monarch was to rule the land or not, in short, the monarch was no longer respected as the supreme authority of the land.
There was a high rate of growth of the roman territory which translated to endless wars at the time Roman Empire was extending to capture more territories under its rule.
Therefore barbarians were allowed to join the Roman army to provide support to the army, “when barbarians joined the Roman army, the Roman army exposed its tactics to barbarians who later on employed the same tactics to conquer Rome (Ganshof 20)”. A declining economy and a high inflation rate among others were indicators that the time for the Roman Empire to reign had outstretched its limit. However, this empire as history documents lasted for 500 years (Wolfram 15).
Feudalism is a term referring to the breakdown of societies which were very organized in terms of their political, social and economic status in the early medieval times for instance the Roman Empire. Therefore, the fall of Roman Empire, a society which was organized in terms of its politics, economic and society operations, began to emerge (Ganshof 23). So, after the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of Feudalism, of what significance were these two events to the Germans also?
Germans on the other hand had a different interest in the fall of the Roman Empire. The military who were soldiers to the governors and the senates in the Roman Empire entered into a symbiotic relationship where they provided services to the affluent Germans in return for protection (Todd 46).
However, this relationship between the Germans and the people from the fallen Roman Empire extended to an extent that they were allowed to make use of the German’s land, and in turn they demanded to inherit the land and be shielded from the Germans who they were offering services to. Western history interests come in to understanding how societies were formed after the fall of the Roman Empire.
We cannot talk of the fall of the Roman Empire without discussing the Germanic people. Historians documents that the modern day Germans are the descendants of the Germanic people. “We know that at the start, from the accounts of Tacitus and other Romans that the Germanic peoples spread across northern and central Europe east of the Rhine and north of the Danube…. (Wolfram 51)”
Therefore, another significance of the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of feudalism to German is because this event gave rise to Germany and the German language being spoken widely by many descendants of the Germanic people. In addition, western history may be primarily concerned with the way societies formed after the fall of the Roman Empire.
For instance, for the descendants of the Germanic people (Ganshof 34), scattered and formed different ethnic groups in the west and therefore they share some characteristics.
The fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of feudalism are also of great significance to Germans and western History in order to understand the societies that are in the West.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, people dispersed into the neighboring countries and they invaded other states and brought with them societies that are self reliant, the military occupy the highest ranks in the land and decentralized societies who defy the rule of the land among others.
These types of society were societies characterized of having feudal features (Todd 34). Therefore, to German, the fall of the Roman Empire is significant for some of the aspects of feudalism are still present in German societies (Todd 52).
Ganshof, Francois. Feudalism. London. NY. Longmans Green. 1951
Todd, Malcolm. The Early Germans. Oxford. Blackwell. 2004
Wolfram, Herwig. The Roman Empire and Its Germanic Peoples. Berkeley. University of California Press. 1997.