American Minute with Bill Federer Sept. 4 - The Fall of Rome & Lessons for Today
American Minute with Bill Federer
Sept. 4 - The Fall of Rome & Lessons for Today
Join Bill Federer on a fact finding trip to Israel. Click Here
THE FALL OF ROME was a culmination of several external and internal factors.
WALL OF CHINA: By 220AD, the Later Eastern Han Dynasty had extended the
Great Wall of China along its Mongolian border, which resulted in the
Northern Huns attacking west instead of east. This caused a domino
effect of tribes migrating west across Central Asia, and overrunning the
Western Roman Empire.
OPEN BORDERS: Illegal immigrants poured across the Roman borders:
Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Franks, Anglos, Saxons, Alemanni, Thuringians,
Rugians, Jutes, Picts, Burgundians, Lombards, Alans, Vandals, as well as
African Berbers and Arab raiders.
Will and Ariel Durant wrote in The Story of Civilization (Vol. 3-Caesar and Christ, Simon & Schuster, 1944, p. 366):
Rome had not engulfed so many men of alien blood in so brief a time, if
she had passed all these newcomers through her schools instead of her
slums, if she had treated them as men with a hundred potential
excellences, if she had occasionally closed her gates to let
assimilation catch up with infiltration, she might have gained new
racial and literary vitality from the infusion, and might have remained a
Roman Rome, the voice and citadel of the West."
OF COMMON LANGUAGE: At first immigrants assimilated and learned the
Latin language. They worked as servants with many rising to leadership.
But then they came so fast they did not learn Latin, but instead created
a mix of Latin with their own Germanic, Frankish and Anglo tribal
tongues. The unity of the Roman Empire began to dissolve.
WELFARE STATE: "Bread and the Circus!" Starting in 123 BC, Emperor
Caius Gracchus began appeasing citizens with welfare, a monthly hand-out
of a free dole (handout) of grain.
Roman poet Juvenal (circa
100 AD) described how Roman emperors controlled the masses by keeping
them ignorant and obsessed with self-indulgence, so that they would be
distracted and not throw them out of office, which they might do if they
realized the true condition of the Empire:
"Already long ago,
from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our
duties; for the People who ONCE UPON A TIME handed out military command,
high civil office, legions - everything, NOW restrains itself and
anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses."
The Durants wrote in The Lessons of History (p. 92):
concentration of population and poverty in great cities may compel a
government to choose between ENFEEBLING THE ECONOMY WITH A DOLE or
running the risk of riot and revolution."
Welfare and government
jobs exploded, as recorded in Great Ages of Man-Barbarian Europe (NY:
Time-Life Books, 1968, p. 39), one Roman commented:
"Those who live at the expense of the public funds are more numerous than those who provide them."
ENTERTAINMENT: The Circus Maximus and Coliseum were packed with crowds
of Romans engrossed with violent entertainment, games, chariot races,
and until 404 AD, gladiators fighting to the death.
Gerald Simons wrote in Great Ages of Man-Barbarian Europe (NY: Time-Life Books, 1968, p. 20):
"In the causal brutality of its public spectacles, in a rampant immorality that even Christianity could not check."
WARFARE: City centers were abandoned by the upper class, who bought up
farms from rural landowners and transformed them into palatial estates.
The Durants wrote in The Story of Civilization (Vol. 3-Caesar and
Christ, Simon & Schuster, 1944, p.90):
"The Roman landowner
disappeared now that ownership was concentrated in a few families, and a
proletariat without stake in the country filled the slums of Rome."
cities were destabilized, being also plagued with lead poisoning, as
water was brought in through lead pipes. ("plumb" or "plumbing" is the
Latin word for "lead.")
The value of human life was low. Slavery
and sex-trafficking abounded, especially of captured peoples from
Eastern Europe. "Slavs," which meant "glorious" came to have the
inglorious meaning of a permanent servant or "slave." (Great Ages, p.
Taxes became unbearable, as "collectors became greedy functionaries in a
bureaucracy so huge and corrupt." Tax collectors were described by the
historian Salvian as "more terrible than the enemy." (Great Ages, p.
Arther Ferrill wrote in The Fall of the Roman Empire: The Military Explanation (New York: Thames and Hudson Ltd., 1986):
"The chief cause of the agricultural decline was high taxation on the marginal land, driving it out of cultivation."
was a loss of patriotism, wealth began to flee the Empire, and with it,
the spirit of liberty. President William Henry Harrison warned in his
Inaugural Address, 1841:
"It was the beautiful remark of a
distinguished English writer that 'in the Roman senate Octavius had a
party and Antony a party, but the Commonwealth had none'...
spirit of liberty had fled, and, avoiding the abodes of civilized man,
had sought protection in the wilds of Scythia or Scandinavia; and so
under the operation of the same causes and influences it will fly from
our Capitol and our forums."
More recently, John F. Kennedy observed, January 6, 1961:
"Present tax laws may be stimulating in undue amounts the flow of American capital to industrial countries abroad."
OUTSOURCING: Rome's economy stagnated from a large trade deficit, as grain production was outsourced to North Africa.
Gerald Simons wrote in Great Ages of Man-Barbarian Europe (NY: Time-Life Books, 1968, p. 39):
conquerors of North Africa, the Vandals cut off the Empire's grain
supply at will. This created critical food shortages, which in turn
curtailed Roman counterattacks."
PRECEDED FALL: Rome was crippled by huge government bureaucracies and
enormous public debt. The Durants wrote in The Lessons of History (p.
"Huge bureaucratic machinery was unable to govern the empire effectively with the enormous, out-of-control debt."
In Great Ages of Man-Barbarian Europe (NY: Time-Life Books, 1968, p. 20), Gerald Simons wrote:
Western Roman economy, already undermined by falling production of the
great Roman estates and an unfavorable balance of trade that siphoned
off gold to the East, had now run out of money."
SELF-PROMOTING & CORRUPT POLITICIANS: The Durants wrote in The Lessons of History (p. 92):
"The educated and skilled pursued business and financial success to the neglect of their involvement in politics."
A. Todd wrote in "The Fall of the Roman Empire" (Eerdmans' Handbook to
the History of Christianity, Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Co.,
1977, p. 184):
"The church, while preaching against abuses,
contributed to the decline by discouraging good Christians from holding
DEMOGRAPHICS: Roman families had fewer children. Some would sell
unwanted children into slavery or, up until 374 AD, leave them outside
exposed to the weather to die.
The Durants wrote in The Story of Civilization, Vol. 3-Caesar and Christ (Simon & Schuster, 1944, p. 134):
"Children were now luxuries which only the poor could afford."
There was court favoritism, the patronage system, injustice in the
legal system, infidelity, perverted bathhouses, sexual immorality and
gymnasiums ("gym" being the Greek word for naked).
5th-Century historian Salvian wrote:
all the lurid Roman tales of their atrocities...the barbarians
displayed...a good deal more fidelity to their wives." (Great Ages, p.
"O Roman people be ashamed; be
ashamed of your lives. Almost no cities are free of evil dens, are
altogether free of impurities, except the cities in which the barbarians
have begun to live...
Let nobody think otherwise, the vices of our bad lives have alone conquered us...
Goths lie, but are chaste, the Franks lie, but are generous, the Saxons
are savage in cruelty...but are admirable in chastity...
What hope can there be for the Romans when the barbarians are more pure than they?
Samuel Adams wrote to John Scollay of Boston, April 30, 1776:
diminution of public virtue is usually attended with that of public
happiness, and the public liberty will not long survive the total
extinction of morals. 'The Roman Empire,' says the historian, 'must have
sunk, though the Goths had not invaded it. Why? Because the Roman
virtue was sunk.'"
MILITARY CUTS: Though militarily superior and
marching on advanced road systems, the highly trained Roman Legions
were strained fighting conflicts from the Rhine River to the Sassanid
Persian Empire. Roman borders were over-extended and the military
defending them was cut back to dangerously low ranks.
The Durants wrote in The Story of Civilization (Vol. 3-Caesar and Christ, Simon & Schuster, 1944, p.90):
new generation, having inherited world mastery, had no time or
inclination to defend it; that readiness for war which had characterized
the Roman landowner disappeared."
TERRORIST ATTACKS: Visigothic King Alaric first sacked Rome in 410AD, followed by Vandal King Genseric in 455.
the Hun, "The Scourge of God," committed terrorist attacks, wiping out
entire cities, such as the city of Aquileia in Italy, which had been
listed as the 9th greatest city in the world.
Residents fled to lagoons by the sea and hammered trees into the watery mud to create ground, founding the city of Venice.
Pope Leo rode out to meet Attila in 452AD, and persuaded him not to sack Rome, delaying the inevitable a few more decades.
Finally the barbarian Chieftain Odoacer attacked, and Rome is considered to have officially fallen on SEPTEMBER 4, 476
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