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Medieval Civilization:
 Medieval Civilization

 What The Middle Ages Started With

 Addition Of Christianity

 German Conquest And The Fall Of Rome

 What The Germans Added

 Formation Of The Papacy

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 After Charlemagne

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German Conquest And The Fall Of Rome

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

WITH the introduction of one more, the four chief sources of our civilization were brought together. The Germans had waited long. That restless movement of their tribes in search of new lands which overwhelmed the empire in the fifth century had begun five hundred years earlier. The invasion of the Cimbri and Teutones at the end of the second century B.C., had held Rome in terror for a decade, and Julius Caesar, fifty years later, had found his opportunity to begin the conquest of Gaul in expelling the already successful army of the German Ariovistus from its occupation of Gallic territory. If it had not been for the Romans the German occupation of Western Europe would have followed at once, more slowly perhaps than when it actually occurred, but with-out a check. But now they had been forced to wait for centuries, learning always more and more of the wonders and riches of the desired lands, growing constantly more and more eager to possess them, striving, every generation of them, to find some weak spot through which they might force their way, but always held back. At last their time came.

The Germans were by nature restless and fond of adventure. There was over-population at home, and the lack of land to support their people, with their primitive methods of agriculture, was seriously felt. It was this necessity to find more land for their growing numbers which was, beyond question, the impelling force in their earlier attacks and later conquest of the Roman empire. But the first successful invasion, the first permanent occupation of Roman territory was not brought about by either of these causes.

Upon the great kingdom of the Goths, which had been formed by the genius of Ermanaric just after the middle of the fourth century, and which occupied a considerable part of European Russia, stretching from the Don to the Danube, fell an invasion of the Huns. They were a Mongolian or Tartar race, frightful to the sight, skilled in their peculiar tactics, swift to attack, vanishing before the return blow, and they were too strong for the more civilized Goths. Of the two tribal divisions of the Gothic race the greater part of the Ostrogoths, or East Goths, submitted to the Huns, were incorporated in their empire, and remained subject to it and tributary to its army until that empire fell to pieces a century later. The Visigoths, however, fell back before the advance of the Huns, and appeared on the Danube frontier as suppliants for the Roman protection. It was granted them and they were transported to the southern bank. It was a dangerous experiment, but all went well at first, and all might have continued to go well even with so great a risk. But the smallest risk is too great for a state rotten with political corruption. The opportunity for plunder was too great to be resisted by the officers in charge, and they forced thé Goths to buy the food which should have been given them, and sold them back their hostages, and sold them back their arms. The treason which is latent in every form of the spoils doctrine could hardly go further than this. The patience of a German race with arms in its hands under brutal mistreatment was soon exhausted, and they burst into a flame of re-volt, swept everything before them, and at last, far with-in the bounds of the empire, a hostile German tribe destroyed a Roman army and slew the Emperor Valens.

This crossing of the Danube frontier, in 376 A.D., and this battle of Hadrianople, in 378, are the events which mark the beginning of the permanent occupation of the Roman empire by the German tribes.

It was the beginning of the age of conquest, but the empire was already largely German. Julius Caesar had begun the practice of enlisting German auxiliaries in the Roman armies, and, although the practice had grown very slowly at first, in the later years it had assumed enormous proportions, until whole armies were German, and entire German tribes, under the command of their native chiefs, and preserving all their tribal organization, entered the Roman service. Such tribes had been settled in lands along the frontier on condition of keeping out all others. If possible even larger numbers had been introduced as slaves. From the days of Marius on, in larger and smaller bodies, the influx had been constant until they were present everywhere in the towns as house slaves, in the country as coloni bound to the soil. In the conquest these Germans already within the empire were no doubt a more important element than the records indicate. The indifference of the inhabitants to the German occupation, which is everywhere manifest, was very likely due in some part to the large number of Germans already around them, and, in some cases, as in the last invasion of Alaric, we can get a glimpse of the positive aid they rendered ; in a larger number, unquestionably, of the cases which were recorded, we find them the bravest and most effective of Rome's defenders.

The great Emperor Theodosius was able to restore order in the East, and to hold the Visigoths in check as nominal Roman subjects indeed as faithful allies of his, but they retained as their own the lands which they had occupied in the Danube valley. On his death, in 395, they began to move again, incited perhaps by some change in the policy of the government toward them which they regarded as a slight, impelled, more likely, by the race restlessness or by the ambition of the young Alaric, now just coming to the leadership. They ravaged Thrace, threatened Constantinople, turned south in-to Greece, past Athens, which was spared, and into the Peloponnesus. Here Alaric was checked by the skill of Stilicho, the Vandal, guardian of the Western emperor, and, though not actually subdued, accepted bribes and titles and returned to the Danube valley. In a few years he was on the march again, this time toward the west. Once more Stilicho forced him back (402), but this time he took a position near the head of the Adriatic, from which it would be easy to turn in either direction as circumstances might invite.

In the meantime the storm was descending from every quarter. The fatal weakness of the empire in this final period, the want of an army, had made it necessary to call in a part of the frontier garrisons to meet the attack of Alaric. The frontiers could no longer be defended. One great horde of men, whose exact tribal relationships are not known, under command of Radagaisus, poured down from Western Germany into the neighbor-hood of Florence (405). Here what seems to have been the main body was outgeneralled and annihilated by Stilicho, and inflicted no injury upon the empire, beyond the increased exhaustion which followed every such strain in its weakened condition.

But far worse things than this were happening elsewhere in this opening decade of the fifth century the most awful moment of the barbarian deluge. Britain, Gaul, and Spain, abandoned by their rightful defenders, harried by invading tribes and by revolted troops and the ephemeral emperors of their creation, fell out of the empire never to be recovered again except in name. An army of related tribes Burgundians, Vandals, Suevi, Alani broke through the Rhine frontier at the end of the year 406, and after a few years of aimless plundering found permanent homes within the empire the Burgundians in Eastern Gaul, in lands which have retained their name, and as nominal subjects of the emperor, whose sanction they received, but in reality as an independent state. The other tribes passed through the Pyrenees into Spain, which they carved into kingdoms for themselves, which lasted with varying degrees of permanence. In the following year, 407, the last Roman troops abandoned Britain to its fate, and following a new Constantine, whom they had proclaimed emperor, crossed over into Gaul to add to the confusion there.

In Italy the tragedy of the empire drew rapidly to a climax. Stilicho, justly or unjustly, excited the suspicion of the Emperor Honorius and was put to death in 408. Alaric's opportunity had come. Without a moment's delay he swept into Italy, took possession of all the open country, and finally, in 410, stormed the city itself, now for almost a thousand years untouched by an enemy. What Alaric would have done with the peninsula, now virtually his conquest, no one can say. As he was on the point of crossing over into Africa to compel that province to forward the usual food supplies to Rome he died suddenly, and the Visigoths elected Athaulf, his brother-in-law, to be their king. He seems to have thought it hopeless to try to found a permanent kingdom in Italy and led his people into Gaul. There, without any formal alliance with the Romans, he married his prisoner, Placidia, the sister of Honorius, and aided to put down the usurping tyrants. After his death his successor, Wallia, formed a compact with the emperor, and recovered for the empire a part of the territory which had been occupied by the Germans in Spain, and finally, in 419, by a new treaty, the Visigoths received a permanent grant of land in southwestern Gaul, as nominal Roman subjects. This formed the beginning of the Visigothic kingdom, which lasted until the invasion of the Saracens in the eighth century. From this beginning it gradually spread toward the north until it reached the Loire, and toward the south until it embraced the whole Spanish peninsula. As they had been the first to break the Roman frontier, so they were the first to found a permanent and recognized kingdom within the empire the recognized kingdom of the Burgundians being a year or two later.

Nearly all the Germans who had settled in Spain were gradually conquered and absorbed in the Visigothic state. But the Vandals, in 429, abandoned their Spanish lands and crossed over into Africa. According to a doubtful story they were invited by a disaffected Roman governor; more likely they dreaded the approach of the Visigoths, who had, in their first invasion of Spain, destroyed a part of the Vandal race. In Africa they met with some vigorous resistance, but in a few years had gained possession of it all, and rapidly developed a naval power which became the terror of the Mediterranean, even as far as Constantinople. In 455 they seized the city of Rome and held it for a few days, sacking it more savagely than Alaric had done.

Just at this time a danger far more serious than came from any German invasion threatened the dying empire more serious because it would mean the triumph of a more hopeless Asiatic and Mongolian barbarism. The invasion of the Huns, which had set the Germans in motion, had resulted in the formation of a Hunnic empire north of the Danube, to which most of Germany was subject. Now a great king had come to the throne, Attila, the Scourge of God. Seemingly afire with that purposeless, senseless rage of conquest which has led more than one devastating Mongolian host, he fell, with his great army, in which many German nations were serving, on Gaul. But the Mongolians have never yet been able to do in the West what they have so often done in the East, in the way of almost unlimited conquest, and in Gaul his invasion was speedily stopped. Aetius, him-self of barbarian descent, had succeeded in adding to the Roman army which lie had brought together, the forces of the German states in Gaul, Visigoths, Burgundians, and Franks, persuaded that their own best interests were identical with Rome's. In the great battle of the nations which followed, in 451, in the Catalaunian plain, German and Roman stood together for European and Aryan civilization against Asiatic and Mongolian, and saved the day. In the next year Attila invaded Italy, but almost at the beginning of his march turned back and retired to his own lands. Why we do not know, perhaps impressed by the solemn embassy of Pope Leo I., more probably hindered by some more material difficulty. Hardly had he reached home when he suddenly died, his empire fell to pieces, and the Germans, who had been subject to it, again became independent.

In the years of Attila's invasions the Saxons were gaining their first permanent hold upon Britain. As early as the end of the third century their piratical attacks had begun. Exactly after the style of their relatives, the vikings of a later time, they had sailed along the coast and plundered any unguarded spot. The Romans had been obliged to organize a special coast-guard, under the Count of the Saxon Shore, to protect the province from their raids. When the Roman troops left Britain to its fate, in 407, the Saxons soon found out their opportunity. The attacks of another enemy, the barbarian Celts of the north and west, upon the Romanized inhabitants, only made it easier for this more dangerous foe to gain a permanent foothold, even with the consent of the provincials. But once landed they could not be kept within bounds. More and more came ; many little kingdoms were founded, till almost the whole eastern and southern shores were occupied. The resistance of the Celts to the advance of the Saxons seems to have been, however, much the most obstinate and stubborn which any German invasion encountered. The result of this was that the German new-comers did not settle themselves down here, as elsewhere, in the midst of a Roman population, which they treated to all intents and purposes as on an equality with themselves, and which far outnumbered them. If the provincials were not actually exterminated or driven back, which seems improbable, they were reduced to a decidedly inferior position, very likely to slavery, so that they were able to exercise no such influence upon their conquerors as other provincials did.

In the meantime Italy itself was lost to the empire, except for a brief recovery in the next century. The death of Valentinian III., in 455, had brought the house of Theodosius to an end. A rapid succession of power-less emperors followed, nearly all of them appointed and deposed by the leaders of the German troops, who were now the only protectors of Italy. Finally the last of them, Romulus Augustulus, was deposed in 476, and the leader of the Germans, Odovacar, determined to appoint no successor. An embassy was sent to Constantinople to recognize Zeno as emperor of the reunited empire, and to ask him to appoint Odovacar as his representative in Italy. This is the so-called Fall of the Western Empire ; but it was not recognized as such by either the Eastern or the Western Romans, or by the Germans themselves, even though Odovacar's request had not been granted by Zeno. Odovacar ruled the Germans who were in Italy as their king, and he was at the head of a practically independent kingdom, but he did not understand that fact as clearly as we do, and, in the theory of the time, he was still commanding a Roman army and guarding a Roman province under the emperor. All the provinces of the Western Empire were now occupied by German kingdoms, except a fragment here and there ; but all those on the continent still regarded themselves as in the empire, and acknowledged at least a nominal subjection to the emperor.

Odovacar's reign was not long. On the breaking up of Attila's kingdom the Ostrogoths had been received into the empire, and given lands south of the Danube. Here, more recently, they had become very troublesome under their young king Theodoric, and when he finally proposed to Zeno to recover Italy from Odovacar, the offer was readily accepted. The conquest was not altogether easy, and occupied some years ; but it was at last completed, and Odovacar was slain by the hand of Theodoric. The Ostrogothic kingdom thus established was the most remarkable of all the early German states.

Theodoric had spent his early life as a hostage in Constantinople, and if he did not learn to read and write there, he learned many other things. If we may judge by the tendency of his reign, rather than by any specific acts which prove his policy beyond dispute, he seems to have recognized more consciously than any other barbarian king, the fact that any permanent state must be based on a union of the two populations, and the two civilizations in a new common nation. If it is impossible to show that he deliberately sought such a union, it is certain that his policy, if it could have been continued for a generation or two longer, would have produced such a result. He continued in operation the Roman laws, judicial tribunals, administrative system, and taxes. He divided lands among the Goths without exciting the hatred of the Romans, and Romans and Goths served together in tribunals for the hearing of cases in which the parties were of the two peoples. Agri-culture and commerce revived, means of communication were improved, and art and literature seemed to feel new life. Order was maintained, property was secure, and toleration enforced. But more than a single generation is needed to bring about a real union between two such widely differing races as these. Progress under Theodoric was too rapid for endurance ; indeed, in many cases, it seemed to be more real than it actually was, and after his death discord and discontent, held down by the power of his will, revealed themselves rapidly. In another generation the Ostrogothic kingdom and the Ostrogothic race were things of the past.

There had been a great recovery of strength in the empire in the East. The army had been improved and the finances set in order. And now the great Emperor Justinian had come to the throne with the ambition to restore the old control over the West, and to bring back as many of the provinces as possible to actual obedience. He had not merely an army and resources, but he had the no less necessary condition of success, one of the great generals of history, Belisarius. A quarrel in the Vandal royal family, the deposing of a king descended on the mother's side from the imperial house of Theodosius, gave him an opportunity to make his first attack on Africa, and in a brief campaign that province was restored to the empire. Then came the turn of Italy, and although the Goths made a most heroic resistance, and were able to prolong the struggle for twenty years, the odds against them were too great. Their kingdom fell, and one of the most attractive of the early German nations disappeared from history, the few survivors joining the Visigoths in Spain.

A very important result of this brief recovery of Italy by the Roman power was the introduction there, into use and into the schools, of the Justinian Code. The Ostrogoths had made use of the Theodosian Code for such Roman law as they had need of, and the other German states continued to do this. But now the more complete Justinian Code was brought to Italy and survived there to be made the foundation, after some centuries, of a renewed and most influential study of the Roman law, through all the West.

The southern part of Italy was destined to remain under the government of the emperor at Constantinople for five hundred years, but the northern part was speedily lost. It was occupied, after fifteen years, by the Lombards, coming from the same region as the Ostrogoths, the last of the invasions of this period, and the last kingdom to be established on Roman soil. Their occupation of the north, however, was never complete. Venice remained independent, nominally under the emperor, and Ravenna and a strip along the eastern coast and across to the western, including Rome, remained under the Roman governor, the Exarch of Ravenna. Rome was gradually cut off from these other lands by the slow Lombard advance, and the opportunity was presented to the bishops of Rome, which they were not slow to utilize, to become virtually independent, and to found a little principality as temporal rulers. This forms an intimate part, how-ever, of a wider current of events in the West which we must soon take up.

One fact of very great importance for all this long period of conquest, but one easy to be overlooked in the history of more stirring events, is that the life of the provincial, on the country lands and in the towns, goes on much the same as before. He is subjected to a rapid change of masters ; he is deprived now and again of a part of his lands ; he must submit to occasional plundering ; life and property are not secure. But he lives on and produces enough to keep the world alive. He takes himself no part in the wars. He has apparently little interest in the result ; indeed, the coming in of the German may be often an improvement of condition for him. He had not been altogether prosperous or secure before. At any rate he keeps at work, and he holds to his language, and to his legal and economic customs, and to his religion, and he becomes thus a most important but disregarded factor of the future.

Such is, in brief, and with a single exception, reserved for separate treatment, the history of the introduction of the German peoples into the classic world. As we pass in outline the history of this conquest we cannot avoid the question why this Roman power, which so short a time beforehand made the conquest of the world, was able to offer no more effectual resistance to these invaders.

If we examine carefully the series of events, the immediate reason is not difficult to see. The Roman power was exhausted when the final attack came. There is no evidence that the German onset was in any decisive way more violent now than two centuries earlier, but at the middle of the second century the Romans were still able to repel the attack with success, if not easily. It would perhaps be more accurate to say that Marcus Aurelius, in his struggle with the Quadi and Marcomanni was the first to feel the growing exhaustion of the state, and the first to resort to the doubtful expedients so common later to maintain the strength of the army. But the state still appeared strong, and was in reality strong enough for two centuries to come to keep off its enemies in some way. But at the end of the fourth century, even that appearance of strength was gone. The frontiers could no longer be guarded, the provinces were empty, the capital itself hardly defended. The Roman strength was exhausted. But in saying this we only remove the question one step further back. What are the reasons why this Roman race, the strongest of the world up to this time, had declined so rapidly and now fell easily a prey to enemies it had once overcome?

It is impossible to give any complete and accurate conception of the causes which led to the fall of Rome in a few paragraphs. Those causes were so numerous and so involved with one another in their action, they were at work through so long a time, the full understanding of their operation requires so extensive a knowledge of the laws which govern the economic and political action of men, that volumes would be required for a clear presentation of the subject. A brief account of the matter is made still further difficult from the fact that the fall of Rome has been very often made the subject of partial and incomplete treatment in order to prove some particular point, perhaps to make vivid the contrast between the Christian church and the heathen society which it came to regenerate ; perhaps to make manifest the political dangers which arise from the moral corruption of a people. Undoubtedly, the Christian church had a mission of regeneration of great importance for the ancient society, as well as for the individual, but no progress is made toward proving this fact by picturing the dark side of that society, only, to the exclusion of all its virtues. Undoubtedly, also, moral corruption is a most fruitful source of political ruin, but hardly in the way in which the professional moralists would sometimes have us think. What can be attempted here is barely more than an enumeration, as complete as possible within these limits, of the various causes which worked together to undermine the strength of the Roman state.

In general, it may be said, that these causes are the same as those which led to the overthrow of the republic and the establishment of the empire. Coming plainly into view by the close of the second Punic War, they continue in operation through the whole later history unchecked, or barely checked for the moment here and there, and bringing with them naturally other related causes and increasingly disastrous results. The establishment of the empire at the beginning of the Christian era was undoubtedly, in the condition of things at the time, a political necessity, but that is not the same thing as saying that the causes which led to the fall of the re-public were beneficial causes ; and no one would probably seriously maintain, though some have seemed to imply as much, that the Romans would have found it impossible to adapt the government of the republic to the wider demands of the empire, had they preserved their earlier characteristics. The monarchy became a political necessity, not because the Romans were unable to govern the empire, but because they were no longer able to govern themselves, and the causes which had brought them to this pass continuing to act as before, in the end exhausted the power of the empire. That the republic fell under the influence of these causes in a much shorter time than the empire is an instance of the abundantly supported historical principle that political corruption and decline are far more dangerous to a democratic government than to a monarchy.

The causes of the fall of Rome may be roughly divided into two great groups first, the moral causes ; second, the economic. It must be acknowledged, however, that this division is not a strictly scientific one. The two classes are not co-ordinate. The economic causes are more immediate in their action, those which are strictly moral causes are more indirect and remote. They are the causes of causes. The influence of personal immorality and corruption upon the state has often been made the subject of careless writing, and sometimes of wild speculation, and is a matter which needs more real investigation than it has yet received. It seems to be altogether likely, however, that such an investigation will show that private vice becomes dangerous to the state only where it is translated into political corruption or economic disease, and that individual immorality may go very far--that it has gone in some actual cases, indeed, almost if not quite as far as among the Romans without involving the destruction of the state, if it does not affect the public life or the economic resources of the nation. It is because certain forms of personal vice translate themselves so quickly and easily into public causes that the morals of its citizens are of importance to the state, as a matter of self-protection.

The vices which were especially prevalent among the Romans were precisely of this sort. These were, in the first place, the physical vices drunkenness, gluttony, and licentiousness. It is entirely impossible to give any detailed account of the condition of a large portion of the Roman society in these respects. Fortunately, it is not necessary. The description has been so often attempted for one purpose or another, and has been made so frank and unreserved, that a popular impression has been undoubtedly created that these vices were far more universal and extreme throughout the Roman world than they really were. No doubt they did affect certain classes of the population the country people, the middle classes where these still existed to a greater extent than a corresponding condition would in modern times, because, for one reason, of the existence of slavery, and yet it is certain that the extreme cases and the most injurious results are to be found in the large cities and among the wealthy class, while the provinces and the middle classes were comparatively uncontaminated. It seems probable, how-ever, though by no means certain, that the influence of these vices did extend far enough to affect the nation-al life. Their influence upon the race, where it is felt, is precisely the same as that upon the individual. Energy, will-power, self-reliance in the face of danger, are lost, and the recuperative and reproductive power declines or disappears. These are exactly the results which appeared, from some cause, throughout the Roman empire in its last age. It is a remarkable fact, to which attention has been called, that, though many of the Roman towns were still strongly walled, and though the Germans were very unskilled in the art of siege, yet, though numbers of the towns maintain themselves for a time, there are few instances during the whole period of the conquest of heroic resistance to the invaders by the population of the provinces. It is almost always a barbarian general and a barbarian army which undertakes the defence ; or, where we find a case of a different sort, as in the defence of Orleans against the Huns, there is manifestly present a new element of energy and self-reliance not supplied by the Roman society proper, but by the Christian portion of it. Such a decline of the national will-power it would hardly be correct to trace to the operation of this one physical influence alone, and it is altogether likely that no such effect would have followed had not this cause been combined with others which are to be noticed later, and yet it must be kept in mind that this influence when present is usually a decisive one, and may have contributed as much, or more, than any other single force to the common result. So the other results which followed from this group of moral causes decline of population, inability to recover losses from plagues and famines, destruction of capital, indifference to public affairs are perhaps best looked at among the economic causes, where they naturally appear. It is into economic causes, properly speaking, that the physical vices translate themselves when they affect the public life.

To this group of causes we must add the operation of the intense and desperate struggle for wealth which begins under the republic and continues under the empire a less conspicuous feature, perhaps of the later period, but not less fatal in its effects. Some later times have probably seen as inordinate a passion for wealth as the Roman, and as crafty scheming to get it without earning it, and this condition of things, as in the case of the physical vices, seems to become a serious danger to the state only when it is translated, when it leads to the misuse of official position or legislative power. The peculiar circumstances of the last age of the republic made this translation into a political cause extremely easy, almost unavoidable. The government of lately conquered provinces, to be exploited for the benefit of the state, offered a secure opportunity for extortion and peculation which the official, trained in the spirit of the time, could hardly resist. Decided reformation in this regard was certainly made under the empire, but the spirit and the practice never disappeared, and it was a source of great weakness to the empire in the days of de-cline, and a fatal obstacle to thorough reformation that so large a proportion of the official class looked upon their offices as a source of gain or advancement and were ready on any occasion to sacrifice the interests of the state to their own private interests.'

When we turn to the economic causes which aided in the fall of Rome we stand appalled at their number and variety. It would seem as if, when the empire had once started on the downward path, all things worked together against it, and all the springs of national prosperity were poisoned. It is possible here to point out only the most important of these causes, and, in such a brief account, we shall find our way to a clear understanding only if we remember that the immediate cause of the fall of Rome was exhaustion, exhaustion of resources and exhaustion of population. There are to be grouped together, then, the most decisive causes which show how the accumulated capital of the empire in property and in men came to be destroyed, and why no more was produced to take its place.

Slavery is naturally the first among these causes to occur to mind, and, whatever may have been the moral dangers of the Roman slave system, the economic evils which it worked were still more fatal to the state. In the first place, it was a system wasteful and unproductive of men. By it a large part of the natural population of the empire, for this was probably, even in the later times, the chief source of slaves, was placed in a condition not merely where it was used up and disappeared with fearful rapidity, but also where it tended to reproduce itself much less rapidly than it would have done as a body of free laborers. In this way there was probably always a considerable loss of population, certainly the slave system went far to prevent what should have been the normal increase, and to make it impossible to recover sudden losses of population, such as occurred in times of pestilence. Slavery is also an expensive means of production. The returns on the capital invested, except in unusual conditions, are small, and the incentive to improvement in methods of production extremely slight. The history of our Southern States since the Civil War, as compared with their earlier history, shows this conclusively. And it destroys capital with great rapidity. Economically the slave is merely a machine. The use of a machine tends to destroy it. But when a modern steam-engine is destroyed it is easily and quickly replaced and the total loss to the capital of the generation in material rendered useless is not great. Much of it may be used over again to make some new machine. But when the slave was used up not merely was so much capital destroyed but a part of the total productive force of the generation was permanently annihilated. It could not be re-placed. The slave system invested a large proportion of the capital of the empire in a relatively unprofitable form, and tended to use up rapidly its productive force. Again, the slave system tended to extinguish the class of free laborers both in city and country. In the cities it did this by supplying the demand for labor of all kinds, and by making labor odious never, perhaps, to such an extent as in our Southern States, but still in a marked degree. In the country it gave the capitalist advantage over the small landowner in a variety of ways, and made it easy to drive him to the wall and to swallow up his holding. As a result, although the class of small cultivators never entirely disappeared, yet in some parts of the empire very few were left, and vast estates cultivated by slave labor were formed everywhere, and the middle class, the solid resource of every state, tended to disappear between the very wealthy on one side and the slave class and the city rabble on the other. It must be remembered, however, that the positive evil effects of slavery were felt more decisively in the earlier than in the later period of the empire. As the empire drew to an end the economic conditions were forcing upon it, unconsciously but inevitably, the extinction of slavery its transformation into serfdom, and, although this trans-formation was not completed in Roman days,' it had gone far enough to survive the German conquest, and far enough to be a decided gain both to the state and to the slave.

Another economic cause of primary importance was the public games and the free distribution of food, especially the latter. The public games were a great drain upon the resources of the state, but the food donatives were a more serious evil. The distribution of wheat to the poorer citizens at a price below the market price, which was begun toward the end of the second century B.C. as a demagogic measure, could not well be stopped. One demagogue bid against another and the empire was obliged to continue the practice. It resulted finally in the regular distribution of baked loaves of bread, and occasionally at least of oil, wine, meat, and clothes, and it was extended gradually from the capital to the larger provincial cities, and even to the smaller towns. The worst effect of it was not that it maintained in the towns an unemployed mob, hard to be used for any good purpose but easy to be excited by any demagogic appeal. Two results followed, which were even more fatal. In the first place, the government, at public expense, presented a constant temptation to the middle class to abandon the struggle for existence and to sink into the proletariat. The hard-pressed poor farmer who saw all his toil fail to improve his condition was easily persuaded to escape from the grinding competition into the town and into a class entirely unproductive, or which produced only the least possible. But the decline of production was not all. A continually increasing portion of the wealth produced each year by the classes which remained productive was destroyed without adding any-thing to the permanent capital of the empire. The products of the provinces were drained into the towns and sent nothing back the expense being met by a taxation which rested chiefly on the land itself. In normal conditions the products of the farm go into the city. But while the artisan is eating the wheat he is making cloth, which goes back to the farm containing the total value of the wheat. But in Rome the economic result was precisely the same as if the government had collected the products of the farm in a heap and burned them. That is to say, at the moment when the empire needed most of all to build up a middle class and to encourage the accumulation of resources, the state was, by its own act, destroying the one and making the other impossible.

Another one of those causes which is commonly considered of importance was the heavy and expensive taxation. It seems doubtful, however, whether the taxation of the empire was heavier, or, indeed, as heavy, as that of most modern states. If there had been general prosperity and the production and saving of wealth which ought to have existed, it is probable that a heavier burden of taxation could have been borne without serious inconvenience.1 It was the disordered economic condition which rendered the taxation injurious, as it undoubtedly was. To this must be added the expensive method of collection. The indirect taxes were farmed out--a method which makes the collection a private speculation and extorts from the people much larger sums than the government receives. The land taxes were no longer farmed, but the responsibility for collecting them and turning them over to the government was placed upon the local community of larger landowners a method which lent itself readily to injustice and oppression, and which made the prosperous and thrifty man pay the taxes of his unsuccessful neighbor.'

To these more striking causes may be added a considerable group of hardly less effective ones. A debased currency constantly fluctuating in value and growing more scanty. A constant drain of the precious metals currency and capital into the oriental states to pay for luxuries of dress and food, unproductive and soon destroyed. A declining fertility of soil, which with the in-creasing lack of capital could not be restored. A diminishing supply of laborers, felt severely in many places by the large landowners, and which led to the systematic introduction of barbarians by the government. A still more dangerous incorporation of barbarians into the army from a similar lack of men. Natural calamities, pestilences, and earthquakes, which certainly might fall upon any state, but which in the empire left permanent holes in the population, while an economically healthy state would have entirely recovered such losses in a generation or two. A declining police and military protection, seen in such facts as the often-told story of the Frankish prisoners of the Emperor Probus,' or in the occasional inroad of a German tribe which committed irreparable damage before it could be subdued.

Enough has been said to show the direction in which the causes of the fall of the Roman empire are to be sought, and to show that long study and a full account are necessary to any adequate presentation of them. They lay deep, at the very foundation of society, as is evident from the fact that in periods of tranquillity and apparent strength, as under the good emperors in the second century, or in the fourth century from Constantine to the breaking of the Danube frontier, there was no recovery, no trustworthy return of strength, rather when, at the close of such a period, the real test came, the empire was found to be weaker than before.

I have used throughout the expression " fall of Rome " as a convenient phrase. But if the nature of the disease from which the empire suffered has been correctly indicated, the term is clearly an incorrect one. Rome did not fall. She was overthrown. Her strength was exhausted, but it was the attack which was fatal. But for that she could undoubtedly have recovered. The word overthrown, in turn, conveys too strong an impression. The empire was at the moment empty and the Germans entered in and took possession.

It is, indeed, a serious mistake to regard this revolution exclusively from the stand-point of a " fall," as if it were merely the destruction of the ancient civilization. It was something far more than that. It was the necessary reorganization and rearrangement preparatory to a new and higher civilization. From this point of view the period of the fall of Rome was ari age of progress. It was not merely an age of " fall," but also of conquest, and this fact, along with the establishment of Christianity, is the vitally important fact of these centuries. But it is so because it was something more than a mere conquest. The Germans brought with them race characteristics and ideas and institutions which, though they were those of a primitive people, were noble and well developed, able to enter into a competition with those of a higher civilization on something like equal terms. Add the fact that the Teutonic race became the ruling race of Christendom, and we can understand how it came to be one of the determining sources of our civilization, and how the period of the " fall of Rome " is one of the great conptructive ages of history.

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