When Did Ancient Rome Start To Fall

Background Information

Ancient Rome began to decline and fall in the second century BC after it reached its peak from the first century BC onwards. It is said that the decline of Rome began when the city was sacked by the Gauls in 390 BC. However, this only caused a temporary setback. Over the next few centuries, Rome rapidly expanded, taking control of Italy, the Mediterranean and much of the world around them.

The decline of Rome is generally seen as a gradual process that took place between the third and fifth centuries AD. During this period, numerous military, economic and political factors combined to weaken the once great empire. These included internal problems such as economic decline, political corruption and civil wars, as well as external threats including the invasions of Germanic tribes and the spread of Christianity.

Relevant Data

The decline of the Roman Empire was dramatic. In the third century, it was still a superpower, but by the fifth century, it was a shadow of its former self. During this time, the borders of the empire shrank as invading Germanic tribes pushed into its territories. At the same time, Rome’s economy weakened and its currency, the denarius, was no longer accepted across Europe.

In the fourth century, following the Edict of Milan, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. This had a dramatic effect on the empire as it led to a decline in the importance of civic virtue. The decline of the Roman Empire was further accelerated by the decline in birthrates and the spread of disease.

By the fifth century, Rome was largely under the control of Germanic kings. Rome was eventually divided into two parts, the eastern and western empires. The western empire eventually collapsed in 476 AD, although the eastern empire continued until 1453.

Perspectives from Experts

Scholars have put forward various theories as to why Rome declined and fell. Some suggest that it was caused by internal factors such as economic decline, civil wars, political corruption and the spread of Christianity. Others argue that the decline was due to external forces, such as the invasions of the Germanic tribes and the emergence of other powers such as the Byzantine Empire.

However, many experts agree that the decline of Rome was the result of a series of interconnected factors rather than one single cause. Accordingly, some have argued that Rome’s decline was due to the combination of internal and external forces, while others argue that internal factors were the primary cause.

While the exact cause of Rome’s decline cannot be pinpointed, it is certain that its fall had a profound effect on the world. As the centre of power shifted from Rome to the Germanic kingdoms, the European world order changed drastically. This was the beginning of the Middle Ages, a period of political and religious turmoil.


Although there is no single cause of Rome’s decline, it is clear that the empire was facing a number of problems. Rome’s large size and overreaches, coupled with its lack of political unity, led to its weakening and ultimate downfall. Economic decline, political corruption, civil wars, the spread of Christianity and the invasions of Germanic tribes all took their toll on the great empire.

In addition, other factors such as a decline in birthrate, the spread of disease and a lack of innovation all played a role in Rome’s decline. In the end, the great empire that had once been the centre of power in Europe was slowly weakened and eventually dissolved into nothing.

Cultural Impact

The fall of Rome had a profound effect on the culture of Europe. The fall marked the end of the Classical era and the beginning of the Medieval era. During this period, Christianity became the dominant religion in Europe and feudalism became the dominant political and social system.

The decline of Rome also saw the emergence of new cultural centers such as Byzantium and later Venice, Rome’s successor as the centre of culture in Europe. The fall of Rome also marked the beginning of the long transition from the Classical period to the Middle Ages, a period of great upheaval and change in Europe.

Political Consequences

The fall of Rome also had far-reaching political consequences. It led to the creation of the European nation-states and paved the way for the emergence of monarchies such as England and France. The Roman Catholic Church also became the dominant religious force in Europe, which it remained for centuries to come.

The fall of Rome also had an enormous impact on the Mediterranean region. It allowed various new powers to emerge such as the Arab Empire and led to the rise of Byzantium as a major force in the region. In many ways, the fall of Rome marked the beginning of the region’s long transition from a Roman-dominated world to the Middle Ages.

The Legacy of Rome

Although it has been centuries since the fall of Rome, its legacy lives on in today’s world. Roman law, administration and engineering were all highly influential, and remain so to this day. The Roman Empire also left a lasting mark on the culture of Europe and the Mediterranean, as evidenced by the prevalence of Roman architecture, literature and art.

In many ways, Rome’s legacy is still felt across the world today. From the ruins of the Colosseum to the many languages derived from Latin, it is clear that the fall of Rome was a major moment in world history that continues to have an impact.

Moshe Rideout is a professional writer and historian whose work focuses on the history of Ancient Rome. Moshe is passionate about understanding the complexity of the Roman Empire, from its architecture to its literature, political systems to social structures. He has a Bachelor's degree in classic studies from Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a PhD in classical archaeology at UMass Amherst. When he isn't researching or writing, he enjoys exploring ruins around Europe, drawing inspiration from his travels.

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