Many mark the fall of the Roman Empire with the date of 476
AD, given by the

established author Edward Gibbon. Although Edward Gibbon’s
reasoning may be valid, by

crediting the date at which Odoacer, a Gothic King who
deposed the Roman emperor in the

West, Romulus Augustulus, and named himself emperor, was the
date at which the Roman

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Empire fell, there are many other reasons to believe that
476 AD is not the only date that should

be credited with marking the fall of the Roman Empire. The
fall of the Roman Empire can be

marked by a myriad of dates such as: The Battle of Teutoburg
Forest in 9AD, when the Huns

invaded Gothic Territory in 375 AD forcing the Goths into
Rome which ultimately caused the

Battle of Adrianople in 378 AD, the ransacking of Italy by
Gothic king Alaric in 410AD, along

with 476 AD where Edward Gibbon marks it, 568 AD when the
Lombards invaded the empire,

or even when Charlemagne, descendant of Pepin a Frankish
leader is crowned by Leo III The

Holy Roman Emperor. Therefore the fall of the mighty Roman
Empire cannot be marked as just

one date, 476 AD.

Before trying to determine when the Roman Empire fell — or
did not fall,– it is important

to understand why the Roman Empire fell in the first place.
Although the Roman Empire is

known for its strength, the Roman Empire for many years was
not strong at all. Preceding the fall

of the Roman Empire, Rome faced many social, political, and
economic hardships. At the peak

of the Roman Empire, Romans believed their people were
filled with “Great Roman Virtue;”

they believed that the way all Romans conducted their lives
was the “right” way. The Romans

would applaud themselves for being hardworking, courageous,
loyal, stoic, cynic, having

close-knit families and most importantly for fulfilling
their duty to Rome by means of the

military. However, as the fall of the Roman Empire grew
closer, they lost their “Roman Virtu”

mindset which also allotted for the military decline. Due to
the growing number of unemployed,

poor citizens, there became a greater need for Bread and
Circus, the Roman Empire’s welfare

system, ultimately tarnishing their economy. As the Empire
grew poorer, so did the leadership.

Despite the rapid government spending, and the demand for
taxes that the people did not have

the money to pay, the leaders, such as the Patricians who
made up the senate were oblivious to

the problem; the empire was being run by the rich who could
not recognize the economic issue at

hand. Finally, due to primary agricultural economy Rome was
built on, as things began to go

south economically land reforms were suggested, in order to
deter the rich from acquiring more

land and becoming richer. However, land reforms like those
suggested by Tiberius Gracchus

were never put into motion, causing the economic decline to
grow even further.

Defined by Merriam-Webster online dictionary fall means “6
a: to move or extend in a

downward direction” “6 c: to decline in quality, activity,
or quantity” “6 f: to decline in financial

value of price” (Merriam-Webster). The fall of an empire,
–like in the case of the Romans–

country or power, in general, is usually caused by a series
of events where economies fail,

territories are lost, and allies turn against them. Defining
the fall of the Roman Empire is just as

hard as defining the word, for there are so many ways to
define it. Unlike the fall of the Union of

Soviet Socialist Republics, or the Soviet Union, which can
be almost definitively defined by a set

of dates within a two-year time period, the fall of the
Roman Empire happened at a much more

gradual rate; with a series of many events which can all be
marked as the falling of the Roman


The first event that can be marked as the fall of the Roman
Empire took place over 400

years before Edward Gibbon’s claim of 476 AD, in the year 9
AD with the battle of the

Teutoburg Forest. The battle of the Teutoburg Forest was
fought between the Romans and

Germanic tribes. During this battle, the Germanic tribesmen
were lead chief man Arminius,

commonly know as “Herman the German,” while the Roman
military was lead by Quintilius

Varus. During this battle, Varus, leader of the Romans, was
lead into a trap by his supposed

ally/friend Arminius, leader of the Germanic tribesmen.
Arminius and his army divided off from

the Romans, whom they were originally traveling with, to “go
find more men.” However,

Arminius actually lead his army in a surprise attack against
the Romans. Arminius surrounded

the Roman army, and wiped out three Roman legions, or
approximately 1,800 men, over the

course of the entire battle. This Roman defeat established
the Rhine-Danube boundary line of the

Roman Empire. The creation of the Rhine-Danube boundary
marks the point at which the

Roman Empire ceased to expand further. As mentioned earlier,
the economy of the Roman

Empire greatly relied on land, and the acquiring of new
land. Without the continuous expansion

of the empire, the Roman economy became stagnant and
consequently began to decline, thus

harboring the fall of the Roman Empire.


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