Fall of Rome: A Mini-lesson in History

October 6, 2012 at 5:00 am / by

About Ann-Marie Murrell

Ann-Marie Murrell is the original PolitiChick anchor and is the CEO/Editor-in-Chief of, which was nominated at CPAC 2013 as the “People’s Choice Blogger of the Year”. In 2013, Ann-Marie recei… More

Whenever I have a speaking engagement I like to pose this question:  “If we could go back in time to a few months before the fall of Rome and warn the people of their impending doom—would they believe you, or would they call you an ‘alarmist’ or ‘conspiracy theorist’?” Who would have believed that one of the greatest, most influential empires on earth could have been wiped out completely?  Most of the citizens of Rome certainly didn’t, despite the fact that they had many signs leading up to it.  One scholar accurately stated that Rome didn’t necessarily “fall”—as in buildings being obliterated or wiped out—but instead it was a slow, gradual “rot” from within.

What follows are some of the causes of the fall of the Roman Empire.  Please know this is a very abridged version; there are many more involved aspects of this subject and I highly encourage you to read more about it on your own. Unfortunately one can’t help but notice the many similarities between “us” and “them”.

Cause #1:  Division between Leaders and their Senate

Roman Emperors had the power to rule Rome’s religious, civil and military affairs with the Senate acting as an advisory board.  However, when the Emperors started using their own form of “Executive Orders”—overruling and/or ignoring the Senate and doing whatever they wanted to do–that’s when the real problems started.  Basically, Roman Emperors became “too much” of everything—too powerful, too wealthy, and too corrupt.

Cause #2: Decline in Morals

The decline in morals within the rich upper classes had a devastating impact on Romans.  Orgies, incest, gambling and prostitution flourished, along with barbaric practices such as gladiator competitions in the Coliseum arena.   This affected the lower classes because they were the people who were sold into slavery, raped without consequence and were sadistically murdered and tortured in Coliseum competitions.

Cause #3:  Political Corruption and the Praetorian Guard

The Praetorians were an elite group of soldiers that protected the Emperors.  Although they started out as the “good guys” the Praetorians eventually became drunk with power and literally got away with murder, rape and torture of Roman citizens.  They organized masses of soldiers that ultimately contributed in overthrowing and assassinating emperors.

Cause #4:  The Roman Empire Fast Expansion & Too Many Enemies

Barbarian” is an Ancient Greek term used for describing what they considered “uncivilized “people and/or non-citizens.  Many of the lands the Romans conquered were “Barbarian” countries and as a result the Barbarians despised Romans.  It didn’t help that once the Barbarians were relocated into Rome they were taxed at a much higher rate than regular Roman citizens, which led to frequent riots and rebellions.

Cause #5:  Non-stop Wars & Heavy Military Spending

Because of ongoing wars, the Roman army became stretched very thin and required constant recruiting so they allowed their “former” enemies—the Barbarians and other foreign mercenaries—to join their army.  (Note:  Providing your enemy with weapons and not expecting them to use those weapons against you is never a good idea…See #6.)

Cause #6:  Barbarians Learned Roman Military Tactics—from the Roman Army Themselves

Once the Roman army allowed the Barbarians to join their military, they were essentially teaching the enemy all their tactical secrets–which, of course, the Barbarians eventually used against them.

Cause #7:  Failing Economy and High Inflation

The Roman government was constantly on the verge of bankruptcy due to military spending, high taxation and high inflation. Bottom line:  They were spending more than they could afford.  The free food rations for the poor were costing Rome and Constantinople a fortune.  And Rome’s upper class love for luxury items caused them to send more and more of their gold to the orient to pay for products like silk and spices—gold which had no return.  This led to a shortage of gold and ultimately Roman currency was devalued to such an extent that the bartering system returned to what was once the greatest civilization in the world.

Cause #8: High Unemployment Rates

Cheap slave labor resulted in high unemployment rates among the Roman working class, including the Plebs in Rome who became dependent on handouts from the state.  Because of this, the Romans attempted a policy of unrestricted trade but this ultimately caused the Plebs to be unable to compete with foreign markets.  The Plebs’ standard of living was drastically affected resulting in a massive divide among the rich and the poor classes in Rome.

Cause #9:  Mob Rule and the Expensive Gladiator Games

Realizing that their unemployed and bored citizens would soon become restless, Roman emperors created the Gladiator games in part to keep the “mobs” occupied.  The cost of the games was exorbitant and excessive, and corrupt politicians/lobbyists used the games to curry favors with the mob.   The cost of the games eventually came to one third of the total income of the Roman Empire.

Cause #10:  Decline in Ethics and Values

Once morals had left the state, ethics and the value of life was also in decline.  The values, ideals, customs, traditions and institutions that had once made Rome great were now in fast decline.  There was little regard for human (or animal) life, and basically their system of judging right/wrong, good/bad was completely skewed.  Chaos and non-conformity prevailed and citizens were considered “intolerant” if they didn’t go along with whatever debauchery that came their way.

Cause #10:  Slave Labor

The number of slaves increased drastically during the first two centuries of the Roman Empire.  The wealthy classes were completely dependent on slaves for their every move, including bathing. Slaves were treated as subhuman and in many cases were treated much worse than animals (although animal abuse was rampant, too).  The poor treatment of slaves led to the Servile War, led by the most famous gladiator slave, Spartacus.

Cause #11:  Natural Disasters

In addition to the ongoing wars, revolts and uprisings among the mobs, natural disasters such as earthquakes, plagues and famines prevailed.

Cause #12:  Christianity

As Christianity became popular, immoral and depraved Roman society started becoming unstable.  People were starting to see that their way of life was wrong and their previously futile, hopeless lives were given meaning for the first time.  Roman Emperor Constantine the Great proclaimed himself a Christian, leading many in Rome to move from antagonistic to pacifistic.

Cause #13:  Barbarian Invasion

The Barbarian armies consisted of the Visigoths, Huns and the Vandals.  They attacked when they saw Rome at her weakest—failed economy, high unemployment, and all the while aiding and abetting her enemies.  Ultimately it was the Roman army-trained Barbarians that helped overthrow Rome in 410, and the Vandals finished her off in 455.

So to summarize, Rome’s ultimate collapse was basically due to a slow and steady decay from the inside out.

As bad as things currently are in America, I don’t believe for one moment we are anywhere near this type of disaster—but nevertheless I suggest we always live our lives as if we were.  Take good care of your families; call your parents, family members and friends and tell them you love them.  Expect the best but prepare for the worst, or as our PolitiChick Angela Love says, “Stock your larder or risk starving”.  And don’t do these things because you’re afraid of “end times” but rather because it’s the right thing to do.

(Note: I took the attached photo in St. Louis, Missouri.  The statue represents the dismembered head of Eros, the Greek god of love & desire. The bandages covering his face suggest his desires & ideas have been imprisoned. They also symbolize two opposing views of the world:  either that civilization is broken beyond repair, or that it is being held together despite destructive forces. A-MM)



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Ann-Marie Murrell

Ann-Marie Murrell is the original PolitiChick anchor and is the CEO/Editor-in-Chief of, which was nominated at CPAC 2013 as the “People’s Choice Blogger of the Year”. In 2013, Ann-Marie received Front Page Magazine’s Glazov Gang Ronald Reagan Award. Ann-Marie writes for dozens of respected Conservative websites including TownHall, Daily Caller, Front Page Magazine, The Blaze and more. Ann-Marie is often a guest speaker at rallies across the US and is a frequent guest on radio and TV shows, including a 2013 appearance on the Dr. Phil Show in which she represented the conservative viewpoint. She has been featured on dozens of radio and television shows, including Fox News, BlazeTV, the Dennis Prager Show, the Janine Turner Show and she is a regular commentator and guest host on One America’s Rick Amato Show, Front Page Magazine’s Glazov Gang and the Mark Isler Show on 870/The Answer. Ann-Marie is one of the go-to conservative reporters in Los Angeles and has covered multiple political events throughout the United States. Ann-Marie has conducted hundreds of interviews with conservative leaders including Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Lt. Col. Allen West, Dr. Ben Carson, and she was one of the last reporters to interview the late Andrew Breitbart. Ann-Marie speaks at various Conservative rallies and 2nd Amendment events across the country, from California to Texas and many cities in between, and was the exclusive reporter for the David Horowitz Freedom Center West Coast retreat. You can find Ann-Marie Murrell on Facebook and Twitter (@PolitichickAM). (@PolitichickAM).

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  1. Extremely interesting and I really enjoyed your article! Great Job! People should always take not in the past, it hold the keys to many mistakes that we continue to make in the present. I think it is even more interesting how people tend to forget so easily. Thank you for this reminder it was an amazing article!

  2. Ignorance is curable says:

    So the take away from this is, don’t vote for republicans or watch reality TV and America will be alright.

    • townie says:

      voting for a party is big mistake, look at the man. If you want socialism, cast your vote for Obama just because he is a democrat.

  3. georgehancks says:

    In America we have 1 uniqueness even Rome did not enjoy, the American Idea. This is the natural God given rights outlined in our Declaration that apply to all mankind. I’m not voting for Romney. I’m voting to defend and preserve those rights and the Constitution written to protect those rights. It is very simple. The American Idea is so beautiful how could anyone but a depraved lunatic not want to hug it close to their chest and never let it go?

  4. georgehancks says:

    By saying I’m not voting for Romney, neither am I voting for Obama or a political party for the most sensible path to preserving The American Idea from going over a cliff from which we can never climb back up.

  5. Good job, Ann-Marie. That took some time and was good editing to be so concise yet covering sucha a huge chunk of history. You are doing good work, for the right reasons. Tengo muco respecto por tu trabajo diligente. Yo te amo.

  6. Terry says:

    I hope my friends read this and put two and two together. They are all in denial at what is coming. I prey they see the light soon, it is getting late.

  7. One2Stupid says:

    How about the fall of another country in the 20th century. The people believed all the promises and fell under the control of a leader that would take care of everyone. He would punish the rich, removing them from society and takeing their wealth for the “people”. Everything would be controlled by this great leader and his strong central government. No one asked hard questions until it was too late, the media wrote glowing reports helping to convince the masses that this would turn their world into heaven. Then when hard questions were asked, that person just disappeared. All of this worked for a while, until Hitler tried to conquer the world and committed suicide. Don’t let your freedom be bought for promises that you know can never be fulfilled. Return to basic priciples that have been proven to work. Personal accountability, truth and charity. About half of our society pay no federal income taxes and receive government support. The other half pays all the bills. What happens when the working half stops working? I’m an independent. I refuse to have any political party tell me how I should think! What caused our economic crisis? The collapse of the housing bubble. What caused the bubble? The government ordered banks to make loans to people who didn’t qualify for loans, sub-prime mortgages. Now does that sound like a liberal idea or a conservitive idea? You get to answer that question yourself.

  8. Nestor Trinidad says:

    To answer your theoretical opening question – going back in time a few months before Rome’s fall to change history wouldn’t change a thing you’d have to go back much further… Either before Julius Cesar’s assasination or before the disaster at teuteborg forest…..

  9. Bob Marshall says:

    I watched and listened to Nikita Khrushchev as he spoke to the U.S. on national in which he stated that the USSR would never fire one shot at the U.S. We would fall from within. That was in 1957. The powerful that really run the U.S. have plenty of patience.

  10. Freedom Fan Nan says:

    The similarities are uncanny! Those who do not learn the lessons from the past….. Great comparitive piece AMM!

  11. Gary says:

    A well written article and needs to be shared. Thank you so much Ann!

  12. Joe Kepler says:

    Ann-Marie, I have to disagree with you concerning how near our country is to suffering the same fate as the Roman Empire. We have certainly had a ‘slow rot from within,’ but was also add a new level that the Roman’s didn’t have and that is the fact of the overwhelming debt our country had taken on. I have personally lived the debt life trying to survive and when my own economic ‘end’ came on me, it was sudden and calamity happened within about a month. I went from enjoying basic living expenses (enough food, heat, etc.) to barely making it and almost loosing the house and being homeless. Eventually the credit card runs out of money, and our country is on that same type of path. We like our toys and we will borrow any amount of money to get them, but this country is quickly coming to the end of their credit card spending spree. Once we hit the end, the results will be devastating to the country. Personally, I barely made it. Nationally, I seriously wonder if our divided house will. Time will tell.

  13. robgarcia4 says:

    Good refresher lesson on what also could happen here.

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