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The Fall of the Roman Empire

This is the place to discuss the past, its study, and those who study it. Discussion about events that happened less than twenty years ago should go go in Politics instead.
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The Fall of the Roman Empire

Post by DMB » Tue Dec 06, 2016 10:59 am

What really happened?

Discussion here:

http://www.bu.edu/historic/hs/perkins.pdf
Yerxa: Is there evidence that a civilization collapsed when Rome fell?

Ward-Perkins: This is an area where historians seem to be decidedly myopic. In looking closely at their texts, they have failed to notice that in every single area of the empire (except perhaps the Levantine provinces conquered by the Arabs) there was an extraordinary fall in what archaeologists term “material culture.”

The scale and quality of buildings, even of churches, shrank dramatically—so that, for instance, tiled roofs, which were common in Roman times even in a peasant context, became a great rarity and luxury. In the 6th and 7th-century West the vast majority of people lived in tiny houses with beaten earth floors, drafty wooden walls, and insect-infested thatch roofs; whereas, in Roman times, people from the same level of society might well have enjoyed the comfort of solid brick or stone floors, mortared walls, and tiled roofs. This was a change that affected not only the aristocracy, but also huge numbers of people in the middling and lower levels of society who in Roman times had had ready access to high-quality goods.

Yerxa: You discuss evidence from graffiti, coins, roof tiles, and especially pottery, whereas scholars from the Late Antiquity school point to religious texts. Why is it important to pay attention to material culture and economic history?

Ward-Perkins: However elevated our thoughts, we all live in a sophisticated material world, supported by a complex economy, and we all enjoy the convenience and comfort of high-quality goods (whether clothes, washing machines, or the latest laptop and Internet connection). So it seems very obvious to me that material change (and there was dramatic material change at the end of the Roman Empire) is well worthy of our attention. Even the saints were affected by material changes in this period: the new churches constructed in the later 6th- and 7th-century West, in places like Rome and Visigothic Spain, are tiny in comparison to those of the 4th century or of the later Middle Ages.

I also believe—and this seems obvious from modern experience—that sophistication in intellectual life generally requires solid economic underpinning. In my book I attempt to show this by focusing on the evidence of graffiti (which were very common in Roman times, but virtually disappeared thereafter) in order to demonstrate that basic intellectual skills—reading and writing—suffered as dramatic a downturn with the fall of Rome as did the availability of high-quality material goods...

...What is so striking about the fall of Rome is the collapse of material sophistication that
ensued. This happened, I believe, precisely because the Roman world was not entirely dissimilar
to our own: complex economies are very fragile because they rely on hugely sophisticated networks of production and distribution. If these are seriously disrupted, widely and over a long period of time, the entire house of cards can collapse. Although I have a great deal of respect for the new Late Antiquity, it does seriously worry me that it smoothes over the very real crisis that happened at the end of the Roman world. The Romans, like us, enjoyed the fruits of a complex economy, both material and intellectual. And like us, they assumed their world would go on forever. They were wrong, and we would be wise to remember this. The main lesson I think we should learn from the collapse of the Roman Empire and of ancient civilization is not some specific panacea that can preserve our civilization forever (since modern circumstances and the threats to our well being are ever-changing), but a realization of how insecure, and probably transient, our own achievements are—and, from this, a degree of humility

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Post by Roo St. Gallus » Tue Dec 06, 2016 5:36 pm

I suggest Joseph Tainter.

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Post by Roo St. Gallus » Tue Dec 06, 2016 5:40 pm

Of course, Jared Diamond got his oar in on this, too...

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Post by lpetrich » Tue Dec 06, 2016 5:44 pm

Interesting. Historians have argued a lot about that, and they have come up with numerous theories.

210 Reasons for decline of Roman Empire
Source: A. Demandt, Der Fall Roms (1984) 695
See also: Karl Galinsky in Classical and Modern Interactions (1992) 53-73.

210 Reasons for decline of Roman Empire, see also 210 Reasons for the decline of the Roman Empire - NovaRoma with links to articles on some of these.

Abolition of gods; Abolition of rights; Absence of character; Absolutism; Agrarian question; Agrarian slavery; Anarchy; Anti-Germanism; Apathy; Aristocracy; Asceticism; Attack of the Germans; Attack of the Huns; Attack of riding nomads; Backwardness in science; Bankruptcy; Barbarization; Bastardization; Blockage of land by large landholders; Blood poisoning; Bolshevization; Bread and circuses; Bureaucracy ; Byzantinism; Capillarite sociale; Capitals, change of; Caste system; Celibacy; Centralization; Childlessness; Christianity; Citizenship, granting of; Civil war; Climatic deterioration; Communism; Complacency; Concatenation of misfortunes; Conservatism; Capitalism; Corruption; Cosmopolitanism; Crisis of legitimacy; Culinary excess; Cultural neurosis; Decentralization; Decline of Nordic character; Decline of the cities; Decline of the Italian population; Deforestation; Degeneration; Degeneration of the intellect; Demoralization; Depletion of mineral resources; Despotism; Destruction of environment; Destruction of peasantry; Destruction of political process; Destruction of Roman influence; Devastation; Differences in wealth; Disarmament; Disillusion with stated goals of empire; Division of empire; Division of labor; Earthquakes; Egoism; Egoism of the state; Emancipation of slaves; Enervation; Epidemics; Equal rights, granting of; Eradication of the best; Escapism; Ethnic dissolution; Excessive aging of population; Excessive civilization; Excessive culture; Excessive foreign infiltration; Excessive freedom; Excessive urbanization; Expansion; Exploitation; Fear of life; Female emancipation; Feudalization; Fiscalism; Gladiatorial system; Gluttony; Gout; Hedonism; Hellenization; Heresy; Homosexuality; Hothouse culture; Hubris; Hypothermia; Immoderate greatness; Imperialism; Impotence; Impoverishment; Imprudent policy toward buffer states; Inadequate educational system; Indifference; Individualism; Indoctrination; Inertia; Inflation; Intellectualism; Integration, weakness of; Irrationality; Jewish influence; Lack of leadership; Lack of male dignity; Lack of military recruits; Lack of orderly imperial succession; Lack of qualified workers; Lack of rainfall; Lack of religiousness; Lack of seriousness; Large landed properties; Lead poisoning; Lethargy; Leveling, cultural; Leveling, social; Loss of army discipline; Loss of authority; Loss of energy; Loss of instincts; Loss of population; Luxury; Malaria; Marriages of convenience; Mercenary system; Mercury damage; Militarism; Monetary economy; Monetary greed; Money, shortage of; Moral decline; Moral idealism; Moral materialism; Mystery religions; Nationalism of Rome's subjects; Negative selection; Orientalization; Outflow of gold; Over refinement; Pacifism; Paralysis of will; Paralysization; Parasitism; Particularism; Pauperism; Plagues; Pleasure seeking; Plutocracy; Polytheism; Population pressure; Precociousness; Professional army; Proletarianization; Prosperity; Prostitution; Psychoses; Public baths; Racial degeneration; Racial discrimination; Racial suicide; Rationalism; Refusal of military service; Religious struggles and schisms; Rentier mentality; Resignation; Restriction to profession; Restriction to the land; Rhetoric; Rise of uneducated masses; Romantic attitudes to peace; Ruin of middle class; Rule of the world; Semieducation; Sensuality; Servility; Sexuality; Shamelessness; Shifting of trade routes; Slavery; Slavic attacks; Socialism (of the state); Soil erosion; Soil exhaustion; Spiritual barbarism; Stagnation; Stoicism; Stress; Structural weakness; Superstition; Taxation, pressure of; Terrorism; Tiredness of life; Totalitarianism; Treason; Tristesse; Two-front war; Underdevelopment; Useless eaters; Usurpation of all powers by state; Vain gloriousness; Villa economy; Vulgarization

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Post by Roo St. Gallus » Tue Dec 06, 2016 6:07 pm

I suspect that it is a 'cascade effect' and identifying any single determinant is probably impossible.

Would application of 'Chaos Theory' be appropriate?
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Post by Tubby » Tue Dec 06, 2016 6:50 pm

[quote=""lpetrich""]Lead poisoning; Mercury damage[/quote]

I would like to hear more about those. I remember a grade school teacher bringing up that the chemical symbol for lead is "Pb" for Plumbum, pointing out that we get "plumber" from that Latin word. "They used lead pipes for their drinking water," he said, and suggested lead poisoning as a possibility for the fall of the empire. I've not heard about mercury in connection with Rome.

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Post by lpetrich » Tue Dec 06, 2016 7:46 pm

The Roman Empire was, it must be acknowledged, rather top-heavy.

Its predecessor, the Roman Republic, grew from a small city-state to a Mediterranean-spanning realm, but it started suffering from civil strife and civil wars. It ended up with strongman rule -- the Roman Empire.

This resulted in some peace and quiet for about two centuries, but then the Empire started suffering from strife and war again, the Crisis of the Third Century. What's now France broke away as the Empire of the Gauls, and in the Middle East, Zenobia of Syria conquered some Roman-Empire territory.

The Empire also suffered economic troubles, with its government trying to cover expenses by debasing its coinage. Thus continuing the galloping inflation that they were trying to keep ahead of.

-

Richard Carrier has pointed out a devastating side effect of this strife. It nipped scientific inquiry in the bud. This is because that strife made it hard to become very educated or learned or skilled.

Afterwards, Neoplatonism became a big thing in philosophy, with its emphasis on mystical revelation.

-

Around 300 CE, the Empire started to recover. Diocletian tried to deal with inflation by decreeing maximum prices and wages and the like. He also made people tied down to their jobs, the beginning of serfdom. Rather Procrustean, but it sort of worked.

Then Constantine sought some shared belief system, some shared ideology. After promoting the worship of the Unconquered Sun, he decided on Xianity.

The Empire ended up splitting in two, with the Byzantine Empire being our name for the Eastern Roman Empire. Yes, they considered themselves Romaioi, "Romans", even though Rome was well outside of their territory.

The Western Roman Empire ended up falling in 476 CE. Its last leader, someone who called himself Romulus Augustulus, was overthrown by a Germanic chieftain named Odoacer, one who decided not to rule as a Roman.

Some of the remaining pagans attributed the fall of Rome to the neglect of Rome's old-time religion, and Xian theologian Augustine composed his book The City of God in response to that.
Last edited by lpetrich on Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Fixed a typo

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Post by MattShizzle » Tue Dec 06, 2016 7:59 pm

And the Eastern Empire survived until 1453.

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Post by Roo St. Gallus » Tue Dec 06, 2016 11:14 pm

[quote=""Roo St. Gallus""]I suggest Joseph Tainter.

Image[/quote]

Tainter has an interesting one hour presentation, and answers questions following, in this talk on the collapse of complex societies...using the fall of the Western Roman Empire as his example.
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Post by lpetrich » Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:21 am

[quote=""MattShizzle""]And the Eastern Empire survived until 1453.[/quote]
Not only did it outlive the Western Empire by about 1000 years, it did quite well over much of that time.

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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:31 pm

[quote=""lpetrich""]Then Constantine sought some shared belief system, some shared ideology. After promoting the worship of the Unconquered Sun, he decided on Xianity.

The Empire ended up splitting in two, with the Byzantine Empire being our name for the Eastern Roman Empire. [/quote]

This, imho, is the key. Constantine evidently realized a strategic, geographical shift going on:
By the third century CE, the Romans had many thousands of miles of border to defend. Growing pressure caused a crisis, especially in the Danube/Balkan area, where the Goths violated the borders. In the East, the Sasanian Persians transgressed the frontiers along the Euphrates and Tigris. The emperor Constantine the Great (r. 306-337) was one of the first to realize the impossibility of managing the empire's problems from distant Rome.

So, in 330 Constantine decided to make Byzantium, which he had refounded a couple of years before and named after himself, his new residence. Constantinople lay halfway between the Balkan and the Euphrates, and not too far from the immense wealth and manpower of Asia Minor, the vital part of the empire.

"Byzantium" was to become the name for the East-Roman Empire. After the death of Constantine, in an attempt to overcome the growing military and administrative problem, the Roman Empire was divided into an eastern and a western part. The western part is considered as definitely finished by the year 476, when its last ruler was dethroned and a military leader, Odoacer, took power.

In the course of the fourth century, the Roman world became increasingly Christian, and the Byzantine Empire was certainly a Christian state. It was the first empire in the world to be founded not only on worldly power, but also on the [authority] of the Church. Paganism, however, stayed an important source of inspiration for many people during the first centuries of the Byzantine Empire.

When Christianity became organized, the Church was led by five patriarchs, who resided in Alexandria, Jerusalem, Antioch, Constantinople, and Rome. The Council of Chalcedon (451) decided that the patriarch of Constantinople was to be the second in the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Only the pope in Rome was his superior. After the Great Schism of 1054 the eastern (Orthodox) church separated [from] the western (Roman Catholic) church. The centre of influence of the orthodox churches later shifted to Moscow.
In short, Constantine clearly understood the power of the Christian cult and that it afforded a means of control that transcended borders and did not necessarily require all of the usual trappings of authoritarianism (i.e., brutal military enforcement and occupation; wars of attrition; etc). Instead of physically controlling and assimilating mass populations by brute force, he could do it one individual at a time without their having any real idea he was behind it. Indeed, one of the key appeals of the cult programming is the false belief that one has transcended "earthly" authority and thus can render unto Caesar and still think that you're autonomous; be a slave but think you're a master. It is literally the most powerful subjugation tool mankind has ever created, enslaving billions to this day.

In that one ideological shift/gestalt, Constantine was able to discard traditional forms of subjugation/conquest/empire and instead create an even stronger empire that could actually span the globe. The Roman Empire never collapsed; it grew into the much larger and far more lasting "Holy" Roman Empire that is still a powerful sociopolitical force to this day.
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Post by DMB » Wed Dec 07, 2016 1:34 pm

I would say that what was called the "Holy Roman Empire" was in fact far from being a continuation of the Roman Empire. It was a face-saving attempt to come to terms with the destruction of the western empire by the barbarians. As Voltaire said, when it was known as the Saint-Empire Romain germainique, it was "ni saint, ni germanique, ni romain" (neither holy nor Roman nor German).

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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Wed Dec 07, 2016 2:28 pm

[quote=""DMB""]I would say that what was called the "Holy Roman Empire" was in fact far from being a continuation of the Roman Empire. It was a face-saving attempt to come to terms with the destruction of the western empire by the barbarians.[/quote]

The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. What is the purpose of "empire"? Iow, why does any would-be emperor seek such power? To control, subjugate and enslave other human beings. Prior to Constantine/Christianity, the only way to do that was by brute physical force involving massive armies and physical resources, not just to conquer but to assimilate and maintain allegiance, etc. As noted, by the time Constantine comes along that physical model has overextended itself and started to collapse under its own weight. So what is his solution? He turns the model completely on its head and eliminates the physical part. Both approaches have the same goal, to enslave individual minds. The old way was by brute force; Constantine's way was to recognize (allegedly in his mother, I believe) the same effect only without a single wasted physical resource. Was it overnight? No. Was it omniscient? Obviously not. Was it an experiment that worked? Arguably so.

We know Constantine wasn't a convert or anything, so he didn't have a come-to-Jesus revelation and suddenly became Christianity's truest of the true, so either it was his cunning that saw its utility or he just really really really loved his mother (but not enough to convert himself). Regardless, it was the transcendence of the cult that led to the extension/transformation of the Empire from a physical presence to a metaphysical one. Arguably.
As Voltaire said, when it was known as the Saint-Empire Romain germainique, it was "ni saint, ni germanique, ni romain" (neither holy nor Roman nor German).
Which I would most definitely argue underscores the point. Voltaire saw through Constantine's bullshit. It was neither holy (i.e., it was a cult, not anything "true"), nor Roman (i.e., nothing like the physical empire of old) nor German (i.e., nothing like a current physical state). In short, it was an empire of the mind (an enslavement of the mind), and thus far worse.
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Post by Tharmas » Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:03 pm

I read a book some time ago on the origins of the Middle Ages, by a scholar whose name I have forgotten, as well as the name of the book. It’s around somewhere, probably in storage.

However, the opening chapters contain some observations on material culture which parallel those of Ward-Perkins. One such observation is that coinage in circulation had almost disappeared in the centuries following the collapse of Rome, until the time of Charlemagne (9th century), when Byzantine coins began to appear in limited numbers.

The origin of the Crusades is seen as an attempt to open up trade routes that had been closed by the Islamic takeover of much of the Byzantine Empire.

When I have time I’ll look for the book.

Edited to add:

I remembered the book: Medieval Cities, Their Origins and the Revival of Trade, by Henri Pirenne.

From the Amazon review:
Henri Pirenne is best known for his provocative argument--known as the "Pirenne thesis" and familiar to all students of medieval Europe--that it was not the invasion of the Germanic tribes that destroyed the civilization of antiquity, but rather the closing of Mediterranean trade by Arab conquest in the seventh century. The consequent interruption of long distance commerce accelerated the decline of the ancient cities of Europe.
End of edit.

As for an examination of the rise of Christianity over paganism in the late Roman period, see Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians, which I found to be an insightful. Fox’s main thesis is the Christianity was almost like a virus (my word, not his) in that it was historically the first sect that refused to co-exist with other sects, and also that it required its adherents to convert others.
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Post by Jackrabbit » Wed Dec 07, 2016 9:28 pm

[quote=""DMB""]What really happened?[/quote]
It fell because of Roman soldiers like this:

Stoned Soldier: Do you care if it falls?
Stoned Soldier: What?
Stoned Soldier: The Roman Empire.
Stoned Soldier: [laughs] Fuck it!

From Mel Brooks' History of the World, Part 1

Ever since the movie, my brother and I used "Aw, Roman Empire" as a code for "fuck it" when Mom was in earshot.
Moe: "Why don't you get a toupee with some brains in it?" <whack!>

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Post by Kookaburra Jack » Sun Jan 08, 2017 1:10 pm

Christianity and the Decline of the Roman Empire.
ARNALDO MOMIGLIANO (1959/60)

* This essay first appeared as the introduction A. Momigliano, ed., The Conflict Between Paganism and Christianity in the Fourth Century, The Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1963, pp. 79—99 (1)



I may perhaps begin with a piece of good news. In this year 1959 it can still be considered an historical truth that the Roman empire declined and fell. Nobody is as yet prepared to deny that the Roman empire has disappeared. But here historians begin to disagree. When we ask them to tell us when the Roman empire disappeared, we collect an embarrissing variety of answers. The more so because there is a tendency to identify the beginnings of the Middle Ages with the end of the Roman empire: a tendency which would have given no little surprise to medieval men who firmly believed in the continuity of the Roman empire.

There are, of course, historians who see the Middle Ages making their appearance and the Roman empire sinking into oblivion with the conversion of Constantine in 312 or with the inauguration of Constantinople in 330. And there are historians who would delay the end of the ROman empire to that year 1806 - more precisely to that day 6 August 1806 - in which Napolean I compelled the Austrian emperor Francis II to underwrite the end of the Holy Roman empire. Between these two extreme dates there are plenty of intermediate choices.

There are still traditionalists ready to support the once famous date of september 476, when Romulus Augustulus lost his throne; and there are more sophisticated researchers who would prefer the death ofJustinian in 565 or the coronation of Charlemagne in 800 - when the Roman empire was in a way replaced by two Roman empires. Another favourite date is the fall of Constantinople in 1453 as the end of the new Rome. Uninhibited by such a variety of opinions, Professor Arnold Toynbee has succeeded in adding one which at first sight seems to be of remarkable originality. He has reproached Gibbon for not understanding that the Roman empire began to decline four centuries before it was born. Indeed, Professor Toynbee maintains that the crisis of Roman civilization started in the year 431 B.C. when the Athenians and the Spartans came to grief in the Peloponnesian War. [1]


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Post by Roo St. Gallus » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:06 am

Um...The western portion of the empire collapsed in the 4th - 5th century. I'd say that markers of the various sacks of Rome, by the Visigoths in 410, the Vandals in 455, and the Ostrogoths in 546, (all Christian, IIRC) are pretty good indicators that measures of maintenance of imperial structures and security had failed.

(Or, 476 when the Germanic Roman general Odoacer deposed the usurper Western Emperor Romulus Augustulus. As you note.)

Of course, the sack of Constantinople by the adventurers of the Fourth Crusade in 1204 serves as a marker for me of the ultimate collapse of the remnant empire under the dregs of the outlanders of the former western portions of the empire....rather like imperial gangrene.
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Post by lpetrich » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:45 am

[quote=""Kookaburra Jack""]... Uninhibited by such a variety of opinions, Professor Arnold Toynbee has succeeded in adding one which at first sight seems to be of remarkable originality. He has reproached Gibbon for not understanding that the Roman empire began to decline four centuries before it was born. Indeed, Professor Toynbee maintains that the crisis of Roman civilization started in the year 431 B.C. when the Athenians and the Spartans came to grief in the Peloponnesian War.[/quote]
???

Rome was not much more than a city-state back then, near the beginning of its recorded history. Or did Prof. Toynbee mean something broader?

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Post by lpetrich » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:21 am

Peter Turchin Home - Peter Turchin He works on something that he calls cliodynamics: Peter Turchin Cliodynamics: History as Science - Peter Turchin

Its biggest result to date has been the theory that many large-scale societies go through cycles:
He proposes this cycle:
  • Integrative - centralized, unified elites, strong state, order, stability -- wars of conquest against neighbors
    • Expansion (Growth) - population increases
    • Stagflation (Compression) - population levels off, elites increase
  • Disintegrative - decentralized, divided elites, weak state, disorder, instability -- civil wars
    • Crisis (State Breakdown) - population declines, elites continue, lots of strife
    • Depression - population stays low, civil wars, elites get pruned
  • Intercycle - if it takes time to form a strong state
(Cycles of US Violence - Secular Café, Ages of Discord, by Peter Turchin - Secular Café)

He lists cycles in ancient Rome, and also medieval and early modern England, France, Russia, and China.

Let's see how they work out for Rome.

The Roman Republic was in an integrative phase over 350 - 130 BCE, growing from a city-state to ruling what is now present-day Portugal, Spain, Tunisia, Italy, Greece, and western Turkey.

Then it went into a disintegrative phase over 130 - 30 BCE, suffering from civil wars and Julius Caesar's coup. But even then, Rome continued to make conquests, like JC conquering Gaul, what is now France.

The Republic became the Empire, a.k.a. the Principate, and the next integrative phase was 30 BCE - 165 CE. It started with the last bit of civil war ending and Julius Caesar's nephew Octavian / Augustus becoming unchallenged ruler. It ended during Marcus Aurelius's reign; MA was the last of the "Five Good Emperors".

The next disintegrative phase lasted 165 - 285 CE. Marcus Aurelius was succeeded by his son Commodus, a Donald Trump figure. After he was assassinated, the Empire went through a year of five emperors, and it soon suffered the Crisis of the Third Century. That was a time of strife, civil war, and galloping inflation, complete with coinage getting more and more debased. There was a short-lived breakaway Empire of the Gauls, and also Zenobia's conquests in the Middle East.

PT stretches the next integrative phase, IMO, but it started with what's called the Dominate, the rule of Diocletian and Constantine. Wikipedia' history of the Roman Empire lists 395 - 476 CE as the "Decline of the Western Roman Empire". Its emperors included several military strongmen. So it qualifies as a disintegrative phase -- and a terminal one.


Looking eastward to the Eastern Roman Empire, a.k.a. the Byzantine Empire, it survived the destruction of the Western Roman Empire almost intact. So if it was in a disintegrative phase, it was a relatively weak one.

In 527, Justinian I came to power, and over the next few decades, he conquered parts of the former Western Empire, including Italy itself. An integrative phase?

But in 602, Phocas became emperor, and over the next century, the Empire lost much of its territory. From 695 - 717 was the Twenty Years Anarchy, an obvious sign of a disintegrative phase.

Over the century after that, the Empire suffered from the iconoclasm controversy. The iconoclasts ("image breakers") considered a lot of religious imagery an idolatrous departure from true religion; the supporters of such imagery were called iconodules ("image servants").

The Macedonian Renaissance was clearly an integrative phase. It started with Basil I's reign, beginning in 867, or as some historians now argue, with his predecessor Michael III's reign, beginning in 842. It was a time of territorial expansions, like conquering Bulgaria, and of prosperity and art. It reached its peak by the end of Basil II's reign in 1025.

Then what Wikipedia calls "crisis and fragmentation", a clear sign of a disintegrative phase.

This was followed by the Komnenian period, about 1081 to about 1185, clearly an integrative phase.

Then some "decline and disintegration", a disintegrative phase -- a terminal one, ending with the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

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Post by lpetrich » Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:13 am

I'll now sort out the times:
  • 350 BCE - I - Rome's rise from a city-state to a major Mediterranean power
  • 130 BCE - D - civil wars, though conquests continued
  • 30 BCE - I - the Principate: the early Empire, ending with the Five Good Emperors
  • 165 CE - D - some bad and short-lived emperors, the Crisis of the Third Century
  • 285 CE - I - the Dominate: Diocletian and Constantine reorganize the Empire
  • 395 CE - D - terminal decline of the western empire, ending in 476 CE. Status of eastern empire unclear
  • 527 CE - I - Justinian I's conquests
  • 602 CE - D - decline, 20 years anarchy, iconoclasm fights
  • 867 CE - I - Macedonian Renaissance
  • 1025 CE - D - crisis and fragmentation
  • 1081 CE - I - Komnenian period, another renaissance
  • 1185 CE - D - terminal decline, ending in 1453 CE.
-

I'll now take on ancient Egypt.
  • 2686 BCE - I - Old Kingdom: pyramid building
  • 2181 BCE - D - First Intermediate Period
  • 2030 BCE - I - Middle Kingdom
  • 1650 BCE - D - Second Intermediate Period: conquest of the north by the Hyksos
  • 1543 BCE - I - New Kingdom: Levantine empire
  • 1078 BCE - D - Third Intermediate Period, conquest by Assyrians
  • 610 BCE - I - Saite dynasty
  • 526 BCE - D - conquest by Persians, Greeks, and Romans
Note: the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms were all in decline in their last century or so, so they may be annexed to the succeeding intermediate periods as disintegrative phases.

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lpetrich
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Post by lpetrich » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:09 pm

As I was researching Byzantine history, I came across (Wikipedia)Eudokia Makrembolitissa (1021 - 1096). She
was a Byzantine Empress consort by marriage to the Byzantine emperor Constantine X Doukas. After his death in 1067 she acted as regent. She married Romanos IV Diogenes in 1068 and he became her co-emperor. She was also the niece of Michael Keroularios, Patriarch of Constantinople, whose sister had married John Makrembolites.
She came from a prominent aristocratic family back then, (Wikipedia)Makrembolites.
The Makrembolitai apparently originated in the Byzantine capital, Constantinople: the first attested member of the family lived there, and the family name seems to be derived from the Makros Embolos, the "Long Portico", a district of the city.
EM's last name is the feminine version of that family's name.

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lpetrich
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Post by lpetrich » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:41 pm

I couldn't resist tracking down her with her odd name.

I found her first name in online Liddell-Scott, and it means roughly "good will" or "contentment".

Let's see what Big Events happened during her life.
  • 1054: Crab Nebula supernova (SN 1054)
  • 1054: East-West Xian split
  • 1066: Halley's Comet reappeared
  • 1066: William the Conqueror conquered England
About two centuries earlier, the Byzantine Empire had relinquished its claims on a claimed successor of the Western Roman Empire: Charlemagne's empire, the first iteration of the Holy Roman Empire. The second iteration was formed around 962, and it lasted until 1806.

The Roman Empire had had such great prestige that its eastern half, the Byzantine Empire, claimed to be a continuation of it. This was despite that empire's being culturally Greek and despite Rome being well outside its borders for most of its history. The Roman Empire's prestige even extended to the leaders of the Holy Roman Empire claiming it as their successor, despite it memorably being none of those things. For most of its history, it was a loose confederation rather than a unified nation.

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Post by dancer_rnb » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:42 pm

Russia claimed to be the "Third Rome"

Czar = Caesar
There is no such thing as "politically correct." It's code for liberalism. The whole idea of "political correctness" was a brief academic flash-in-the-pan in the early 1990's, but has been a good conservative bugaboo ever since.

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Post by Kookaburra Jack » Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:57 am

[quote=""lpetrich""] Or did Prof. Toynbee mean something broader?[/quote]

IDK.
Who was Leucius Charinus? ... A "cobbler of fables" [Augustine]; "Leucius is the disciple of the devil" [Decretum Gelasianum]; and his books "should be utterly swept away and burned" [Pope Leo I]; they are the "source and mother of all heresy" [Photius][Website]

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lpetrich
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Post by lpetrich » Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:00 pm

[quote=""dancer_rnb""]Russia claimed to be the "Third Rome"

Czar = Caesar[/quote]
Yup: tsar' < tsesar'

So the Roman Empire has had all these claimed successors:
  • The Eastern Roman Empire, a.k.a. the Byzantine Empire
  • The Holy Roman Empire
  • Russia
  • Benito Mussolini's regime

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