To What Extent Did The Fall Of Rome Constitute A Historical Turning Point?

1783 words - 8 pages

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I found the structure particularly difficult, along with providing a succinct yet sustained argument in such a short amount of words. To what extent did the fall of Rome constitute a historical turning point? The Roman Empire experienced continued periods of political difficulty throughout the third century but eventually emerged transformed with an increased centralization of government along with Christianity[footnoteRef:1] being adopted of the religion. But it was the combination of external threats as well as its own existing internal weaknesses that eventually destroyed the relationship between two sections of Roman society that were so pivotal to its survival; central government and local aristocracies. To describe something as a historic turning point is to say that that point is a marker of decisive change, a critical point at which the result is something that is fundamentally and radically different. The debate has arisen over the Western empire's breakdown, which has recently viewed the move from imperial to barbarian rule because of the works of Peter Brown[footnoteRef:2] and his concept of 'Late Antiquity'[footnoteRef:3] as a gradual and imperfect transformation, setting up the fall of Rome not to be seen as a concrete turning point but more so a result of an incomplete process. Such a position is challenged by a traditionalist account of the fall of Rome expressing it in terms of 'decline and fall'[footnoteRef:4] activated by a barbaric and violent seizure leaving Rome economically and culturally damaged, marking a decisive turning point in European history as a signal of the end of the roman way of life. [1: P. Brown, Through the eye of a needle: Wealth, the fall of Rome and the making of Christianity (Princeton university press, 2012)] [2: P. Brown, The World of Late Antiquity: AD 150750 (London, 1971) ] [3: ibid] [4: Jordan, David P. Gibbon and his Roman Empire. (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1971), 213. ] The period of the fall of Rome represents the decomposition of a highly developed civilization and a shift from Roman order to lawless and bloody disorder, and the effects of this were so large that Rome's fall should be credited as a major turning point in history. Ward-Perkins[footnoteRef:5] champions this view, presenting a traditional account of events in terms of 'rise and fall' and rejects any notion of transformation. He states that the settlement of the Germanic people in the 5th century was the result of a violent and barbaric invasion that viewed ...

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