Barbarian Invasions and the Fall of the Western Roman Empire

Why did the Roman Empire end in the West during the Fifth Century? Let’s assume it did (in truth, it didn’t: zombies don’t die easily). According to The Eighteenth Century historian, Gibbon, “instead of inquiring why the Roman empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long.”

A simple, directly observable reason for the fall was a domino effect causing a military-economic avalanche propelled by Germanic invasions.

The domino effect occurs when dominoes on their sides, one next to another, knock one after the other, starting with the first one in the line over into its neighboring domino. This creates a chain reaction and all of the dominoes fall down, one after another. For the fall of Rome, it was the Huns invading from the east who launched the domino effect; they invaded (pushed into) the Goths, who then invaded (pushed into) the Roman Empire. The Huns had composite bows with tiny supplements added at the extremities which augmented their power. The Huns learned to transform this apparently small advantage of weaponry into an entire industry of invasion of western central Asia. 

If one looks in more detail, as the professional Roman army had to be paid, and its equipment was expensive, the army depended heavily upon tax receipts. As those diminished, because territories were lost, domino style, the army was less paid and less equipped, had to be withdrawn, and became weaker. All the north-west (Britannia, the two Germania and Gallia) were evacuated by the legions, to save money.

Notice that the money problem occurs more in  a fascist empire organized around and from greed, which, in its most developed form, is called corruption. In a Republic, the problem would not have arisen: no corruption because of the law, and soldiers could volunteer, because they were patriots, and making money was secondary. Roman republican soldiers were paid, since 405 BCE, but, as the republic became a fascist empire, and military dictatorship, the pay became much more important was tripled by Augustus. Actually, the perverse revolution headed by Octavian/Augustus was mostly motivated by pay.

Vast Was The Empire. Actually, at full extent, the empire was even larger, as it owned or controlled the Black Sea shore, including Crimea. the Franks would reconquer the entire north west corner, plus Germany and Eastern Europe, creating a more defensible ensemble, which was indeed never invaded again in the following 16 centuries…

The fall of the Western Roman Empire is a great lesson of an exponentiating cause and effect chain. A cause leads to an effect, but the cause-effect relation can EXPONENTIATE, when the effect creates more of the same cause.

The Romans hired barbarian mercenaries to guard the borders… Not just this, but the Germans were motivated to serve in the Roman military than the Native Romans were. Just below the emperor Gratian, the main commanders in Occident were all Franks: Richomeres (who became Consul), and then Flavius Arbogast and the king of the Franks Mellobaudes (comes domesticorum).

Because, to save money, the Franks were put in charge of defending the Germano-Gallic frontiers (the local legions having been sent to Italy to defend against invasions there), and there were not enough Franks, or they were surprised by the weather, the German nations galloped across the frozen Rhine on December 31, in 406 CE. Because Roman legions evacuated Britannia in AD 410, the Anglo-Saxons moved into Britannia. You could also say the word “so” in between the cause and effect, like this: The Huns pushed other groups westward, so the Vandals invaded Spain, north Africa, set-up a maritime empire, cut off the grain supply to Rome, and sacked Rome in 455 CE.

Here is a brief (criticized) list of the generally admitted internal causes for the Fall of Rome:

Christianism was less tolerant of other cultures and religions, than had been the norm with religions under Republican and Principate Rome. Constantine imposed it, of course, precisely because it was less tolerant. Somebody who had his wife steamed and his son and nephew executed, for obscure reasons he was unwilling to describe, didn’t view tolerance has an asset. 

Starting with Gratian and Theodosius, state imposed Christianism made everybody stupid, under the penalty of death, if one didn’t join the exponentiating stupidity by “exerting choice” (heresy, Greek hairesis “a choosing for oneself).

This fanatical cult conducive to tyranny didn’t hesitate to cut into the muscle. Example: Emperor Theodosius ended the Olympic Games, a purely sportive event, 12 centuries old… officially because the olympiades honored Zeus. A petty reason hiding a much sinister truth: the Christian theoreticians hated the body… as the body is the source of common sense… and the essence of Christianism was to refute reason, thus, common sense! Thus, Christianism cut into not just the bone, but the brain. It was like a praying mantis eating the brain of a hummingbird: pretty clever at feeding itself.

As Gibbon put it:

“The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world [before Christianism] were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosophers as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful.”

(Hearing of such accusations about the fanaticism of their sect, the Christians generally whine disingenuously that they were persecuted by Pagans, and died in great numbers. Well, not really. There was deliberately no prosecution under Trajan whatsoever. Six (6) Christians died under Marcus Aurelius, in twenty years… And under the most terrible persecution organized (and then lifted) by Galerius in the early Fourth Century, maybe a grand total of 3,000 (and this only for those who refused to take an oath to the State).

Whereas, soon enough the Christians, directly or indirectly, would kill millions. They warmed up by hunting and killing intellectuals (something they would do again in the late middle ages and renaissance).  

The split of the empire into two parts and many emperors and an unelected miasma of powerful officials weakened the empire: it was all too often not clear who was in charge. Successful generals were often executed, lest they become a threat to those in power above them. The more honest, the greater the threat, the more executed valuable generals were.

Roman soldiers were loyal to their military leaders, who often paid them, or decided if they could sack a city, not necessarily the emperor, or whoever, or whatever was supposedly in command. This problem of dependency upon the local commander started with Marius, seven times Consul, under the Republic, and was itself a reaction to the fact that Roman farmer-soldiers were treated very poorly… Something Tiberius Gracchus condemned as early as 150 BCE.

From 211 CE through 284 CE, there were at least twenty-seven emperors (and even more “usurpers”). Only four of these emperors died of natural causes. One cause for his turnover being that drastic problems, such as pandemics, inflation shrinking the real economy, and invasions could not be solved, so there was great dissatisfaction. There was no calm way to remove an emperor, so most were murdered. Loyal soldiers picked emperors by murdering them and placing their prefered general on the throne. This weakened Rome, and signaled the decline of its Empire. Diocletian re-established the aura of the emperor by closing the gap between God (Sol Invictus) and monarch. Constantine went further, inventing Christianism as we know it (“Nicene Creed”), full of unreason, and reverence for “The Lord” (implicitly, the emperor himself).

Legend has it that Romans had become lazy and all too comfortable. There is some elements of truth in this, but this despondency was engineered by the Roman plutocracy, which wanted to achieve such a despondency. Actually, the failing economy of the middle class in Italy was greatly due to a Machiavellian maneuver, one which can be observed today: jobs were sent overseas, Italians were paid to do nothing.

The idea was that, this way, the 99% would not rebel against the 1%, at least where it mattered, in the richest part, Italy. It worked. After a few centuries of this feeding for nothing, to make sure that they really would never rebel, the Roman plutocracy, that is, the Senate, decided that Italians couldn’t serve in the army. So italians couldn’t even defend themselves. Once the richest part, Italy became poorer.

Peripheral zones of the empire, archeology has shown, stayed wealthy… as long as they were not invaded.

The Roman army in the Late Empire was paid from high taxes. There was little respect for the state, and there was little sense of patriotism (differently to what happened under the Roman Republic). All the more as local democratic councils were dependent upon local wealthy elected officials, the Curiae. As the hyper rich became wealthier, complete with a bishop in the family, the lower upper class disappeared, and nobody could, or was willing to serve in the Curiae.

Nowadays, everybody admits that the fall(s) of the city of Rome and the Western Empire did not put an end to the entire Roman Empire. The Eastern Empire survived for another thousand years. The Eastern Empire is sometimes called the Byzantine Empire, after the ancient capital city of Byzantium, a city-state crucial ally of Athens, guarding the entry to the Black Sea, where Athens got grain.

Greek was the main language in the Byzantine Empire, not Latin. Yet, those Greeks called themselves “Romans”. And they were. So were the Franks in the West, busy rebuilding, “renovating” the empire, just better. The Franks in the West were all speaking latin by 600 CE, and every citizen was a Frank. A generation later, slavery was outlawed. Slavery had caused enormous problems to the middle class in Republican Rome, as the usage of slaves had made the hyper wealthy even wealthier, thus ever more powerful and perverse. 

Right, the violent Muslim invasion of the Seventh Century nearly put an end to this beautiful adventure. Yet, the city of Constantinople on one side, and the empire of the Franks on the other, were able to resist the onslaught. Frankish armies and their proxies or allies were able to reconquer much of the West (but not North Africa), and domesticate Eastern and Northern Europe. In the Tenth Century the Saxons conquered by Charlemagne would become lead two-third of the empire, defending Europe against the Avars. Meanwhile, the Greco-Romans expanded their Christian Cesaro-Patriarchism into Russia.

One of the reasons suggested for the Fall of the West has been that it was impoverished relative to the Orient. This is false (in spite of vast transfer of art east by Constantine). Quite the opposite. Indeed, recent genetic studies have hinted the opposite: there was little immigration of Western Europe into Italy during fascist imperial Rome. But there was an ultra massive Oriental immigration, to the point that Rome became full of Orientals. Generally people migrate towards richer areas.

In truth, as we will see, the reasons for the Fall of the West are purely military: it was easier to invade, geographically… and, curiously scrupulously ignored by traditional historians, Occidental Rome had no more army. Why was that not noted? Because Christian fanaticism has everything to do with the disappearance of the Occidental army.  

Amazingly, and very tellingly, many comprehensive treatises on the history of Rome, or even the fall of Rome fail, to mention the battle of Frigidus, where the Occidental Roman army was annihilated. Although, the following campaign season, in 395 CE, the Barbarians  attacked the core of the empire massively and Stilicho, the half-Vandal, by then Regent of the entire Roman empire had to scramble against them with whatever (victorious) forces  were left after Frigidus (a battle Theodosius should have lost… But there was this Bora wind, Arbogast made several mistakes in commandment… and Theodosius had offered the empire to the Goths, so they were motivated…)

Christianism and Oligarchism are biases against reason profitable to the worst, which keep on going, once well launched… And this is why books, for millennia, keep on representing them to their best advantage: powers that be prefer books which make them look good. Dissecting the ideologies which support them do not please the powers. Hence the superficial explanations for the fall of Rome, when the simplest and the earliest is for all to see: a takeover by the wealthiest, those “Optimates”… Just like Tiberius Gracchus said.

Patrice Ayme

Tags: , ,

9 Responses to “Barbarian Invasions and the Fall of the Western Roman Empire”

  1. Gmax Says:

    Part of the book? Frigidus?


  2. pshakkottai Says:

    “God (Sol Invictus) and monarch. Constantine went further, inventing Christianism as we know it (“Nicene Creed”), full of unreason, and reverence for “The Lord” (implicitly, the emperor himself).” Did this get mixed up in Christian religion with Sun being replaced by Son with Jesus being invented as Son of God (most pagans worshipped the Sun directly)?


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hi Partha, nice to have you back! Yes. Christianism was/is a gigantic mixing bowl of everything. If one searches carefully enough, I am sure one will find Indian elements (there are Zoroastrian elements, and Zoro communicated with India) In any case the guiding light was to serve the somewhat demented emperor Constantine… How else to call someone who killed the closest members of his own family at diverse moments, or all the priests in Egypt, etc.?


  3. EugenR Says:

    In a way the barbarian invasion to Rome was clash of civilizations. Civilization of organized, relatively wealthy, Romans, living for generation in the only statehood known to them in their world, while big part of the Romans living in cities, some of them big even in modern srandarts. In Rome lived 1 million people, Alexandria half million, while the barbarians were, half starved, tribal, villagers.
    No roman could imagine, that Rome can be annihilated at all, and definitely not by barbarians.
    This discrepancy between the life of Romans and the Barbarians, gave rather advantage to the weak, as it appeared in the battle of Andrianopol, where the half starved Visigoths had nothing to lose, but their life.
    Today, such a huge cultural gap you can observe on the one hand between the illegal emigrants, trying to reach Europe in shabby boats, risking their lifes, on the other hand the Europeans, who can’t imagine, to risk their own life for any cause.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Eugen:
      I sort of agree, but my own description is more finely tuned, and I distinguish particular events. When Hitler took control of Germany, racist murderous thugs got into command of a super power. Now the Germanic invasions were from tiny tribes… which defeated a HYPER power. How could that be? Well, there was a confluence of factors. All these factors have ONE enabling factor in common: plutocracy. Especially GLOBAl plutocracy.

      This is what my book will strive to prove. The hyper power which defeated the hyper power of the Roman state was a form of global plutocracy and the degenerated mentality it gave rise to (from Christianism to absolute monarchy…)


  4. EugenR Says:

    Agree, still there is US, that is an official plutocracy, viz their political system based on money donated by super rich, and the non official plutocracy, where political system owns all the instruments of economy, like the communist regimes of China, Russia, etc. They pretend to be democratic, but democracy is based on potential change in leadership. Nothing of this kind exists there. These are the worst. By the way, it seems Donald Trump is quite supportive to this kind of regime, viz his apriori disapproval of elections, if they will end with his fiasco.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      dear Eugen:
      Our exchanges got me to clarify my own thoughts.
      What is the DEFINITION of GLOBAL versus LOCAL plutocracy? A (registered Democrat and high level political activist) asked me, baffled, thinking of the Democratic leadership:”Why do they hate Donald Trump so much?”. The answer has to do with the fact it is mostly GLOBAL plutocracy which pay them… Hunter Biden couldn’t have made a 1.5 BILLION dollars transaction within the USA, but as son of the US Vice President, he could… with China. All over the world, there is law. There was law under the Roman empire, all over, but it was not, all over, the same law. Saint Paul violated local Jewish-Roman law, by going into the Jewish temple in Jerusalem with a non-Jewish bodyguard. This violation would have have no meaning in, say, Antioch. But in Jerusalem the violation was great enough to incur the death penalty. So the notion of law is LOCAL.

      One has GLOBAL plutocracy when the plutocrats originating in one local jurisdiction have significant business in another. This enable them to escape local laws, in particular, taxation. For example global Roman plutocrats could escape the Roman ABSOLUTE WEALTH CAP. That, and their global outreach, in turn enabled them to purchase massive quantities of slaves and undermine the profitability of small LOCAL farms. This is how the Roman Gini index ran completely out of control… Under the Republic.


      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        An earlier version of this comment had a typo: I had written “democracy” where I meant to write plutocracy, in the second sentence… Or was it the automatic spell checker????


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      That Trump promotes vicious regimes, in particular Russia and China, is COUNTERFACTUAL. It’s not because vicious liars paid by the world global plutocrats say it, that it is true. Trump bled Russians with Javelin anti-tank weapons, and the fall-out with China’s Xi should be world knowledge.


What do you think? Please join the debate! The simplest questions are often the deepest!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: