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Re: Plague and the Migration Age

Poster: EoganOg@aol.com

In a message dated 12/10/98 4:27:13 AM Eastern Standard Time,
t_neill@hotmail.com writes:

> Isn't that the time of the fall of the Roman Empire and the Migration 
>  Age in Europe?  Someone was asking me about what caused the fall of the 
>  Roman Empire and I thought it was a combination of internal corruption, 
>  wasted spending and pressure from the Vandals, Visigoths, etc.  The fact 
>  of widespread disease did not occur to me.
>  WAS this one of the causes of the fall of the Roman Empire?  And did the 
>  decimation (no, that's too mild a word) the ... quadmation ?? of the 
>  population leave a large population vaccume for the Migrators of the 
>  Migration Age to Migrate into?

You are correct that there were many factors leading to the Fall of the Roman
Empire, and yes, the plague was one of those factors.  Different people will
tell you different times for the Fall of the Roman Empire, which is silly,
because it took place very gradually.  Most history courses on the Romans end
when the Empire became officiallt Xian.  But here is a time line:
160s AD -- the plague hit Rome.  A legion had gone out to reconquer
Mesopotamia (they did this every now and then for fun), and happened to pick
up an unexpected plauge, which they brought back to Rome with them. It spread
like wildfire thoughout the legions.  No one can truly estimate the total
figured that died, but we know for sure that the legions were almost
decimated.  This greatly weakened the army and for the first time in its
history, Rome began to have border conflicts that it just wasn't prepared for
(i.e Germans).
235-285 AD-- this is the period called the Anarchy.  Basically it is 50 years
when you have a bunch of folks trying to be Emporer, none of them succeeding
too well, etc.  Too much politics to get into here, and besides, my cereal is
getting soggy ;-)
280AD--this is when Diocletian took control and "restored the world" as he so
humbly described it.  Constantine was his successor.  These two are considered
the last two great emperors.  Constantine was the one who made the empire
officially Xian, which is unusual because atthat time Xianity was simply one
of 4 prominant mystery religions, and he one with the least followers, for
that matter.  He moved the capital from Rome (which he viewed as a pagan city)
to Constantinople, a new Xian city.  Many people veiw this as the beginnings
of the Middle Ages.  These two emperors did a lot to restore the government,
but not the economy.  They put in place a "status freeze" which meant everyone
was to remain in their own status as they were.  This was the beginnings of
serfdom, for it tied farmers to their land.
400-500AD  Rome lost the entire western half of the Empire.  We call what is
remaining the Byzantine Empire to distinguish it from the Roman Empire,
however at the time, they still called it the Roman Empire, even though it no
longer contained the city of Rome.
600s AD-- the Arabs came and took half of that, including Egypt and the Middle
East.  By 650 all the Roman Emprie consisted of was the Balkans, Greece, and
700s AD-- the Slavs migrated down from the north and took another half of what
was left.  The Roman Empire was now Turkey.

Now, later on the Turks would migrate in and take about 90% of that, making
the Roman empire essentially the City of Constantinople.  Note that they still
called this city "The Roman Empire."  Technichally this continued to exist
until 1485?  I'm not sure on this date.  Someone mor up on Byzantine History
please correct me.  We are getting out of my familiar realm here.  

But the big point was, yes disease was a big part of the process, wiping out
the majority of the legions, enabling the tribes along the borders to break in
and cause havok.  See what a little plague can do?

Eogan Og
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