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Old 07-04-2008, 02:16 AM
 
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One area that seems to be little discussed on why Rome stagnated and eventually fell is that there seemed to be little advancement in weapons technology and industrialization. Rome never seem to make that next leap. Maybe there are historians who have gone into depth on this but my admittedly superficial reading hasn't run across this much.
It seems like much focus is given to the internal political deterioration that took place, plus the ill effects of immigration from outside the empire as well as pressure from the Visigoths and others.
Romans were great civil engineers, close to rivaling what we have today, but mechanically and in weaponry they didn't seem to advance much.

Take 2 years at random: 200 BC and 200 AD. Even though that is a 400 year difference a Roman soldier didn't have much more in weaponry in 200 AD than he did in 200 BC. A spear, a shield, a sword. While those weapons may have been of superior quality compared to the enemy they were still the same types of weapons. Look at where western civilization is compared to 400 years ago. The advance is amazing. But not in Rome. Their legions seem to basically survive on great tactics, not ever improving weaponry.
They also never developed factories to start a true manufacturing base. These factors seem to me have a greater impact on why Rome fell than so much of the political discussion that historians seem to focus on.

Has anyone run across historians discussing these things as a major factor in why Rome fell?
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Old 07-04-2008, 03:19 AM
 
Location: The Netherlands
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Originally Posted by kanhawk
Quote:
Their legions seem to basically survive on great tactics, not ever improving weaponry.
Would you prefer war over peace, even when war often brings technological advancements?
I mean both Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan had made great leaps in technology and weapons advancements, but only because they were preparing themselves to go to war with the rest of the world.

Quote:
They also never developed factories to start a true manufacturing base. These factors seem to me have a greater impact on why Rome fell than so much of the political discussion that historians seem to focus on.
Well, peace time became disastrous for the medieval Japanese samurai. Many samurai became merchants because the Shoguns did not need that many samurai anymore.
Another thing that killed the samurai class was the arrival of the gun, which essentially changed the Japanese military and the 'the Art of War'.
But I have no idea if it was peace which caused the fall of the Roman Empire.
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Old 07-04-2008, 08:33 AM
 
Location: St. Augustine
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And just how were the Romans to improve their weapons? There were no improvements in weapons until the gun came along in the late Middle Ages, should the Romans have decided to invent it? And how would they do that?

The Romans did have small factories but large scale industry awaited cheap and plentiful power to drive machines and provide transport. STEAM. Note that the Industrial Revolution came hard on the heels of the improved steam engine. Should the Romans have "decided" to invent the steam engine as well as the gun?
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Old 07-04-2008, 09:10 AM
 
Location: Tropical Florida
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Well all the great empires of time have fallen and not just the Roman.

There's just too many different reasons with the Roman Empire as it was a combination of many things from the Barbarian military invasions over the centuries and language and culture changes with these invasions to the Empire to seeing Christianity becoming the main religion to droughts in North Africa where 90% of it's grain came in it's waining years to the Empire itself splitting up into East and West with separate Capitals, Emperors and Domains to the jealeous Emperors killing outstanding battlefield Generals like General Aetius who was the Western Empires last great General killed by Emperor Valentinian III who would have protected the Empire at the end as he wanted to become Military Dictator (Not Emperor) as he knew that was the only way to stave off the soon to be end of the Empire from it's downfall as some examples.

Last edited by Six Foot Three; 07-04-2008 at 09:49 AM..
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Old 07-04-2008, 09:54 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
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Originally Posted by Irishtom29 View Post
And just how were the Romans to improve their weapons? There were no improvements in weapons until the gun came along in the late Middle Ages, should the Romans have decided to invent it? And how would they do that?

The Romans did have small factories but large scale industry awaited cheap and plentiful power to drive machines and provide transport. STEAM. Note that the Industrial Revolution came hard on the heels of the improved steam engine. Should the Romans have "decided" to invent the steam engine as well as the gun?
Actually, they had waterpower, which was far more powerful than early steam engines. I don't think that was a major factor.

The industrial revolution went hand in hand with a change of attitude by the ruling class. Previously, societies were primarily agrarian, with a small group of guilds that controlled such specialized tasks as shipbuilding, structural design, etc.. When the printing press started to allow information to reach the masses, and learning to read became like learning how to access the internet, some people learned enough to start production, and they didn't care if their workers knew a little bit about the process, as long as they could be paid cheaply. The tight control of the masses via keeping them illiterate and bound to the state sponsored church(es) was lost to the ruling class, and the royals tended to lose power in the ensuing chaos.

I subscribe to the general theory that businesses and civilizations have finite lifespans, and that increasing introversion in the face of new challenges naturally kill them off or change them so radically that they are unrecognizable. The isolationism of Japan is one example, the demise of carriage makers and change to automobile production is another.
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Old 07-04-2008, 10:41 AM
 
Location: DC Area, for now
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The internal combustion engine was also invented during the Roman Empire. I read that it was quashed because of a fear of upsetting the slave-labor economy at that time. That is a political decision, not a technology one.

The Roman's military dominance was not due to superior weapons. It was due to superior logistics and discipline in keeping the warriors working as a cohesive unit. Even so, they never were successful against the Teutonic tribes who could work together much more effectively than the Celtic tribes. The Celts were a fractious bunch who couldn't manage to keep a united front and fought among themselves so much the Romans could easily divide and conquer.
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Old 07-04-2008, 12:17 PM
 
Location: Tropical Florida
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Originally Posted by Tesaje View Post
The Celts were a fractious bunch who couldn't manage to keep a united front and fought among themselves so much the Romans could easily divide and conquer.
I wouldn't say that applied to the Iceni Celts as their leader Boudicca was an awesome warrior leader as she amassed over 80,000 Celts of an disciplined force to try to drive the Romans out of Britain and destroyed all Roman forces before her until she finally met Govenor General Suetonius and was finally outfoxed in military tactics by Gen Seutonius and his outmanned Roman legions in 61 A.D.

Last edited by Six Foot Three; 07-04-2008 at 12:28 PM..
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Old 07-04-2008, 02:34 PM
 
Location: DC Area, for now
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Originally Posted by 6/3 View Post
I wouldn't say that applied to the Iceni Celts as their leader Boudicca was an awesome warrior leader as she amassed over 80,000 Celts of an disciplined force to try to drive the Romans out of Britain and destroyed all Roman forces before her until she finally met Govenor General Suetonius and was finally outfoxed in military tactics by Gen Seutonius and his outmanned Roman legions in 61 A.D.
There were a few rebellions like that and when they actually fought together instead of against each other, the Celts were fearsome foes. But it was rare that they banded together for very long. That was just one rebellion. Victorinox was another who was successful for awhile. But in the end, they were more interested in fighting each other than their main foe. The Celts could win battles but not the war. And they really fell apart when a leader like Boudicca was captured and killed.

Not so with the Teutons - they managed to stay united against the Romans and successfully fought them off over many centuries - eventually overrunning Rome several times. By the time the Roman Empire was defeated, it was the Teutons (i.e., Goths) who were successful and ruled over the thouroughly defeated Celts who were the main populations in western Europe of that time.
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Old 07-04-2008, 03:41 PM
 
Location: Tropical Florida
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Originally Posted by Tesaje View Post
By the time the Roman Empire was defeated, it was the Teutons (i.e., Goths) who were successful and ruled over the thouroughly defeated Celts who were the main populations in western Europe of that time.
I'm a tad confused here Tasaje?? as i'm wondering as to where the main populations of Celts were in western europe by 476 as you stated ??

As by 476 the Franks (Germanic) controlled France and the Visogoths (Germanic) a split with the Ostrogoths controlled Spain and the Vandals (Germanic) controlled North Africa and the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians (Germanic) controlled Belgium and Netherlands. Maybe i'm missing them somewhere but i can't find many Celtic populations by then with the exception of Ireland and Britain.
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Old 07-04-2008, 04:33 PM
 
Location: DC Area, for now
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Originally Posted by 6/3 View Post
I'm a tad confused here Tasaje?? as i'm wondering as to where the main populations of Celts were in western europe by 476 as you stated ??

As by 476 the Franks (Germanic) controlled France and the Visogoths (Germanic) a split with the Ostrogoths controlled Spain and the Vandals (Germanic) controlled North Africa and the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians (Germanic) controlled Belgium and Netherlands. Maybe i'm missing them somewhere but i can't find many Celtic populations by then with the exception of Ireland and Britain.
Yes, by that time, the Teutonic tribes had overrun Western Europe. When they did the overrunning, the main populations in France, Spain, & Britain were Celts. Romans were never the majority there - they just ruled those provinces and Celts had lost the ability to fight effectively. Most likely, they were still there after the Franks and Goths conquered, but were made into the peons of society as usually happens to the conquered. Most of their traditions got obliterated until you couldn't identify them as Celts.

The progression: The Celts conquered the neolithic peoples of Europe in BC something apparently coming from western Asia. The Teutons pushed the Celts west (to France/Spain/Britain). The Romans conquered the Celts and protected them (and themselves) from the Teutons for several centuries. Rome weakened. The Teutons (Franks, -Goths, Saxons, Jutes, Frisians, Angles, Vandals, etc) pushed and ended up conquering all of Europe including most of Britain if you take it to 600-700 AD. Then the Vikings (Norse invasions) swept down.

In all of these cases, the conquerors became the ruling class but the original people were still there. They became the poor and/or slaves in turn.
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