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Answered 2008-02-24 17:37:11

There are varying reasons for the transition of the Roman Empire into feudalistic states; most notable is the differences in population and culture among the Western and Eastern Empire. The Western Empire's population had been decimated by various plagues; the depopulation of Italy meant that fewer Romans and Italians were in military and political posts. This caused an overdependance on 'barbarians' to fill these positions---people who did not have an vested interest in Roman history or traditions, who governed from their own culture's principles. The trend towards Imperialism and conquering itself varied from the early Roman Republic; materials and people were taken from conquered territories, as the territorial conquests diminished, so did the supplies.

Not so much in regards to a culture's morals, but a decline in general allegiance and morale did influence civil apathy. The increased use of non Roman and Italian mercenaries during the latter Empire is often cited as the reason for a decline in patriotism towards Rome. Gallic, Germanic, and Briton soldiers in the territories were loyal to their own military leaders and their own people; not the city of Rome itself. Roman men were no longer required to serve in the legions; this also caused a social and political lethargy and complacency in Rome itself.

Economic decline and inflation (Rome imported heavily, but exported very few things) plagues, food shortages and invasions, both militarily and immigration, contributed to the overall feeling of looking out for one's self and being indifferent to the plight of the state. Reduced tax revenue, due to military expenditure to protect the eastern borders and to conquer new provinces to acquire foodstuffs and materials, caused overinflated local bureaucracies while lessening the public services provided to Roman citizens---housing, roads. Fear of plagues and food shortages caused urban areas become depopulated and people either operated farms on their estates or were obliged to work on farms themselves. The Western empire didn't 'fall' more than it fragmented into smaller, more successfully governed regions.

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