Wadsworth, WI – It was the city of seven hills. Its architecture was known then for beauty, and is still remembered and recognized today. With an emperor and a senate, it was the seat of authority and power to all the world around it. It was also the site of one of the world’s largest churches. It housed a massive welfare state. It was the home of a proud people who felt complacently the most powerful people on the planet. Armies paid homage to them, but at the outskirts of their nation barbarian invaders lurked. But this mighty city was not Rome; this city of seven hills was Constantinople.
What is often forgotten about the fall of Rome is that when it fell it was not truly a world rocking event. It was a fizzle, a gasp, a last dying breath. When the city of Rome fell, the empire did not. The capitol of Rome had been moved in 330 by Constantine the great to “New Rome;” but the name put on the plaque erected by the city fathers was soon forgotten, and the first emperor to hold court there was the one after whom it was called.
Rome was now a social and political back water. What had once been considered an opulent province was now considered mediocre or worse compared to the Eastern provinces, rich with wealth. The history of this Eastern Roman empire, complete with its legions and purple clad emperors, began it history of over 1,000 years. The Western empire lasted, at the most, 500.
The eastern empire must not be forgotten when studying the fall of the Roman empire. Its history stretches through the crusades. It was not until 1453, when a massive army of Muslims besieged and, after a long and desperate fight which nearly turned them back, took the city. A little boy named Columbus had already been born two years earlier.
The empire of Rome eventually fell because of worldview. The war between East and West was brought the finale gasp, but that war also weakened the nation for many years before the finale battle. Dissentions and fighting also weakened it from within.
In the end, Rome fell because nothing lasts forever. The greatest pieces of architecture will collapse and someday be forgotten. Empires have come and empires have gone throughout the history of the world, from Babylon to the “eternal British empire” upon which the sun never set.
Now, Europe looks peaceful, and America secure in its greatness. But this is only a moment in time. The history of the world has had many peaceful moments, many treaties, but nothing will stand forever, not even Everest, it too will one day be washed into the sea. They cannot last because man always makes mistakes in all his kingdoms, his works, his ways. So in a way the one reason why empires fall is because they are made by men. The only thing that will last forever is the church of God, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail.
Andrew C. Abbott