Western Civilization

Fall of Rome Debate


By the year 476 CE, the Roman Empire that had ruled the known world breathed its final breath.  Historian Edward Gibbon claimed that the “decline and fall of the Roman Empire” began with the introduction of Christianity, and died with the barbarian invasions.  However, no political structure as large as the Roman Empire really falls like a tree in a forrest without further influence or legacy.  In your study groups, you will argue why the Roman Empire declined and fell, and what its greatest impact on history has been.


Your study groups will be assigned a role and develop arguments based on the following documents and questions:

You will prepare a detailed argument that argues ONE theory of the fall of Rome and present a case to the class based on your assigned perspective (listed by study group below).  Your arguments should answer the following question:

Which historical theory best accounts for the Fall of the Roman Empire by the 5th Century CE?

Your study groups will be assigned the following perspectives, and you will prepare a written argument (this must be typed, 1-2 paragraphs in length, or 10-15 bullet points, and it MUST INCLUDE SOURCE MATERIAL CITATIONS) to present to the assembly, and you will debate which theory about the fall of Rome has the greatest value:

      •Machiavellians - Crisis of manpower (workers and military) and over-reliance upon slaves

      •Jacobins - Barbarian Invasions

      • Praetorians - Christianity and the loss of traditional values

      • Stosstruppen - Costs of Empire and Inflation

      • Cavaliers - Political Corruption and Crisis of Leadership

      • Conquistadors - The Rise of the Eastern Empire

We will conclude our argument with a discussion of the following questions:

     • What was Rome’s greatest historical legacy?  Or what was the most important thing Rome did for Western Civilization?

     • What modern parallels or lessons should we take from the Romans and the fall of the Roman Empire?

After you have prepared your arguments, email a typed list of the main arguments that you prepared for your group debate to bcchseurosquad@gmail.com


Along with the use of your textbook, the following links may be helpful in preparing your arguments:

    • Watch Crash Course World History

    • History Channel - 8 Reasons for the Fall of Rome

    • Ten Theories on the Fall of Rome Reading.pdf

    • Must All Good Things Come to an End?

    • What Led to the Fall?

    • The Fall of Rome

    • Fall of the Roman Empire

    • Division and Fall of the Roman Empire

Fall of Rome

Panel Debate