Did Roman Subjects Miss The Roman Empire?

The reasons behind the Roman Empire’s fall, in mid-4th century AD, still engages aging and dying white historians. But seldom do they ask the question-

Did a majority of people living in that empire miss its demise?

You might be aware that life for the vast majority of people living in that empire (free or slave) was one unending saga of systematic exploitation, abuse and terror. Very few people, even among the roman aristocracy or other elite groups, truly benefited from the empire.

For everyone else- the empire was one giant parasite that took away the fruits of their labor for enterprises which seldom benefited them. In that respect, the Roman Empire was like every other empire in human history.

In the end, nobody cares about something that does not benefit them or treat them fairly.


  1. March 29, 2011 at 10:02 am

    In the 5th century, all the inhabitants of the Empire were Romans not Roman subjects. During this century, there was a low class of Romans mostly peasents who have become very poor due to the rich extracting more and more money. Those poors used to rebel very often; they were called the Bacaudae. Besides the poor Romans, there were many slaves who were used in the land. These also used to join the revolts of the peasents. Synchronically, the Barbarians entered the Empire. Many of the rebellious Romans themselves joined those Barbarians in the plundering.
    At the end, all the rebellious or non-rebellious Romans became subject to the Barbarians and stayed as such for centuries. So even the poor people did not profit except for few persons who made the plundering.

    What happened in the 5th century was that a people lost its freedom and passed under the dominion of other peoples, all because of the greed of the rich.

  2. PT Barnum
    March 29, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Nestorius, you view of “the Barbarians” is fascinating. You imagine them to be one unified group. They weren’t. As such, they always had a hard limit on the about of abuse they could get away with before a rebellion would weaken them enough that “the Barbarians” could finish them off.

    • March 29, 2011 at 12:48 pm

      Be they the Sueves, the Goths, the Saxons, the Angles, the Vandals, tha Alans, the Burgunds or the Franks, they were all names Barbarians by the Romans.

  3. Winston Smith
    March 30, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    Living standards fell off a cliff.


    For whom? Most people were already close to subsistence.

    • March 31, 2011 at 1:55 am

      What about the Hunnic invasions?
      Where they lived, the Huns’ living standards were really down to the extent that they had to invade countries situated to the west. It happened that to the west, the Goths, Sueves, Vandals and others were living. The Hunnic invasions lead to the invasion of these tribes of Roman land. Surely, defection from suffering low-status Romans did not help internal solidarity among Romans and the Barbarians were free to roam the land as they wished.
      Simple matter of physics.

  4. ElectricAngel
    April 3, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Please read the book Barbarians by Terry Jones. You’ll soon disabuse yourself that the Romans were civilized in the least; they set back Western Civilization 2000 years (the time between Archimedes and Newton; Archimedes had basically come very close to the Calculus). Tainter argues that the standard of living ROSE after the collapse of the empire in the West; the local kings provided protection, a fundamental role of government, at a lower cost than the imperial bureaucracy in Rome. It was only Justinian’s re-conquest of Italy (and then the Arab cutoff of trade from the east after the 7th-century conquests) that lowered living standards enough, and brought on a dark age.

    • April 4, 2011 at 1:26 am

      Barbarians (Barbari in Latin, Barbaroi in Greek) in the 4-6th centuries meant ‘non-Romans’. It did not mean ‘non-civilized’ back then.
      ‘Barbarian’ as ‘non-civilized’ is a new meaning invented by Europeans in the 18-19th centuries.

      “the local kings provided protection”
      Against whom? In the 5th century, it’s those Barbarians who were threatening the Romans not anyone else.

      “Tainter argues that the standard of living ROSE after the collapse of the empire in the West”
      Yeah, especially when the majority of the inhabitants of the West became the serfs of the Barbarians.

      Who cares about two Barbarians (Tainter or Terry Jones) trying to whitewash their Barbarian ancestors?

  1. April 3, 2011 at 1:29 am

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