Homework: The Decline and Fall of Empires

Tonight for your homework, you need to carefully read and annotate the article “The Decline and Fall of Empires.”  Once you’ve finished reading the article, please respond to the following discussion points:

  • Of the nine suggested causes of imperial decline, which do you think would have the most immediate consequences?  Which of the nine causes would have more gradual consequences?  Can you provide any historical examples– different from those already included in the article– which illustrate these points?  
  • What do you think of the author’s suggestion that “otherworldly or escapist religions” can be a cause of imperial collapse?  Why might this be?  Do you agree with this assessment?

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92 thoughts on “Homework: The Decline and Fall of Empires

  1. 1. Of all nine causes, I find that external enemies provide the most immediate effect. While the other causes contribute to the general decline, the real damage isn’t done until invaders set upon the empire, breaking its defenses and taking large sums of territory. Many of the causes take time and often several generations but external enemies can suddenly decide to declare war and it would only be a matter of a few years. For example; Alexander conquered and converted all of Persia and Egypt within a matter of 13 years only to have it be culturally and dynastically split shortly thereafter.

    Perhaps the most gradual cause of the nine is moral decline which could only present itself after the empire had reached its climax. Otherwise the empire wouldn’t have been able to achieve greatness because all success relies on at least a shred of perseverance. Although in some instances it may happen faster as with the Roman Empire with the threat and news of the Huns. Tales of Hunnic savagery would certainly speed up moral decline but it still takes time to develop en masse.

    2. I can see “otherworldly or escapist religions” being a valid cause as it contributes to the already falling morale of an empire. People seem to have resorted to this as empires were collapsing and their lives turned for the worst due to economy or new occupation. This would link to “Inequitable economic burdens” and “Moral decline”.

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    • Davis, I agree with what you say about moral decline with the Roman Empire and such, but The invasion of the Germanic tribes such as the Ostrogoths and the others led to Rome’s downfall. Not saying that you were wrong, because I am sure that tales of the “bloodthirsty” Huns might have made the Romans quake in their plated greaves but…

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    • I did not think of external enemies causing a quick downfall, but I actually agree that this could have caused quick consequences. However, the invaders and enemies of the empire are not always going to be successful in collapsing the empire immediately. It makes sense that it would have caused issues such as destruction to cities and economic problems because of prolonged war, but it might not make the empire fall immediately especially if it the empire was wealthy and had good defenses.

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  2. 1. I believe bureaucratic corruption is the most immediate consequence of imperial decline because if the empire becomes corrupt the people will no longer look to the emperor for governance. This will cause the empire to go into chaos in all aspects. This also gives the enemies a chance to take over the old empire and create a new empire. I think moral decline has more gradual consequences because if only a few people are unhappy with the empire, those people are less likely to revolt against the emperor. But over time as more people start to become unhappy, they can join together and try to conquer the empire. I could not find additional historical examples, other than the ones already provided in the text.

    2. I do agree with the author when he talks about how “otherworldly or escapist religions” can be a cause of imperial collapse. Say you believe that nature is the key to a happy and successful life, then you don’t necessarily listen or abide to what the emperor is saying because it don’t have anything to do with your religion.

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    • I hadn’t though of the bureaucratic corruption being the most immediate consequence, it had mentioned in the reading that their were usually measures in place at first to attempt to keep corruption out but corruption would seep in over time, leading to it becoming harder and harder to live until the rebellions happened. I would think that this would happen along side another cause and deficiently wouldn’t be the first to take place.

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    • I agree on your perspective in bureaucratic corruption. Not only does Bureaucratic corruption lead to havoc, but without a bureaucracy, there will be no meaning to a centralized government. Then, without a centralized government, this “empire” will not be an “empire” as an “empire” is a centralized government that controls the society (bureaucracy).

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  3. 1. I think that the most immediate consequence causing one is external enemies, if a neighboring state is coming into your territory, looting your land and killing your food-producing peasants your gonna have a problem. An example would be the fall of the Roman Empire, it was caused by neighboring groups taking back land. I think the cause with the most gradual effects would be the inequitable economic burdens. The process of this happening would take a long time because it takes several actions in order to happen which are influenced by other causes such as bureaucratic corruption and decline of martial spirit. An example would the fall of Rome again, because Rome had to higher mercenaries to support the army (had a moral loss) the romans had to pay the mercenaries which helped drain the empire’s money even faster.

    2. I don’t think that the author is right , yes Christianity might have helped lead to Rome’s downfall just as Taoism and Buddhism might have helped the fall of the Han Dynasty, but Hinduism helps reinforce the strength of the Maurya Empire by providing a society with pre-set social classes and jobs that people had to do. I consider Hinduism as an ‘otherworldly’ religion because it focuses on reincarnation and an individual journey instead of earthly rewards.

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    • I agree with your counterargument to the authors attempt to blame the collapse of empires on religion. It did create a combination of both earthly and heavenly rewards. Hinduism is by far one of the best examples that illustrates this viewpoint.

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  4. I think that Dynastic Succession was the most immediate cause for the collapse of an empire because without an heir, who will run the empire? I think that the most gradual cause for the collapse of an empire would be moral decline since it takes a lot of something bad to happen to make people all just not care about life or their country. I agree with the author on the “Escapist or otherworldly religions” since there are people in cults and stuff and if that happens on a large scale, there will be no people in your empire and since there are no people to support the empire, it’ll collapse.

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  5. Although, depending on the empire’s success, all theories can all be deciphered as an “immediate” cause or a “gradual” cause, in my opinion, external enemies are usually the most immediate cause in the decline of empires. This can be revealed from the Han Dynasty. Until their collapse, the Han emperors oversaw leaps in technology, philosophy, religion, and trade. Although an evidence of collapse was found in the Han Dynasty’s internal conflicts, the primary immediate cause of the Han’s decline were nomadic tribes (Huns). External enemies’ effect towards an empire were sudden and prompt.

    On the contrary, the most gradual cause in a society is escapist or otherworldly religions. First of all, most empires in the classical age forces religions on the society. This means that most empires will only have one religion. Second, even if there were many religions in an empire, practically all religions share a similarity. For example, In the Han dynasty, there was a push in dao/taoism and legalism. Legalism and taoism contradict each other. However similarities are still present. For example, they both argue how education is not important. Thus, I believe that as long as there are some common interests in a religion, the consequences will not be immediate.

    The theory of escapist or otherworldly religions is credible. Religion plays a big part of a society. It helps humans analyze what we believe and resist. A variety of religions in a society not only brings social hierarchy, but it also brings instability to an empire. The state, or the emperor will have difficulty controlling a society with different religions.

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  6. 1. I believe that the factor which would cause the fastest decline in empirical structure would be dynastic succession. Over the course of one generation, a strong leader can father a weak heir and result in their empire crashing to the ground.
    As for the most gradual cause of decline, the decrease in martial spirit sounds accurate to me. The slow degradation of an army’s will to fight is a factor that can ultimately lead to a halt in expansion of the empire, and subsequently the empire’s shrink and then fall.
    2. The author states that religions which involve a life after death such as Christianity being taken up by the populous of an empire can start it’s decline. He says that these religions can lead to people paying less attention to furthering the empire, and more attention on furthering their own eternity with the religion. As such, the empire will produce less, stop profiting and prospering, and ultimately fall. I agree that in this situation, the adoption of a given religion such as those described by the author have the potential to crash an empire.

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    • (I forgot historical examples for the first question.)
      As for dynastic succession causing failure rapidly, the Zhou empire showed us that weak heirs lead to downfall.
      As for decline in martial will causing failure progressively, Alexander’s empire’s fall could be attributed to a weak will in the army following the adoption of Christianity.

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    • I agree that a decrease in martial spirits would be a gradual cause because everyone in an army would most likely not lose their will to fight all at one time. It would be gradual.

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    • However, a generation is a long time compared to an invasion of enemies. True, dynastic succession could be an immediate cause in some degree, but the invasion of enemies could immediately decline a population, ruin their architecture and could also decline their economic production. In dynastic succession, it takes a while for the leader to show his true colors which could result in uprisings from lower class.

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  7. 1. I think that the most immediate consequence would be external enemies because it doesn’t take too long for other civilizations to notice the wealth and prosperity of a neighboring empire and decide to attack. An example would be the Huns. They saw the wealth of many empires and decided to attack and conquer empires. The most gradual consequence would be dynastic succession because over time dynasty rules started producing weak heirs which lead to the fall of many empires. For example, Ashoka was a great leader but his offspring were incable of ruling which lead to civil wars.

    2. I agree with the author because if people are too focused on heavenly rewards then they are not aware of what is going on around them. This makes it easy for other civilizations to conquer empires. Another reason is that if a religion promotes non violence than the empire will have a weaker army making it easier for other civilizations to conquer them.

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  8. I believe that bureaucratic corruption would be an immediate consequence because someone in high authority can become easily corrupted if not already. Also, if they’re in a position of power, then they have influence and they can alter official government rulings. An example would include the reign of Julius Caesar where he made promises to the citizens that he didn’t live up to once he became corrupt. A gradual consequence would include dynastic succession because it takes generations to occur, therefore it would be a slow process, and not everyone would revolt due to a bad ruler in a family.

    The author claims that otherworldy religions can lead to collapse because they caused religious strife and decline in civil spirit. It caused religious strife because of the differences in religion throughout the empire, and decline in civil spirit because of the emphasis on nonviolence. While the assumptions can lead to the decline in an empire I do not agree with it because religions that emphasize nonviolence and heavenly rewards can be the reason for peace in an empire.

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    • Although nonviolence and heavenly rewards would result in peace, this leaves the empire more susceptible to attack due to the unwillingness of those to fight because it contradicts their religion. The strive for heavenly rewards also leaves the citizens unmotivated to make necessary changes needed for their society to progress with the world. Without its ability to benefit any other empires, others may invade due to gain in power and the inability for the weak empire to defend itself.

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    • I also agree that bureaucratic corruption is an immediate consequence tat can lead to the downfall of an empire. One bureaucracy that is not honesty can lead to imbalances in the government which leads to a corrupt government. I also agree with your point that dynastic succession is a gradual process over time which can take many generations.

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  9. 1. I believe that bureaucratic corruption can quickly result in the downfall of an empire. All it takes is one jealous or angry politician to spread rumors about said person, perhaps the emperor, can topple the entire empire. The politician would need to have supporters and be good at being sneaky for it to work though. An example of this could be the Russian Revolutions could be an example of this because the Bolsheviks signed a treaty and the anti-Bolsheviks did not like that…and so on. I believe that escapist or otherworldly religions would have the longest effect because they change the way officials and/or citizens behave. An example could be Islam in Iraq and other violent states. The Taliban used traditions and the religion itself as excuses to do terrible things. They were not exactly an empire, but it is the same concept.
    2. I think that these religions are a legitimate cause for disintegration. I believe different religions being introduced to an empire might change the emperor’s views, which might cause a rebellion or something else.

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    • How would the rise of a different religion cause rebellion? What would make the people want to revolt? What would something else be?

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    • I agree with what you said regarding bureaucratic corruption but I think escapist religions are more rapid than gradual. Since religions tend to diffuse quickly over an empire, the majority of people can change their belief system practically over night. This could greatly weaken the strength of an empire

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  10. The most immediate causes would result from external enemies as they can physically destroy an empire. All the enemy has to do it wait for a break in weakness and strike causing the empire to Burn to the ground. An example would be the Mongols invasion over the Khwarazmian Dynasty. As the Khwarazmian’s were in a moment of weakness due to absence of trade, the Mongols struck and gained power over this empire’s region. The most gradual cause would result from moral decline, as people do not just completely lose hope in their empire in a day. The process of losing moral takes many, many errors and mistakes. Thus making the results very slow and gradual.
    I think that the author’s suggestion of religions as being a cause of collapse is accurate. He states that the emphasis for heavenly rewards rather than earthly rewards could result in a collapse. I agree because without one striving for a goal or purpose for their empire, nobody would be motivated to protect or make new change to their society. Thus making the overall attitude of the empire very weak and susceptible to attack or collapse.

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  11. I believe the Regional, Racial, and Ethnic Tensions have the most immediate and gradual consequences. An example will be how Africans were treated throughout the world and in Africa. They were used as slaves not only in other countries, but in Africa itself. Despite it may have took a while for consequences to occur, now it is immediate and is looked down upon in every country. Slavery also occurred in Greek, Roman, and the Aztec Empires, and the consequences and the view were the same as the countries back then and now.

    I don’t agree with the authors point of view with otherworldly religion despite the Christian points of view they brought up because he only mentioned one particular Christianity while other Christianity groups around the world do not operate the same way as that one does.

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    • I agree with your point of view on otherworldly religions but i also think that the religions within the empires if there was the allowance for freedom of the religion they believe in would cause a rebellion in dynasties such as the Mauryan.

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  12. Of the nine suggested causes of imperial decline, I think “Regional, racial, and ethnic tensions” would have the most immediate consequences. If an empire attempts to unify numerous ethnic groups over multiple regions, it is already likely to fail due to that differing ethnic groups do not get along when forced or when tension is already present. For example, a more recent occurrence of this situation occurred within the Balkan peninsula when several ethnic groups were confined within one union, eventually falling apart. Of the nine causes, I believe that “Decline of martial spirit” would have more gradual consequences. The keyword in this phrase is “decline” because it suggests that this will to fight was once high. This feel to be a part of the military does not suddenly disappear but among a group it gently fades, creating a gradual result. An example of this was present in the Gupta Empire, when the rajputs (warrior class) weakened, allowing the Huns to eventually invade them.
    I do not think that “otherworldly or escapist religions” could be a cause of imperial collapse. Although people may have distracted themselves with focusing on the afterlife instead of the life they lived, I do not believe this is a reason strong enough to lead to the collapse of an empire. I disagree with this assessment.

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  13. I think that dynastic succession would have the most immediate effects for multiple reasons. First, it is very easy for people competing for the throne to gather followers and go into a civil war. For example, when there was no obvious line of succession after Shi Huangdi, the Chinese empire erupted into war until the Han gained control. Additionally, when there is no apparent leader, the empire might not feel as united and may even break up into more autonomous societies, such as in India after the Maurya empire. External enemies might also have very immediate effects because it could result in the overthrow of a government, such as when the Hyksos invaded Egypt, ending the Middle Kingdom. A cause with more gradual consequences would be moral decline. For example, the Zhou dynasty ended in part because the landlords were getting tired of the immoral doings of the Zhou kings, which caused them to overthrow the King.

    I think that the author’s idea that “otherworldy or escapist religions can be looked at in two ways. First, it can be looked at in that if people believed that there was a heaven or that there was another “otherworldy” reason for doing good, they might be more inclined to work hard and be beneficial to society, rather than be detrimental to society (such as someone fulfilling there dharma). On the other hand, this could be looked at that if people believed in an afterlife, they might not care as much about the detriment to society in this life. In other words, it really depends on the religion.

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    • I disagree Except for the Qin dynasty Many dynasties lasted many generations whereas many of the other reasons such as external enemies or economic burdens could occur in a span of decades not generations.

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  14. I think that External enemies had the most immediate cause on the decline of empires because it states that all successful empires were forged through conquest and maintained through military strength and the conquering of even just a portion of an empire can happen within weeks. I also believe that Inequitable economic burdens would be the most gradual as people that are wealthy and find a way to not pay taxes do not do so and corrupt the entire system overnight, it takes a fair amount of time and a fair amount of people for this to completely wipe out an empire.

    I do not agree with the author’s suggestion that “otherworldly and escapist religions” could cause the downfall of an empire. Especially if empires like the Persian Empire allowed local cultural and religious practices to continue after they conquered the peoples of that area.

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    • I do agree with your disagreement on “otherworldly and escapist religions”. You provided a great example on the Persian Empire. I do believe enemies could pose as a dramatic threat and could lead to the collapse of an empire. A example could be the Gupta Empire. They saw a collapse because of the Huns and succession disputes.

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  15. a) I think that, of all the reasons stated, regional, racial, and ethnic tensions would have more immediate consequences. I think this because if you were to over take a group of people, they would gain a dislike for the empire that took over them, and want to leave their power. They would try to find a way to over throw the empire so they could be free of the empire’s rule. When they were to overthrow the empire, it would leave the empire taken back and unable to move forward. They may have lost me in the fight, causing less people for jobs. They could also cause damage to the places where they live, leaving the empire to clean up the mess. An example of this is the Hyksos invading ancient Egypt. The Egyptians played along like they were okay with being ruled and they took on what the Hkysos knew. Then when the knew enough, they overthrew the Hkysos. External enemies is a cause for more gradual consequences. As empires would be fighting with outside sources, it would be making the empire weaker by losing people ans using resources. An example of this is the Qin Dynasty. They were constantly fighting with outside groups that wanted the riches and things that they had. The Qin Dynasty was later taken down by fighting for control over the area that the Qin were living in.

    b) I think that the authors suggestion of “otherworldly or escapist religions” can be a causd of imperial collapse, is true. I think this because people will be too worried about the afterlife, that they forget that they have to live in this life, before they make it to the afterlife. They become so stressed to be in harmony with nature, that they don’t think that they need to protect themselves from outside forces that want to take down the society that they’ve built up.

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    • I agree with Stephanie in that we both think escapist or otherworldly religions is a cause. However, I have a different reason. I understand what Stephanie is saying, but I looked at it in a different way. If people are practicing different religions, wouldn’t they just rebel against anyone who wasn’t practicing their religion. I mean, if we were all peasants in Ms. Galloway’s class and she was ruling us based on her religion, and we were all a different religion, wouldn’t we want to rebel against her and make it better for all of us? Whatever she was making us do might be bad according to our religion, even if it’s good according to hers. I think that maybe emperors ruling based on their religion rather than the religion of their subjects could have caused rebellions, which in turn cause the empires to fall.

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  16. I think exterior enemies is probably the most immediate cause. My reasoning is that usually an outside force CAN take over a country in a matter of years, ushering in a brand new government, religion, or culture. In terms of an empire that is a relatively short time period. For example, the claiming of Northern China territory by the Huns, or the Romans claiming Gaul. I think the cause that is most gradual is Dynastic Succession because it take generations of breeding to really get to the key breaking point in a empire, leading to the fall of the empire. For example the Hapsburgs of Austria. They literally bred themselves out of existence, leaving the final heir so genetically damaged he could not produce offspring.

    I interpreted the author’s conclusion that otherworldly, mystical religions contribute to an empire’s downfall to mean that when a society begins to focus more on the idea of another world to come being more important than the one they live in, it has less reason to sacrifice body or blood for the Empire over the Afterworld. This could lead to Imperial collapse because if people lose their will to sacrifice the same body, blood or work for the Empire, the entire economy/ social ladder can collapse due to neglect of the center. In addition, if the religion teaches a morality different from that of the government, the passive disintegration can become overt, eroding the power base of the empire more quickly. I think of the Taliban and it’s destruction of the social order and quick replacement of power in the name of a Deity.

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  17. Inequitable economic burdens would be the first to show consequences. If taxes are failed to be payed, the government and military will start to fail because they can not work well and efficiently without some sort of revenue. This may cause the bureaucracy to go corrupt and the military to be unsupported, which makes it easier for citizen revolts to be successful. The issue of costly technology would have a more slow and gradual pathway to actually having consequences because having advanced or helpful technology may aid in economic wealth at first. If the roads are being maintained, it makes trade easier and quicker bringing in more money. Also defensive walls could help prevent warfare, which is very costly for empires. An example of inequitable economic burdens can be seen in modern day Greece, one of the main reasons they have a failing economy is because of corruption and people not paying taxes. I do not agree with the thought that religions could cause an empire to fall. Although, it may make people more peaceful and less inclined to constantly be in warfare, the idea still does not hold up because many wars are actually the result of religious issues. When people become more involved with a religion, they are more likely to fight and back up what they believe in.

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  18. The most immediately damaging cause is weak dynastic succession. By suddenly giving the land a new ruler, one who may not know how to or even want to rule, the region leaves itself vulnerable to corruption, rebellion, and even external invasion. We can see the devastating effects of weak succession in India with the Maurya empire. After Emperor Ashoka gives the throne to his son, the empire becomes weaker and it’s ruler becomes so unpopular he is assassinated, thereby destabilizing the government and plunging the region back into another era of warring city states.

    The most gradually damaging cause is the decline of martial spirit. When the will to fight and defend the the region starts to dwindle, it can lead to the downfall of kingdoms and empires. For example, in Han China, where only peasants who did not own land were forced to fight off invaders when the cost of land skyrocketed. When people chose to fight, they defended the region much better than the unskilled workers-turned-warriors that were responsible for many of the invader victories in the final years of the Han Dynasty.

    While I don’t agree with everything said about the ineffectiveness of religion in culture, it has a few good points. People need incentives to do anything, and providing an intangible promise that will only affect a person after they’re dead will not work as a major source of motivation for many. If someone offered to pay me ten billion dollars if I worked without pay for 50 years, I would decline. Not only would I lack money for most of my life, but I would not even be sure that the person would have such a large sum of money 50 years from then. However, if good pay and ensured financial stability were offered with said job, the offer would be much more attractive to the point the ten billion dollars initially offered would become unnecessary. If the only good thing guaranteed to happen to someone comes late in life or, more likely for the current scenario, after death, then they will not have much motivation to do things like serve in the military, buy land, or contribute to society unless that is required for their reward after death. A much more likely scenario would be that a person offered nothing or little else than the promise of good things after death would try to better their life in some way. This could mean starting a family, getting a good job, or, in some very extreme cases, rebelling against and overthrowing the system that oppressed said hypothetical person. This is what happened in China during the Han dynasty, when unfairly-treated peasants started the Yellow Turban rebellion, a rebellion that contributed to the downfall of that dynasty.

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  19. The most immediate cause for the decline of an empire would be external enemies. The reason why is because, invaders can cause direct physical damage to the cities, its people, and even the leader of the empire. This can result in the decline of economic production, decline in population, and political chaos. For example; After the death of Ashoka, a Greek speaking empire called the Bactria, invaded India which caused their empire to collapse. The most gradual consequence would be costly technology, because certain technologies that helped sustain empires would take months or even years to build. This type of cause would have to take a long time in order to see a consequence of maintaining several government projects. Also an empire would have to do this multiple times in order to see how their expenses have caused an advantage to become a liability. For example; Greek architecture would have a gradual affect on the empire when done over and over again.
    Escapist or otherworldly religions could be a cause because the people who focus on more spiritual or more divine beliefs, won’t really focus on civic duties to maintain an empire. This might be because of the spread of different religions that focus on ideas other than helping the empire, for example the Persian Empire allowed its people to keep their cultural traditions and beliefs. This could lead to the decline of an empire because many people have different religions and philosophies resulting in social chaos. I do agree with this assessment because this has affected many empires such as the Roman Empire and the weakening of the Mauryan Empire.

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  20. 1. I believe that regional, racial, and ethnic tensions would be the most immediate cause of an empire’s downfall. The unwillingness of a group of people to work together can greatly damage the chances of that group surviving before its inevitable demise. A lack of stability in a nation already begins the countdown until the nation dissolves or is Balkanized, and the individual nations no longer have any reason to support the central government of the empire. If the people are constantly tugging the empire in different directions, it will eventually tear and the people will either walk away with what they wanted, or a tattered piece of what they couldn’t agree to share. Dynastic succession would take place over a few generations at a time, but the process has already begun once the ethnic or religious groups gather and revolt against each other. Beyond just tearing each other apart (which would be more fun), the chances of an oppressed minority willing to fight valiantly for the cause of the nation that doesn’t even respect them are slim at best. Even if the oppressed people outnumber the dominant minority, (such as the case of South Africa during apartheid), there may be mixed feelings about defending their beloved home which has now been reduced to nothing but an imperial and economic asset.
    2. I do agree with the author in that escapist or otherworldly religions can have a hand in the collapse of an empire, though it may not be the most immediate factor in the process. I believe the introduction of a foreign religion into a unified/homogeneous nation with a preexisting religious culture can cause problems if the new faith spreads quickly within the empire and consumes it.

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  21. I believe dynastic succession or lack there of leads to the most immediate fall of the empire. If the successor is weak or doesn’t exist like in Alexander the greats empire the empire will fall almost immanently. Without a leader empires can’t last. Without clear lines pf suggestion civil wars are inevitable. A more gradual decline would be Inequitable economic burdens Because it would take longer for the people wanting to revolt. Empires are often times unable to put out theses revolts because the empire’s army is busy with external enemies. To build and than act a revolution takes much longer cause the fall of an empire than dynastic succession. I agree with some aspects of the “otherworldly or escapist religion. I agree with the fact it might have lessened civic spirit because the people were more focused on their religion rather than their country. this however is not the case with all religions for example religion coexisted with government in India and without that religion India might not have become the major empire it was.

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    • I would disagree with the statement that the inequitable economic burdens was a more gradual decline because if the emperor drastically rose taxes in a short period of time that could quickly lead to a revolt.

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  22. Of the nine causes, the most immediate cause of imperial decline would be “Decline of martial spirit” I believe this would be an immediate cause because for an empire to continue to grow it must conquer new areas and in order to do so, the army must have willingness to fight. It is important that an empire can develop a mercenaries that has devotion for the empire. An example would be Rome. The martial spirit declined so they had to hire Germanic mercenaries.
    One gradual cause could be “costly technology”. If empires decided to spend tremendous money into massive investment such as The Great Wall of China or irrigation projects and could not control their spending then their government could eventually impoverish.
    The “escapist or otherworldly religions” is inaccurate. I don’t believe religion can lead to the collapse of an empire. When the author states “He also blamed religious strife among Christians for the increasing chaos in Rome”, I believe there could also be other factors contributing the chaos in Rome rather than just religious strife.

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  23. Of the nine reasons of the decline and fall of empires I think that the Inequitable economic burdens would be the most immediate because once the emperor saw that he did not have enough money from taxes he would raise them amount people would have to pay but then the people who already didn’t have to pay would not be affected and the peasants would be the only ones who got taxed. I think that dynastic succession would be the most gradual of the reasons because it would take many generations to completely corrupt the dynasty. I think that when he was talking about escapist religions he was attempting to make the point that Religion can cause people to worry about their afterlife which can affect their decisions in life. I don’t agree with his point but i do see where he drew his conclusion.

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  24. Out of all of the reasons for the decline and fall of Empires, I believe that Regional, racial, and ethnic tensions have the most immediate consequences. Joining lots of people together with differing view points on what they believe in life, how their culture is, etc. will not end well. These people will be hard to govern or rule therefore causing a lot of conflicts to rise very quickly. They are divided so harshly sometimes that getting along with one another may be the most difficult thing to do. An example of this would be how the Ottoman Empire had ethnic and religious tensions causing it to end. The reason with the most gradual causes to me would be dynastic succession. It could take lots of generations for this and when people start to realize that their emperor isn’t the best it would of already been a while

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    • I forgot to add my part two to the assignment
      2. I do not believe that otherworldly religions would have been a reason for the decline of an empire. To me a religion brings lots of people together and gets them into a safe and comfortable mood and allows for the resolution of conflicts to happen. But the author might mean that since there could be lots of religions they might not get along so easily causing problems to rise.

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  25. Gift Olomu
    The Decline and Fall of Empires Post

    Of the nine causes, I think that external enemies had the most immediate effect on the decline and fall of empires. The empire hasn’t fell or declined until it is someone or another country conquests it. An example of this would be the Chaldean Empire. The Empire fell when Cyrus 2 the Great invaded and conquered it and defeated Nebuchadnezzar along with freeing the Jews.
    Of the nine causes, I believe that the Escapist or otherworldly religions had the most gradual consequences. In the Han Dynasty, focuses on Confucius lead away from a more centralized form of government and the people of that Dynasty didn’t focus on how they could produce for the Han, but more of how they could follow the philosophies of Confucius.
    I think the author is accurate when speaking of otherworldly and escapist religions. This might be because, if a person in the empire is practicing Daoism, they do not want any connection with the outside world and they feel no need for politics or military. They are focused on bettering their inner self. That could mean they don’t produce to the empire whether it be economic or political. Several people doing that could gradually lead to the decline or fall of an empire. I do agree with this assessment.
    Reply to another comment (Daniel Duke): The Dynastic succession is a little less instant because what if the emperor rules for 80 years then passes it off to his son. Not all the time the heir in line is a bad ruler. For example Ashoka, who ruled brilliantly and continued takeover of northern and central India.

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  26. I think that the external enemies would have had the most immediate consequences because empires didn’t tend to fall until an external enemy came along, even when they were already weakened by some of the other reasons represented in this essay. An example of this would be the Sumerian kingdom ending because they were conquered by the Babylonians. Even though neither of these were empires they still follow the same basic principles.The dynastic succession would have the most gradual consequences because over many generations leaders would become lazy and weak. An example of this would be the Zhou dynasty because it took several generations for the leaders to become incompetent because they had been shielded from the harsh realities of life outside the palace. The Zhou’s incompetent leaders led to the peasants respecting their local leaders more than the emperors, and this ultimately led to a revolt.
    I agree with the author’s statement that “otherworldly or escapist religions” can cause an imperial collapse. I agree with this statement because if people are focused on being prosperous in the other world then they will not be as focused on this world. If the people are not focused on attaining worldly possessions and money then they will not produce as much goods as they would if they were focused on this worlds possessions. If the peasants produce less then there won’t be as much for the empire to be able to collect, thus the empire will have to tax the people more to be able to get the same amount of product that they would if the peasant were focused on attaining worldly possessions. That is why I agree with the author’s statement.

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  27. 1.) Out of these nine suggested causes of imperial decline, I think buraucratic corruption has an immediate consequence on the empire. The reason why bureaucratic corruption can lead to an immediate consequence is because if one bureaucracy is not honesty and is tempted by greed this immediately causes a corrupt government. The reliance on bureaucracy is highly risky, to maintain a good strong bureaucracy you need a honesty bureaucracy. I think that inequitable economic burdens has a more gradual consequence. The reason why inequitable economic burdens has a more gradual consequence is because this factor is shaped by revenues by agriculture, trade, and industry. If peasants didn’t produce enough crops in a season they couldn’t pay taxes, without taxes the empire can’t function properly. Over time the insufficient revenues results to the decline of an empire.

    2.) I agree with the author, when the author suggests “otherworldly or escapist religions” leads an imperial collapse. The reason why “otherworldly or escapist religions” can lead to an imperial decline is that if a new religion is introduced into a empire, people who believe in this concept can follow it. Over time, hundreds of people who follow the religion can try to influence the empire, which can lead to the decline of the empire.

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    • I agree with you in that if the economy of a government is unstable over time the lack of revenues will catch up, and as a result will cause a collapse to an empire.

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  28. 1. The most immediate cause of imperial decline would be the invasion of external enemies, because the effect of a invasion can be shown right off the back. If an empire is invaded, immediately they have to deplete resources to defend itself. The recruitment of warriors to go into battle brings people who provide for the society such as farmers and merchants, out of their jobs. For example the Gupta Empire was heavily disturbed by the invasion of the Hun, and the empire began to fall as more foreign invaders attacked causing strain on the royal treasury. The most gradual cause of decline is costly technology as the only way something an empire invents becomes costly is over time. The expense of the technology becomes greater over time and it becomes hard for that empire to sustain it. The examples stated in the essay happened over a long period of time. The Roman Empire, at first, was able to afford the development of roads and aqueducts but over time this became more of a liability than an advantage to the government

    2. Otherworldly religions can be a cause of imperial collapse. Especially religions that arise and oppose social stratification. If a religion goes against the beliefs of an empire and the religion spreads widely enough, it can be a unifying force that causes revolt and uproar. But a otherworldly religion is not normally the sole, or main source of a declining empire.

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  29. 1. I think that regional, racial, and ethnic tension has the quickest consequences. If several groups who do not like each other are being forced to live with or near one another, they eventually will get into conflicts. An example of this would be the Jewish and Palestinian conflict, which caused the dispersion of Jews from the area. The most gradual consequences come with a decline of martial spirit. People under empires know when they are not happy, and know the reasons why they are unhappy. If the causes of their unhappiness are not resolved or changed, or the reason for their fighting spirit is taken away, over time, the people will not want to be a part of that empire anymore. An example of this is Ashoka’s emphasis on pacifism, using it as a state policy, created a heavy decline in the citizen’s of his empire.

    2. Otherworldly and escapist religions can definitely, indirectly be a cause of the fall of empires. Rather than outright discomfort being the cause of decline, other religions can cause rebellion through banning of their ways of life, or cause a decline in the morale of the people under an empire.

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  30. Of the nine causes I think that the inequitable economic burdens are the most immediate because money is kind of needed in order for an empire to run smoothly. Money is needed, to do pretty much everything. One of the other causes is the decline of martial spirit; of course this is very important, but it can’t happen if the economy is dead. Money is need to a.) fund the military, b.) provide the military with weapons, and c.) provide some means of travel. Costly technology is also important, but again, it can’t be done without a good economy; money is needed to build those things, they can’t be built for free. Out of all nine of the causes, this one seems to be the most immediate because the falling out of it causes all of the other causes to fall too, like a domino affect. The first one is knocked out, and all of the others start to follow.

    The most gradual cause is probably the dynastic succession. One generation isn’t going to ruin everything that previous dynasties set up for them. Sure, they can bring it down, but they won’t completely destroy it. It’s kind of like what Mr. Williams tells the band, “y’all better not go messin up my band’s reputation”. Yes, we can mess it up, but not by ourselves, we need almost the whole band to behave badly to mess it all up, not just one single person. It’s the same for dynasties. One dynasty can mess up, but it takes multiple messing up to ruin it all.

    Escapist or otherworldy religions could be a cause because if the subjects are a different religion than their emperor, they might want to go against him because he’s doing what is for his religion, but against theirs. Something he does could be completely allowed according to his religion, but a huge no no in his subject’s religion. So, yes, I do agree with this. If too many people are different than the main people, what’s stopping them from rebelling? There’s more of them, so they’re almost guaranteed to win. And, when/if they do, the empire will fall.

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  31. I believe that external enemies would have the most immediate consequences. Differences in religion or race would not lead to an uprising within a matter of months, but an invasion could. Such as the multitude of attacks of India and China while the silk rod was at its peak. I feel like costly technology would have the most lag time between conflict and consequence. If a city discovers that their specific type of irrigation is not working for them, they will on their own discover why and more than likely find makeshift ways to work around it. For technology to become too costly for a civilization, it must be on a large wide spread scale with multiple flaws.
    I do agree with the statement about escapist or otherworldly religions because it is very difficult to govern a group of people who are strict in their religion. They are focused on fulfilling duties and abiding by laws that do not pertain to the government. People would not be concerned with their picture in society, but what comes afterwards.

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  32. I think the cause that would have the most immediate consequence is the government corruption because citizens would immediately become upset and overthrow it. An example of this is the 1983 Philippine Revolution with the downfall of Marcos because of electoral fraud. A cause with a more gradual consequence would be external enemies. It would take a while for the empire to get rich to become an attraction for invasion.
    Escapist religions could cause imperial collapse because they tend to make people drift off from their civic duty because they are doing other religious things like rituals. I do agree with this statement because religion is such an important factor is being able to keep a stable society because it can bring up so much conflict.

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    • Wouldn’t the people take a while to overthrow a corrupt government? The government itself would probably dissolve faster than the time it would take for a revolution to overthrow it.

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    • I agree that otherworldly or escapist religions lead to the downfall of an empire because it prevented an individual from devoting their full attention from protecting themselves form outside forces. Your example of the 1983 Philippine Revolution with the downfall of Marcos was a great, and unique example that got your point across.

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  33. 1. I think that regional, racial, and ethical tensions would be the fastest decline because if a group of people don’t like each other they aren’t going to work together and that will make an empire go downhill very fast. An example of this would be the Ottoman Empire. I think that the most gradual fall of an empire would be Dynastic succession. It could take many generations to produce a weak heir or for people to realize it. An example of this would be the Qin dynasty; the rulers were manipulated just like what happened with the Han dynasty.
    2. I do not believe with the authors statement abut “escapist or otherworldly regions” causing the downfall of empires because religion brings people together and gives people a common interest. Religion can be the foundation of an empire and a lot of the time its what is keeping the empire together. An example would be that in India Hinduism kept the empire together and Rome’s empire fell apart because christianity came in to late to unite everyone and keep the empire together.

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    • I honestly disagree with regional, racial, and ethical tensions being a cause that could cause a fast decline to an empire. Because I see if a group of people who doe not like another group of people, they would not instantly turn on each other. They would rebel slowly at first then events that could “tip the scale” and set the groups off and turn on each other. And also if they aren’t working together it would take time for an economy or an empire to decline.

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  34. 1. I think that of the nine causes of imperial decline, external enemies, would have the most immediate consequences. This is because if an empire continuously is being invaded by outsiders it will only be a matter a time before it collapses before the last battle becomes the straw that broke the camels back. For example, the Gupta Empires collapse after the many invasions of the Hun. The cause that will gradually cause the empire to collapse is moral decline, very rarely in history did the dissatisfaction of a few cause and immediate uprising. For example, the Hittites didn’t like their immoral leadership and gradually over threw it.

    2. I agree with the authors point on escapists or other worldly religions, because religion is a sensitive topic and infringing ones beliefs and ideals does not sit well with the general population of people. So, arising religions and their imposing their beliefs can cause civil distress and the destruction of an empire.

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    • Yes, but belief in an otherworldly religion can be beneficial in that people are more willing to die for a cause, especially when they believe that there is a blissful after life awaiting them. Governments can use this to their advantage and some have. People who are okay with dying for a cause are good to have for military purposes, as recently seen with modern groups like the Taliban or ISIS.

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  35. Of the nine reasons for the decline and fall of empires, external enemies were the most immediate reasons for the decline and fall of empires. An empire already in decline especially due to issues such as inequitable economic burdens can and very likely will, officially fall after the intrusion of external enemies.This is because an empire takes up much land and has a lot of border and people to protect, and it becomes very evident to the people under the rule of the empire and people outside of the rule of the empire, such as enemies, that the economy is not sufficient enough to work effectively. For example, according to both history and the article, the Gupta Empire in India did not have the ability to collect enough revenue to pay the governmental officials. This weakness would then become very evident to the officials not getting paid, and if the government officials are not sufficiently being paid, then people with more common jobs with also feel the lack of income. This deficiency could very well lead to civil wars, revolts, etc. and enemies of the empire would then be able to feed off of that chaos invading at the most inconvenient time allowing for enemy take over.

    One of the more gradual reasons for the decline and fall of an empire is dynastic succession. A dynasty is made up of a line of kings from the same family. A dynasty could start out wonderfully with the rulers being sexually moral, but as rulers and possibly centuries go by, the idea of power inevitably causes a few rulers, or even just one, to take advantage. The weaknesses for men are women, pride, and power generally speaking so the more power a ruler has and the more tempted a ruler lets himself get, the more children he will have. In some places, and especially during the time of empires, polygamy was not a taboo. Therefore, a ruler could have as many children with as many women as he wanted. This began to cause a problem when the line of succession was not made clear, as shown by the empire of Alexander the Great. The issue with the succession with Alexander’s empire was that he lacked an adult male successor, which was probably planned by the people who assassinated Alexander. This is just one scenario though that could occur with the lack of a proper order of succession. This situation could either cause a few years to cause a problem or a few centuries, which is why it is one of the more gradual reasons for the decline and fall of empires. This problem is one of the reasons why the United States government has a line of today which will eliminate any governmental collapse due to succession issues.

    In the article the author suggests that Escapist or otherworldly religions can be a cause of imperial collapse. This may be the case because when people begin to believe in otherworldly religions it can cause multiple reactions. The first is that the people are so ready and focused on what comes after or what is beyond earth that they do not care about what is going on in the earth, in their country, with their jobs, friends or family. Which can cause a problem because if people, especially working age adults, are not contributing to the economic system and their ideals go against the political system in which they are held accountable to on earth, they are most likely hurting the system. I feel as if Daoism may be seen this way because of the ideals of the government that go along with the religion. People who believe in other worldly religions can go in another direction as well. With belief systems such as Hinduism and Christianity there is somewhat of a moral code. Many people within these religions believe that what you do on earth should be ethical and morally acceptable. Yes, there are different ideas of what is morally correct, but there are basic ideas that are pretty universal, such as trying to avoid lying, murder, stealing, etc. As shown by the India’s caste system, these moral ideals can keep people from doing hideous crimes that would harm the country or the government. Obviously this statement does not cover everything, but it does cover most people. In modern day, despite the issues that have more recently occurred with group such as ISIS and the Taliban, I do believe that belief in escapist or otherworldly religions can actually be beneficial to getting people to cooperate with the system.

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  36. Of the nine suggested causes of imperial decline, I believe that “inequitable economic burdens” would have the most immediate causes. I say this because if “the prosperous population engaged in agriculture, trade, and industry” provided a surplus in goods for the empire then they would have to fund (taxes) ways to protect the goods (military). If for any reason the military was not being supported by the government the empire would immediately be at risk of getting attacked by foreigners or just collapsing due to not having enough money to provide for everyone. “Dynastic succession” would be the more gradual consequence because as the dynasties are passed down to the heirs the ideology between the past and present ruler does not change so the way of the kingdom that kept it thriving for so long wouldn’t change either. Although, as you move further down the line of heirs you may witness drastic change in ideas that could ultimately cause the fall of the empire.
    I think that “Escapist or otherworldly religions” was a way for the author to convey that indulgement I religion may cause citizens to get off track and not support their empires.

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  37. I would say out of the nine causes, Dynastic Succession was the immediate consequence of imperial decline. If an ineffective male heir was selected to be ruler of an empire it would result in an eventual downfall of its empire and create many revolts and civil wars within the empire itself. Decline of martial spirit was in my opinion the more gradual cause of imperial decline. Ones will to fight or willingness to defend the state would have taken quite a period for this to happen. An individual martial spirit doesn’t just happen instantly but rather over a certain period. One example that shows dynastic succession for the downfall of the Qin dynasty because Qin’s son was an ineffective leader which gave a new ruler called Liu Bang to end the Qin Dynasty and begin a new dynasty called the Han.
    The author’s suggestion of escapist religions was a possible cause of imperial collapse, I agree could have been a cause that resulted in a collapsed empire. The author sees it as that when one primarily focused on religion it cause them to devote most of their attention towards harmony and nature, at the same time they didn’t protect themselves from outside forces that had intentions bringing down a weak empire.

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  38. I think that External Enemies would have an immediate effect on an empire because when enemies raid you, they take all of your good and territory and kill all your people.With that reason the empire will fall due to the harsh attacks on that empire. For example the Huns raided all the empires that they thought had money and goods in it. The gradual effect would martial spirits because as the people lost the will to fight for their empire, the empire would lose wars because of this. The loss will cost the empire money and resources. An example for this is the Han dynasty, they started charging the peasants taxes and the rich nothing. Also thee asanas had to fight in the war, not the rich.

    I agree with this ” escapist or otherworldly religions” because religion was the cause of some great empires. I also disagree with this because the religion on Hinduism has a caste system. During the time everybody cooperated with their on caste and never argued about it. This phrase has positives and negatives to it.

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  39. Of the nine suggested causes of imperial decline, I think that regional, racial, and ethnic tensions would have the most immediate consequences because if one major group that has been invaded revolts, than many other groups will be inspired and encouraged to revolt as well. Rebellions will spark a chain reaction and cause most the conquered regions and cultural groups to leave the empire. As for the cause that would have more gradual consequences, I believe that dynastic succession would be it. If there is a dispute for the rightful heir, then civil war will most likely happen. If the successor to the throne or title is incompetent or not a decent leader, then the empire itself will suffer economically or socially. An example of a terrible leader in history would be Caligula, the 3rd Emperor of the Roman Empire. I think that he is correct in some aspects like religion getting in the way of necessary conquest but I don’t think “otherworldly religions” can be a cause of an imperial collapse.

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  40. 1. I believe that out of the nine suggested causes of imperial decline the one with the most immediate consequences would be decline of martial spirit. If an empire does not have its people on its side, meaning that they are willing to go as far as sacrificing their lives in order to protect their home, then they are left vulnerable to attacks from outsiders. Having a strong ruler and a stable economy does not mean anything if there is no one to protect those factors. An example provided by the article was the decline of the Roman empire due to the poor martial spirit from its male citizens. On the other hand, the factor with the more gradual consequences would be attacks from external enemies. As long as the empire had a strong military system, it took many attempts before it could be defeated in war by another civilization. An example of this we discussed in class today, this was the strong army protecting the Assyrians. The civilization was eventually defeated, however, it was after a long series of external attacks.
    2. I agree with the authors claim that “otherworldly or escapist religions” can lead to imperial collapse. I believe this is true because people probably often found themselves focusing more on doing good in order to be prosperous in the fictional world rather than doing good during the time they were on earth, as a result the empire lost the support of its people and found itself vulnerable to attacks from outsiders. At the same time, however, I question this claim because for example in Hinduism individuals worked in their dharma in order to have a good afterlife once they reached moksha. This encouraged good behavior in order to thrive in the fictional world yet at the same time it was designed to strengthen the civilizations practicing it since the individuals’ hard work only made the empires stronger.

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    • While I do agree that a decline in martial spirit and invasion by foreigners are two of the most prominent causes for imperial downfall, I would say that invasion is a immediate cause and a decline in martial spirit is a gradual one. Think about it this way: once an empire is invaded they are done with; it’s over- no matter how many times they attack. It is those attacks that cause the downfall of the empire. On the other hand, a decline in martial spirit is a gradual cause because as that spirit goes down so does the effectiveness of the empire’s military. Now that decrease in the effectiveness doesn’t directly cause the empire to collapse, but it does leave the empire weak and vulnerable, ultimately causing other factors, like invasion, to bring about the downfall of the empire. An example of this idea being the Roman Empire. As martial spirit declined, they had to pay untrustworthy Germanic missionaries to fight, which caused them to go bankrupt and added to the instability of the empire, which invaders used to their benefit to overthrow them.

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  41. Of the nine causes I believe the most immediate cause of the fall of an Empire is “Dynastic Succession.” The lack of strong heirs to the throne, for example after the rule of Genghis Khan the two successors after him lead to the fall of the Mongolian Empire. A gradual cause for the fall of an Empire would be “External Enemies”, most of the great empires we know today were forged through conquest of neighboring territories and this leads to these territories wanting to take back their land. These territories wait for the opportunity to take back their land, for example, the Roman Empire fell because of weak rulers allowing germanic tribes to invade Rome time after time.
    I don’t agree with all of the author’s statement that “otherworldly or escapist religious” can cause a imperial collapse of a empire. I don’t believe that religion can lead to the cause of an empire, yes it would lead to some minor problems in the empire but not lead to something so drastic as a fall of an empire.

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    • I agree with everything you’ve said except for the “external enemies” part. I don’t agree that this would take a long time- rather I think it’d take a shorter amount of time. If an empire imposed on land owned by other people, they would not wait until to get it back. These external people would fight as soon as possible, as they can’t survive missing a large portion of their land. The tension is immediate, and would quickly lead to battle.

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  42. 1. I believe the most immediate effect would be caused by regional,racial and ethnic tensions because as we talked about today in class many of the great empires suppressed and took away freedoms such as those to follow the religion they had already chosen and taxed those people heavily. Doing this same thing to a group of people although if done properly does give way to a powerful dynasty but would lead to a rebellion of the people and therefore cause the most immediate effect. The most gradual consequence to me would be moral decline because although an empire may be falling or declining it is doing so slowly and maybe not noticeable to the people for years before the thought of rebellion come to thought that the empire might then be most vulnerable to an attack from the inside.
    The only example i could come up with was for moral decline and that was the Hittites who although not supporting their immoral leader did gradually other throw them.
    2. I agree with this statement because if during your time period such as the Assyrians who believed that their god was only pleased as long as they never lost a war. A group of religious people who would have spread the word that Jesus is the Messiah would help lead to the collapse of that empire because that is what the whole empire is based on is that belief.

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  43. I agree with your claim @danyelcateau about the introduction of a new religion not sitting well with the people, creating distress, and ultimately a rebellion. I think this is another completely valid reason that supports the authors belief of “otherworldly or escapists religions” leading to imperial collapse.

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  44. The “external enemies” would have the most immediate consequences. With invasions of other people, empires would immediately change if empires are taken over. The empire being taken over would collapse and the invading empire would impose their customs onto the newly conquered land. So when one empire goes to war with empire, one empire would mostly likely take over the other empire. An example would be the Ottoman Empire. Due to World War I, the Ottoman empire fell apart because the empire lost the war and was separated by the winning side of the war.
    The “Regional, racial, and ethnic tensions” would have more gradual consequences. Over time two groups of people of different ethnicity would battle each other causing a disturbance in an empire. The disturbance will most likely cause fights to break out within the empire. This causes the people to be wary of people within their empire. So between the people, there is no trust and the people will rise to make their own state. This would strain the efficiency of the empire and will slowly crumble. An example would be the Persians, who let the people the empire conquered have religious freedom. With people who are not Persian not having to be under the same religion could cause uprising against the Persian empire since people had freedom in their religion.
    The “Escapist or otherworldly religions” to me mean that religions that are widely found throughout the world can cause people in some areas to be influenced and go against their original beliefs. So a more popular religion would take over a tradition in an area. This seems associate able because a religion imposed on people who have traditional ways of beliefs can convert to the major religion. Like in Latin American when conquistadors imposed their religion onto the natives, and soon the natives would convert to the Spaniard’s religion.

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  45. 1) Of the nine suggested causes of imperial decline, I think bureaucratic corruption has the most immediate consequences because once a government becomes corrupt and abuses its power, people in society become angry and upset and express their thoughts in rebellion. Of the nine causes of imperial decline, I think inequitable economic burdens would have more gradual consequences because if there is an unequal balance of who pays taxes and how much people pay some people are getting richer and some people are getting deeper into poverty. Also, this causes the government to not be able to fund a defense system against external enemies. An example of this would be one reason for the fall of the Roman Empire in which they began to spend less and less money on defense of their empire.
    2) I think the author’s suggestion that “otherworldly or escapist religions” is true and i agree because when a society is fully committed to their religion such as Christianity they take on the aspects that go with being Christian such as becoming nonviolent which makes them more vulnerable to external enemies.

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  46. 1. I think that of the nine suggestions, external enemies is the most immediate. I believe this because while the other examples can weaken an empire they don’t directly cause the downfall of one. Weak empires can continue to last and it is their weakened state that leaves them vulnerable to invasions, and it is those invasions that directly causes the empire’s downfall. I feel like the two best historical examples of this were listed in the text but another example could be the brief fall of the Persian empire after the invasion led by Alexander the Great. The Persian Empire was already suffering from instability stemming from a lack of strong rulers, revolts, a growing number of independent regional satraps, and economic problems. However, Persia was directly overthrown after being invaded by Alexander the Great’s army. As for the most gradual cause of imperial downfall, I would say that would be dynastic succession. Disputes over succession can lead to political instability and unrest within the empire, causing it to grow weak and vulnerable over time. For example, the Gupta Empire grew increasingly weaker due to disputes over the line of succession after the death of Skandagupta. This caused emperors to lose power and regional rulers to ultimately seize that power. The decline in central power resulted in a broken state that was vulnerable to attacks by foreign invaders, specifically the Huns. These constant invasions caused the empire to go broke and eventually fall. Therefore, dynastic succession led to the downfall of the Gupta Empire.

    2. I think that otherworldly religions is a valid reason for imperial downfall. As the author states, escapist religions that are introduced into a new society could contradict the principles that the empire is based on. An example being the one he gives of Christianity putting more emphasis on heavenly rewards rather than the earthly ones that come with a “civic spirit”, which was an underlying principle of the Roman Empire. Ultimately, otherworldly religions could make people begin to be more concerned with heavenly rewards and those concerns could take precedence over problems regarding the “worldly empire” leading to the people of the empire being less concerned with the success of that empire. Ultimately I do agree with the point the author is trying to make.

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  47. 1. Of the nine suggested causes of imperial decline, I would think external enemies would have been one of the causes that have the most immediate consequences. It takes a matter of time before an empire would collapse when it is being invaded from the outside by groups of people who they are not common with. For example when the Huns made their invasions advances towards the Gupta, the Gupta could not possibly be prepared for the Hun because they aren’t common with the Huns and there was surely no warning about invasions. While I would think moral decline would be one of the nine causes that would have more of a gradual consequences. Because moral changes take time and it is not an instance change. Often enough in history, moral decline changes over long periods of times. For example, in the Shang Dynasty, the kings’ relatives that he has appointed could be overtime consumed with greed and rebellious ideas against the king.

    2. I do agree with the author suggesting that “otherworldly or escapist religions” could have been a cause of imperial collapse, because more then often the topic of religions especially different religions could be a sensitive topic to hit upon mostly when the ideals of one religion does not match or is wrong according to another religion could cause problems between populations of people. In results, if an arising religions and their beliefs that could be imposing one other religion’s beliefs could lead to distress within the civilization and lead to the destruction and fall of an empire.

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    • I disagree with external enemies being the consequence with the most immediate effect because the empire could have a strong army and better technology, therefore making it difficult for an enemy to have an immediate effect.

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  48. The factors that may have caused the most immediate fall of an empire are the racial/ethnic tensions. Those factors have simmering standing conflicts that would cause groups to snap at any moment. If a large number of a certain ethnic group or race were to riot, that would cause rebellion and in a large scale, would cause an empire to fall. The factor that would cause the most gradual fall of an empire is probably the decrease of martial spirit. If the state loses its fighting spirit, when they are being attacked or they are facing war times, they won’t have the morale to fight for their country, and will most likely get conquered.
    Well I believe the author has a point, because with Religions such as Christianity, soldiers who were avid believers would think, “Oh, even if I were to die, it wouldn’t matter because I would go to Heaven”, so their efforts would not be as heavy as someone who thought that their current life was it, there was nothing after this one. So soldiers would not put too much effort. And religions that are completely non-violent can forget about war altogether, which leads to an easy conquering. I do agree with the author’s statements

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  49. 1. I feel as if the “regional, racial, and ethnic tensions” cause would have the most immediate consequences. Typically, tension is not created after taking groups over, but rather tension is present before. Uniting two groups who did not oppose each other under one empire would not create a problem, but forcing two opposing groups into one state could potentially be violent. These opposing groups would not put up with each other for a few centuries before fighting, but would rather rebel and attack immediately. For example, when the British separated India into India and Pakistan, Hindus living in Pakistan (and vise versa) wanted to leave immediately and began to rebel against their opponents.

    On the other hand, I feel as if the “costly technology” issue would take the longest period of time to evolve. It takes hundreds of years to develop ideas for advanced technology, let alone the time it takes to manufacture it. In addition to this lengthy process, even developing new technology would not drastically deplete an empire’s money until multiple large projects had been completed. Overall, technological development could take an upwards of a few centuries to damage an economy. For example, the designing and building of the Three Gorges Dam in China took many years to do, and is only just now beginning to affect their economical standings.

    2. I think the author suggests “escapist or otherworldly religions” can lead to the downfall of an empire because it teaches people to focus on ideals not related to Earth. It requires them to spend lots of time doing things that don’t help better the country, and takes focus off of the work in the present. However, I don’t agree with his claims. In fact these otherworldly religions help unite a country and give people a sense of purpose. Without unity or reason, an empire might as well not even try. People will not be open to bettering a country without feeling tied to the country, or without a reason to do so.

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  50. 1. I think out of the nine possible causes for the fall of an empire, external enemies would have the quickest effect. Since typically these are direct attacks on the empire itself the military may become overwhelmed. If the military can no longer protect the state, primarily the capital, this can lead to the swift dissolution of the empire due to a lack of central authority. A good example would be the fall of the Roman empire due to outside groups. Since the roman empire was so large it was difficult to protect all of it. Eventually they became overwhelmed to the point where the city of Rome was invaded, leaving the empire to fall apart. I think a more gradual factor would be Inequitable economic burdens. As the lower working class begin to resent the more powerful upper class a weaker state is formed. Typically this happens through unequal taxation where the poor are taxed more. These effects can only be seen throughout a long period of time. Take for example the Han dynasty, where the rich avoided taxes and the poor were forced to pay it. After many years the dynasty fell and regional kingdoms were formed.
    2. I think escapist religions can change the thinking of a society and it can lead to it’s downfall. If the majority of people are more concerned with the afterlife than the present, an empire can have subjects who don’t fear punishment and don’t fight for the state. Also many escapist religions advocate pacifism, which contradicts an empire’s goal of expanding through conquest. Escapist religions tend to weaken an empire

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