Homework: Decline of Empires

Tonight for your homework, you need to carefully read and annotate the article “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 from China– 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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86 thoughts on “Homework: Decline of Empires

  1. Abbey Milwicz

    I believe that problems with dynastic succession would have the most immediate consequences to an empire’s collapse. Almost immediately after a leader dies, would he have to be succeeded by someone. If there is no strong successor, order is nonexistent throughout the kingdom and wars may break out. It will take a long time for someone to win the war, and take over the empire, but the system collapsed as soon as there was no leader to take control and organize the land. It may take a while to put it back together, but it sure doesn’t take long for an government to fall apart. For example, the Qin Dynasty collapsed because Hu Hai, a successor to the dynasty, was weak and the Chinese began to revolt. The empire collapsed quite quickly because of a weak successor.

    Regional, racial and ethnic tensions would cause the most gradual collapse of an empire. Thousands of years from the start of the tension to the peak – which would cause the collapse – would have to pass for there to be enough to take down an empire. The empire would also have to be large enough to encompass a large amount of racial groups. Part of the reason the Han Dynasty collapsed was because of the Huns invaded the northern territory and reignited disputes between regional tensions. The growing gap between upper and lower class also factored into the regional tensions, but it took hundreds of years before there was enough tension to take down an empire.

    I agree, and do believe, that otherworldly religions could be the downfall of an empire because empires especially need a binding of some sort to stay together. For many empires, religion was the binding, and when new religions were introduced, the empire was no longer unified. Because empires encompass many cultures and belief systems, opposing religions, or beliefs in things other that what the empire enforced, would cause separation and possible disputes between regions.

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    • I definitely agree with your first paragraph, and your second, but I don’t share your opinion on the third. I see a lack of examples used by both you, and the author of our article of empires that have collapsed with this cause. In theory, this cause is suitable, but I do not think it is very well demonstrated in real life, other than the fall of the Roman Empire. I agree with you saying that disputes between religions could be a cause, but that is very different from what the author claims.

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    • Although I agree with all of your other points, I disagree that otherworldly religions can be the downfall of an empire. Rather than highlighting how the religions actually led to imperial decline, the writer of the text describes how people blamed their society’s problems on the foreign beliefs. It does not go into detail about how it could directly cause a downfall, just the contributing effect it had on the decline.

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    • While I agree that religion brought unity I feel as that you are making unity and uniformity one in the same. In the United States there are many people that encompass many different belief systems yet we do not have states fighting other states because of it, so I feel like you can have people with different beliefs together without things falling apart.

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    • I agree with your third paragraph but i don’t agree with your top two mainly the first paragraph. I believe as long as a war is still being fought the empire has not yet fallen. Also, it usually takes generations for an inadequate heir to come along or for there not to be an obvious heir or for for their not to be an heir at all. Therefore I believe that dynastic succession is a more gradual decline of an empire.
      ~Alyssa Bedenbaugh
      3rd Period

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  2. Out of the nine listed causes, I feel that the “External Enemies” factor has the most immediate consequences. This can be illustrated through the Huns’ conquest for more land. The Huns were experiencing a drought, so in order to feed fresh vegetation to their animals, they migrated south into China. They took a significant portion of the land because of their superior tactics.

    Out of the same listed causes, I also feel that the “Inequitable economic burden” was the most gradual of the causes. In Han China, citizens who owned land were not recruited for the military. This led wealthier people to buy land to escape this, and as result caused more peasants to be recruited. This led to a smaller food production causing the population to diminish.

    I feel that the “otherworldly or escapist religions” cause can be a cause for an empire’s decline in the extremist case. This will most likely occur when a new religion disrupts order throughout a state. For the most part I agree with the cause if the religion inspires negative action against the government.

    -Thomas Fitzgerald

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    • I see where you were coming from while saying “External Enemies” caused the most immediate consequences for the collapse of an empire, but I think most empires that are strong could easily defend themselves from external enemies and it would take a long war to collapse a powerful empire. You used the Huns invading the Han Dynasty as an example, but they were also facing many other problems, like peasant uprisings, which took away from their military forces and made their defense system weaker. They did find land, but they did not directly cause the collapse of the Han Dynasty. Many long-term tensions were leading up to the collapse of the Dynasty and the Huns were just another factor weakening the empire.

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    • I completely agree with you on your first paragraph about External Enemies, and I think that using the Huns as an example makes this seem a lot clearer in my head. Although I do not agree on your second paragraph, I do see where you’re coming from and this point is completely valid. I felt as though economic burdens and the growth of technology fell into almost the same rate of growth, leading to the ultimate downfall of an imperial collapse.

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    • External enemies are made over time through conquest of an area or group. Enemies do not win the battle or war as soon as they attack so I feel as though attacking an empire causing its collapse would take years if not decades. You mention the Huns attacking the Han dynasty, but the Han dynasty was already weak from bribing used to keep military uprisings from occurring and civil wars over the throne. The Huns did have superior tactics, but not every state has a weakened as the Han did.

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    • I can see what you are saying by the idea of external threats-such as the Huns- being a cause of dynastic dissolution. However, I do not agree that this would be the most immediate cause of the downfall of an empire. While the “barbarians” (as mentioned by Chinese writings) did take over a small portion of China during their conquest for more land, they did not take control of the entire Han dynasty,who were experiencing much more than just Hun expansion, which would make me believe that this is a more gradual cause of Dynastic failure.

      As well, I agree with your statement that religion can cause the failure of an empire in extreme cases because, as we already know, people are not particularity favoring of external religion or religious ideology entering familiar territory, but the Chinese-for example- commonly combine two or more religious ideologies and philosophies (Taoism + Confucianism). This shows that people can adapt to fit around or into certain religious philosophies, but only when they are willing.

      -Alli Moss

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    • I agree with your thought on the otherworldly/escapist religions. People do not like a disruption of their order or way of life, especially if it interferes with what they believe. A new religion could definitely cause a decline of an empire.

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  3. The most immediate cause that I read was inequitable economic burdens. If any empire runs out of money then they can no longer pay the military which would leave them defenseless, the empire could no longer pay the government officials which would lead to bureaucratic corruption, and they could no longer pay for large public service works such as dams, granaries, or schools which in turn would lead to peasant uprisings. Therefore a lack of money leads to an empire that has no defenses, no government, and a large body of people that are not content with it which would quickly collapse the empire. We could see this with the agrarian crisis during the Han dynasty, in which landowners were forced to give up their land because of increasing land prices, and then were forced to work for those new richer land owners. Therefore these large landowners were amassing larger amounts of wealth and larger amounts of power, thus making it easier for them to avoid taxes, which in turn put a heavier burden on the now poorer class of farmers who had to pay these new taxes. This bankrupted the government because the farmers could no longer pay the taxes because all the money was with the landowners who did not pay the taxes which was one of the causes for the Yellow Turban Rebellion.
    The most gradual cause that I could see would be the regional, racial and ethnic tensions. If the people within your empire are not getting along or they do not believe they are apart of your empire then they are less likely to fight for that country and are more likely to want to leave that empire. No ruler can effectively run a country that has multiple ethnic, racial, or regional groups that do not get along because they will always want to fight each other or at worst they would want to leave the empire. We could see this with the Han dynasty because they were a large empire that held a large amount of land, because of this they were a vast majority of different ethnic, racial and regional groups that lead to uneasiness within the empire, that later split into the three warring kingdoms Shu, Wei and Wu.
    The author meant religions that were not native to the empire or religions that gave people reason to leave society. Religions, especially those that encourage people to leave a society or to focus on themselves, hurt empires by giving people a reason to not contribute to the empire and I agree with that statement.

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    • I disagree on the idea of inequitable economic burdens being an immediate cause of imperial decline, as in my opinion, it’s a gradual factor. There are a lot of steps with inequitable economic burdens, unlike something more instantaneous like dynastic succession. However, I agree with regional, racial, and ethnic tensions being a gradual reason, as it often takes a certain amount of time to see conflict, or for divisions to occur to a point where the whole empire just crumbles. I also agree with you on the religion being an imperial decline factor, it takes away motivation to improve the empire, or to even stay there at all.

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  4. I think Dynastic Succession crises have the most immediate effects. I can see how external enemies might appear to be the most immediate, but at least you have a leader to repel enemy forces. In a succession crisis, there is no ruler to unite the empire to fight. This results in a collapse of law, governmental organization, and often causes some of these other factors such as Moral decline, or decline in martial spirit, as well as Bureaucratic corruption and economic failure. Without a leader everything crumbles, and it crumbles fast. A civil war greatly affects a country/kingdom/empire, especially when there are more than two sides to said war. The country quite literally tears itself apart. That is why we (The USA) have such detailed plans to quickly replace the President in the unfortunate event of his/her death or removal of office. Not to say we have Dynasties, or that a President dying will cause a civil war, but lack of a central leader causes things to fall apart quickly, which is why the succession line is fast, organized, and immediate. One of the major causes of the collapse of the Han dynasty was a succession crisis, which lead to the period of three kingdoms and six dynasties. This dissolved the centralized structure of the empire, and instead broke it into three separate, smaller kingdoms, all of whom believed they had the right to rule the whole empire.

    I think the cause with the most gradual effects is costly technology. It takes a long time for the management costs of your state’s own technology to catch up to your GDP, and then to the amount of reserved budget money. Plus, usually these technologies bring in some revenue to counter the costs. The United States has been developing both basic and complex technology for a while now, ranging from basic roads, to interstate highways, and from coal power plants to nuclear power plants. These utilities and facilities cost a great deal. In fact, the US spends about 40 billion on road maintenance alone (http://www.artba.org/about/transportation-faqs/#7) , and over 1 trillion on energy (http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/pdf/sec3_11.pdf) per year. But our gross domestic product is over 17 trillion (http://data.worldbank.org/country/united-states) more than enough to play for all this. Typically, states don’t build or maintain these technologies if they are too costly to pay for, but normally they aren’t. It would take a very long time for it to completely cause the collapse of a government. In what we learned of the Han dynasty, these costly technologies weren’t mentioned because they were mainly granaries to feed the military and dirt roads. I don’t this could not have caused their collapse.

    I kind of see what the author is talking about with his otherworldly religions point, but I honestly do not think this is a universal cause. I think that it may have had something to do with the fall of the Roman Empire, but I do not believe it had any effect on the Han dynasty, or any other state’s collapse. I cannot think of sufficient evidence or examples to support it.

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    • I disagree on the idea of costly technology causing downfall. Yes many new and expensive technology was invented at the time but it would not cause a downfall. The only time you were able to explore costly technology is when there was a surplus to support the new technologies. If they work on new technology with not enough money, then it would be more of a inequitable economic burden.

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    • I disagree that costly technology would be a very gradual cause of downfall. There is no reason that what was previously an advantage to your society couldn’t quickly turn around and become a disadvantage which costs more money than it is worth. I think that once a state runs out of money, its demise would be quick because it loses morality, economic power, and military power.

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  5. I believe that the most immediate cause of the fall of an Empire is External enemies. This cause is, more often than not, much more immediate, as it usually blossoms into war and bloodshed. This has time and time again been shown to destroy empires and regions, a good example being Ancient Egypt. The other causes listed here are much more subtle, though that isn’t to say they aren’t equally damaging.

    The most gradual cause of the nine listed is Moral Decline. If citizens begin to lose their ability to behave morally, crime and unrest will begin to increase. as law enforcers crack down harder and harder, two things can happen, depending on the victors:

    1.) Society becomes totalitarian. Much like the dystopian societies in our media, citizens would lose their free will and law would become so strict that it would reduce freedom. Eventually, there would inevitably be rebellion, leading to the usurping of the ruler if these rebels win. Even if they are defeated, it would be only a matter of time before another rebellion.

    2.) Society devolves into a civil war. Like I said above, something like that would either usurp the ruler, or make society MUCH harsher, leading to an infinite loop of scenario 1

    I agree with the suggestion that other religions can be a cause of imperial decline. It works somewhat similarly to the Moral Decline cause, in that citizens may stop following their ruler if they convert to other religions.

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    • I disagree with your statement about external enemies being an immediate cause of the fall of an empire. If someone is going to invade an empire immediately, the reason must be severe (such as not being able to feed children). Most of the time, however, enemies need time to plan out their attack, especially if the terrain, climate, etc. is different from what they are used to. Without a proper opportunity to strike, and proper knowledge of the empire, the invaders are, more often than not, not going to succeed.

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  6. I feel like the most immediate cause of the decline of empires is dynastic succession. If there was a clear successor, it would be all good, however, if there was any bit of uncertainty or confusion, civil war would break out, thus the fall of the dynasty. This happened to many of the Chinese dynasties. A gradual cause would be inequitable economic burdens. If the empire did not have enough food or economic wealth to support itself, it would cause peasant uprisings, civil wars, and loss of trust in the emperors. For example, the Han dynasty did not have enough food to support its growing population. Which made the peasants unhappy and hungry, which they ran riot, helping the fall of the Han dynasty.
    Escapist or otherworldly religions in my opinion do cause imperial collapse. This new religion, might be an amazing super awesome religion compared to the one currently there in place. The new religion would be popular to the peasants and other lower class citizens. The emperor would disagree with the new religion and try to get rid of it, making the unhappy and thus the lower class going rampant/ casing riots and war. Eventually it would lead to the downfall of the dynasty.

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    • I completely agree about dynamic succession. While the previous ruler might have left clear instructions for the successor, when that ruler is gone, who is to say the next son in line might fight for his right to the throne. With many emperors and kings and rulers taking other wives or partners, the amount of potential rulers is uncertain therefore civil war and the inevitable crashing and burning.

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    • Justin, I agree with your opinion on the damage that religions can inflict to cause an imperial collapse. The ideal that the people disagreeing with the leader can cause damage is a very real thing. The idea that heaven or a supreme being granted the right to rule was seen in many empires and if the people grew to disagree with that ideal, uprising could occur, leading to the overall downfall.

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    • I agree in mostly in what you are explaining; however I do disagree when you said Dynastic succession has the most immediate cause of the downfall of the empire. Inequitable economic burdens have quicker consequences because money/resources may run out faster than a ruler dying or when the new ruler is in place. People are more attached to their money than actual people which causes conflict.

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    • I can see where you are coming from with the dynastic succession. The only thing i would say is this. Are all of the years that the king could “make a child” considered in the time it takes for this to happen.

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  7. I feel that the inequitable economic burdens from the nine causes of imperial decline would have the most immediate causes because if there is no military or food, a place can not run properly. There would be many invasions because there is no defense. There would also often be revolts or peasant uprisings because they are starving and lack resources. The gap between the rich and the poor became larger and larger which therefore; the more rich people were buying out the peasant’s land. This was due to the rise of the land prices in the Han dynasty.
    I feel like regional, racial, and ethnic tensions would lead to a more gradual crash of an empire because people hold grudges. For example (even though it is not from China), the Israeli-Palestinian conflict happened when the two groups had a disagreement on which group (Israelis or Palestinians) owned the “Promise Land”. The government tried to divide it evenly; however it did not work because some religious sites were on the opposite side. This dispute still goes on today even though it was settled years ago, and these groups still dislike/have tension with each other.
    I think I agree with how escapist or other worldly religions can contribute to the collapse of an empire because it depends on the teachings of the religion. Like for example, “Christianity believes in heavenly rewards rather than earthly rewards” -Edward Gibbon. The Christians are also blamed for everything else that went wrong in the Roman Empire. Philosophical views may clash with one and another and cause conflict. Legalism and Daoism is a good comparison because Daoism believes in no government, and Legalism believes in strict moral code to run a government. This could also lead to a downfall of an empire.

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  8. I think that dynastic succession would have the most immediate consequences because when ruled by one family, things were bound to get tense when time for a new heir arose. The rulers had specific ways of choosing the heir but most of the time there was opposition within the families and therefore fighting and unstable rulers succeeding one another. It was the quickest way for a dynasty to fall once the original rulers died. In terms of gradual I believe that inequitable economic burdens caused those dynasties to fall. The governments heavily relied on the production and economic success of their citizens through agriculture primarily. There was always a gap between the wealthy and the poor however even in Han China it wasn’t uncommon for the peasants to own land even if it wasn’t much. Land owners were able to evade being drafted in the military so all those wealthy enough to buy land tried to stay that way as much as possible. But with demand comes lack of supply so taxes were raised and it became much cheaper for peasants to be tenant farmers rather than own their land. This is not something that happened overnight, the rich bought out the poor and the poor became increasingly resentful of their government, and bam civil unrest and hatred towards government. You can only rule somewhere you’re unwanted for so long. I believe in those times that religion was much more heavily regarded than it is in some countries today. I do think that “unworldly religions” could have led to the downfall of a dynasty or two. Many societies worshiped divine beings and when their divine relationship began to be questioned or challenged it could have led to the collapse.

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  9. Of the nine suggested causes of imperial decline, “Dynastic Succession” has the most immediate consequences because when there is not one designated ruler, there will always be someone trying to gain power. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, meaning then when someone has a little power they let it go to their head and decide that they should be king. This happened in Egypt at the end of the New Kingdom when Ramesses II died with ninety heirs all putting a claim on the throne. Another example occurred in China circa 210-220 BCE when Shi Huangdi died and civil war broke out between various forces for control of China. Liu Bang’s forces became victorious creating the Han Dynasty. While Liu Bang probably wanted the control of China his whole life, he couldn’t make a move until the king was out of the way.

    Of the nine consequences, “Inequitable Economic Burdens would be the most gradual because a government doesn’t enter an economic depression quickly. It takes time for an economy to tank and leaders either A. realize it when its to late to stop it, or B. don’t care. As Ms. Galloway has said in class, people start uprisings when they can’t feed their children, and in order for that to happen it takes a few years. For example, the Han Dynasty ended because there was a widening gap between the rich and poor, allowing for peasants to get involved in the uprisings. Yes, while there were Barbarian invasions and civil war amongst the aristocrats, if it weren’t for the peasants being angry about not being able to feed their kids, there wouldn’t have been the numbers for an uprising.

    While “otherworldly or escapist religions” can be the cause of imperial collapse, it takes a certain situation for it to occur. If a society is only tied together by their religion like England when Henry VIII ruled, they will be mad when their ruler tries to change it. However, in a state like the United States escapist religions will never be the cause of imperial collapse because freedom of religion is allowed. There are Americans who are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Atheist, and many many more, and because of these different beliefs being allowed in society, a Christian can be friends with a Jew without causing disruption. Therefore, I believe that in a homogenous society based off of religion, imperial collapse can be caused by “otherworldly or escapist religions”, while in a heterogenous society based on the next basketball game will never be effected by this form of imperial collapse.

    -Ansley McCoy

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    • Ansley, I agree with your analysis of this paper. Whenever people want to be ruled and there is no ruler in place; there will be riots and people fighting for power. When a society is open to be ruled by monopolized force; there will be a revolutionary state of groups fighting for power. A great example of a modern day revolutionary state would be Somalia. There are several groups fighting for monopolized power because the people of Somalia have a mindset that society must be ruled and not managed by free market.
      In your second paragraph, you state that inevitable economic burdens is the most gradual cause. I do not agree with that answer explicitly, but I agree with your reasoning and your analysis. Especially in ancient times; there was not a business cycle. The business cycle is formed by Keynesian economic policies which aren’t implemented quite yet ;). The business cycle is the constant boom and crash of an economy. Moreover, the economic shifts in ancient times were likely slow and gradual as you implied. I agree.

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    • Ansley, I totally agree with you on how Dynastic Succession would have the most immediate consequences and Inequitable economic burdens would have been more gradual because yes sooner or late a new heir would have to come because either the line of a family died out or there weren’t any men which caused tension and civil wars within ones own society. Also I agree because economic depressions do not developed quickly because yes a cause may happen quick like the Great Depression but the effect will gradually take place because it will hit then soon spread. I do agree with you to an extent on how “escapists or otherworldly religions” that it only takes certain situations to occur but not quite. I do think that if a society was tied together but one religion it wouldn’t successed in long term preferences because in order to progress and develope, new ideas and new people must come to a place in order to spread and populate their own religion in order for the previous one to develop and make changes or fight. So in that in the future, we know what to do and what not to do based on a previous history.

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    • Ansley, I completely agree with all three of your paragraphs. You gave good secondary examples that were not on the paper such as in paragraph 1, where you mentioned that Ramesses II died and he had no strong heir and that caused the his dynasty to fall. Another good example you used that was not in the reading was the mention of King Henry VIII and how he had changed the religion of England. Good Job.

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    • I agree with your response for both the immediate consequences and gradual, and can understand ways in which they apply not only to China, but on a global basis. (Because we both took AP Euro, I’ll use an example from France…) The idea of dynastic succession acting as an immediate cause is completely plausible for not only the case that you mentioned of Ramesses II, but also with King Louis XVI and the House of Bourbons. I also agree with your statement on the gradual cause of economic burdens. This relates to the discussion Ms. Galloway had with us about how people begin to grow angry when they cannot feed their children, and this happens slowly as a result of the tax burden growing on the poor.

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  10. Justin, I completely agree with your first paragraph in that dynastic succession is the most immediate cause of the collapse of empires. I also agree with your point on economic burdens causing the most gradual collapse, but why do you think that economic burdens are the most gradual collapse? You never explained it and I would really like to hear your point.

    I also agree that escapist or otherworldly religions do cause imperial collapse, but what do you think would happen if the emperor liked a new religion but didn’t gain support of it from his people. This happened in Egypt in the New Kingdom when Akhenaten came into power and forced his people from a polytheistic religion to a monotheistic religion, with belief in the Sun God. Do you think that an extreme case would cause riots and war?

    Overall, I think that you had some really great points, and I completely agree with what you said!

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  11. Out of the 9 given i believe that having the external enemies would have the most immediate consequence because once a king surpasses his enemy he must then rebuild or take control of the empire and stabilize things to his will but his opponent who wants his stuff is already stable and could probably take over his kingdom. A similar example would be in the Han dynasty when the king tried to take over nomads but they took him down instead. On the other hand, the slowest thing to kill a kingdom would probably be the dynastic succession because it take many generations to wither down or draw an uprising. This can be seen in the Qin Dynasty when it only lasted about one generation because the king didn’t really give his throne o anyone and no one was prepared or his death.

    Other worldly escapists could mean just about anything, i think it means that when most of the empire’s religion is to focus on a greater later life and not “material wealth” means the people don’t really want to fight or kill because it goes against what is their peaceful lifestyle. When no one wants to fight the army is diminished and must be made up for in funds or loss of battles. I agree it makes things more difficult but not impossible with the right technology or a diverse enough group where there are enough willing to take life to keep those at home safe.

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    • Denia, I find that I disagree with your opinion that dysnastic succession would be the slowest factor to lead to the fall of an empire. In fact, the mention of the Qin Dynasty in its short-lived glory rather contradicts your statement previously before, that “it takes many generations to wither down or draw an uprising.” This is because in the Qin Dynasty, there was only one generation of rule before China once again descended into conflict, which did not supply much time between battles for supremacy.

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  12. Out of the various suggested causes of imperial downfall, I think that dynastic succession would be the most immediate cause to the decline of an empire. Fallen heirs and short hereditary lines provide the instantaneous need for a leader. When a lineage is ceasing, the urgency to install another authority figure is imminent. If a strong successor does not step up, major conflict ensues. This conflict, usually consisting of revolts and warfare, ultimately leads to the immediate decline of an empire. This is illustrated in the collapse of the Qin dynasty. Due to the emergence of a weak successor, Hu Hai, the Qin dynasty quickly disbanded through revolts and uprisings.

    Bureaucratic corruption stands out to me as a gradual cause of imperial decline. Most citizens of bureaucratic empires actively expected their leaders and upper classes to exemplify moral values. This expectation was often misled. In most cases, the bureaucracy would fall victim to corruption, provoking rebellions, revolts, and, ultimately, downfall. The downfall was a slow process, however. The text implies that it was gradual by describing it as “in time.. succumb[ing] to corruption.” This is illustrated by the Han empire under the rule of Emperor Wu. The wealthy bureaucracy took advantage of poor peasants, leading to insurgency and unrest.

    While I agree that “otherworldly and escapist religions” can contribute to the dwindling of an empire, it seems more like an agent than a direct cause of imperial decline. Rather than the emergence of these belief systems directly impacting the stability of an empire, they were an object on which blame was placed. The other contributing factors to the fall of a government played a much larger role, yet the conflict was attributed to foreign religious beliefs.

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    • Gabi, your paragraphs had good, supportive evidence and insight on the situations. I agree with you completely. I like that you mentioned how the bureacracy took advantage of the peasants.
      -Emily Claire Lauth

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  13. Out of all of the suggestions for the fall of empires, I think that inequitable economic burdens would have the most immediate consequences. Since the rich are able to avoid taxes, the poor are taxed more which doesn’t help anyone because, when the poor are unable to pay their taxes, the government’s revenue decreases and the poor are angry. the government’s nonavailability to resources quickly leads to the inability to afford defenses against external forces and the mad, poor people of the kingdom begin to revolt. On the other side, the suggestion from this article that would have the most gradual consequences would be Dynastic succession because, if a new leader comes to power from the family line but it not that good at leading, I would think that the citizens would not just immediately decide to overthrow him and choose a leader for themselves. If he makes a little mistake, I don’t think it would make everyone hate him immediately. It will take time and mistake after mistake (Or maybe 1 extremely bad mess up) for the citizens to decide it would be best if someone else were to run the kingdom.
    With the “otherworldly or escapist religions”, I think they could be the cause of an Empire to fall if the new religion were to spread among only one social group and the other social groups stuck with whatever religion they had before. This can lead to disputes between the groups which, in turn results in disorder and chaos.
    -Marco Mancuso

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  14. I believe that the most immediate cause of an empires decline would be Dynastic succession. If the individuals in a state do not like a prince, they will likely know before they succeed the king. When they do; and the people do not support him, they will likely fall fairly soon thereafter. The most obvious option would be External Enemies. While this may cause the downfall of an empire quickly; there will still be a long war and remenents of the empire would still exist for a long while. Meanwhile, if your people hate the king they will immediatly 1) Stop funding him and 2) Riot against him. A state survives on it’s monopolized tax dollars over geographic area. Once this is lost, the state can no longer survive.

    The most gradual downfall would most likely be moral decline. Moral decline is by nature a longer period event, but it is not very efficient in eliminating a state. This was an easy decision in my opinion. An example from Ancient China of external enemies are the Hun invasions of the Han dynasty from the North. The Huns were “barbarians”, or moreover hunter/gather groups north of China, that invaded due to an incurring drought inhibiting farming ability. This is one of the primary reasons of the collapse of the Han Dynasty. The invasions led to the Han government having to spend more resources to protect and fend off the northern border.

    The author points out that a reason behind empire collapse is escapist or otherworldly religions. This means religions like Christianity and Daoism that “stressed heavenly rather than earthly rewards”. The author implies that these religions led people to sway further from their duties to the almighty state. I do not agree with the author that this was a major cause of the collapse of ancient empires. I believe that it was a minor cause; but not a major one. The 8 other reasons shown strongly outweigh this one in terms of efficiency in taking down a state. The author claims that Daoism causes people to sway from the state and their duties for the state. He blames peace for the downfall of empires. In fact; most religions promoted statism. I believe that a major reason that religion has survived so many years was the advantage it gave the state over people. Religion in itself gave states tremendous power and stable/reliable power over it’s civilians. So, if anything, religion has helped states expand their power over people’s lives moreso than it has weakened state power throughout history.

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  15. Of the nine suggested causes, I believe that the dynastic succession had the most immediate consequences because the leader or who ever has the power is the one in charge of the people and society. So all the dynasties were hereditary and normally it was men who would rule generation after generation. Inevitably, after those odd some generations the heirs would become weak or there would be no more boys which lead to revolts and civil wars in who would have the power. An example of this could be that during the Han Dynasty, it ended because of the infighting for control over the throne. I think that Inequitable economic burdens would have more of gradual consequences because the successful empires were dependent on sufficient revue fed from military and the government so if taxes had raised, rich people would be able to afford it but the poor and powerless would have decreased and end up selling their properties. That lead to revolts and the governments didn’t have the resources to mount defenses against external enemies. For example, in the Han dynasty, free peasants were increasingly able to own less and less land because lack of wealth and rapid growing populations as went as selling on to rich aristocrats in which resent became cheaper than taxes to avoid military labor. I see why the author said that escapist ad otherworldly religions caused the fall of empires, which may be because it brought new religions like Christianty in roam which did indeed create chaos. But I do not agree with him, only because bringing Christianty or Buddhism and Jainism brought a new religion to a new set of people in which allowed them to expand their own way of life and which patches they’d want to take spiritually.

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    • I agree that the inequitable economic burden can be gradual, because the tax increase would cause the people to rebel against the government, and rebellions tend to take a long time. It;s not something that happenes over night, rebellions can go on for years, so I agree that the inequitable economic burden can be a gradual influence of the fall of an empire.

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  16. I personally hold the belief that dysnastic succession plays the most immediate role in the dissolution of empires. When an emperor dies and leaves no suitable of apparent heir, there is no time wasted in the breakout of war and struggle for power among those who desire power. It may be argued that the deterioration of competent heirs spans the course of many lifetimes and rulers, as it says in “The Decline and Fall of Empires” that “Inevitably, after some generations, ruling families produced weak heirs due to wine, song, sexual excess, mental deficiency, or other causes, or they left minor heirs who were incapable of governing.” The use of these words as evidence for such an argument would give the idea that it takes time for the leadership of an empire to weaken through the passage of power, and thus succession would be more of a gradual cause of disaster, However, there are other occurrances of succession and civil war in China that disprove this argument. The primary example of this would be the Qin Dynasty, which reigned from 221-207 B.C.E. This dynasty lasted for an exceptionally brief period of time in China’s history, and after the death of the only emperor to rule within this time, Qin Shi Huangdi, the empire dissolved into civil war until 202 B.C.E. This supplies evidence that the tension regarding succession does not build over long periods of time, but rather flares up suddenly at any opportunity to seize power. As often the end of a rule and the death of a leader are not long-awaited and expected, rather more sudden, in turn, the reaction to such a drastic event must also be sudden.

    On the opposite side of the spectrum, there is to be considered the most gradual cause of empirical collapse. For this case, it would be logical to place the blame upon inequitable economic burden, which occurs when the brunt of taxes are shifted from the rich to the poor, who cannot supply the revenue needed to fund their respective empire’s government system. It should be noted that a period in which this system is effective is required, because if such an all-encompassing system were to fail from the very beginning, the society would not develop sufficiently enough to even warrent a later collapse. It can also be inferred that the rich do not begin to evade their taxes all at once, but rather it is logical to think that this happened gradually, and as more and more of the powerful upper-class citizens found ways to shirk on their tax duty, the strain on peasant revenue would become unbearable, to the point in which overall revenue experiences a descrease in correlation to this. Not only does the lack of revenue harm an empire in itself because of a new inability for sustainment, but peasant uprisings are triggered out of the continual mistreatment of lower-class citizens. By the time these peasants are finally pushed past the brink, and they begin to revolt, the empire does not have the ability to defend itself against its own, or to supply compensation to the people. Thus, not only is the tax increase on the poor a problem in itself, but the revolts and lack of loyalty to the ruler that it leads to are a demonstration of a sort of domino-effect that ultimately collapses the civilization. This can be seen at the end of the Han Dynasty, where the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor was a major contribution to the dynasty’s downfall.

    It can be assumed that by placing the blame for collapse upon religion, it is implied that the citizens within the empire began to focus on “heavenly rather than earthly rewards,” which could explain a lesser care on material or earthly values of society; they may have been tossed aside in favor of a spiritual reward. I myself disagree with this view, as there is no sufficient evidence proving that this factor truly did contribute to the downfall of empires. The examples given, such as the Roman and Mauryan Empires, rely on blame and speculation rather than a logical cause-and-effect chain proving that religion truly did cause harm to the structure of those civilizations.

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  17. I believe that the External enemies would have the most immediate consequences. The threat of attack and conquest by external forces can cause the change of powers faster than other reasons, in my opinion. The Bureaucratic corruption would have more gradual consequences. The corruption would take longer to take effect than the external enemies would, but the overall effects lead to a distrust between the government and its people, leading it to be harder to establish the same style of government without a large change in ideals and no chance of the same groups or people continuing to rule.

    I believe that the suggestion that otherworldly or escapist religions being a cause of an imperial collapse is a valid suggestion. The author explained that religions such as Christianity stressed the concept of heavenly rewards instead of the earthly rewards that are seen in the mandate of heaven as seen before in many empires. I agree with this assessment, as many rulers used the idea that because good things happened to them they had to power to rule due to having the mandate of heaven. Other religions in the empire meant that not everyone agreed with the ideals of the leader anymore This had the ability to lead to revolts, rebellion and uprising by groups of people.

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  18. I believe that the decline of martial spirit will have the most immediate consequences. This is because martial spirit is needed to protect an Empire and keep order. Without Marital Spirit, an Empire would have an unreliable military force which would quickly lead to its destruction and downfall. When the Huns attacked with such strong and swift force, the Han troops felt inferior and weak, which led to their demise. I think that Regional, Racial, and ethnic tensions would have the most gradual consequences. This is because there has always been prejudice and tension in Empires in history. Therefore, there were many more important things, such as growing crops, than equality amongst the citizens. This is true because for hundreds of years, there was inequality and differing ethnic qualities in China, but the numerous Empires were for the most part unaffected by this. The Empires dissolved over the years for other factors.

    I think that the idea that escapist religions could destroy an Empire are very true. When a group is more focused on their spiritual selves and achieving self worth, they will not focus as much on “Material gains”. Therefore, these types of religions could dismember an Empire. I think that this is true because people are willing to die for their religion, so this makes religion a huge part of their everyday lives. So if religion because too powerful and relevant, it would definitely be able to harm an Empire.

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  19. I believe that dynastic succesion has the most immediate consequences of Imperial decline of the nine suggested. This is because in less than one generation, there can be no adequate successor of power. This can lead to revolts that can crumble a dynasty fairly quickly. For example, The Alexander Dynasty broke apart due to there not being a male heir. Also just two generations after the creation of the Mongol empire, a dispute succession broke it apart. This shows that all it took was one generation, to not create a succesfull heir to crumble a empire.

    Out of the nine causes I believe that “inequitable economic burdens” had the most gradual consequences. This is because a Dynasty can survive off of a declining economy for a good amount of time. It will affect some things but they would be able to find alternative ways of staying afloat. For example, over time in the Han Dynasty large plantations became more used than self farming which over time created a large disparity between the rich and poor. Trade also brought inequality as the now poor people could not get the nice luxurious items, thus creating a even bigger separation between the social classes. This over time would create bad blood amongst the lower level resulting in revolts.

    Escapist or otherworldly religions may cause a imperial collapse because some religions thought non violence, which is good within the empire, but it can weaken them. If a dynasty isn’t violent in war they will lose, thus showing religious views can collapse a empire.

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  20. In my opinion, the most immediate impact on the fall of an empire would come from dynastic succession. This is because for as long as the people of these empires knew, the ruler had most always been kept within the same bloodline and family. Due to the fact that some rulers had an abundance of children with multiple women brought the challenge of finding and successor to the throne. This inability to find someone fit to rule caused infighting which had been the reason for the fall of the Quin Dynasty after the death of Qin Shi Huangdi.

    Of the nine causes of imperial decline, I feel as though the one that would receive the most gradual impact would be the regional, racial, and ethnic tensions. This is because groups are always fighting for what either group has or what they don’t like that is different about each other. For example, the Qin and the Han Dynasties had always been rivals with the nomadic group that they referred to as the “barbarians”. This means that this area of China had been fighting with a group from at least 221BCE to 220 CE. The Qin Dynasty had gone to such lengths to keep them out by doing things like building the Great Wall of China that linked preexisting walls on the frontier in attempts to prevent attacks. Then during the Han Dynasty, the barbarians were pushed into Chinese territory due to a drought, this ultimately lead to the demise of the Han Dynasty. So things such as regional and ethnic differences can lead groups to be instant enemies, but the decline of one of the two sides my not come till much later.

    I do believe that otherworldly religions can lead to the cause of an imperial collapse. This is due to the fact that for certain empires, the religion was one of the defining facts that kept them together. When this is changed by the adding of a new incorporated religion, the empire was no longer united. This would in turn cause outbreaks and disputes among the regions which cannot keep an empire together anymore.

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  21. External enemies was the most immediate cause of decline in ancient empires because when tensions between groups started, they often escalated quickly. The Han Empire had to pay off neighboring enemies in order to ease tension however this failed when funds ran low. Costly technology lead to a more gradual decline because many empires reached a certain point when they were well off in food production. This caused more massive and complex constructions such as the Great Wall of China and the pyramids of Egypt. Naturally this lead to the decline with working conditions and the empire’s economic conditions worseningThe author’s view on escapist religions being a cause for decline shows the thought process of political leaders in ancient empires. They wanted the people to be focused and fully devoted to them in order to benefit economically and technologically. This can be seen with Egyptian pharoahs going as far as calling themselves demigods or Chinese rulers conquesting through the mandate of heaven. However, this does not seem to be a main role in the decline of ancient empires. If anything, most religions and philosophies stress following most laws. However, they do heavily critize overly violent ways of enforces these law codes, like Daoism critizes the Han Empire and Legalism.

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  22. I feel as though the most rapid incline of consequences would be the state of External Enemies. I say this because war can be upon a nation within a day, simply appearing overnight. Enemies can develop as soon as you meet someone or the moment you say something that this person takes offense to. In China, early successors most likely had plenty of enemies, many were siblings of the heir to the throne, as killing your older brother meant you got to have power.
    As for the most gradual increase of consequences, I feel as thought this would be Costly Technologies. Many times, a new piece of technology could take generations to evolve or become a final, useful product. For example, the wheel and the discovery of fire took many years to develop and sprout into everyday uses. Many technologies didn’t have just one name, many times sons and close family friends took over and kept the invention going. Time was very precious here, this being the most gradual increase.
    I believe that the author’s point of an imperial collapse based on religion is practical, as many times a religious group comes across another of a different religion, war and fighting begins to occur. All throughout history, religious groups have always been at each other’s throats for disagreements over the divine beings. This had been the cause of many fights on all regions of the world, and it still continues to be a problem to this day in some parts of society in different areas.

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  23. I believe that Dynastic Succession would have the most immediate causes on an empire because when a leader has multiple heirs to his/hers throne then often times the heirs feel like its their right to own the throne. If all of them want the throne then a civil war breaks out and BOOM the dynasty is gone. An example of this happening is the succession of Hugh Capet. Basically Hugh Capet died (obviously) then Henry the first came into power for his father, but Henry’s mother wanted Henry’s younger brother Robert to rule instead so she allied herself with Odo II and together they managed to expel henry and take the throne. I think that the most gradual consequence would have to be Moral decline because without the people wanting to work and make money and do the right thing for the king, how else is he going to keep the Kingdom going. Moral spirit is key to competition among the people and competition drives the economy forward. The higher up you go on the chain of command the more and more moral you should see. Moral decline can lead to depression, famines and corruption in the high ranks. A good example in China of Moral NOT declining was the introduction of Buddhism and the fact that you should do the right thing and do good in order to have a happy and productive life.
    I think that the author puts “otherworldly or escapist religions” to demonstrate how a religion can weaken the central government. For example, if Buddhism teaches one to do good and use non violence then who would be the army to protect the land? I may be a little confused on the laws and teachings of Buddhism, but I think you catch my drift fam. Also different religions can have very different and sometimes contradicting beliefs and that can cause a huge problem if those religions are located in and or around the same area.

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    • I disagree with your most immediate cause of an empire as being dynastic succession because as I said in my earlier comment, I think that the process of ruling then passing down an empire to an heir is a process that happens over many years. And even if one bad emperor did arise, usually the impact of the one emperor was not significant enough to undo everything that every other strong leader had spent their entire lives trying to accomplish. Also to address the point of fighting over the throne. Although this is a valid point, many times it is clear who the next heir should be especially if it is direct lineage and not from someone outside the royal family.

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  24. I find Dynastic Succession as an immediate cause for the fall of an empire. The first ruler will always been praised for having unite a country but as the line continues, the future heirs eventually get decide to do whatever they want. There are times when there are too many heirs to be chosen and a problem will arise because they cannot figure out who is capable of being such a leader. one example is during the Han Dynasty when there were in- conflicts in the palace for the throne. Then there is the ineffectual leader that people will not like because of the way the ruler acted to his people and that results to having a revolt against him.

    I do think that bureaucratic corruption has an gradual consequence for the downfall of empires. Anyone who is educated can become an official in the palace as long as they are honest and loyal to the emperor. However, these bureaucrats eventually decides to have things to themselves over time even doing tricks to get around due to their wealth. Corruption was one the factors for the fall of the Han Dynasty. Another example is during the Qin Dynasty as Shi Huangde does not trust the people he has chosen to rule over the commandaries due to his history of what has happen to him with his mother and having three assassinations.

    Other worldly religions, I think is how it goes against a governors traditional ideas, influence, cultures… One may blame this for changing the mind of that. China did not like merchants coming in their place because it is “unpredictable” and they do not like being unpredictable.

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  25. I think external enemies would be the most immediate threat, because as soon as the leader of the state showed weakness, any outer group who wanted that land and the people on it saw that weakness as an opportunity. I think the most long term threat would be regional, racial, and ethnic tensions, because while the people will follow the will of their original leader for a while, if there is something to segregate, then I believe that the people will eventually do that. One of the most apparent ones in historical China would be dynastic succession. The end of the Qin Dynasty was a fight for control with Liu Bang being victorious, and starting the Han dynasty in 202 C.E. The author suggests that “escapist or otherworldly religions” can affect the stability of a kingdom or dynasty. If an outside religion comes into a kingdom that has only ever had one religion, and has their laws based off of that religion, then it can cause people to break laws in large masses and protest things the government says to be truth. I do agree with the statement, it does make sense, especially on a historical standpoint when some places had hardly any diversity.

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  26. Of the nine ways of how an empire can fall, external enemies would have the most immediate consequences to an empire. External enemies make such a large impact because it takes a very short period of time for enemies to invade an empire compared to all the other ways that an empire can potentially fall. Of the nine causes, dynastic succession has the potential to take the longest amount of time to have any true affect on an empire. This cause would take the longest amount of time due to the fact that one ruler usually stays in power until they die, which can take many years. Especially is the king is a dominant ruler and is successful. The other reason why dynastic succession takes the longest amount of time is because even if the next king in line turned out to be ineffective and weak. The next king could usually right the wrongs that the former king caused. So in reality it would take multiple poor kings to bring down an empire instead of one single king. One example is emperor Lui Shi who was a weak leader, but under this emperor’s rule the Han dynasty did not crumble due to this one emperor.

    The authors other cause that otherworldly religions caused the decline of certain empires is certainly a valid point because religion has a strong tie to the government of many empires. And religion can be a source of stability for many empires. So when a new religion arises and it starts a movement, often times that movement can cause an empire to become weak because they no longer have one unifying religion that ties everybody together. So I do agree with the authors cause, because it is extremely likely that any new religion always sparked controversy and problems for the existing establishment.

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    • I would have to disagree. I believe that Dynastic Succession is the most immediate cause. I understand how one would thing external enemies but if there is no leader to unity the subjects in order to fight against their enemies thats an even bigger problem. I see your point that there could be a good leader than a bad leader then another good one to fix the bad leaders problems. However, I believe one leader can be bad enough to make an entire empire collapse. And then there wouldn’t be time for a good leader to come in and rectify the situation. Fighting within would have already started and make a complete mess of that society…

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  27. While there are numerous reasons why empires have fallen in history, one of the immediate consequences for the falling of empires was due to inequitable economic burdens. Widening economic gaps are directly responsible for instabilities that stem from those who have greater economic control versus those who involuntarily have a small piece of the economic pie. Those people who have higher incomes oftentimes control the economy due to greater access to means of making money and maintaining their wealth. On the other hand, access to the economic pie is denied to those at lower economic levels. This prohibits their ability to take care of their most basic needs, which leads to a lack of security, distrust of those with power, and the tendency to revolt.
    The rising up of those who have a small piece of the pie can be linked to the decline of some of Chinese dynasties. For example, the Huan Dynasty in which peasants or people of a lower economic level began to revolt because the amount of taxes that were put on the land in which they needed to make their living was unbearable. Therefore, the peasants were unable to support themselves and their family; this often times led to them revolting against their government and a lack of security. Costly technology had a more gradual effect on the decline of Chinese dynasties. For example, the advancement of technology was necessary and led to the development of textiles, mills, and iron casting. The advances helped the dynasties to improve their ability to overcome others. They also became expensive to maintain.
    The author’s suggestion that “escapist or otherworldly religion” led to the collapse can be viewed from different vantage points. If people were solely focused on heavenly rewards and neglected earthly cares, then this could have been problematic. It would have been important to respond to the needs of the people and immediate environmental concerns. Otherwise, important needs like the safety and protection of the dynasty would have been compromised. However, I find it difficult to believe that focusing on heavenly rewards directly correlates to the dismissal of earthly concerns. Therefore, I disagree with the author’s idea that the decline was partly due to people who preferred to live outside of reality and to escape from the immediate concerns of their dynasties.

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  28. I think of the nine causes of imperial decline, dynastic succession would have the most immediate consequences. I think this because eventually there would be a weak heir, an heir that wasn’t old enough to rule, or no heir at all. If there was no one that could succeed the throne, a civil war might break out and after warring for some time a new leader would emerge. An example of this would that during the Han Dynasty in China, Emperor Ling was succeeded by his 13 year old son Liu Bian, and his mother became regent. After some disagreements and betrayals, a civil war occurred and the empire eventually split into different kingdoms.

    Of the nine causes of imperial decline, I think bureaucratic corruption would have more gradual consequences. I think this because after a while, all empires would become corrupt, even if they started out being honest. The people running may become arrogant or just not care about what was right. An example from China would be from the Qing Dynasty, during which there was an alarming amount of corruption by Qing officials, which was one of the contributing factors for growing peasant unhappiness.

    I think that the author’s suggestion that “otherworldly or escapist religions” can be a cause of imperial collapse is an accurate suggestion. Many religions have many different rules, and many of these rules conflict with each other. This can cause division with many different religions, which could later result in conflict. Also, these religions could weaken the empire, like Ashoka’s encouragement for pacific pursuits due to his belief in Buddhism.

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  29. The most immediate cause, I think would be external empires attacking other empires for revenge. Most of the reasons had to do with rebellion, which would not cause an empire to fall immediately. Whereas, a war due to an attack would most likely end very quickly resulting in an empire collapse. For example the Qing Empire fell due to wars with Europe and Japan. Europe defeated the army, and Japan conquered the empire.
    The most gradual cause in my opinion would be the corrupt government. The people would figure out after a while that they were under the ruling of a corrupt government, and then start a rebellion. Due to the power of the government, the rebellion may be successful, but would take a significant amount of time to over throw the empire. An example of an empire falling due to a corrupt government, would be the Ming dynasty, that fell due to rebellions caused by a corrupt government. Although rebellions weren’t the only causes of the fall of this empire, proving that this is the most gradual way that an empire can fall.
    Escapist or otherworldly religions has to do with emperors forcing religion amoung their people, which can cause people to rebel, because they want a sense of freedom in their lives. I agree with this statement. In the United States we have freedom of religion, so its not something that we think of as a burden. But if religion was forced upon us, we would rebel against the government, it is just bound to happen.

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    • I like the way that you were explaining your answer in the first paragraph. This is because when i originally read it, I was thinking about the wars that can take years upon years to finish and didn’t even think of the fact that sometimes the group being attacked is too under prepared and get conquered within days. Also, i definitely agree with you on the fact that otherworldly religions can take its toll on an empire. It didn’t even occur to me until i read your comment that the act of forcing a religion could be the cause of the destruction, this comment reminded me that this has been the down fall of many places all over the world even just in recent years.

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  30. (Sorry if this already accepted, my computer showed an error and I felt better submitting it again)
    Alli Moss

    Out of the nine, I personally believe that dynastic succession is the biggest immediate consequence of imperial decline. The author stated that “ruling families produced weak heirs due to wine, song, sexual excess, mental deficiency, or other causes, or they left minor heirs who were incapable of governing.”. Which shows that dynastic inheritance, while it did seem to be good idea of keeping power in certain families, led to the downfall of empires because of incapable rulers. In Chinese history, after the death of Qin Shi Huangdi, the Qin dynasty was left ruler less and the Qin dynasty came to a close.
    As well, the most gradual of them-in my opinion- would be moral decline because the moral standards of many people take a long time to shape, and even if moral standards change, a revolution may not always be completely successful. Look at the high-living and indulgence of the Chinese upper class during the Han Dynasty. The upper class’s want for more land and more profit lead to widening social classes and civil war.
    As far as escapist and otherworldly religions go, I agree with his statement that it can be a reason of empirical collapse. The author said that these religions “stressed earthly and heavenly rewards”, which implies the impact of religion on authority, saying that heavenly forces have a greater effect on a society than that of their “divine ruler”. In Han China, for example, Buddhism and Taoism are two different- but commonly practiced together- philosophies that sometimes contradict each other, therefore, there may be an external conflict at hand.

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  31. Of the nine causes of imperial decline, I feel as though dynastic succession would have the most immediate consequences. The reason is because whenever an empire is in need of a successor, there will be the possibility of confrontation, either because the successor chosen is too weak to govern an empire, or the throne is wanted by two people or groups. Either situation can cause civil wars, and in the case of a weak leader, a revolt. These types of confrontation can have a direct, immediate effect on any empire, because they usually involve the splitting of the empire’s citizens. No law or governance can stand the division of an empire’s people, so the decline of said empire would be quick due to dynastic succession disputes. An example of this decline occurs during the end of the Han Dynasty of ancient China, where one factor of its collapse was civil war after a dispute over who would succeed the throne: this led to the formation of the Three Kingdoms and Six Dynasties period.

    The cause of collapse with the most gradual consequence would be regional, racial, and ethnic tensions, because problems stemming from this tension would more than likely start in small settings, and turn into more widely spread divisions the longer that citizens live in an empire that is lacking unification. This process can span generations, until an empire finally collapses. It’s common sense that eventually people will find that the regional, racial, and ethnic tension will cause citizens to lean toward the establishment of societies filled with people who all share the same language, traditions, and culture. This can be observed again in the Han Dynasty, when the empire divided into the Wei, Wu, and Shu kingdoms: all of which had different ways of life.

    I somewhat agree that escapist or otherworldly religions can cause imperial collapse, but I don’t think the ideals of the religion itself would do any damage. The root of many religions is to better their followers through the installation of appropriate ethics and morals, so I don’t see how this would cause an empire to decline; I only see success for empires that seek ethical betterment. However, I think that the disadvantage of these escapist or otherworldly religions is that outside attackers could take advantage of any pacifism these religions may entail.

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  32. I feel that the dynastic succession would cause the most confusion and chaos for the immediate cause of an empires fall. Every time a leader dies or gets thrown out of office, someone has to replace him, and like when the Zhou Dynasty came to a fall, there was no clear leader, so it cause an civil war, which lead to the Qin Dynasty coming out on top. I feel that a corrupt government would cause the most gradual cause because people wouldn’t become aware that their government was corrupt until either a whistle blower or government actions caused the people to realize.

    I agree with what the author said that otherwordly or escapist religions can be a cause of imperial collapse, because usually the countries that took over the other country through imperialism and they rule very harshly, giving little or no freedom. The people would want to rise and revolt because their right to practice their religion would be gone. That could be a cause for the people to rise up and overthrow the government in place. I agree with the assessment.

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  33. Decline of martial spirit was the most immediate cause of imperial decline because without a group of people to support military efforts, the addition of new and outside fighters in the military is inevitable considering most empires’ history of conquest. For example, the expansion of the Han dynasty into Northern Vietnam required external sources of military because people were not willing to be in the military and would buy or rent land so that one would be exempt from military service. Because of this, military uprisings were common with the non-loyal outsider infantry; these rebellions eventually led to the slow decline of the Han dynasty.

    Moral decline is a more gradual cause of imperial decline because moral decline came as goods became more available, which was still not possible even when the Silk Road brought luxuries from separate regions of the world. Only the rich could afford items such as silk from China, therefore moral decline had to occur in the rich upper class before it affected any other class. This way, moral decline affected a small population, that did own the majority of land in the region one lives in, but did not pin the whole population against the hierarchy. This would take place after the gradual disparity between the rich and the poor; this led to peasant uprisings from the poor who wanted more.

    The author’s statement that “Escapist or otherworldly religions” can be the cause of imperial decline is not viable because historically people fight over religious beliefs and religious rule, but have found ways to incorporate the different beliefs. For example, in ancient China people would follow religions such as Buddhism and philosophies such as Confucianism or Taoism at the same time.

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    • Another example of syncretic religions can be seen in Japan. According to World Factbook, in 2012 it was established that 79.2% of Japanese people practice Shintoism and 66.8% of Japanese people practice Buddhism.

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    • I somewhat agree with your view on the author’s view on “escapist or otherworldly religions” isn’t visible historically. Even though it isn’t viewed for Buddhist and Confucius or Taoism beliefs, it was seen in other places. For example, Christian views and Islamic views didn’t blend at all, and there is still a divide between those two religions to this day.

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  34. Of the nine listed causes of imperial decline Dynastic Succession has the most immediate consequences. I feel this way because like the article said the empires were not constitutional democracies which meant rules concerning power weren’t clear. All the dynasties were hereditary being that their heirs were normally men who rule for generations. Like all things this was flawed because some generations had heirs that didn’t contain boys which lead to civil war and protest to who should have power. If there inst one set ruler, someone will always try and gain power. This happened in China around 210-220 BCE when the Han dynasty was started . Shi Huangdi died and civil war started between different power houses in china. In the end Liu Bang’s forces overpowered everyone else an the Han Dynasty was born . On the flip regional, racial and ethnic tensions causes the most gradual collapse . For example an empire would have to grow over thousands of years in order to house a large enough population for a variety of racial(ethnic) groups.But specifically why the Han Dynasty collapsed was because the Huns invaded the northern territory which started sparking old conflict .

    I believe that the author’s suggestion of imperial collapse based on religion is correct and practical . This is because religious groups often collide, then war and fighting break out. For example Christianity and Islam but all throughout history, religious groups fought over whos beliefs were right. Also because in some cases empires have a religion that holds a nation together, if something is influencing it the nation is no longer on the same page. These disagreements start small but as people are passionate in beliefs it gets ugly fast.

    – sydney s

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  35. I feel as though the regional, racial, and ethnic tensions of a region would cause the quickest demise of an empire due to the infighting among the people of the land. These people would break into different groups, each with their own separate cultures with different morality sets causing tension, or languages which can cause a lack of trade, resulting in the production of less money for specialties within the empire such as funding for military. Furthermore, I think that otherworldly religions would have had the most gradual consequences only because of the fact that the morals of the upheld religion will prevent some of the conflicts that could occur. For example, in China, with legalism, it was acceptable to be brutal when enforcing laws, while in Confucianism heaven was a main reinforcer of doing good within society, so I feel that the differences in morality could have been somewhat beneficial rather than harmful.
    I understand the authors point of how the escapist or otherworldly religions can be a cause of imperial collapse but I do not agree with this point. While the teachings could have made an empire less violent, it does not prove that it could weaken it because the teaching did not focus on fighting it was more focused on the correct lifestyle decisions.

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  36. I believe that dynastic succession has the most immediate effects because not every heir of the emperor is garanteed to be a strong leader. Some rulers might also have multiple heirs causing there to be a fight for the throne. For example, the fall of the Mongol Empire resulted from the dispute over who would succeed the past emperor. Because there was no real leader or order being kept, the empire collapsed. The fact that all the heirs were so focused on who was supposed to be emperor that it slipped their mind that no one was leading the country was the exact reason why the Mongol Empire and many other empires collapsed. No state can survive without a leader or, in any case, a strong leaders. Emperors who lacked good leadership qualities also cause an immediate collapse in the empire or cause the empire to so politically corrupt and disorganized that it might has well have collapsed. There are many cases of there being weak leadership in the Han Empire, where the “emperors” were being told what to do by relatives and officials who worked closely with the emperor and didnt normally have good intentions. There are also cases of this type of leadership in the Egyptian Empire which immediately resulted in the collapse of whatever empire that was in reign. A more gradual cause of the fall of an empire would be the economic burdens that would be faced in these empires. Empires always depended on the subjects paying taxes so that the government would have enough money to support military forces and the different branches of the government. The wealthier class found ways to avoid taxes and leave the burden to the poorer classes, causing the rich to be richer and the poor to be poorer. Not only did this cause less revenue to come for the government, but this also caused a massive gap between the upper and the lower classes. Whenever there is a massive gap between the two, it more often than results in revolts within the empire. This was especially the case with the Han Dynasty where there was a lot of controversy with land owning and being able to pay taxes for property. It eventually led to disputes between the people and the not being able to keep structure inside the empire, therefore causing difficulty to protect itself from outside forces.

    One of the causes that were mentioned as part of the authors claim was the spread and exposure of otherworldly religions. I do believe this to a possible cause of collapse for empires because conflict between religions more often than not results in rioting and in some cases civil wars. Whenever there are two different ideas in the same state or empire. there is always at some conflict between the groups that are involved. This has been the case with Aztecs, Mauryan, and especially the Roman Empire where religion or ethnicity has caused the fall of empires. However, do not believe that this in fact a major cause of the fall of empires. The spread of otherworldly religions is very minor cause of collapse because There are some regions where multiple religions won’t cause too much trouble as far as conflict goes. For example Asian cultures adopt many religions and philosophies have varying combinations in its population so being exposed to a new religion would not necessarily be a huge problem. Plus in most other empires, there is more to worry about that the introduction of a new religion. They have outside attacks and internal government corruption that would be more likely to cause the empire to collapse than otherworldly religions.

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  37. I believe that the causes with the most immediate consequences would be external enemies and the decline of martial spirit combined. If the leader of a large empire began to rest on his or her laurels for too long, anyone would be able to snatch them up. An example of this would be the result of the Jin-Song Wars. The Song Dynasty was very profitable and created many changes within the walls of China, but they didn’t create new military technologies and techniques until after they lost the land in Northern China to the Jin Dynasty. After the Jin-Song Wars, the people of the Song Dynasty strengthened their navy and discovered how to effectively use gun powder.
    A cause that may have a more gradual consequence, in my opinion, would be moral decline. Since morals are basically the spine of a culture, I believe that it would take a long time for them to change and decline. I would also like to state that if morals were ever changed within a dynasty the people might switch back to their original morals once the leader during that particular time was gone. An example of this would be the switch from the Shang Dynasty to the Zhou Dynasty. It was declared that the Shang leaders had become morally corrupt and did not have the people’s best interests in mind, which lead to the Zhou saying that the Mandate of Heaven chose them as the next dynasty of China.
    My belief is that “otherworldly or escapist religions” aren’t the cause of imperial collapse, but instead the interpreters that are explaining the religions to the mass of peoples. Most religions have a base rule of treat others how you want to be treated and how to keep peace within society, but leaders can twist words into something that benefits their own opinions. As most texts say, people are just human and are bound to make mistakes. Legalism basically states for the world to understand that people are born bad and work to have and keep moral codes.

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  38. I believe that dynastic succession would have the most immediate consequences to an empire. Since most empires were ruled by families, when the former ruler of the empire dies, he is expected to have a biological heir to the throne. If he does have an heir, the transition might run smoothly; if there is no heir or insufficient heirs, civil wars would break out, all for a new ruling family. This is similar to what happened in China during the Qin Dynasty. After Qinshi Huangdi died without a clear heir to the throne, fighting between rival families heightened for control. All of them wanted to be the ruling family of China. Ultimately the Liu Bang family was successful and resulted in the creation of the Han dynasty.
    Moral decline would have the most gradual consequences to an empire. If the citizens of an empire start to have lower and lower morals, the rule of that empire will most likely not be affected immediately. Morally declining citizens would probably be depressed and more likely to commit crimes and anger at their government than a person with high morals. Also every citizen will have different morals and different ways at looking at something in society. Therefore, their decline will not happen simultaneously, and will happen over a longer period of time. Also the class system at the time would have a huge impact on how people viewed the world around them. The people of a higher social status in the Han Dynasty were probably a lot happier than those of lower status, because of greater opportunities and of the expanding silk road trading route.
    I agree that escapist or otherworldly religions can lead to imperial collapse. Many religions have contradiction views of how a person should live their life. People who feel strongly about something, religion for example, can cause issues for the rulers of an empire. Conflicts between cultures and religions could lead to civil wars and unrest in the empire. This in the long run would hurt the empire and cause it to collapse.

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  39. One of the most immediate consequences, I would have to say, of the fall of any empire would be dynastic succession. If there is conflict over who is leading the nation, then no direction and/or guidance will actually be able to be done for the citizens. This is apparent in Chinese history as the end of the Han Dynasty resulted from infighting over control of the throne.

    A more gradual consequence of the fall of an empire, would be due to inequitable economic burdens. When the tax burden is shifted from the rich to the poor, it widens the gap and increases the disparity between the classes. This leads to revolt and riots, such as those towards the end of the Han dynasty.

    I feel as if the idea that “otherworldly or escapist religions” leading to collapse of an empire is plausible, but not to all regions. Although the author is able to support this claim with the several historical examples of the intervention of Christianity in the Roman Empire, it is specific to few regions. This statement cannot be applied to areas of those where multiple elements of Taoism and Confucianism are layered due to the fact that it contradicts it. I agree with this statement to an extent, but not entirely.

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    • I agree that dynastic succession can be the most immediate cause of a fallout of an empire. I also like your example of the civil war that occurs at the end of the Han Dynasty’s reign that contributes in its downfall. I can also see your point of view on how inequitable economic burdens may be a gradual downfall because of the separation between those engaged in agriculture, trade, or industry and the powerful, rich citizens who evade taxes. On the topic of otherworldly or escapist religions, I can see how you are stuck in the middle, but I believe that religion is no reason that should contribute to an empire’s downfall.

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  40. Out of the nine reasons for an empire’s decline, I believe that “Dynastic succession” would be the quickest way for an empire to fallout. The reason that I chose this is because, in my opinion, democratic governments are superior to all other forms of governments. However, at the time, no major ancient empires were democratic, only hereditary dynasties. Hereditary dynasties have not proven effective in history such as the case of the Qin Dynasty. The Qin Dynasty faced problems when their emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi, died and they needed someone to be heir to the throne. Qin Shi Huangdi’s first child assumed he was to take over however, conflict between his siblings arose to determine who became emperor. During this time of civil war, Liu Bang took over the Qin Dynasty and led it to its demise and the birth of the Han Dynasty.

    The reason for an empire’s fallout that would be the most gradual would be bureaucratic corruption. This is because to be appointed a bureaucrat by the emperor himself comes with a great deal of responsibility, honesty, and trustworthiness. Even once the emperor is gone, bureaucrats stay loyal to those within the family. Although bureaucratic corruption may occur, it is not likely in the hands of a trusted emperor.

    I do not agree with the author about the idea that escapist or otherworldly religions can be considered a reason for the downfall of an empire. I disagree because religions may not be blamed for the chaos caused in an empire. There can be many outside factors that better explain the reason for a fallout, but differences in religions can have little to no effect.

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    • I completely agree on the first paragraph about the dynastic succession. Also your opinion on religious factor against the author’s suggestion was interesting. But I think that religion might have not be the actual reason against the chaos causes, majority of the people suggest those and tend to blame on religious beliefs. Since not all the religious groups have similar morals and practices one sees others as they are wrong.

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  41. The Regional, racial, and ethnic tensions can have the most immediate consequences. Causing you to hate someone can occur over a long time, except when it comes to opposing cultures. Many movies and history such as WW2, Vietnam, and especially India. With the Jews, border conflict, and ethnic differences countries broke out in civil war almost instantly. Everyone has a instinct to save their culture, and when it is threatened people can switch to evil perspectives rather quickly.

    The Bureaucratic corruption would have the most gradual consequences. First off, it would take the government a long time to do enough *Services that citizens do not agree with* for citizens to even think of rebellion. People just don’t start attacking their government because of one or two things. The second factor is if the government did a lot of bad services, it would still take a lot of time to gather enough people to make a difference. After all not many people smile at the thought of fighting a military with farmers weapons.

    Many wars and genocides have occurred because of religion. This is because religion is always a touchy subject, and many people can easily be insulted or hurt by one or two wrong words. This can cause fights to brake out very easily, and can even stir up civil wars. So stating “otherworldly religions” as a valid reason for an empire to collapse is something I agree with.

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    • I disagree that regional, racial, and ethnic tensions are an immediate cause to imperial collapse. With your Jews example, that is more gradual than immediate. Anti-Semitic views existed prior to WW2 making it a progressive issue rather than instantaneous. Similarly, I believe regional, racial, and ethnic tensions across the globe slowly developed before resulting in all out war and eventually government collapse.

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  42. After reading and analyzing the nine causes of decline/fall of empires, I believe that the immediate cause of declining empires would deal with dynastic succession. If there is not a proper capable leader in charge things will start to fall apart. For instance, the Qin Dynasty only lasted for fifteen years because of civil wars due to the lack of poor leadership control. If a heir comes into power that is either young, mentally ill, ineffective, or unintelligent these will lead to a fall of that empire. A gradual cause that leads to a declining empire would be costly technology. New innovations are great but the consequence is a ” killer “. A Killer of time and money that will lead to a declining empire because the expense of initiating and maintaining projects of large magnitudes usually impoverish that government and turn into a liability ( as the article states). During the Han Dynasty , many inventions came about such as paper, iron casting , textiles and others. Those these things were helpful maintain them and the continuation of making them , the expense was a drain. I do believe that “escapist or otherworldly religions ” are an imperial cause of a fallen empire because emperors usually choose a main philosophy/religion that they want their subjects to abide by which is a conflict if their (the subjects) beliefs differ. For instance, legalism was the main philosophy practiced in the Qin Dynasty and the government was based on that. However many subjects didn’t believe that was the right philosophy. Which will ultimate lead to conflict when there is different belief systems .

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  43. Among the nine suggested causes of imperial decline, dynastic succession would have the most immediate consequences. The chaos that occurs from disputed succession starts immediately after the fall of the last Emperor. For example, a reason behind the end of the Qin Dynasty was infighting between rivals for control after the death of the prior Emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi in 210 BCE. The dynasties are hereditary; however, families started producing weak heirs that were too young. The mess caused by an empty position for power often escalated to civil war or invasion. A more gradual consequence that led to imperial decline is inequitable economic burdens. This factor is quite tricky, as a government probably won’t notice what’s happening until it’s too late. Taxes being shifted from the rich and elite to poor and powerless is already a loss. This means tax revenue is going down by default, since the poor cannot give as much to taxes. This results in a weaker military, and other government affairs will dwindle. An example of where inequitable economic burdens occur is during the Han Dynasty. The Dynasty had a increasing population and successful trade. However, rich aristocrats started buying lots of arable land- and there is not an unlimited amount of this easily arable land in the area. Since the poor cannot outbid the rich for land, they would rent from the rich. This was a big agriculture problem, because this caused a plateau in food production, due to the drop in farmers. The population was still going up, but food production was not going up with it. This led to malnutrition and starving among the poor- causing a drop in amount of soldiers since land owners are exempt from joining the army. This allowed for external people to come in, a proximate factor of the fall of the Han. The suggestion from the author that “otherworldly or escapist religions” can be a cause of imperial collapse is that they are essentially distractions from the betterment of the empire, leading to the fall. I agree with this because I see it in history. For example, Daoism, which was a popular philosophy in the Qin Dynasty, can be qualified as an escapist religion. The core focus is self-improvement and harmonizing with nature, and is almost isolating one from the others in society. This idea of just focusing on yourself and not the society makes it easier for other forces to come in, and cause a plateau in the betterment of the Empire. Both of those results easily lead to an imperial decline.

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  44. Imperial downfall is inevitably caused by various reasons including external enemies. Immediately, external enemies may dismantle an entire empire, if they strike at the right time. Due to gradual causes such as inequitable economic burdens, government may be weakened and vulnerable to attacks by external enemies. For example, Classical China’s Han Dynasty gradually acquired a huge agricultural problem which ultimately resulted in the collapse of the empire. During this time, peasants were less able to own land, population increased, and the gap between rich and poor steadily increased. Progressively, inequitable tax burdens depleted Han revenues because there was not much successful engagement in agriculture, trade, and industry. Also during this time, environmental disasters like drought occurred in the north, pushing the nomadic external enemy, the Huns, into Chinese territory. Because Chinese government revenues had already been drained due to inequitable economic burdens, the external enemy was the immediate cause for the downfall of this empire.

    I believe that escapist or otherworldly religions have little to no effect on imperial collapse. I do not think it is plausible to correlate the peoples’ religious beliefs with the security of their government. It is possible that the religion maybe imposed certain values like social stratification that ultimately affected the states’ success, but I do not believe that is enough to conclude religion as a detriment to government.

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  45. Out of all the possible factors why the empires might fall, dynastic succession would have the most immediate consequence on society. In this system, the government is ran by one family with a definite leader who rules the whole empire. However once that fails caused by any possible reasons like not having a powerful leader after the father dies, just like how the Qin dynasty came to end shortly when Qin Shi Huangdi died. The government collapse completely with nothing under control which might lead to an war fighting to take charge of the society.

    Inequitable economic burdens would be the most gradual consequence in decline of an empire. The economy does not fall suddenly after the fall of an empire, rather it is more slowly affected on especially the poor like the peasants. This was one of the reasons why the Han dynasty ended because due to the decline in the economic system during the time, the peasants couldn’t sustain their necessities anymore which caused the break through in the empire between the citizens mainly poor and the rich men based government.

    I think that when author suggests that ”otherworldly or escapist religions ” can be and not be a cause of imperial collapse. However it does have a very large role in the society in way of having people believe in something which can change their activities, it can also be an beneficial depending on what to take from it. If oppose it, it might turn out like ISIS, but if taken in without conflicts, the US worked that out nicely in having a freedom in practicing religion.

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  46. Of the nine suggested causes of imperial decline, I think that dynastic succession would have the most immediate consequences because if a ruler dies, he would have to be replaced immediately by another leader to keep order within the society. Without an organized and orderly government system, the dynasty would decline immediately. Everyone would be fighting over who is the rightful heir to the throne and this can cause the outbreak of wars among the people. An example of this is the decline of the Yuan Dynasty. It collapsed due to rivalry among the Mongol imperial heirs. Disputes over who should take over the throne caused fights between the heirs.

    I think that bureaucratic corruption would have the most gradual consequences because eventually, every dynasty would become corrupt. Power could overtake the leader’s judgment and over time, he would be so focused on being in control that eventually he would start doing bad things to stay in power. An example is being dishonest which could lead people to not trust the leader. After years and years of ruling, if the leader feels threatened, he might do dishonest things to keep himself in control of the people. An example is that Qianlong, an empire of the Qing Dynasty, started off as a decent ruler but towards the end of his rule, power overtook his mind and he became corrupt.

    I agree with the author that otherworldly religions can be a cause of the downfall of an empire. This can be due to the fact that many different religions exist among rulers. Difference of religions can cause problems between the people of the empire and it can lead to fights that can cause the decline of the empires, so I agree with the author.

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  47. Out of the nine imperial declines discussed in the article, I believe that dynastic succession has the most immediate consequences of all. If there is no one to become the leader after the most recent one has died, this will leave the citizens with no one to implement/enforce rules, and actions such as unnecessary riots and wars could occur. Likewise, “ineffectual leaders and disputed successions generally led to revolts, usurpations, and civil wars that toppled the ruling dynasty and contributed to the fall of the empire” (“The Decline and Fall of Empires” n.d., para. 3). One example of this would be the collapse of the northern Zhou dynasty, which fell because of the “imperial princes who lacked power to protect the central government” (The Sui dynasty” 1979).

    A decline with more gradual consequences that happen over time would be external enemies. Although enemies can quickly be made, an attack can take years to finally occur. External enemies must wait for an opportunity to strike, and ultimately ruin the defenses of the dynasty that will be attacked. For example, the invasion of the Mongols in China spanned over a time period of six decades, and this led to the downfall of the Jin dynasty.

    I believe that the author suggested “otherworldly” religions can cause imperial collapse because not only does it cause conflict within the region, (because people with different beliefs do not always get along), but also because at the time, the otherworldly religion was Christianity, and these Christians insisted on receiving help/rewards from something heavenly, rather than from something earthly that could essentially take place immediately. Christians were also blamed for the increasingly amount of chaos in other areas, specifically Rome. I agree with this in a way that having too much diversity could lead to the downfall of a dynasty, country, etc., but I also disagree to an extent, because we see that modern day countries – like the USA for example – are so very, very diverse, and yet still remain as a country and have not been overthrown.

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  48. I think the most immediate cause of imperial decline would be the external enemies because enemies would conquer empires and immediately began to “loot, settle, and rule the lands they coveted”. As hinted as in the text but not mentioned, the Han dynasty was conquered by the Huns. I think the most gradual cause of imperial decline would be the dynastic succession, because it would take generations for an inadequate heir to be born or for their not to be an obvious heir at all. For example the Zhou Dynasty ended up in the hands of the nobles and ended up becoming the Qin Dynasty.
    I think the author believes that disputes about Christianity in Rome and other locations may have caused war or the disputes or the teachings of pacific religions made the empire weak to enemies. This could be correct due to the long standing history of religion being a cause of war all around the world. I believe this assessment has some truth in it but I do not believe it was a common main cause of the imperial decline.
    ~Alyssa Bedenbaugh
    3rd Period

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  49. 1) Dynastic Succession. You have to have a leader to keep everything together.
    2) Moral Decline. Crime and poverty will rise if the citizens dont behave.
    3) The “barbarians” that took over the Han empire. There was no DEynastic succession and thre was a power struggle.
    4) I do not think that this is a cause of imperial collapse. This happened in other places but not in the Han dynasty or other chinese dynasty.

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  50. Downfall is inevitable because of external enemies. If they strike at the right time they have the ability to destroy an entire empire. Also, due to gradual causes such as inequitable economic burdens, government may be weakened and vulnerable to attacks by external enemies. For example, Classical China’s Han Dynasty gradually acquired a huge agricultural problem which ultimately resulted in the collapse of the empire. This was caused by the fact that peasnants did not have the opportunity to own land, population skyrocketed, and the social-economic gap grew even more. This also led to the decline in tax because there was no sucessful agriculture, trade or industry. Enviromental disaters also had a hand in destroying the empire. Such as the drought, that occured in the north, that pushe the nomadic enemy, the Huns, on to Chinese land. Since the government had been preveiously drained of all their revenue they had no way to remove the Huns from their land which caused for their immediet downfall.

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