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What was the Roman Empire's biggest mistake?

Originally published on HistoryNet.com. Published Online: May 31, 2010 
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What was the Roman Empire's biggest mistake?


11 Responses to “What was the Roman Empire's biggest mistake?”


  1. 1
    Jim Brubaker says:

    The failure to develop its own effective cavalry.

  2. 2
    Darryl Raby says:

    Not being able to intergrate "Barbarians" into the Roman Civic structure. Second biggest (not that far behind the first), thinking their army was invincible.

  3. 3
    Bill says:

    The Donative. Once the Legions realized that the power of the Emperor resided in their hands the Empire went up for bid. Time and again the Legions, and especially the Praetorian Guard determined not only who was going to rule the Empire but how long.

    Worst still were those times that various Legions vied to put their own Leader in place which led to protracted civil war, economic chaos and damage to the infrastructure that was never fully replaced.

    The Donative ensured that there would never be a workable means of succession of power and ultimately this caused the whole structure to fall in on itself.

  4. 4
    richard says:

    NOTHING-THEY SIMPLY MUST SUBMIT TO THE COURSE OF EVENTS AND PERSONALITIES AND THE VICES OF NATURE
    ALL THESE THINGS ARE OF PROVIDENCE

  5. 5
    Pete says:

    Letting the Visigoths settle south of the Danube wasn't one of their brainer moves.

  6. 6
    Dan P. says:

    Biggest mistake was the conquest of Dacia in 106 a.d. Dacia was the wall against barbarian invasions.

    • 6.1
      Akhsar says:

      Dacians wereconstantly raiding Roman territory, and they were pretty well equipped and organized – kind of Like an ancient Al Qaida. Romans were forced to do that

  7. 7
    Jonathan says:

    Moving away from a central "Roman" culture. Had the various peoples of the empire been co-opted fully into the political and social system of Rome it could have fought off invaders. Instead the provinces were filled with non-citizens who considered themselves Germanic, Hebrew, etc… At times they related more to the barbarians than the Romans.
    Had the Romans simply taught that other religions, languages, etc… were not as valid as the Roman, and accepted all conquered groups as Roman I believe the empire would have survived at least several hundred more years.

  8. 8
    Ed C says:

    The Roman Empire's biggest mistake was using lead in their plumbing pipes, for cooking pots, and for wine preparation and distilling. The strengthened wine products were a particular problem because the acid fruit juices and heat made it easy for lead to dissolve, and because the Roman elite drank about 2 liters of strengthened wine per day. Consequently large numbers of the Roman aristocracy were probably suffering from some level of lead poisoning (not to mention alcoholism).

    Some sources estimate lead intakes of about 180 micrograms per day. Effects vary, but from such ingestion blood levels of 50-100 micrograms per deciliter are possible. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, these levels are sufficient to cause brain and kidney damage, gastric problems, anemia and various neurological symptoms as well as significantly reduced sperm count. Even at much lower levels, about 10-15 micrograms per deciliter, the effects on pregnancy are appalling, causing miscarriages, preterm delivery, low birth weight and impairing the mental development of the child.

    When you consider the combined effects of the alcohol and the lead, the muddled thinking, idiotic decisions, population decline (particularly amongst the elite) and loss of virility both on the battlefield and in the bedroom, are all too understandable. The malaise apparent at the fall of the Western empire is probably at least partially because they were sick, not just socially and spiritually challenged, but actually physically sick.

    Reference:

    http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/wine/leadpoisoning.html

  9. 9
    Tim says:

    Easily the biggest 'mistake' the Romans and now we made is the displacement of our local workforce; it crashed the Roman economy EXACTLY how it did to America!

    The greed of the Patriarchs and material man in general, was used against them as it has been since and probably before.

    Sex and GREED, man's two biggest weaknesses wreaking havoc on humanity; quite natural tools to use against us as it works every time!

    This was no mistake NOW and I doubt it was then as it's a simple math problem! This is a way of creating the proverbial "Order" via "CHAOS" used over and over again in history.



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