Friday, July 31, 2020

The Fall of Rome Podcast

Back when I used to drive regularly, I would listen to podcasts. One that I particularly enjoyed was the Fall of Rome. The link is to a website where you can listen online. It is also available on podcasting apps such as Castbox. Patrick Wyman is the author. He is a historian that did his research on Rome. It is worth the time to listen to the entire series from the beginning.

After Borepatch's last post, I wanted to make an observation and it comes out of the information in the podcasts. What happens to Rome as it is collapsing is systemic. It has little to do with what is going on in the government directly. The height of Roman power ensured the roads were safe, both from criminals and from outside barbarians. As that power waned, the risk to shipments of goods grew. Trade declined as businessmen decided not to take the risks.

That must have been a last shipment of wine and olive oil to Britain. No one would have known it was the last. But it would have been more dangerous therefore requiring more armed guards, more fines and fees would have been paid to traverse what a few years before had been open roads, and the roads would have been in need of repair.

And when no more trade, people, or military came from Rome, what then?

That collapse of trade around the empire meant the end of movement, the end of news from Rome, the fragmenting of the language that resulted in communication becoming difficult and then impossible, and the isolation that led to the formation of small independent states. There is a tipping point where it was going to become impossible to recover, but it began with the Roman government's inability or unwillingness to keep the roads and cities safe for commerce.


5 comments:

Unknown said...

There is another podcast that I've recently started listening to (and which has a definite end), "The History of Rome" by Mike Duncan.

It seems like the difference is that "History of Rome" starts with the founding and goes all the way to the fall of Rome (179 episodes, and most of them are about 15 minutes long).

Now I need to crack open "Decline and Fall", which I've tried to read a couple of times as an ebook, but not have in a print edition. As if I had time...

==Dwight

Old NFO said...

Excellent point! I think it was more the inability as they were hemorrhaging money at that point...

Jonathan H said...

Some historians have pinpointed that time by looking at plates - yes, dinner plates.

There was an area of the Roman Empire that made good and cheap plates that were shipped all over the empire. They show up (broken) in rubbish piles everywhere.
In Britain, at one point the plates stop and soon the wealthy are eating off of plates that are more poorly made than what the poor used to eat off if...

ASM826 said...

Jonathan,

Pottery lasts, which is what helped use this to date the collapse. Other goods, tooled leather, woven cloth, foodstuffs, etc. would be completely lost to decay, but the loss of trade would have had wide ranging effects.

Glen Filthie said...

Thanks ASM! I will check it out!!!