Evolution Of International System: The Fall Of The Roman Empire

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The fall of the Roman Empire was undoubtedly a significant event in itself, but what were the long-term consequences for the European system?

Kate Eugenie Mary Pickering
Dr Luke Cooper
Evolution of International Systems
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The Roman Empire, 27BC – 476AD, entailed over four hundred years of imperial rule. The Roman Empire was larger than any that had existed before or has done since (Ref‼‼), however large areas of Europe were still outside of the Empire. In 476AD, Augustus was disposed by Germanic King Odoacer (Ref?!?!), bringing the Empire to an end. This essay argues that the fall of the Roman Empire in 476AD had many influences on the European system. Through examining the
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Adam Watson was a British International Relations theorist and researcher who was one of the founding members of the English School of International Relations. Published in the book The Evolution of International Society, Watson’s theory of the ‘Spectrum and Pendulum’ demonstrated how the Roman Empire underwent a drastic shift from empire to independence (Watson, 2009). An empire is a system where there is direct administration from an imperial centre. It consists of a series of concentric circles, where power weakens from the imperial centre to the periphery. It is the classical hierarchical system, which, according to Watson, is ‘never absolute’ (Watson, 2009). In contrast, independence is an anarchic system in which political entities are free to make their own internal and external policies, limited only by the systems in which they participate (Watson,…show more content…
Through examining the collapse of Rome through Watson’s ‘Spectrum and Pendulum’ and analysing the legacies of the Roman Empire, this essay looked at how the European system was influenced by the legacy of the Roman Empire. From the fall of the Roman Empire in 476AD through to Charlemagne’s Holy Roman Empire in the 9th century, western Europe went through a period of great difficulty. The population of western Europe managed to preserve some of its Roman civilisation, firstly through the founding of the Holy Roman Empire by Charlemagne, ‘restoring’ the original Roman Empire. Secondly, Italy, Spain and France retained varieties of the Latin language, which became the Romance languages of today. Lastly, the population remained or became Catholic, and were organised and represented by the Catholic Church. In conclusion, I believe the most important long-term consequence of the fall of the Roman Empire on the European system was the Catholic Church. The Latin-speaking Church was the most specific survival of the ancient civilisation, with Christianity surviving the fall of the Roman Empire as the only transnational political structure in the west, leaving a cultural legacy. The statement ‘ordo renascendi est crescere posse malis – it is the law of progress to advance by misfortune’ (Dawson, 1932, p.31) sums up the essay, since Europe is the result of a long process of

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