This article is brought to you by the year 476 C.E!

That house is in bad shape.  The lawn is flooded, the windows are broken, shingles are falling off the roof, and one side seems to be sinking into the earth.  It looks like a lot of bad things happened at the same time with that house.  If only one thing had been wrong maybe it could have been fixed, but so many things were not fixed for so long that there was no hope.  You know, this house reminds me of why the Roman Empire fell.  Too many things went unfixed, and then they all went wrong at the same time.

You need money to fix things or keep them working.  That includes everything from this house that's falling down to the Roman Empire.  At one time, the people who owned this house paid money to keep the water running and fix anything that was broken.  The Romans also paid money to keep things going.  A tax is money people pay to their government.  They can pay this as part of the wages they earn, or as an extra cost on things that they buy.  Rome collected taxes so they could do everything from build roads to pay the army.  Too bad money doesn't always go where it needs to.

When some people get their hands on money and power, they would rather keep it than use it for things that need to be fixed, like that house's roof or the roads of Rome.  Corruption is when people who are in power use that power to help themselves instead of the people they are supposed to help.  Instead of paying the water bill or fixing the roof, the people who own this house might have bought nice candles.  Many leaders in the Roman Empire kept the taxes they took for themselves.  They also gave jobs to people in their family or to people who give them money instead of hiring people who would do the best job for Rome.  So what were Roman leaders doing with all the money they kept?

Just as this house started to lose its roof, its windows, its heating and its water, Rome also started to fall apart.  Of course, the most important part of a house are the walls, the things that protect it.  The Praetorian Guard were soldiers whose job it was to protect the Roman Emperor.  At some point, the guard stopped doing what was right for the empire and started doing what was best for them.  They would kill emperors they did not like and make anyone who promised to pay them well the new leader.  If the new leaders didn't pay as well as the guard thought they should, the guard might kill the new emperor and pick another!  It's no good when your walls are trying to hurt you.  So much for living in that house . . . or in Rome.

I would bet that this broken house was around for a long time before it started to fall apart.  Look at the holes in those walls though . . .  People must have moved in and out and not taken very good care of the place.  For hundreds of years, Rome had a lot of land and did very well . . . but then the guard went bad.  A lot of people moved into Rome from outside.  One group, the Germanic Tribes, were people from the Northern part of Europe who moved into Roman lands and later attacked the city of Rome.  This was the end of the empire.  These tribes were pushed out of their own homes by other groups of people that were moving into their lands.  Some of them were brought into the Roman army and trained as soldiers, but they ended up liking their generals more than they liked Rome.  This was not good for the Romans.  This is when the house started to fall apart.

Nothing lasts forever.  We all know that.  If money or taxes are used for the right things, like paying armies and fixing roads or paying the bills and fixing the roof, then empires and houses can last a very long time.  If the leaders decide to keep all of the money, no money will make it to the walls of the house or the people who keep the empire safe, and it all will come falling down.  You don't think this house was attacked by Germanic tribes, do you?  Neither do I.


History For Kids.  "The Fall of Rome", 2012.  <>

Ducksters.  "Ancient Rome: The Fall of Rome"  Ducksters, 2011.  <>

History.  "8 Reasons Why Rome Fell", 2014.  <>