Abstract and Keywords
This chapter examines the processes that led to the decline of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, in particular the fundamental change in political and social conditions such as the empire’s breakup into an eastern and western part having its own imperial residence. It also considers whether such change indicates a ‘crisis’ marked by violence, despotism, corruption, anxiety, helplessness, and uncertainty, giving rise to a new kind of empire known as the Tetrarchy. After providing an overview of scholarly debate about the use of the word ‘crisis’ in the Roman Empire, the chapter discusses urban and rural life as well as settlement structures, economy and resources, religion, and signs of violence and anarchy in terms of endogenous and exogenous factors, including changed natural conditions or natural phenomena. It then distinguishes Upper and Lower Germany before analysing archaeological evidence regarding crisis research in the two German provinces.
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