An empire is a major political unit having a territory of great extent or a number of territories or peoples under a single sovereign authority. Two very famous classical empires were the Roman in the Mediterranean from 27BCE to 476CE and the Han in East Asia from 206BCE to 220CE. Both of these empires utilize the policies and practices of previous political governments to help ensure their success. Overall, the empires showed more political, economic, and social factors for their rise and fall than points of difference.
There were multiple similar factors that led to the social rise of the Roman and Han Empires.
In the Roman Empire, there were the patron/client relationships which helped social welfare and brought loyalty to the upper classes from the lower ones. This relationship was similar to the Han Empire’s Confucianism which stressed order and hierarchy which strengthened the stability and loyalty to the government and the right and responsibilities of individuals. Another similar contributing factor to the empires’ success is that they both had the father of the household with absolute power; in Rome this was called the paterfamilias.
Also in the Roman Empire there was the state religion worship of the emperor and the numinas.
This is similar to the Han’s worship of the nature spirits and their ancestors, along with the practice of feng-shui and the Mandate of Heaven. In addition they both used literature and art to promote a common culture among conquered people. Both tried to assimilate different regions through language, dress, and migration of citizens, but Rome also extended citizenship to raise the loyalty to the government. The social fall of the Han and Roman Empires were equally similar as they were different. One of the main reasons that the Han fell was because the loyalty in the outer providences was difficult to maintain.
In parallel fashion to the Han, the Roman Empire fell because its unwieldy size made assimilation harder and the Romanization declined. Another reason the Han Empire fell was because fathers would divide their land between their sons so each generation inherited less property which lead to the government getting fewer taxes. In Rome, corrupt officials passed laws so they could be tax exempt. Barbarian invasions for each empire resulted in less confidence in the government. The greatest reason that the Roman Empire fell is most likely because of the rise of Christianity.
Christianity led people’s religious beliefs towards a different god than just the Roman Emperor. This caused citizen to lose loyalty to their government. The political rise of the Roman and Han Empire demonstrated common features. Pax Romana, Latin for “Roman peace,” connoted the stability and prosperity of Roman rule brought to the lands of the Roman Empire during the first two centuries C. E. and paralleled the religious and social peace and stability during the reign of the Han. Also the emperor functioned as the main creator of law for both empires, which increases and provides the emperors power and consistent rules for the ____________.
Another component that the two empires had in common was effective leaders. The Han had Lu Bang at first and then Wu Di comes along and expands the empire. The Romans had the very effective Augustus who was very successful. The Romans also had a republic government structure that started to assimilate with the emperor. Like the Romans the Han had the Qin Empire structure but with a softer legalism punishments. From newly conquered territories, these empires benefited from tributes, trade, and natural resources. The political fall of these empires was more similar than different. Both of these empires were attacked by invaders.
The Han by nomads (Xiongnu) and the Roman by barbarians that disrupted the government. Also, in the Han and Roman Empires there was an increasing difficulty in rising sufficient military forces and so men paid mercenaries Empire having to hire substitutes for the military. A major thing that caused theses empires to fall was that their emperors weren’t connected with the people. In the Han Empire the emperor was isolated from the population; therefore his knowledge of what the people needed went down and the people were not listened to. Ineffective leadership contributed to the rebellion in both empires.
The biggest reason that the Roman Empire fell was that the taxes kept going down as the peoples inheritance was split between children. A major contributor to the fall of the Roman Empire was the 3rd Century Crisis. The third century crisis was caused by ineffective leaders and decrease in the senate and assembly’s support for the rest of the government. The inability for Han emperors to go into the central providences caused a decrease in the belief of their mandate to rule. The Han and Roman empires failed partially because they ran out of territories to conquer so new tributes went down and exports stagnated.
Diocletian was also contributing factor as to why the political part of the Roman Empire fell. He split the entire empire into two pieces and gave one to each of his sons. There were like economic reasons for the rise of the Hans and the Romans as well and they were very similar. Both empires were based on agriculture and had arable land, independent farmers, a good tax base, and the farmers were self sufficient and mostly grew grain. The Roman Empire traded with some of the surround providences to acquire the goods that they needed which is similar to the Han’s trading of silk.
These empires also had many roads that gave people jobs through construction and trade and helped the Roman military move around safely. The Roman Empire had an effective army that conquered a vast amount of land. One of the reasons that the army was successful was because the soldiers were motivated to work hard and prosper because they got to keep the land that they conquered. This resembles the Han Empire because the soldiers were rewarded with land if they do well in battle. Another factor is that both empires had in common was coinage.
The standard for the coins was based on weights and measures of metals. With all the conquering that the Romans had done they had gained many monopolies. The economic decline of the Han and Roman Empires was more alike than different. One reason that that these empires fell was because the Roman Empire’s trade kept being disrupted by the barbarians as well as the Hans were being interrupted by the Xiongnu nomads. Also in Rome there was a decline in the interest of trade in younger citizens because their parents gave them whatever they needed so the younger citizens didn’t want to work for anything.
There was also an inflation of prices on products in both of these empires and families couldn’t afford many things. If citizens couldn’t pay for the necessities then they went to black markets which cost the governments money. The most significant reason that these empires fell economically was the taxes. When the farmers with only a little bit of land they don’t really make any money off of it or pay taxes on it they sell it to a wealthy person who can but most large estate owners will bribe officials to avoid taxes. Empires rule different people over vast amounts of land.
This results in similar features of military, government, trade, and culture as they try to maintain unity. The lessons of the Roman and Han Empires can be applied to governments still today. Today’s government was formed by examining what went wrong with these great empires that sent them crumbling to the ground. Presidents today try not to seclude themselves from their nation’s people so that they don’t become too distant from what the citizens want. Overall, the empires showed more political, economic, and social factors for their rise and fall than points of difference.
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