A Look At How Disintegrating Empires Cause Calamity For Centuries

When empires fall, they fall hard

Grant Piper


Map of Ottoman Empire (University of Michigan / Public domain)

When empires grow frail and sick outside elements begin to lick their chops. Seeing a hegemon decline in power always produces opportunities for upstart observers to take their piece of the pie. It is a natural cycle that has been repeated over and over throughout human history.

Historians and hobbyists love to pick through the bones of old empires to dissect exactly what happened. Why did they fall? What caused the initial rot that eventually led to their demise? Volumes and volumes of text have been written on the subject. But one of the themes that often gets left out is how disastrous the collapse of empires truly can be.

When empires fall, it causes decades, sometimes centuries, of disfunction that reverberate throughout history. Here is a look at three empires that fell and left smoking craters in their wake.

The Roman Empire

The fall of the Roman Empire is one of those events that has been picked over and gone through over and over again. Each generation rekindles its own fascination with the ruins of Rome. And that is because when Rome fell, it left a mess behind.

The Dark Ages and the Middle Ages are often improperly conflated. The true Dark Ages occurred in the years between the fall of Rome in 476CE and 1000CE. This is a period of history that often lies like a black hole in people’s minds. After Rome, there was a period of confusion, warring factions, the rise of Byzantium, and the final vanishing of Roman influence.

Rome went from the center of the human universe to a creaking village built atop the bones of greatness.

Many historians have pointed to 536CE as the worst year in history, just fifty years after Rome’s final demise.

It took Europe 500 years to regain the prominence that it lost with the fall of Western Rome.

The Ottoman Empire

The world is still reeling from the aftermath of the Ottoman implosion. The Ottoman Empire limped through the 19th century as the “sick man of Europe” and left all of the major European powers hankering to take a bite out of the failing…



Grant Piper

Professional writer. Amateur historian. Husband, father, Christian.