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Current time:0:00Total duration:4:58

Video transcript

Steve what are we doing here hey Sal we're going to look at this question of why do empires fall and for those of you who don't know Steve Schrader he is a world history fellow here at Khan Academy and also a former world history teacher so what we want to do here is use these big ideas these big factors that are somewhat common across empires to sort of understand how specific empires fell let's start in a committed Persia so a committed Persia it's an empire that lasts for roughly 200 years and I guess the obvious thing about a committed Persia gets taken over by Alexander the Great so I'll just go ahead and throw invasion on that list for a key minted Persia so outside of invasion if we go through the rest of this list it clearly was a large empire so maybe there was an element of over-expansion it was governed in a fairly federated way through these say traps you might have had bad leadership be a role there's the third famous for deserting his troops on the battlefield yeah and on top of that we might throw in economics as well because as Alexander conquers bits and pieces of the Empire he's also depriving them of the resources that those areas would provide so now let's move on to Moorea India once again a significant Empire lasts definitely over a hundred years and it's actually the largest unified Empire over the Indian subcontinent and it starts with three fairly strong rulers and it's known especially with Ashoka the great for spreading of the Buddhist religion so why in your mind Steve did it fall which of these factors played most strongly well the first one that jumps out is over-expansion once ashoka dies you see the empire really lose a lot of that northwestern territory what we did see is some religious strife you mentioned that Ashoka worked really hard to spread Buddhism and he did follow that in some of his policies which led to some tension between some of the Hindu population and the Empire and so you could also call that division as well so moving on go to Han China it began to fall at the end of the 2nd century CE and then falls in the third which of these factors led to its eventual demise right so I think we want to start looking at the fall of Han China from the lens of the Yellow Turban rebellion and that is partly a religious movement and it also is partly sparked by environmental factors leading to food shortages and food shortages might affect the economy absolutely there's a lot of internal migration to look for better jobs within Han China because of this you think leadership played a role yeah there was a lot of dissatisfaction with the Han Emperor and how he was sort of dealing with some of these problems and overtime efforts to defeat the rebellion led to regional warlords gaining more power and then they eventually carve out their own kingdoms from the Han domain okay and then overlapping in time with Han China we of course have the famous Roman Empire and on my timeline here this first section is a Roman Kingdom then Roman Republic and then you have the formal Roman Empire that collapses at the end of the fifth century so which of these factors you think played into Western Roman Empire's collapse the Byzantine Empire the each and Roman Empire continues on for roughly a thousand years more well let's start with the obvious point there that there is a division there's a formal political division that's going to weaken both halves of the Empire in terms of the resources available we also have at the same time as that division religious issues going on we have Christianity being declared the official religion of the Roman Empire at this time and that leads to internal conflicts between those who are Christians and those who are not you have migrations and invasions you have famously the Huns migrating into Eastern Europe and then putting pressure on the Germanic tribes to oftentimes come into the Roman Empire but that led to so that was both migrations and invasion yeah and in this case it's sometimes hard to separate invasion from migration and I would throw in economy since the Roman Empire and its expansionary period was constantly getting new territory which would add tax revenues to Rome's coffers it allowed for more and more slaves who could work for Rome once you get into the third 4th century CE II that expansion float starts to and so it stops that ever-growing pile of money and ever-growing pile of labor so I'd argue economy played a role you can never point to just one factor empires are these very complicated things but there are these general themes and as a student it's valuable to think about them in a framework something like this so all these factors won't apply to every single Empire you look at they're a good starting point when you start thinking about those questions of why did this particular Empire fall awesome thanks Steve thanks Elle