SAT II World History : Fall of the Roman Empire

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II World History

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Fall Of The Roman Empire

The Eastern Roman Empire came to be called __________.

Possible Answers:

the Ptolemaic Empire 

the Byzantine Empire 

the Macedonian Empire 

the Olmec Empire

the Kush Empire 

Correct answer:

the Byzantine Empire 

Explanation:

Prior to the Fall of Rome, the Roman Empire had fractured into a Western Roman Empire and an Eastern Roman Empire around 280 CE. The Western Roman Empire crumbled under the difficulties of administering such a diverse empire and was practically defeated in the fifth century after being subjected to a wave of barbarian attacks on Rome, most notably attacks by the Visigoths and the Vandals (from whom we get the word "vandalism"). The Eastern Roman Empire would be persevered for another thousand years and has come to be called the Byzantine Empire by posterity.

Example Question #2 : Fall Of The Roman Empire

The predominant cause of the downfall of many empires at the end of the classical period (circa 500 CE) was __________.

Possible Answers:

widespread disease

widespread famine and starvation

the rise of Christianity

barbarian invasion

economic stagnation

Correct answer:

barbarian invasion

Explanation:

From the time period mentioned, you can infer that this question is primarily referring to the downfall of the Roman Empire, which occurred (depending on who you ask) from about 300 CE to 550 CE. What most historians agree upon is that by 475 CE, the Roman political, military, and economic institutions were weakened beyond repair and much of the Western Roman Empire had been conquered by barbarians. The capital city of Rome was sacked numerous times during this time period, first in 410 CE by Alaric the Visigoth, then in 455 CE by the Vandals, then in 546 CE by the Ostrogoths.

Example Question #3 : Fall Of The Roman Empire

The Punic Wars were fought between __________ for control of the Mediterranean.

Possible Answers:

Persia and Greece

Athens and Sparta

Rome and Carthage

Songhai and Greece

Rome and Greece

Correct answer:

Rome and Carthage

Explanation:

The Punic Wars were fought between Rome and Carthage in the Third Century BCE. The wars resulted in victory for the Roman Empire and established Rome as the dominant power in the Mediterranean for the next several hundred years.

Example Question #4 : Fall Of The Roman Empire

Which of these factors did not contribute to the fall of the Roman Empire? 

Possible Answers:

Overexpansion

These were all factors in the fall of the Roman Empire.

Barbarian invasion

The rise of Christianity

Overreliance on slave labor

Correct answer:

These were all factors in the fall of the Roman Empire.

Explanation:

The Roman Empire lasted for almost a thousand years as the preemiment military and political power in Europe. At its height, the Roman Empire stretched from Scotland to Syria, Spain to Eastern Europe, and throughout North Africa; however, from about the fourth century CE onwards, Roman power was in decline. There are a myriad of reasons why the Roman Empire fell, and each historian has his or her own theory, but the most important reasons are as follows: barbarian invasions, as Germanic tribes sacked Rome and other imperial cities; economic stagnation, as Romans became overreliant on slave labor; weak leadership from a series of poor and ineffectual emperors; the rise of Christianity eroding traditional Roman values and systems of power; and overexpansion, as the empire simply became too vast to effectively maintain and police.

Example Question #5 : Fall Of The Roman Empire

The Fall of the Roman Empire occurred in the __________.

Possible Answers:

12th century CE

11th century CE

4th century CE

2nd century CE

5th century CE

Correct answer:

5th century CE

Explanation:

The Fall of the Roman Empire occurred in the 5th Century and was a protracted event. Rome had been declining in power for several decades before the city of Rome finally fell completely. It had suffered numerous sacks in the early years of the 5th Century - from the Visigoths and the Vandals. Interestingly our English word “vandalism” comes from this same barbarian tribe who greatly contributed to the destruction of Rome. A tangible example of the constant and continuing influence that the Roman Empire, and the Latin language, have on our lives.

Example Question #6 : Fall Of The Roman Empire

The Fall of Rome led directly to __________.

Possible Answers:

the establishment of the Tudor dynasty in England

the Industrial Revolution

the political fragmentation of Europe

the revival of classical principles, called the Renaissance

the rise of Greece

Correct answer:

the political fragmentation of Europe

Explanation:

The Fall of Rome led directly to the political and social fragmentation of much of Europe. Western Europe, and the Mediterranean area in particular, had been unified under the Roman Empire for several centuries. Once the Empire fell to barbarian invasion, the economic, social, and political life of Europe changed dramatically with small pockets of warring tribes appearing everywhere. It would be several centuries before Europe would be as comparably “developed” again.

Example Question #7 : Fall Of The Roman Empire

All of the following factors contributed to the fall of the Western Roman Empire except __________.

Possible Answers:

All of the answers are correct.

widespread political inefficiency, instability, and corruption

outside threats, like the Goths

a weak military that relied on foreign recruits

relying too heavily on slave labor

Correct answer:

All of the answers are correct.

Explanation:

All of the answers are correct-all of these factors contributed to the fall of the Western Roman Empire, although the Eastern Roman Empire (or Byzantine Empire) survived into the fifteenth century.

Example Question #8 : Fall Of The Roman Empire

Which event started the permanent decline of Roman military power?

Possible Answers:

The sack of Rome by the Visigoths

The Huns' victory at Chalons

Gothic victory at Adrianople

The Carthaginian victory at Cannae 

The Parthian victory at Carrhae

Correct answer:

Gothic victory at Adrianople

Explanation:

The Gothic victory against the Romans at Adrianople in 378 signaled the permanent decline of Roman power, opening the empire to new waves of foreign invasions that it eventually succumbed to. Both the battles of Carrhae and Cannae were defeats much earlier in Roman history when Rome was still rising in power, and did not directly lead to Rome's permanent decline. The Visigoths' sack of Rome and the battle of Chalons were both events of the fifth century, once Rome's permanent decline were well underway, and the battle of Chalons was in fact not a Roman defeat.

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