If No Barbarian Invasions, Could The Roman Empire Lasted Another 2000 Years?

For the sake of arguement, suppose there was no pressure on the western empire-the Germans, Goths, Picts, etc. stayed where they were.
Under these circumstances, is it possible that Rome would have gone on for well past the 5th century?
Whether this would have been a good thing, is another question-personally, I think not:
-Rome seems to have been a technologically stagnant culture-science was not valued
-Rome lacked economic flexibility-its rulers seemed to prefer inflation (of the money supply) to genuine tax reform
-it is hard to see the Renaissance happening, in the late Roman Empire
-would Europe have ever had an “Age of Discovery”-with the old Roman imperial structure intact?
I wonder how well Rome would have done, in fending of the muslims?

It is entirely possible that the Muslims would have conquered the Eastern Empire leading to a long protracted war between them and the Western Empire. Since the Romans weren’t really big of technological advances and the Muslims (of that period) were more so, it is also possible that the entirety of Europe would have eventually become a collection of Muslim satrapies.

Without the barbarian invasions, the Western Empire probably would have puttered along much as the Eastern Empire did. Even bearing the brunt of the Muslim assault, the Eastern Empire was in pretty good shape until the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, and Constantinople itself didn’t fall to the Turk until 1453.

There will be NO Islam. Butterfly effect folks-how likely is it that the same people who procreate with the same people over the course two to three centuries and that the exact same sperm cell and egg will unite to produce the exact same person down ten generations or so to produce a guy called Mohammed?

Most likely the Roman Empire might end up like the Chinese Empire-constantly seeing new dynasties and periods of disunity but remaining under a single common vjision.

Most “What If?” scenarios hinge on a specific event that could credibly have gone either way, a left fork taken instead of a right one, Hitler beefing up the troops at Normandy instead of Calais, Pickett getting support troops four hours earlier, etc. I’m not convinced that this is the case with Rome. The Visigoths didn’t have it in their nature to consider the practical advantages of living under Roman rule, any more than the Huns, Mongols, Turks and Bulgars had it in them to forego conquest and be peaceful agrarians.

Can you point to a specific incident that history could have hinged on to make this alternate reality occur? Because there were a lot of barbarian invasions and a lot of Roman border regiments asleep at their posts.

A few possibilities:

-The legions win at Teouteburg Forest and Germania is annexed to the Roman Empire
-Emperor Marcus Aurelius is not succeedeed by his dipshit son, Commodous
-The Romans win at the Battle of Adrianople

Not really; it wasn’t the invasions that caused the decline, but the decline that made it unable to respond to invasions as had earlier Romans.
Not only was the Empire past it’s sell-by date, in a Spenglerian sense, but pure economics meant there weren’t enough taxes to pay for enough mercenaries, let alone the regular troops.

Size is nice an’ all, but it doesn’t match up to compact easily defended borders; and failing that, the will to get one’s blow in first.

I don’t know about that. The Visigoths were already operating as foederati under the Roman aegis. If the Romans had been more aggressive about integrating the barbarians who were guarding their borders into the empire they might have been able to revitalize the Western Empire. Instead they alienated the foederati, and the barbarians turned on them and the whole thing came tumbling down.

I agree that it would help if the OP had a specific change in mind. I don’t think the Western Empire could have survived without the foederati – they didn’t have the manpower the East did. But they might have done a better job of co-opting them.

And as for Islam – the Arabs were clearly a sleeping tiger that both the Romans and the Persians had long underestimated. If Islam had never happened there’s a good chance some other event would have triggered their explosive expansion.

Possibly the Romans or Persians could have conquered them in the intervening centuries.

I’m not sure you can do this hypothetical meaningfully. The size and wealth of an empire will always attract invaders. They will succeed when the Empire is weak. That is the nature of opportunism. Rome partly existed as a reaction to the existence of its neighbours. No neighbours of the sort that existed, no need for Rome to exist in its coherent form.

It’s like imagining a spectacularly wealthy city-state that has no trade. Such a thing cannot exist. Or imagining whether if the Democratic Party didn’t exist, would the Republicans rule forever? The answer is that the group of interests that the Democratic Party currently captures would combine in some political fashion to oppose Republican hegemony. If those interests did not exist, then the world would be so spectacularly different a place that the concept of a “republican party” in any form recognisably similar to the present version would not be possible.

This is not to say that all hypotheticals are meaningless. I don’t subscribe to the notion that all inventions are inevitable, therefore it is impossible, for example, to argue about what would have happened if WW2 had not ended with the dropping of the atomic bombs because it always was going to. Timing matters, and if some stuff-up had delayed the bombs by months or years, an invasion of Japan might have happened, and Russia might have got in on the action, and so on.

And it is possible to imagine decisions rationally being made differently, so if the Duke of Wellington had not had the guards on a reverse slope and yelled “Up guards and at 'em” and the French Old Guard had carried the day, and Napoleon had won Waterloo, it is sensible to wonder what Europe would look like today.

Or if the French tactic in naval warfare had been to pound the hulls of English ships instead of trying to shoot for masts and rigging, and Trafalgar had been lost, blah blah blah.

There are hinge points in history that could have worked out differently.

But imagining a hypothetical too radically different from the real involves imagining away the meta-rules by which history works, and that is not really possible. It’s like saying “What would our criminal justice system look like if everyone was honest and peaceful?” Not only would we not have a criminal justice system, we would have so radically different a world that probably not even the laws of biology and perhaps even physics would be the same. Such a hypothetical rules out the evolution of people in the first place.

Wondering about things being different had some detail worked out differently is one thing.

But ignoring inevitabilities built into the nature of history makes the whole exercise unsustainable and indeed makes history itself go away.

Or, on review, what Krokodil said.

Quite. But it is important to remember that originally the northern barbarians actually *wanted *to be assimilated into the Pax Romana, being pushed by other races towards the centre: I have read that once they became independent warlords operating on lands taken from Rome local tax-payers actually preferred them to the Roman tax-collectors who offered little protection in return for their frequent collections.

Any scenario that has the Roman Empire persisting for a long time would need to take into account the effects of the rise of Christianity. The Roman Empire was stagnant for a long time in large part because it was based on slavery and autocracy. But if Christianity had had several centuries to work on Rome, it would probably have produced the same changes that it later produced in western Europe, such as abolition of slavery, more individual rights, and proto-democratic movements in some places. These in turn might have lead to economic, artistic, scientific, and technological progress, much as in the middle ages.

I don’t know about that. Christianity in the Eastern Empire didn’t seem to have those effects in the thousand years following the fall of the West.

Where does this odd idea come from? Cite please.

What is that “economic flexibility”? What kind of tax reform did you have in mind?

Well, big DUH…
Renaissance being the REBIRTH of Roman (and Greek) culture there would be no rebirth of something still existing.

Just a matter of time, IMHO. Ship building technology had to evolve to the capability of making ocean going ships.
But this might indeed have taken longer, as the main focus for trade was the mediterrenean.

No doubt that, had the Western Roman part still existed, it would have come to the aid of the Eastern part. Sooner or later.

More interresting, how would they have fared against the Mongols?

I doubt that. The Visigoths were quite happy to become foederati.
The reason they went on a rampage was not because of their “natrure”, as in being more freedom loving or some barbarian agressiveness.
They revolted because they fell victim to Roman profiteers, when they entered the empire. Prices for food were so through the roof that they had to sell their children into slavery, just to be able to get some rotten dog meat.

Sorry but I find this a meaningless, retrospective idea.

Taxes weren’t the problem, not having enough manpower was a far bigger issue.

Small defendible borders do not weigh against the might an empire the size of Rome could bring to bear.
Massada was highly defendible f.i.

This is where you have a point.
Rome had become quite complacent in their idea of superiority.
Hadn’ t they always survived the most dangerous of invasions?
The shock of Rome plundered by the Goths must have been enormous.

No doubt the rise of that silly peacenik religion also played a role.

As others have said, by the time the barbarians were invading it was pretty much too late - it’d be very implausible that none of them did.

Let’s suggest instead that one of the ‘Five Good Emperors’ gets the selected, non-hereditary emperorship constitutionally established; alternately, Marcus Aurelius picks a successor before death, and the process continues long enough for it to be enshrined in custom. Either way, no Commodus, probably no ‘Crisis of the Third Century’, emperors continue to be selected based on who the current emperor thinks should govern next. What happens then?

Well, by tax reform, I mean that Rome had no system for taxing the rich. This resulted in the inflations suffered by Rome in the 3rd century (when the silver content of the denarius was reduced to zero).
Instead of minting huge amounts of money, an effective tax system would have given the government stability, and enabled it to pay its bills.
As for technological stagnation, I mean the dearth of invention-Rome failed to innovate transport (no vessels suitable for Atlantic commerce, no real advances in metallurgy, and no weapons innovation (the crossbow would not come along till the 10th century).
The real weakness of the Western Empire was agriculture-they were still using oxen and primative plows (had they had steel plows and horse collars, they could have tripled their productivity).

No, not possibly. The whole reason they did not was it was economically unsustainable. Same reason the Romans never pushed in a sustainable fashion above the Rhine or beyond a certain point in the British Isles.

I’m sure. But decline is built into any structure.

Taxes to pay for manpower are a problem if one doesn’t have enough of a reliable tax-paying base of moderately well-off people. Again with the decadence, I would tentatively postulate that the irresistable rise of the wealthy during the republic, leading to huge slave-holdings of people whom would have been more useful to the state as peasants and yeomenry, created the conditions of Rome’s future fall.

But we are talking of Rome’s defensive capabilities, not those of the people it could intimidate. Due to interior lines, Augustus was quite right to call a halt to further expansion. To expand, Switzerland has excellent small defendible borders ( and until recently, not a lot for people to grab ); Prussia in the 18th century had awful defensible borders, but due to Hohenzollern prowess saw off half of Europe determined to crush the state.

They’d survived Brennus. Had they the will, they could have survived the Goths — but at that point collaboration seemed better than clinging to the moribund imperial institutions.

Perhaps, but no religion stands in the way of human greed.

I seem to recall reading somewhere, but do not recall where and thus offer this as point to research / follow up on, that there are distinct signs of a negative climactic change in at least Western Europe in the late Roman period. My memory is fuzzy, but I recall reading from late 200s CE forward signs of sustained negative climate change… Can’t recall details, perhaps it was tree rings?

Sure there can be, if the existing is moribund.
No doubt that, had the Western Roman part still existed, it would have come to the aid of the Eastern part. Sooner or later.

How is that ‘more interesting’? The Islamic challenge was far more fundamental to Roman Empire (Byzantine edition) than the Mongols. They mostly impacted areas that were only marginally or were never Roman.

It is hard to see the West coming to the aide of the East unless the Church did not split.

Rubbish, the Christian emperors showed absolutely no signs of being in any fashion pacifist. Nor did Christian Europe for that matter.