The Roman Empire and the Han dynasty entered a decline and collapse between 200 C.E. and 600 C.E. as a result of numerous internal and external conflicts. The Roman Empire and the Han Dynasty internally ruptured due to political ineffectiveness as a result of corrupted emperors and officials and externally disintegrated because of nomadic invasions from Germanic tribes in Western Europe and the Xiongnu in Asia. However, the Roman Empire saw the decay of the faith of the Empire in the citizens as they turned to local landlords for protection, while the local landlords of the Han Dynasty began to defy the government and conquer surrounding territories and farmland.
Rome and Han China politically decentralized because of debauched emperors and officials. After the Pax Romana, Rome entered a period of political destabilization and corrupted emperors. Commodus was the first of these emperors ruling from 180-192 C.E. Commodus began surrendering political control to praetorian soldiers and selling out imperial favors. After Commodus, Rome could not hold a steady succession of emperors. There were thirteen emperors from the end of the Pax Romana in 180 C.E. to the fall of Rome in 476 C.E. Imperial bureaucrats in China diminished the control of the government as a result of the influence of the eunuchs in the imperial palace. Jealousy and rivalry drove officials to persuade the emperor to wage war amongst other clans.
As a result of the nomadic invasions from the Goths and the Xiongnu, the Roman Empire and the Han Dynasty succumbed to the destruction of the tribal brutality. Rome defended its borders but due to loss of discipline in the military, battles and territory were lost. As the need for soldiers increased, the cost of defense increased to the point that the emperor and senate could no longer pay the price. Diocletian split the Empire into Eastern and Western halves to prevent the inevitable downfall of the civilization. The Eastern half was repeatedly attacked and eventually Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 C.E. The Han Dynasty subsequently fell as a result of the Xiongnu invasions. Shi Huangdi, as a ruler of the Zhou Dynasty, began the construction of the Great Wall as a means of keeping the nomads out. Similar to Rome, Han officials were unable to continue to pay the cost of defense. Without a military to defend the walls and city, nomadic invaders overran outer sections of the Empire. Ironically, these nomads were related to the Huns that were pushing the Germanic tribes into Roman territory, thus the Goths were forced to attack Rome.
Rome and Han China differed in the amount of power that the local landlords had over the people and citizens. There began to be moral decay in the faith of the citizens of Rome. They lost their trust for the military to provide protection, as they should, and the citizens turned to local landlords for defense. The citizens gave their farmland to their lords and agreed to work the land in exchange for safety and security. This was a stepping stone towards Feudalism in Medieval Europe. Alternatively in Han China the local landlords took control by force. Lords picked up much of the slack left behind by a failing government. They seized control of local neighborhoods and farmland, forcing peasants to toil laboriously and provide to be their own army also beginning a form of Feudalism.
The unstable situations in the government and the destruction from barbaric conquests lead to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire and the Han Dynasty. With these faults in government came the rise in power of local lords in Rome with whom the peasants placed their loyalty upon, while in China the peasants did not choose to abandon their government, rather the local lords took it upon themselves to conquer and govern local lands and establishments. Although the end of the Age of Classical Antiquity brought an end to great civilizations such as Rome and Han China, it launched the Western world into the Early Middle Ages.