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What role did the Eastern Roman Empire play in the fall of the Western Roman Empire? Did the Eastern Empire actually contribute to the fall of the West? Was the Eastern Roman Empire able to help the Western Roman Empire around the time of their collapse (they were definitely wealthier and more populated, but did they have enough manpower and resources to significantly make a difference)?"

The following two sources are somewhat unreliable, but summarize the problem.

The Eastern Emperors did, with their vast sums of gold, pay off Hunnic and Germanic tribes that were harassing the Danube frontier from Pannonia to the Black Sea to leave them alone and go off somewhere else. This somewhere else was the Western Empire. Allempires.com

As for the relationship between the 2, it was more often one of mistrust and interference rather than close alliance and friendship. Yahoo Answers

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Welcome to the site and +1 for a good, if very counterfactual, question! –  Felix Goldberg May 26 '13 at 21:34
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I edited the question (just re-ordered the paragraphs and modified the title). I think in this form it can and should be answered - please consider re-opening. –  Felix Goldberg May 27 '13 at 8:13
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It was a pretty good question as it was, and the removal of the counterfactual probably removes the last obstacle to a reopening. –  Tom Au May 27 '13 at 18:31
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@TomAu would asking, "Was the Eastern Roman Empire able to help the Western Roman Empire around the time of their collapse (they were definitely wealthier and more populated, but did they have enough manpower and resources to significantly make a difference)?" still be counterfactual? Because that's basically what I want to know (perhaps more than what my question has become). –  Sally May 27 '13 at 22:07
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@Sally, I believe that your original question was worded in such a way as to invite speculation and opinion, and that contributed to it being closed. I like your follow-up: "Was the Eastern Roman Empire able to help the Western Roman Empire around the time of their collapse (they were definitely wealthier and more populated, but did they have enough manpower and resources to significantly make a difference)?" This is a question that can definitely be answered objectively. –  Steven Drennon May 28 '13 at 5:45
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1 Answer

The drifting apart of the East and West empires did contribute to the decline of the West, but it isn't true that the East did not try and help the West during this time.

1) The courts of the two young emperors Arcadius and Honorius did become more 'insular' in their thinking than in the good old days when Constantine would march all over the map. One problem was the West wanting to reacquire its provinces in Illyria loaned to the East in the 380s, as these were a good source of recruits.

2) The East sent troops several times to aid the West - in the 410 period after the sack of Rome, in the 420s. Even some emperors were sent, with troops, to the West. Often this did not help, just becoming another player in the current civil war.

3) The largest intervention was the East's attempt to retake Africa from the Vandals with a 1000 ship expedition in the 468. It was a disaster, and an expensive one for the East. After this failure, the East was tapped out for some time.

See The Battle of Cape Bon

Without the full and free use of the entire resources of both halves, Rome could no longer sustain its position as a great power in the region. The East Empire could defend its half better, due to short borders and the defenses of the Capital. The West Empire, with much less wealth and more areas to guard, could not hold. Together, they might have been able to win out, if they had removed the Vandals in 468. Without that, the likely result would have been a somewhat larger East Empire, kind of like what resulted after the Lombards invaded Italy a century later.

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Welcome to History.SE! If you could add some sources to this answer, that would be great. Thanks. –  American Luke Nov 5 '13 at 22:09
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