The failing birthrate is named as one of the contributing causes of the collapse of the western Roman empire. However, in later, medieval times, all sorts of pirates, Vikings and others were involved in the supply of women, as the mortality rate of women was high then and there was a demand for them (obviously). Therefore, why did the Romans not import women from abroad or adopt legislative measures (like legalized polygamy, ...) to remedy the problem?

EDIT: To my fellow armchair historians. The falling birthrates in ancient times were caused mostly by deaths at childbirth. A good example of this would be Julius Caesar's daughter, Julia, who died in childbirth. It must have been so, as this problem persisted into the modern age. The baths idea is interesting but, IMO, not that relevant. It lists interesting sources, though, saying that there was a problem. Deaths, of course, created a need to replace women who died and women were being sold and bought all the way to the 19th century and, in some places, wives are sold and bought even today (Africa, Asia).

  • 1
    What's the similar situation today? What makes you assume that Romans didn't import women from abroad? What is the definition of "to import"? – Rathony Oct 4 '16 at 10:59
  • 1
    The problem is perhaps. Your assumption is wrong if you think all the children born in Rome were legitimate (born out of lawful marriage) There must have been more bastards than legitimate children. That's my assumption. Also, you are assuming that Rome's political and census system would have been modern enough to pay attention to declining birth rate as we do today. Why do you think Romans were not involved in supplying of women like pirates, Vikings and others? – Rathony Oct 4 '16 at 11:22
  • 5
    Speculative, bordering on counterfactual. History is about constructing a narrative around what did happen; speculation about what might have happened if rulers had made alternate choices may be interesting, and it may even be instructional, but it is outside the mainstream of history. – Mark C. Wallace Oct 4 '16 at 12:00
  • 3
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because "alternative" history is outside the scope of History.stackexchange.com – TheHonRose Oct 4 '16 at 12:33
  • 5
    "Falling birth rate" does not mean "there's some problem with the women". I'm having trouble deciding if that attitude is offensive, or just ignorant. – T.E.D. Oct 4 '16 at 13:45

The paper that you linked to argues that fertility was low due to low sperm count arising from a fondness for too-hot baths.

The importation of women would not be expected to remedy a fertility problem originating on the male side.

  • 1
    Of course it could, the fault could not be assigned accurately then as now. That's why the harem was invented for the sultan's use later. The harem never failed to produce plenty of heirs. Also, the problem was spanning 5 centuries, perhaps more could be done? – user1095108 Oct 4 '16 at 10:39
  • Also, the paper might only be politically correct, but it quotes sources that confirm the problem was present in ancient Rome for almost 600 years. – user1095108 Oct 4 '16 at 21:25
  • 2
    @user1095108 I tried shooting at one target a hundred times and never hit it, so I bought 5 targets and shot at each a hundred times. I hit 3 a few times. Obviously the problem is with the targets. What is wrong with this picture? – called2voyage Oct 4 '16 at 21:43
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – T.E.D. Oct 5 '16 at 18:15

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.