>>521257 the extension of power beyond a small clique of Roman nobles.
Promotion on merit sounds like a great idea until you realise that the homo novus has no incentive to maintain the established order. People are a lot less likely to slaughter the rest of the government when it consists of their brother-in-laws, second cousins, nephews, etc, etc. In more general terms, they'll be less loyal simply because a lot of loyalty comes from a shared sense culture, which comes from a shared upbringing. Also, merit in one area does not necessarily imply merit in others - just because someone is a competent soldier, doesn't mean that they'll be a decent administrator.
Promoting one or two people on the basis that they're good at their jobs is one thing, but when your entire army is run by professionals - i.e. people who do the job just because they're getting paid to, not because they believe in the cause - you can't be surprised when they're perfectly willing to murder their supposed commander-in-chief for money. This is what happened during the crisis of the third century. The increasing professionalism of the Roman army was bound to backfire sooner or later.
>Where were the internal factors of the Empire that most contributed to the fall?
The lack of any sort of institutional loyalty or organization. A legion's first loyalty was almost always to its commander, and then, maybe to the commander's boss, who was hopefully (but not always) the Emperor.
The idea that a legion was loyal to the Empire as a whole, or to the Imperial institution as distinct form whichever emperor was sitting on the throne, just wasn't there.
So to secure a power base, the Emperors had to divide command of their military, play the various legion commanders off against each other, hoping that if any of them turned to the throne, they would be stopped by the others.
It didn't always work, leading to endemic civil war. And to attempt it, Rome had to weaken herself quite a bit.
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