The Roman Empire


Rome is said to have been founded in 753 BC. Legend has it that two brothers Romulus and Remus started the city. The dominate group in Italy at the time was the Etruscans. Rome under Etruscan influence developed into a bustling city. During its early. By the 400 BC Rome had expanded, conquering neighboring groups. In 387 it suffered a setback when it was sacked by the Gauls. Between 343 and 290 the Romans fought the Samnite Wars gaining control of most of Italy. This period of Romes history is known as the republic. Rome was ruled by consuls who reported to the Roman Senate. The senate was a group of 300 elders who served for life, and they were the true power of Rome.
After the Roman conquest of Italy, it came into conflict with the Carthaginians. In a series of three wars the Romans defeated the Carthaginians and destroyed Carthage. The Romans slowly extended there control to include all of the Eastern Mediterranean. In the meantime the Republic of Rome itself declined rapidly. The power of the senate was often questioned, and civil war broke out often between competing rulers. The most famous of them of was Caesar, perhaps Romes greatest generals. He broke all the rules of the Republic by taking his army south- crossing the Rubicon and seizing power. He spent the next few years consolidating his control of the empire in a series of battles. Soon after he gained total control of the empire he was assassinated. Fighting continued until Octavian gained control of the Empire., becoming the first true Roman Emperor.

For the next nearly two hundred years, a series of emperors rule well and the empire was stable. That period ended in 180, and was replaced with a period of unstability. Emperors came and went almost all at the end of sword. the life expectancy for a Roman Emperor was at times last then a year. By the end of the 3rd century and the beginning of the 4th Roman stability was restored by two strong rulers Diocletians and Constantine. Constantine moved the capital of the Empire to Constantinople. With his death the Empire split into the Western and Eastern Empires, only to be briefly reunited.

By this time Christianity had grown rapidly in the Empire, becoming the dominate religion. By this time the western empire was under constant pressure from the North- the Visigoths the Huns, the Vandals and others. In 410 the Visigoths sacked Rome, in 455 the Vandals did the same. A series of German empires gained control of Rome. The eastern Roman empire continued for another 1,000 years.