The early history of the city of Rome, and the Roman Empire that it created, dominated the history of the Mediterranean and Western Europe for over two thousand years. Beginning as a number of small settlements on the Roman hills in the eighth or ninth centuries BC (or even earlier), the city of Rome and later the Roman Empire grew to encompass an area stretching from Scotland to Morocco and from Egypt to Eastern Europe.
The Roman Empire wrought enormous political, economic and cultural changes on the territories under its control. Disparate cultures and languages were brought into the Roman World. However, the process of cultural incorporation was two-way, in that Rome changed just as it changed the world. This cultural legacy continued after the end of the Roman Empire, with Roman language (Latin), law codes, administrative and social organisation continuing its influence in succeeding centuries.
The unity of the Roman Empire fragmented in the 4th and 5th Centuries AD. As it did so, the locus of political power shifted away from the city of Rome to other cities as successive ‘soldier emperors’ took the imperial court on campaign with them to the imperial frontiers. One of these new locations for the imperial court was Constantinople in Asia Minor, formerly Byzantium re-founded by Constantine the Great as a new imperial capital. Over time, tensions between eastern and western regions of the Empire became institutionalised as the Empire divided into the Eastern and the Western Empires. Both the Western and Eastern Empires experienced (increasingly) separate cycles of success and crisis. The Western Empire fragmented faster than the Eastern Empire, with the last Western Emperor overthrown in 476 by his Germanic General. In contrast, the Eastern Empire continued to wax and wane in power until the city was captured by the Ottoman Turks in 1453.
Roman Historical Periods
In order to make sense of Roman history, and the enormous changes that occurred in Roman society over two thousand years, its history can be viewed in successive periods. For example.
- 8th to 5th Centuries BC: Foundation of Rome and Kings of Rome
- 5th to 1st Centuries BC: Roman Republic
- 1st Century BC to 3rd Century AD: Early Empire
- 3rd to 4th Centuries AD: Middle Empire
- 4th to 5th Centuries AD: Late Empire
From the 5th Century AD, the regions of the former Roman Empire transformed into the Byzantine Empire (former Eastern Empire) and Medieval Europe (former Western Empire).
Romancing the Roman Past
The cultural legacy of Ancient Rome has been remembered, and mythologised, since the passing of the Roman Empire itself – in 19th Century Romantic Art, and in 20th and 21st Century movie-making.
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Photo Copyright Details:
|Title: A Roman man voting in one of the assemblies
Description: Image of a Roman man voting in one of the assemblies, as depicted on a Roman coin (Denarius)
Source: Wikipedia Commons
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