1 Questions & Connections THE ROMAN EMPIRE The Roman Republic From 616 to 509 BC, the Etrusans ruled Rome. After a successful rebellion again the Etruscan king, the romans set up a type of government called a republic. Elected officials instead of a king held power and made the laws. Patricians and Plebeians Although the new government was a type of democracy, only a small number of people had the right to decide how it was run. Patricians, the wealthy landowners, had organized the rebellion and created the new government. Therefore, they designed it for their own benefit. Only patricians could hold important posts in the government. The rest of the population consisted of small farmers, tradespeople, craftsworkers, and debtors. These plebeians made up about 90 percent of the population. Call for Reforms The plebeians were not without influence. Not only were they the largest part of the population, their labor and skills were necessary to the economy. Then, too, they were the soldiers. As a small city-state, Rome was constantly forced to defend its independence. The patricians needed the plebeians to fight in thee border wars. In 494 BC, the plebeians refused to fight or do work of any kind unless the patricians granted them more rights. Faced with the loss their state, the patricians compromised. Continuing to use such tactics, the plebeians gradually improved their status. In 287 BC, they won full rights as citizens and can vote on issues and passed laws in the Assembly. Major officials During the period of the Roman Republic ( BC), the highest officials were the consuls. The assemblies elected two each year. the consuls enforced the laws, ensure that the city was properly administered, and commanded the army in time of war. Officials called magistrates assisted the consuls. The Assembly of Centuries elected the magistrates, who had special titles and duties. Quaetors handled such matters as counting the number of people in the city and determining the value of property for tax purposes. Aediles, officials like mayors, kept order and took care of public buildings. Praetors, or judges, presided over trials in the courts. In time of emergency, when quick decisions were needed, the consuls sometime chose one man to rule. Called a dictator, he could serve for no more than six months. The government followed the dictator s decision without question. The government body called the Senate had the most power. The consuls appointed members of the Senate for life terms. Originally, only patricians could be senators. Later, plebeians were allowed to hold this office. The Senate, which had about 300 members, proposed laws, handled foreign affairs, and control public finances. Main Points
2 To protect their rights, plebeians in the Assembly of Tribes elected ten men called tribunes. These powerful men could veto, or reject, decision of the consuls and the Senate. Citizenship Romans felt deep loyalty to their city. they were pround to be citiznes of such an honorable place. As citizens, they had obligations as well as rights. Those eligible had the duty of serving in government posts. They supported the government and the army. The idea of being a Roman citizen was valued by outsider. To wint he loyalty of a people they conquered, the Romans might offer the reward of citizenship to the defeated. The Beginning of the Roman Empire Frequent conflicts with neighboring peoples required the Romans to become skilled warriors. All male citizens between the ages of 17 and 46 could be called into the army. The discipline and training of citizen soldiers, combined with the Roman talent for military organization made the Roman legions superior to other armies. As Rome began to take over other lands, the army and its commanders became more important in public affairs. Wars in Italy Between 343 and 290 B.C., Romans fought several wars with their neighbors. Because Rome was one of the smaller and newer states in Italy, Romans considered nearby nations to be threats to their independence. As it conquered its neighbors, Rome grew larger and stronger. Soon other nations, in their turn, feared Roman expansion. By 272 B.C., most of Italy came under Rome s control. Roman officials, supported by Roman legions, governed the defeated territories. Latin, the language of the Romans, became familiar to the conquered peoples. Roads were built to link the territories to Rome. Wars of Conquest Rome s greatest enemy was Carthage, a city-state founded by the Phoenicians in North Africa. Rome and Carthage competed with each other to control trade in the western Mediterranean area. They also competed for possession of Sicily, the major island located between Carthage and southern Italy. The Romans were afraid that if the Carthaginian took Sicily, they would invade Italy. The three destructive wars that resulted from these conflicts took place between 264 and 164 B.C. Because Punic means Phoenician, they were called the Punic Wars. Punic Wars The first Punic War lasted 23 years. At its end, Rome was in full possession of Sicily. Carthage continued its attempts to invade Italy, however, and a second war fought. During this war, Carthaginian forces led
3 by Hannibal invaded the Italian peninsula. Hannibal badly damaged the Roman army before it forced him to retreat. A Roman general finally defeated Hannibal in North Africa. The third and last war ended when the Romans conquered and destroyed Carthage. They later rebuilt the city and used it as a naval base and commercial port. Winning the Punic wars gave Roman control of the coast of North Africa and the areas now known as Spain, Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica. While fighting these wars, Roman soldiers developed into some of the best fighters in the world. their commanders became experts in planning successful battles. Contending with the Phoenicians had taught Roman leaders that, in order to be a world power, they needed a strong navy. Pompey By 64 B.C., Rome had conquered almost all the lands around the Mediterranean Sea, including Macedonia, Greece, Syria, and Asia Minor. These lands became Roman provinces and were ruled and taxed by Roman governors. In these areas, the Romans came into contact with Hellenistic civilization. The philosophical, scientific, and artistic ideas of this civilization greatly affected Roman thinking and ways of living. The person mainly responsible for the conquest and reorganization of the eastern Mediterranean lands was Pompey. He was one of the most powerful Roman generals and political leaders during the years from 78 to 48 B.C. Julius Caesar In the 50s B.C., the Romans began campaigns to conquer the peoples north of Italy. From 58 to 51 BC., the armies of Julius Caesar invaded Gaul (present-day France). Caesar s victories extended the Roman empire into western Europe. Caesar also led military expeditions into Britain. Roman Law One of Rome s greatest contributions to Western culture was its body of laws, or legal code. In general, Roman laws were designed to protect the lives and well-being of citizens and make amends to the victims of crime or injustice. At first the laws were based on solutions that had been successfully applied to actual problems. Because Roman laws had developed from life experiences, they tended o be practical and flexible. Later in Roman history, lawmakers were influenced by the Stoic idea of natural law. They felt that all humans shared the same nature and had the same needs and rights. Therefore, the laws that ruled them should be dictated by these needs and rights, not by the human will alone. Natural law benefited all humanity, not just the people in power. In the early days of the republic, only the patricians had a clear understanding of the legal code. One of the demands made by plebeians to the patricians was that knowledge of the law be made public. Consequently, the laws were engraved on 12 tables, or tablets, of bronze. About 450 BC, the Romans set up the tables in a public place. As part of their education, children had to memorize the laws, known as the Twelve Tables.
4 The Role of Roman Law in Empire Building As Rome conquered other lands, laws had to be created to govern people who were not Roman citizens. These new laws were added to the original laws on the Twelve Tables. When making legal decisions, government officials took into consideration the laws and customs of the conquered peoples. Because of this practice, the ideas of other peoples became part of the Roman law. Romans kept records of the legal decisions of judges throughout the empire. the judges in other parts of the empire then used the recorded decisions to decide new cases. In this way, the Romans were able to rule many different groups of people efficiently and humanely. Roman ideas about law continue to influence the legal codes of countries today. Their influence is especially strong in European countries along the Mediterranean Sea and in Latin America. In the united states, several principles of Roman laws are a significant part of our idea of justice. One of the principles is that all citizens are equal under the law. Another is that an accused person is believed to be innocent until proven guilty. A third is that a person has the right to know who is accusing him or her of wrongdoing. A fourth principle is that a person should not be punished for what he or she thinks. Trade Trade routers that passed through southern Asian linked the Roman Empire to the empires of the East. The most famous of these trade routers was the Silk Road. It got its name from the great quantities of silk that the Chinese sold all over the known world. China also exported more practical goods, such as iron. Other cultures also used the Silk Road to transport items, such as gems, gold, silver, spices, and perfumes. Parthia (now part of Iran was famous for its fruits, rare birds, and ostrich eggs. Romans traded glassware, statuettes, and slaves who performed as jugglers and acrobats. Sea routers also carried people, goods and ideas to different lands. During the time of the Han dynasty, Chinese merchants began to use the sea routes to send goods to the West. Kan Ying, the Chinese ambassador, sailed to the Roman province of Syria along one of these routes. Architecture and Engineering Although not as outstanding in the filed of abstract science as the Greeks were, the Romans outshone the people of their cultures in the practical arts. Roman engineers improved life in the empire by building roads, dams, drainage systems, and aqueducts. Aqueducts carried water to cities thought pipes stretched along bridge-like stone structures. Many of the roads and a few aqueducts that the Roman engineers built are still in use. Roman buildings were feats of engineers as well as of architecture. Romans developed the rounded arch and the dome as features of their
5 buildings. The domed roof could cover large spaces without the need for columns to hold it up. Public baths required a knowledge of plumbing and ventilation. These huge buildings contained steam rooms, gymnasiums, hot and cold pools, and libraries. Other buildings had to be very strong and massive to accommodate the crowds for which they had been built. Large numbers of people attended events in the Coliseum in Rome, an arena in which gladiators fought. Another structure built to withstand heavy usage was the Citcus Maximus, where chariot races were held. To make sure that such structures would stand up under the weight and movement of crowds, horses, and vehicles, the Romans developed concrete as a building materials. The Spread of Roman Culture Wherever Roman armies went, they built new cities and towns and roads to connect places to Rome. As a result, Roman architectural styles spread throughout Europe, northern Africa, and the middle east. In England, there are ruins of Roman baths, military camps, and a great wall build by the Emperor Hadrian in northern England. Roman ruins are also found throughout France, Spain, North Africa and Turkey. More important traces of Roman culture exist in the Latin-based languages of Italy, France and Spain. When invaders from France conquered England in 1066, they introduced many Latin-based words into the English language. In addition, the legal codes of most Mediterranean countries are based on the Roman law. Roman ideas about life, art, and religion were also spread throughout the empire by the armies and governing officials. Because Romans were influenced by Greek and Hellenistic culture, the blend of ideas produced what is called the Greco-Roman civilization. THE DECLINE OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE The Breakdown of Society in Imperial Rome Development into an empire brought both benefits and problems to Rome. Contact with other peoples realty enriched Roman cultural. Romans tried to govern their provinces according to the rules and customs of their subjects. Consequently, Roman law became more flexible and universal. The Equestrains An increase in trade in the growing empire led to the rise of a new middle class of businesspeople called equestrians. As these people became more prosperous, they demanded more privileges from the government. Plebeians Few plebeians had a share in the new wealth. The increased used of slave labor meant fewer jobs. Even if they found work, plebeians remained
6 poor. In order to get the jobs that were available, they had to accept very low wages. Plebeians who worked small farms could not compete with the large estates worked by slaves. These estates produced larger crops more cheaply than the small plebeian farms could. The plebeians often could not earn enough from the sale of their crops to pay their taxes. As a result, many were forced to sell their lands to patricians and equestrians. A great number of plebeians had been soldiers in the Punic Wars. While their fighting had made many of their fellow Romans wealthy, it had ruined the plebeians. When they went off to war, not enough people remained behind to do the farm work. Consequently, the farms produced few crops. Many soldiers came home to find themselves hopelessly in debt and had to sell their land to the rich estate owners. Without work or land, large numbers of plebeians moved to the cities and became part of an unemployed mob. They lived on government handouts of grain. To keep the plebeians from rioting, the government entertained them with public games. The crowds particularly like chariot races and armed combats. In the combats, men called gladiators fought each other, sometimes to the death. Civil War and Dictators Many plebeians were left with nothing but their votes. These they sold to the politicians who could pay or promise the most. The economic problems of the plebeians and their loss of political power led to a long period of civil wars. Many Roman citizens no longer had faith in the Republic or representative government to maintain peace and security. More and more often they turned to dictators. The dictators took advantage of the disorder and uncertainty to increase their power. Many refused to leave office after their term limit expired. During the civil wars, these political and military leaders ruled by force. Such leaders kept the peace by killing their enemies or exiling them for faraway places. Julius Caesar One of the most famous of the military dictators was Julius Caesar. His rise to power marked the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic. Caesar believed that a republican government would not be able to rule the vast Roman empire effectively. He may have been the first Roman leader to have dealt with this problem. As a rising politician, Caesar won the plebeians support by acting as a champion of their rights. In 60 B.C., he joined forces with Marcus Crassus, the richest man in Rome, and Gaius Magnus Pompey, the successful and popular general. The three men used the money of Crassus, the military power of Pompey, and the plebeian votes given to Caesar to gain control of the government. Known as the First Triumvirate, Crassus, Pompey, and Caesar had enough power to rule the Roman world and to end the civil wars. The triumvirate ruled from 60 to 53 B.C. Caesar s military campaign in Gaul gave him command of an army. After the death of Crassus in 53 B.C., Caesar fought with Pompey for control
7 of the Roman government. This conflict started off a new series of civil wars. In the great battles that followed, Caesar defeated the armies of Pompey in Greece, Spain, and North Africa. Pompey fled to Egypt, where he was killed. In 46 B.C., Julius Caesar became sole ruler of Rome and the areas it controlled. He was a very capable dictator. He made the army an d the government more efficient. The size of the Senate was increased to make it better present the provinces. Citizenship was extended to more people in the provinces. Caesar improved the tax system and introduced a more accurate calendar. By creating ore jobs for the poor, he reduced by more than half the number of people receiving free grain. Although Caesar had all the power of a king, he did not have the title. He knew that the Roman people would accept a dictator but not a king. Romans had been opposed to kings ever since Etruscan rule. While achieving his success, Caesar had made many enemies who resented his growing power. In 44 B.C., a group led by Marcus Brutus murdered Julius Caesar. Brutus and his friends claimed that they had acted to prevent Caesar from crowning himself king. The anger of the Roman people at Caesar s death force the murderers to flee to the provinces. Control of Rome fell to Marc Antony, Caesar s friend and chief general. A new civil war began as the armies of Antony marched against the forces of Brutus and his supporters. Augustus, the First Roman Emperor A civil war followed the death of Julius Caesar. Octavian, the grandnephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar, joined forces with Marc Antony. Together they defeated Brutus and his allies. Octavian and Antony ruled the Roman world until Antony s alliance with Queen Cleopatra of Egypt brought on still another civil war. In the sea battle of Actium in 31 B.C., Octavian s ships defeated the fleet of Antony and Cleopatra. Octavian took complete control of the government and became Rome s first emperor. He ruled from 27 B.C. to A.D. 14. The Senate gave Octavian the title of Caesar Augustus. Under Augustus, the empire entered a period of peace, security, and cultural accomplishment. For the next 200 years, the Roman Empire enjoyed what is called the Pax Romana (Roman Peace). Other Roman Emperors Augustus died in A.D. 14. Tiberius, his successor (A.D ) ruled as wisely as Augustus. Unfortunately, Tiberius was followed by Caligula, who was insane. He ruled so cruelly that, in A.D. 41, a group of military officers and senators murdered him. His uncle Claudius, who succeeded him, made a wise and efficient emperor (A.D ). During his reign, Claudius added Britain to the empire. Nero took over the empire when Claudius died. He ruled from 54 to 68. Nero, like Caligula, was insane. Among other crimes, he murdered his mother and his wife. He was suspected of causing the great fire that destroy
8 half of Rome in 64. Nero placed the blame for the fire on a new religious group called the Christians and ordered the execution of its members. Most of the emperors who followed Nero were careful to choose as heirs men they believed to be good leaders. To ensure acceptance of their choices, the emperors adopted their proposed successors as their sons. Marcus Aurelius was one of the best of the emperors. He spent most of his ruling years ( ) defending the borders of the empire against invaders. Unfortunately, he failed to follow the example of the other emperors. Instead of adopting a good leader, he allowed his son Commodus to inherit the empire. Commodus preferred fighting in the arena as a gladiator to solving the many problems of the empire. during his reign ( ), Rome began to decline. When Commodus died in A.D., 192, the Pax Romana came to an end. Military leaders now took over the government. During the next 100 years or so, Rome had 26 emperors. Many of these were murdered by their own soldiers. Each time one emperor was removed, a civil war broke out over the choice of his successor. Other peoples became powerful enough to challenge the Romans. Economic and political problems increased and gradually weakened the Roman Empire. In an attempt to strengthen the empire, an emperor named Diocletian (ruled from 284 to 305), divided it into two parts, eastern and western. Diocletian, who held most of the governing power himself, ruled from his eastern capital in Asia Minor. The co-emperor ruled from Milan in northern Italy, which was better located than Rome to defend the empire s northern border. The city of Rome was no longer the capital of the Roman Empire. In 306, Constantine was named emperor. In 324, he reunited the empire and ruled alone until his death in 337. About 330, he moved the capital of the empire to Byzantium, which he renamed Constantinople. After 395, the empire was permanently divided. The western part became weaker and poorer. The eastern part grew stronger and wealthier. Invaders From the North Large groups of German tribes invaded the western portion of the Roman Empire in the 5 th century A.D. The Romans were too weak to stop them. Twice the Germans attacked and looted the once powerful city of Rome. As a result of the German invasions, the empire ceased to exist in Europe. Each western Roman province eventually became a German kingdom. The Western Roman Empire ended officially in 476, when a German general named Odoacer forced the last Roman emperor to give up his throne. Odoacer made himself king of Italy. For most of Europe, the Classical Age was over. In the Hellenistic cities of Asia Minor and the Middle East, however the Eastern Roman Empire continued. The Byzantine Empire, as it came to be called, lasted until 1453.