history map of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire 390BC

The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire
- 390BC

Having expelled its Etruscan kings and become a republic around the year 510 BC, Rome went to to become the dominant city of the Latin League - a group of Latin-speaking cities in central Italy.

In around 390 BC, however, Rome suffered a catastrophic defeat at the hands of a band of marauding Celts coming down from southern Gaul. The Romans withdrew into their citadel (central fortress) within the city, their houses were burnt, and they only narrowly stopped their citadel falling into the Gauls’ hands. The event shook the Romans profoundly and they remembered it for the rest of their history.

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history map of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire 200BC

The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire
220BC - 200BC

During generations of almost continuous warfare, the city of Rome first came to dominate a confederacy which spanned almost all Italy, and then emerged victorious from two long, bitter wars with its arch-rival, Carthage.

Victory in these struggles has made Rome the leading power in the western Mediterranean.

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history map of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire 100BC

The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire
200BC - 100BC

The Roman victory in the war against Hannibal (known to the Romans as the Second Punic War) left her as the dominant power in the western Mediterranean. She had also extended her overseas empire, this time in Spain. She soon found herself being drawn into further wars, which ended, in 146 BC, with her annexation of Macedonia, Greece and North Africa.

These conquests were followed by further Roman gains (in two cases, in Asia Minor, kings donated their kingdoms to Rome on their deaths). By 100 BC Rome dominated the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, and directly controlled some of the wealthiest areas of the region.

While this expansion had been taking place overseas, at home things had been deteriorating for the Romans. The wealth that now flowed into Rome from her overseas territories, in the form of war booty and taxes, increased social tensions, as the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. This poisoned the politics of Rome, and led to political extremism and violence.

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history map of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire 44BC

The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire
50BC - 44BC

An orgy of civil wars between ambitious Roman generals has convulsed the entire Mediterranean world, had given power to autocratic leaders who completely overshadowed the civilian politicians. The lastest is Julius Caesar, who, after conquering Gaul, turned his armies on Rome and, after yert another civil war, made himself master of the Roman world. Then, on the 15th March, 44 BC, Caesar was assassinated by some of his enemies.

The Republic then began to slip into anarchy until Caesar’s three chief lieutenants, Antony, Octavian (Caesar’s grand nephew and adopted heir) and Lepidus, took control of the government. Caesar’s assassins fled to Greece, where, in 42 BC, they were defeated by the forces of Antony and Octavian.

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history map of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire 30BC

The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire
44BC - 30BC

By 31 BC, the Roman Republic, which had existed for so long and whose power had now come to dominate the Mediterranean lands, existed in name only. An orgy of civil wars between ambitious generals, which have convulsed the entire Mediterranean world, had given power to autocratic leaders who completely overshadowed the civilian politicians. In the final round of civil war, the two protagonists were Julius Caesar's lieutenants, Antony and Octavian. This ended in 31 BC with Octavian victorious, and Antony - and Antony's mistress, Cleopatra, queen of Egypt - dead.

In 27 BC Octavian will rename himself Augustus, and become the first of the Roman emperors.

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history map of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire 200AD

The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire
27BC - 200AD

The Roman Empire has continued to flourish and expand over more than two centuries. A brief civil war followed the death of the emperor Nero in 68, but stability was quickly restored. For most of the time the Roman world has ruled by a succession of able rulers such as Trajan, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius; even when inadequate emperors have sat on the throne, the imperial machine, staffed by able officials and soldiers, has continued to hold the empire together.

The reign of the dreadful Commodus was followed by a civil war in 193-6; but peace and stability have returned under the victor, the Emperor Septimius Severus.

The empire is divided into many provinces, each under the authority of a governor. The ancient cities – together with hundreds of new cities founded by the Romans – retain much of their autonomy, however. Millions of the empire’s inhabitants enjoy the rights of Roman citizenship, with full access to the famed Roman legal system. Economic activity has risen to a point the Mediterranean world will probably not see again until the 18th century.

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history map of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire 275AD

The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire
200AD - 275AD

After AD 225, numerous major barbarian invasions triggered fifty years of grave troubles for the Roman empire. Rebellions and mutinies occurred on a regular basis. Many emperors were assassinated, one emperor was killed in battle, and another was captured by the Persians. Barbarian hordes rampaged through the empire, sacking hundres of cities. By the 260s the empire looked as if it would break up.

However, several soldier-emperors then led a fight-back. The empire was reunited, and the barbarians driven from imperial territory. However, the wars and invasions had left the empire exhausted and impoverished.

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history map of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire 395AD

The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire
337AD - 395AD

The late third century and early fourth century emperors carried out wide-ranging changes. The Roman army was completely reorganized, with greater emphasis on cavalry; the administration was centralized, taxes greatly increased, and cities deprived of most of their cherished self-government. Emperors ceased to rule from Rome - and in fact, two or three emperors now ruled simultaneously, so as to control the empire better. Their capitals were now located at strategic points such as Milan, in northern Italy, and Trier, in Gaul. The emperor Constantine even built a brand new capital of the eastern Roman empire, at Constantinople.

Most dramatically, Constantine made Christianity, previously illegal and persecuted, into the imperial religion of the Late Roman Empire.

The fourth century emperors were often engaged in fighting barbarians on almost all frontiers. In 378 an entire Roman army was destroyed, and an emperor killed, at the Battle of Adrianople. The victorious Visigoths then went on a rampage through the Balkans. 

In 395, the empire was officially divided into two parts, east and west, each under its own emperor. It would never be united again, at least while the western half was intact.

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history map of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire 410AD

The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire
395AD - 410AD

In 410, the Visigoths moved west and sacked Rome.

This event triggered a mass invasion across the Rhine frontier by other German tribes. Some marched great distances, sacking towns and villas on the way, and settled hundreds of miles from their homelands. Within a few years a number of German-ruled kingdoms had begun to appear within the western Roman provinces. The provinces of Britain were lost altogether to the Romans, their garrison recalled to deal with threats to the heart of the empire.

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history map of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire 500AD

The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire
476AD - 500AD

As the 5th century progressed, more and more Germans entered the empire, particularly after a major attack on the empire by the Huns, in the 450s. Those already established within the empire extended their territories. It was now that the western Empire ceased to function as a going concern. In 476, the German leader in Italy sent the last Roman emperor of the west, a boy named Romulus Augustulus, into retirement.

Gone (or rapidly going) were the large towns, the beautiful villas, the well-built roads of the ancient Romans. Towns were smaller and trade shrank. The Christian church dominated the spiritual and intellectual life of the people. Rome, once the city of pagan emperors and senators, was now the city of the Pope, the leader of the western Christian church.

In the eastern Mediterranean the Roman empire is still very much a going concern, wealthy, civilized and stable. The Roman Empire would endure here for another thousand years. Centred on Constantinople, and fiercely Christian by religion, it would keep alive much of the old Greek and Roman civilization.

rise of roman empire


 

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