Ancient Rome 390BC

Ancient Rome
- 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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Ancient Rome 360BC

Ancient Rome
390BC - 360BC

The Gallic raid left Rome very much weakened, and her prestige diminished. Other Latin towns sought to displace Rome as their leader. It took Rome a generation of struggle to recover her position.

In overcoming her Latin neighbours, the Romans laid the foundations for future expansion. They set up a system of alliances by which the defeated cities were left with a free hand in the way they managed their internal affairs, but in foreign policy they had to follow the Roman lead. Also, the allied cities were drawn into varying degrees of relationship with Rome. The inhabitants of some were absorbed into the Roman state as full citizens; others were given a half-citizenship; and still others were left as simple allies.

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  • Africa

    Africa

    Most of Africa is home to bands of hunter-gatherers, but in the Nile valley, the civilization of Egypt is beginning to emerge

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Ancient Rome 240BC

Ancient Rome
360BC - 240BC

The Roman alliance system gave Rome the leadership of a growing group of Italian cities which remained astionishingly loyal to her for hundreds of years. It was this that gave her the military manpower to conquer, first Italy, and then the Mediterranean world. As her power expanded thrugh the Italian peninsula, three new factors strengthened her hold: an army organized along new, more flexible lines; an ever-widening network of roads, along which Roman troops could march at speed; and a growing number of colonies, some of full Roman citizens and some of half-Roman citizens ("Latin citizens").

Having conquered almost the whole of Italy, the Romans fought a long, bitter war with the great sea power of Carthage, from 264 to 241 BC (this war was called the First “Punic” War because the Romans knew the Carthaginians as Phoenicians). This involved Rome building large fleets (several of which were lost to storms), and in sending armies overseas for the first time. Ultimately she won. This put her in a position to gain her first overseas provinces, in Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica. It also gave her command of the seas around Italy.

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  • Africa

    Africa

    Most of Africa is home to bands of hunter-gatherers, but in the Nile valley, the civilization of Egypt is beginning to emerge

    .

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Ancient Rome 220BC

Ancient Rome
240BC - 220BC

The Carthaginians reacted to their defeat in the First Punic War by building up an empire in Spain. This was largely the work of one family, the Barcids, who were especially bitter enemies of the Romans. By 220 the supreme Carthaginian commander in Spain was Hannibal Barca, who was to go down in history as one of the greatest generals of all time.

Tensions between Rome and Carthage led to the renewal of war in 218. Hannibal immediately carried out one of the most daring military feats ever undertaken – he led his army through southern Gaul and right across the Alps into northern Italy. The Romans were suddenly confronted with the main Carthaginian army in their own backyard. Hannibal hoped to encourage the people of Italy to come over to him and destroy Rome’s power.

In the years 218 to 216 the Romans sent three large armies against Hannibal – only to have them all annihilated, the last one (the largest army the Romans had ever raised) at the Battle of Cannae.

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  • Africa

    Africa

    Most of Africa is home to bands of hunter-gatherers, but in the Nile valley, the civilization of Egypt is beginning to emerge

    .

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Ancient Rome 200BC

Ancient Rome
220BC - 200BC

Gradually, the Romans began to gain the upper hand against Hannibal. For many years he marched up and down Italy, seeking out Roman armies to destroy; but they refused battle, instead contenting themselves with shadoiwng his every move. Over time they recovered their strength. Meanwhile, in Spain, Roman armies, not without dramatic defeats at Carthaginian hands, had little by little gained control of the territory previously under Cathaginina rule.

Finally, the Romans sent a large army under their commander, Scipio Africanus, to North Africa, to the very gates of Carthage itself. The Carthaginians hurriedly recalled Hannibal, who led their army in the final battle against the Romans (202 BC), at the battle of Zama. This was a decisive Roman victory, and it finaly ended the long life-and-death struggle between the two powers.

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  • Italy

    Italy

    The cities and tribes of central and southern Italy have come under the firm leadership of Rome

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  • France

    France

    The area of modern France is now dominated by the Celtic La Tene culture

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  • Spain and Portugal

    Spain and Portugal

    Carthaginian and Roman armies have contested much of Spain

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Ancient Rome 100BC

Ancient Rome
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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Ancient Rome 50BC

Ancient Rome
100BC - 50BC

Extremism and violence in Rome led to chronic instability. With Roman power now stretching across the Mediterranean, Roman commanders now had huge armies under their orders. As factionalism in Rome became ever more bitter, these commanders became involved in fighting one another and against the politicians in Rome. Civil war followed civil war. Incredibly, this was accompanied by further expansion, as generals outdid one another in seeking glory, booty and political power through foreign conquest.

The greatest Roman general of the period – probably of all time - was Julius Caesar. He outshone all his predecessors by conquering the whole of Gaul and even invading the semi-legendary islands of Britain, twice, in 55 and 54 BC.

He then followed the example of other Roman generals by leading his victorious army on Rome.

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Ancient Rome 44BC

Ancient Rome
50BC - 44BC

Caesar’s many enemies in the senate turned to Pompey, and he (and they) fled to Greece to organize resistance against Caesar. There ensued the inevitable civil war, in which Caesar followed his enemies to Greece and defeated them at the battle of Pharsalus. He then chased the remnants around the Mediterranean, mopping up resistance. By 45 BC he was master of Rome.

Caesar took the office of dictator, a traditional Republican office which gave its holder supreme power for a short period of time to deal with a particular crisis. Caesar, however, seemed to be intent on keeping power on a permanent basis, which aroused the opposition of some of the senators.

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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Ancient Rome 30BC

Ancient Rome
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 - dead.

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  • Middle East

    Middle East

    The Middle East is now divided between the Roman and Parthian empires

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  • Turkey

    Turkey

    Asia Minor has fallen under the power of Rome.

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  • Syria

    Syria

    Syria is now a Roman province, and Judaea is under king Herod the Great

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  • Egypt

    Egypt

    Egyptian independence has come to an end with the death of its famous queen, Cleopatra

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  • Greece and the Balkans

    Greece and the Balkans

    The Greek city-states and kingdoms have fallen under the power of Rome

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  • Italy

    Italy

    The free inhabitants of Italy all now enjoy full Roman citizenship, and provide Rome with the bulk of its soldiers and officials

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  • France

    France

    The whole of the area of modern France has been conquered by the Romans

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  • Spain and Portugal

    Spain and Portugal

    Roman armies have slowly conquered most of Spain

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  • Britain

    Britain

    The peoples of the British Isles have made their first appearance in written history with Julius Caesars' invasions of 55 and 54 BC

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  • Central Europe

    Central Europe

    Major population movements are occuring in this region

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  • Africa

    Africa

    North Africa is now part of the Roman empire, while in central Africa the Bantu expansion continues

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  • North Africa

    North Africa

    North Africa has now largely fallen under the power of Rome

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Ancient Rome 27BC

Ancient Rome
30BC - 27BC

Octavian was now the sole master of the Roman world. To establish his power on a firm footing, he proclaimed himself the "Restorer of the Republic" - and then proceeded to set himself up as a monarch. Whlist keeping the outward forms and offices of the Republic, he concentrated an overwhelming share of Roman military power in his own hands; he gave himself legal powers which effectively gave him control of legistation,; and in 27 BC had himself given the name "Augustus". He thus became the first of the long line of Roman emperors.

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Ancient Rome 200AD

Ancient Rome
27BC - 200AD

The Roman Empire continued to flourish and expand over the next 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 was ruled by a succession of able rulers such as Trajan, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius; even when inadequate emperors sat on the throne, the imperial machine, staffed by able officials and soldiers, 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 soon returned under the victor, the Emperor Septimius Severus.

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

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  • Middle East

    Middle East

    One small part of the region, Judaea, has given birth to the new religion of Christianity, but has also seen the dispersal of the Jewish people from their homeland

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  • Syria

    Syria

    The Jews have been exiled from their homeland after two great revolts against Rome

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  • Egypt

    Egypt

    Egypt is a province of the Roman empire

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  • Turkey

    Turkey

    The cities of Asia Minor have prospered under the peace which Roman rule has brought

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  • Greece and the Balkans

    Greece and the Balkans

    The Greek cities are in decline, though their glorious past is still revered

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  • Italy

    Italy

    Italy holds a privileged position within the Roman empire

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  • France

    France

    Roman civilization has become deeply entrenched throughout the area of modern France

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  • Spain and Portugal

    Spain and Portugal

    Spain and Portugal have become thoroughly Romanized after centuries of Roman rule

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  • Britain

    Britain

    A Roman province now covers the southern half of the British Isles

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  • Central Europe

    Central Europe

    Central Europe is dominated by German and Sarmatian tribes

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  • Africa

    Africa

    All of North Africa is now part of the Roman empire, while to the south the Bantu migration continues

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  • North Africa

    North Africa

    North Africa is one of the most prosperous and Romanized parts of the Roman empire

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Ancient Rome 275AD

Ancient Rome
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 260's 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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Ancient Rome 337AD

Ancient Rome
275AD - 337AD

The empire survived the crisis of the third century - but only just.

It did so thanks to the efforts of a succession of soldier-emperors of humble birth. These emperors united the empire and fought back the barbarians. They also carried out wide-ranging reforms. Above all, Diocletian (284-305) and Constantine (312-337) changed all aspects of the way the Roman Empire was run. The Roman army was completely reorganized around mobile field armies able to move quickly to wherever they were needed. The imperial administration was centralized, taxes greatly increased, and cities lost most of their long-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. Fianlly, the emperor Constantine 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.

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Ancient Rome 395AD

Ancient Rome
337AD - 395AD

The fourth century emperors were often engaged in fighting barbarians on almost all frontiers. In 378 an entire Roman army was destroyed, and the 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, or at least while the western half was intact.

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Ancient Rome 410AD

Ancient Rome
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 wetsern 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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Ancient Rome 439AD

Ancient Rome
410AD - 439AD

In the late 420's, a new danger appeared. The Huns were a people from central Asia who had settled in Eastern Europe. They had a fearsome reputation. In fact, it was probably fear of the Huns which had propelled many of the German tribes westward into the empire in the first place. At this time the Huns became restless, under their leader Attila. He aimed to take advantage of the confusion in the empire to expand their power.

In 451, the long-feared attack came. In the event it was turned back by a joint force of Romans and Goths. However, the attack had the effect of strngthening the power of the Germans further at the expense of the Romans, and more Germans migrated across the frontier. Effective Roman autority in the western provinces broke down at this time.

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Ancient Rome 476AD

Ancient Rome
439AD - 476AD

More and more Germans entered the empire, and those already established there 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 east, the empire would last for more than a thousand years, preserving much of the old Greek and Roman civilization.

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Ancient Rome 500AD

Ancient Rome
476AD - 500AD

In the third century AD the Roman empire came under great pressure from neighbouring peoples along all her frontiers. Soon, barbarian invasions were penetrating deep into Roman territory, and in the middle of that century the empire came very near to breaking up before a succession of very able soldier-emperors retrieved the situation. In the fourth century the emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, which shortly became the official religion of the empire. He also founded a new city, called Constantinople, to act as the joint capital of the empire.

In 410 a barbarian army sacked the city of Rome – a huge shock to the entire Roman world. Within a few decades the Roman empire had disappeared in the west; its place taken by a group of barbarian kingdoms. In the eastern Mediterranean the Roman empire is still very much a going concern, wealthy, civilized and stable.

rise of roman empire


 
  • Middle East

    Middle East

    The Middle East is divided between the Eastern Roman empire and the Persian empire

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  • Turkey

    Turkey

    The cities of Asia Minor remain prosperous centres of classical civilization

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  • Syria

    Syria

    Syria and Palestine, provinces of the Eastern Roman Empire

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  • Europe

    Europe

    The western Roman empire has fallen to German invaders, but the eastern Roman empire remains intact

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  • Greece and the Balkans

    Greece and the Balkans

    The Balkans have been lost to Byzantine rule, and Slavs and Bulgars have settled the region.

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  • Central Europe

    Central Europe

    The rise and fall of the Huns has had a huge impact on this region

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  • Africa

    Africa

    A powerful new kingdom is arising in Ethiopia, while in West Africa trade routes across the Sahara are developing

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