Ancient European History 200 CE

Contents

Rome, the centre of the world

Temperate Europe

The Greek East

Non-Roman Europe

Further study

ancient european history
Map of Europe 200 AD

Continued from Ancient Europe 200-30 BC

Rome, the Centre of the World

When Augustus came to power, he reorganized the Roman state so that effective power – above all, military power – was concentrated in his own hands. He thereby became the first of a long chain of emperors. Under their rule, the Roman empire was exceptionally well governed by pre-modern standards, and the inhabitants of the empire experienced more than two centuries of almost unbroken internal peace.

Rome the imperial capital, was the centre of the empire. It was a massive city, and, adorned by successive emperors with fora, magnificent monuments, great public baths, huge amphitheatres, parks, palaces, and temples, became the wonder of the world.


Interior of the ancient Roman Coliseum now a tourist attraction

Temperate Europe

Roman rule had an enormous impact on society in temperate Europe. We have seen that material advances had been taking place amongst the “barbarian” peoples of Europe, but by Roman and Greek standards their society was under-urbanized and therefore (according to them), uncivilized. Previously organized largely along tribal lines, it was now reorganized along lines based on the city-state model. The old tribes became “civitates” – or city-states, with proper urban centres at their core.

These were administered on a self-governing basis by elected magistrates, who, though mostly descended from tribal nobles, were now Roman-educated gentlemen, members of provincial elites whose members were part of an empire-wide network of patronage. As early as the 1st century AD, descendants of Gallic and Hispanic chiefs were members of the Roman senate, and during the 2ndcentury, the imperial throne itself was occupied by Spanish and Gallic families.

The Greek East

In the Greek-speaking east, Roman civilization had less impact, as this was an already heavily urbanized region with a culture which the Romans chose to emulate, rather than vice versa. Even here, however, Roman cultural influences were felt. In architecture, temples, amphitheatres and other public buildings took on a Roman form. In social life, Roman law and citizenship spread far and wide, and members of the provincial elites here joined their western colleagues in joining the senate during the 2nd century.

New Religions

The old paganism of Greece and Rome had been losing the allegiance of many people over the past few centuries. Other faiths had been springing up to fill the gap. Mithraism, inspired by Persian spirituality, had won the loyalty of many soldiers over the past century or so. The worship of the Egyptian goddess Isis had also become popular throughout the empire. However, it was two faiths springing from the small Middle Eastern territory of Judaea, which would have the most enduring impact on European life and culture.


Depiction of Mithras killing the Bull by Serge Ottaviani.
Reproduced underCreative Commoms 3.0

Christianity would in later centuries become the almost-universal religion of Europe. By the end of the 2nd century, however, this faith was probably only held by a small minority of the population. By this time, though, populations of Jews, scattering outwards from their Judaean homeland after the ruthless suppression of two major revolts by the Romans, were to be found in all the larger cities of Roman Europe.

Non-Roman Europe

In northern Europe, the German peoples have continued their expansion, settling areas along the Roman frontier as far south as the Danube. Contact with Rome has had a number of consequences for German society. Trade has led to an upswing in material culture, and the rise of wealthy and powerful chiefs. Associated with this, and as a consequence of the frequent state of warfare along the frontier, is a militarization of society, making the Germans into more formidable foes than before.

Further study

Maps of Ancient Europe

Maps of Europe 3500 BC

Maps of Europe 2500 BC

Maps of Europe 1500 BC

Maps of Europe 1000 BC

Maps of Europe 500 BC

Maps of Europe 200 BC

Maps of Europe 30 BC

The History of Ancient Europe:

Ancient Europe up to 3500 BC: The Coming of FarmingCentral EuropeThe MediterraneanThe Atlantic CulturesExpansion and DevelopmentEmerging Elites.

Ancient Europe 3500 BC – 2500 BC: Temperate Europe; The Indo-Europeans; The HorseMediterranean transformations.

Ancient Europe 2500 BC – 1500 BC: Bronze and TradeA Fashion for BeakersThe Indo-European SpeakersConflicts and ChieftainsThe First European Civilizations.

Ancient Europe 1500 BC – 1000 BC: The Urnfield cultureCivilization and catastrophe.

Ancient Europe 1000 BC – 500 BC: Iron Age EuropeThe Mediterranean City State; Links between north and south.

Ancient Europe 500 BC – 200 BC: The CeltsThe Mediterranean EuropeThe rising power of Rome.

Ancient Europe 200 BC – 30 BC: The Continuing Rise of RomeTemperate EuropeThe North.

Ancient Europe 30 BC – 200 AD: Rome, the centre of the worldTemperate EuropeThe Greek EastNon-Roman Europe.

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