The Roman Empire

By Mrs. Hoff
 Started as a small, unimportant city-state in central
Italy in the 8th century BCE
 Overthrew their monarchy and established a republic
around 509 BCE.
 Rome was dominated by
wealthy patricians
 Ruled by two consuls,
with advice from the
 Conflict developed with
plebians (poorer classes)
 Tribunes represented the
plebians, could veto
legislation in the Senate.
 Pride in republican
values: rule of law,
citizens’ rights, lack of
pretension, morality “the
way of the ancestors”.
 Began in 490s BCE with wars to control the Italian
 Punic Wars with Carthage from 264 – 146 BCE
 Gave Rome control over the western Mediterranean
 Made Rome a naval power
 Conquest of Greece, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and
present-day Spain, France, and Britain
 Reached its greatest geographical extent in the early
2nd century CE
 Gradual, unplanned pursuit of opportunities
 Skill and brutality of the Roman army
 Usually generous treatment of conquered peoples
 Political crisis of the 1st century BCE
 Rise of military leaders (Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Julius
 Decline of republican values
 Caesar Augustus (ruled 27
BCE – 14 CE) was first
 Promised maintenance of
republican forms
 Reality: emperor as sole
 Establishment of pax
Romana (Roman Peace)
 Security
 Relative prosperity
 Invested heavily in public works
 Religion
 Roman gods adopted
from Greek gods
 Persecution of Jews
and Christians for nonparticipation in cults.
 Christianity eventually
became the dominant
 Relationship with societies they governed
 Romans were always a minority in the empire
 Gradual expansion of Roman citizenship; was granted to
nearly all free people of empire in 212 CE.
 Did not imply cultural assimilation
 Some Roman culture was attractive to western Europeans.
 Greek culture dominated the eastern empire