The Roman Empire was a long period of the imperial phase of Roman civilization that lasted approximately 500 years (27 BC to 476 AD). It starts after the end of the Republic (509 BC to 27 BC). Roman Empire history summary
An Empire is characterized by the concentration of power in the hands of a single person – the Emperor – and in the Roman Empire there were more than 80 rulers. The first emperor was Octavian Augustus (27 BC to 19 BC).
Summary of the history of the Roman Empire
The period can be divided into two major phases: the High Empire , the longest phase, which lasted from its emergence to the year 305 AD and the Low Empire , from 305 AD to 476 AD.
The High Empire gets its name because it was the period of growth and conquests of the Roman Empire. The Emperor – backed by the Senate, which had its power reduced – controlled decisions in all sectors.
It was during the High Empire that new territories were conquered and the Empire’s domain area grew a lot. Important public works were also built, with Hadrian’s Wall, which protected the domains from invasion attempts. Amphitheaters and baths are also examples of buildings from the Roman Empire. Roman Empire history summary
Economic growth was mainly due to commercial activities and the economic system was mainly based on slave labor – the peoples of conquered territories were often enslaved by the Romans.
Another important feature of the period was the power struggles, often marked by conspiracies and betrayals, which resulted in numerous changes in the leadership of the Empire.
In the last decades, the power of the Empire begins to diminish due to revolts in the army and the rising costs of its maintenance.
The phase of the High Empire ends in the year 305 AD, when Emperor Diocletian leaves the government.
This phase is marked by crises that led to the decline of the Empire. The main factors that led to the crisis were the loss of power and the decrease in economic growth, mainly due to the reduction of territorial conquests.
The absence of conquests of new territories gave rise to several consequences that put the Empire in an imbalance. As the economy was based on slave labor, production and trade began to face difficulties.
Declining tax collections add to the economic crisis, as does the difficulty in maintaining the expensive Roman army. Roman Empire history summary
All these problems caused the Empire to have its borders weakened, making it more vulnerable to invasions.
The year 476 AD marks the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The Eastern Roman Empire continued for nearly a thousand years, until its fall in 1453.
The division of the Roman Empire
The death of Emperor Theodosius in AD 395 marks the division of the Roman Empire into two regions: Western Roman Empire and Eastern Roman Empire.
The division had already happened before, as a solution to facilitate the political administration of the extensive territory. But it was after Theodosius’ death that the division was definitive. The two parts of the Roman Empire were under the responsibility of the emperor’s sons: Arcadius and Honorius.
The Western Roman Empire , whose capital was Rome, was made up of many different cultures, the result of the process of conquering new territories.
This part of the Empire does not resist for long and ends up divided into several small kingdoms. The Western Roman Empire ceases to exist in 476 AD, when General Flavius Odoacer invades the region, deposes the emperor and becomes king – his reign extends from 476 AD to 496 AD
The Eastern Roman Empire , with its capital in Constantinople and also called the Byzantine Empire – lasted the longest. This part of the imperial division has faced difficulties over the years, such as wars and weakening due to the internal conflicts of the government. Roman Empire history summary
Even so, it stood out for a long time, being economically successful. The Eastern Roman Empire resists until the year 1453, when it is dominated by the Turks.
The fall of the Roman Empire
The trajectory leading to the fall of the Roman Empire begins after the division between the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire. The main causes were crises in politics and the economy , in addition to the barbarian invasions that took place in this period.
Some of the reasons that led to the fall of the Roman Empire were:
- the high maintenance costs of the army;
- the growing corruption in government;
- difficulties in administering the extensive territory;
- disputes that weakened power;
- decrease in the number of slaves, due to the decrease in conquests of new territories;
- high cost of taxes levied and reduced collection;
- growth of Christianity;
- fall in production and decrease in trade. Roman Empire history summary
Features of the Roman Empire
The main features of the Roman Empire are:
- Emperors’ governments were for life: they had no fixed duration;
- the Roman Empire was polytheistic, there were beliefs in several gods;
- it was a period very focused on commerce;
- slavery was the basis of work;
- Latin emerged during the Roman Empire;
- coups and invasions were the way to conquer new territories,
- it was a period of territorial expansion: the Empire reached over 6,000,000 km². Roman Empire history summary
The emperor was responsible for controlling the activities of the Empire, for political and economic decisions and for appointing the governors of the new territories. He also had control over legal decisions, the Army and even religious matters.
The long period of Empire had more than 80 emperors. Some of the most important were:
- Octavian Augustus (27 BC to 14 AD): was the first emperor of Rome and ordered actions that resulted in an increase in territory. Roman Empire history summary
- Claudius (41 AD to 54 AD): was responsible for important expansions of territory and for the growth of the economy during his government.
- Nero (AD 54 to AD 68): was regarded as an emperor not very competent in administration. He had the Christians persecuted, whom he held responsible for the fire in Rome in AD 64
- Titus Flavius (69 AD to 79 AD): was responsible for the order of destruction of the Temple of Solomon. The construction of the Coliseum in Rome took place during the period he ruled.
- Trajan (98 AD to 117 AD): achieved important territorial conquests and carried out public works in Rome. He was quite combative and ordered a persecution of the Christian people.
- Hadrian (AD 117 to AD 138): Hadrian’s Wall was built under his rule. The work spanned 120 kilometers and was built to prevent invasions of Roman territory.
- Diocletian (AD 284 to AD 305): created the diarchy and tetrarchy, the division of government administration with two or four rulers. It was during his rule that the Empire was divided into East and West.
- Constantine I (307 AD to 337 AD): published the Edict of Milan in 313 AD The document determined that the Empire did not have an official religion and ended the persecution of the Christian people. Roman Empire history summary