The Roman Empire
Rise of the Roman Empire
According to legend, Rome was founded by the twin sons of mars, the god of war (A&E Television). Romulus and Remus founded the city in 753 B.C. and after killing his brother, Romulus became the first king of Rome (A&E Television). Rome's short era as a monarchy ended in 509 B.C. with the overthrow of its king, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus (A&E Television). Soon after, Rome became a republic, which it is more commonly known as. During the early period of the republic, Rome was sacked by the Gauls (A&E Television). The Romans rebounded, however, under the military hero Camillus who eventually gained control of the entire Italian peninsula by 264 B.C. (A&E Television). Rome then fought two wars and gained control of the western Mediterranean Sea, much of Spain and Macedonia and turned them into Roman Provinces (A&E Television) The story was set for Rome to go on and become the greatest nation in history.
According to Carlton, the author of Roman Warriors, "The Roman Army helped to make the empire the most powerful nation on earth" (5). The army turned a little village on a hilltop into the center of the western world. Carlton accurately described the Roman army, "as a war machine that rarely breaks down" (5). This really helps paint the picture of a unified army working together to crush any opponents that presented themselves. Citizens of Rome joined the army out of their own free will, whereas other countries forced citizens to arms (Carlton 6). Infantry were known as legionaires, because they were organized into fighting forces called legions. Legions had many formations including the wedge, circle and a defense against cavalry.
City of Rome
Rome, at it's height, was by far the largest and grandest city in the world (Carlton 10). Emperor Augustus himself stated, "I found Rome a city of bricks; I left it a city of marbles" (10). Augustus came to power when Rome was in rough shape and he decided he wanted to fix it. He split the city in 14 districts, each governed locally so things ran smoothly (Carlton 10). He also cleared up much of the garbage and waste (Carlton 10). Rome is perhaps most famous for the colosseum which was used to enterain citizens.
Augustus' rule ushered Rome into two full centuries of peace and prosperity (A&E Television). He ruled for 56 years and when he died the senate proclaimed him a god, beginning a long running tradition of praising popular emperors (A&E Television). Several emperor's followed him rather successfully, until Marcus Aurelius came into power. His reign was dominated by conflict, including wars with Parthia and Armenia and invasions of Germanic Tribes from the north (A&E Television). Marcus fell ill and died near the battlefield of Vienna which started the decline of the Roman Empire.
The Fall of Rome
For more than 500 years Rome had ruled western Europe and the Mediterranean peacefully and prosperously (Carlton 17). However, taxes were very high, so Rome split into an eastern and western empire (Carlton 17). This was basically so one man didn't have to rule everything. In 370 AD something very unexpected happened. The Huns headed west from their homes in China for reasons unknown (Carlton 17). Eventually the barbarian tribes of central Europe were in a frenzy, trying to take shelter from the Huns (Carlton 17). One tribe, the Visigoths, were actually sheltered by Rome, but they rebelled several times (Carlton 17). Rome had enemies on all sides of its borders and now it had a new threat within it's previously peaceful lands. Rome crumbled and was finally defeated in 454 Ad (Carlton 18).
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