Ancient Rome is the name for a civilization in Italy. It began as a small farming community in the 8th century BC. It became a city and took the name of Roma from its founder Romulus. It grew to become the largest empire in the ancient world. It started as a kingdom, then became a republic, then an empire.
The Roman Empire was so big that there were problems ruling a territory which stretched from Britain to the Middle East. In 293 AD, Diocletian split the empire into two parts. A century later, in 395 AD, it was permanently split into the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire. The Western Empire ended because of the Germanic tribe, the Visigoths in 476 AD. In the 5th century AD, the western part of the empire split up into different kingdoms. The eastern Roman Empire stayed together as the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine Empire was defeated by the Ottoman Empire in 1454.
Rome was founded, according to legend, on 21 April 753 BC and fell in 476 AD, having nearly 1200 years of independence and roughly 700 years of rule as a major power in the ancient world. This makes it one of the longest lasting civilizations in the antiquity.
Roman culture spread to Western Europe and the area around the Mediterranean Sea. Its history still has a big influence on the world today. For example, Roman ideas about laws, government, art, literature, and language are important to European culture. The Roman language, Latin, slowly evolved, becoming modern French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian. Latin also influenced many other languages like English.
Beginning with Emperor Nero in the first century AD, the Roman government did not like Christianity. At certain points in history, people could be put to death because they were Christians. Under Emperor Diocletian, the persecution of Christians became the strongest. However, Christianity became an officially supported religion in the Roman Empire under Constantine I, who was the next Emperor. With the signing of the Edict of Milan in 313, it quickly became the biggest religion. Then in 391 AD by an edict of Emperor Theodosius I made Christianity Rome's official religion.
The Eastern EmpireEdit
The Byzantines were threatened by the rise of Islam, whose followers took over the territories of Syria, Armenia and Egypt and soon threatened to take over Constantinople. In the next century, the Arabs also captured southern Italy and Sicily.
The Byzantines survived during the 8th century and, beginning in the 9th century, took back parts of the conquered lands. In 1000 AD, the Eastern Empire was at its largest point, and culture and trade flourished. However, the expansion was suddenly stopped in 1071 at the Battle of Manzikert. This finally made the empire start becoming weaker. After centuries of fighting and Turkic invasions, Emperor Alexius I Comnenus called for help from the West in 1095.
The West responded with the Crusades, eventually resulting in the Fourth Crusade which conquered Constantinople in 1204. New countries including Nicaea took pieces of the now smaller empire. After the recapture of Constantinople by Imperial forces, the empire was little more than a Greek state confined to the Aegean coast. The Eastern Empire came to an end when Mehmed II conquered Constantinople on 29 May 1453.
Remains of Roman work and architecture have been found in the furthest corners of the late Empire.
- Chris Scarre 1995. The Penguin historical atlas of Ancient Rome Penguin, London.
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- Duiker, 2001. page 349.
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