Last Updated on November 27, 2023 by Vladimir Vulic
An animated map showing the growth of Rome over the years from its start as a Republic and transformation into an Empire. It then splits into the Eastern Byzantine Empire and the Western Roman Empire before the eventual fall of the West in 476 AD. The Latin Empire arises from the sack of Constantinople in 1204 AD from the crusaders before the Eastern Empire rises again for a brief time before its demise.
The Roman Empire, with its vast territories and profound influence, has left an indelible mark on the course of history. This article delves into the key milestones of the Roman Empire, tracing its evolution from its foundation to its eventual decline.
1. Founding of Rome (c. 625 BC)
The Birth of a City-State
Rome was established around 625 BC in the regions of ancient Italy known as Etruria and Latium. The amalgamation of Latium villagers with settlers from neighboring hills, possibly in response to an Etruscan invasion, marked the birth of Rome as a city-state.
2. Period of Kings (625-510 BC)
The Dawn of Roman Leadership
During this era, Rome was governed by a series of kings. This period witnessed significant militaristic and economic advancements, with the expansion of territories and the flourishing trade of commodities like oil lamps. The Roman constitution also began taking shape during this time.
3. Republican Rome (510-31 BC)
The Rise of a Republic
The decline of Etruscan power paved the way for the Roman Republic. This era saw the establishment of a new form of governance where the upper echelons, particularly senators and equestrians, held sway. Key developments included the creation of the “Twelve Tables” in 451 BC, a standardized code of laws, and Rome’s dominance over the entire Italian peninsula by 338 BC.
The Punic Wars and Expansion
The Punic Wars from 264-146 BC, coupled with confrontations with Greece, enabled Rome to assert control over Carthage and Corinth, making it the preeminent maritime power in the Mediterranean.
4. Transition to Imperial Rome (Late Republican Period)
The Emergence of Julius Caesar
Political unrest and civil wars characterized the late Republican period. Julius Caesar’s ascent to power in 60 BC marked a pivotal moment. By 51 BC, he had annexed Celtic Gaul, pushing Rome’s frontiers beyond the Mediterranean.
5. Imperial Rome (31 BC – AD 476)
The Age of Emperors
Following the demise of Julius Caesar, Octavian, later known as Augustus, emerged as the first Roman Emperor. This period of the Roman Empire was marked by peace, prosperity, and territorial expansion. By AD 117, the empire spanned three continents.
The Division and Decline
In AD 286, the empire was bifurcated into the eastern and western segments. The western empire, after enduring multiple Gothic invasions and sacking by the Vandals in AD 455, eventually collapsed in AD 476. The eastern segment, known as the Byzantine Empire, persisted until AD 1453.
The Roman Empire’s timeline is a testament to its monumental achievements and the challenges it faced. Its legacy, from language and law to art and architecture, continues to resonate in modern societies, underscoring its unparalleled significance in world history.
Historian Franco Cavazzi dedicated hundreds of hours of his life to creating this website, roman-empire.net as a trove of educational material on this fascinating period of history. His work has been cited in a number of textbooks on the Roman Empire and mentioned on numerous publications such as the New York Times, PBS, The Guardian, and many more.