Roman history begins very early in Italian civilization. The city began sometime between the years 753 BC and 625 BC. Initially, Rome was ruled by kings, but after just a short period, the people took power over their city and ruled through a senate. This established the Roman Republic, “republic” being Latin for “matters of state.” The senate did exist when the kings were in power, but they were merely an advisory body. Once the republic was established, rule was peaceful and there were no kings or dictators, only a consul that would rule for one year. The Roman Republic was one of the most successful governments throughout all of history, lasting from 510 BC until 23 BC.
There were four classes of people in Rome, divided carefully by society. The lowest class was the slaves, who had no rights or privileges. The next class citizens were the plebians who were free, but had little power. The second class citizens were equestrians, who were rich, but were required to fight for Rome if necessary. The highest class of citizens was the patricians. This was the group that held all of the power.
One of Rome’s greatest challenges was the Carthaginians. These were people from a city in North Africa that controlled their own empire. There was constant strife between the two groups, the most famous of which was when General Hannibal crossed the Alps into northern Italy with his troops. Rome eventually won the war and Carthage was destroyed in 146 BC.
Many people are familiar with Rome because of the literature that has been written about one of its most famous citizens, Julius Caesar. Caesar was
a politician and general who conquered the territory of Gauls. Caesar conquered Rome and took rule as a dictator, but was later killed in senate. Caesar was followed by many emperors including Augustus, Claudius, Nero, Titus, and Constantine. Constantine was Rome’s first Christian emporer and united the empire under the capital of Byzantium, which he changed to Constantinope.
The Fall of the Empire
The Roman Empire was eventually destroyed by barbarians that entered the area from the north and east. People migrated into the area on more than one occasion and the Roman army lacked the power to conquer migratory people. The final straw occurred in 476 AD when the Visigoth Odoacer and his men conquered the city. The Fall of Rome actually did not occur until 1453 AD, when the eastern empire including Constantinople was also destroyed by the Turks.
From the mid-1400s forward, Rome’s history is tied to Italian history. When the Congress of Vienna revoked the unification and independence that occurred under the Napoleonic Era, a battle began for reunification. In 1871, Rome was annexed and chosen to be the capital of the Italian Republic. Today, Rome is one of the world’s most visited cities with many tourists flocking to see the Vatican, the museums, and the relics from the Roman Empire.