Roman Empire


The Roman Republic became an Empire in 27 BC. C . when Julius Caesar’s adopted son , better known as Augustus , became the ruler of Rome. Augustus was in charge of establishing an autocratic form of government, where he was the only ruler and was in charge of making all the important decisions of the Roman Empire . Although we refer to him as the first emperor of Rome , Augustus never took the title of king or emperor, nor did his successors; because they preferred to call themselves first citizenor primus inter pares, first between pairs. This choice of title maintained the appearance of limited power that had been so important under the Republic.


General features

  • When was founded:  27 BC
  • When it ended:  1453
  • Capital:  Rome, Ravenna, Mediolanum, Constantinople
  • Religion:  Roman religion, Christianity
  • Government:  Autocracy , monarchy, absolute monarchy, oligarchy , theocracy

What was the Roman Empire?

The Roman Empire was a system in which political power was in the hands of a single ruler or emperor and which the Senate was limited to only function as an organ of support to the political power.



It is considered the largest , most powerful and most important civilization in Western history . It was one of the most powerful empires in history and had two stages called the High Empire and the Low Empire . For a long time Rome was a monarchy and the king had the maximum powers, he ruled with the help of a Senate.


Origin of the Roman Empire

As the story goes, Rome was founded in 753 BC by Romulus and Remus who were sons of the god of war, Mars . It was built in its beginnings on the seven hills that were next to the Tiber River and was ruled by the kings until 509 BC when the nobles managed to remove King Tarquinius the Proud from power , at which time Rome became a Republic . It had its maximum expression during the reign of Trajan and during the government of Caesar Augustus , huge tracts of land were acquired which were divided into provinces and governed by lottery.


  • Foundation of Rome : According to legend, Rome was founded in 753 BC by Romulus and Remus.
  • Monarchy : Between 509 BC to 133 BC
  • Republic : Between 133 BC and 31 BC
  • Empire : Between 31 BC and 476 AD when the Roman Empire fell.

Decline and fall of the Roman Empire

The decline and fall of the Roman Empire refers to the transformations suffered during the crisis of the third century and the Lower Roman Empire , which led to a rapid deterioration of Roman power, and caused the collapse of the Western Empire , whose emperor Romulus Augustulus , He was dismissed by Herulus Odoacer , employed in the service of Rome.

The ruin of Rome has endured as a sign par excellence of the death of civilizations, which was interpreted as the precedent and announcement of the end of Western civilization .

The traditional version of the ending of the Roman Empire says that the political and military disintegration of Roman power in the West was responsible for its destruction. The political absolutism and the Christianity of the empire had been seen positively, but then came the idea of decadence.


The supposed causes of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire are summarized in seven different aspects that are:

  • The different religious and moral theories , such as Christianity , which has been one of the major points seen as responsible for the fall.
  • Existence of racial and cultural theories .
  • The impact of the Germans from the military point of view.
  • Some believe that the cause was due to factors of population , climate and soil , since the cooling of the climate in the second century had a bad influence on crops, pests and towns.
  • The different political problems that arose were responsible for weakening the economy and Rome itself, which made it easier for its enemies to end it.
  • The erroneous manipulation that was made to the currency in order to enrich the State and the legislation of was in charge of regulating the market.


  • The economic ruin that arose from currency depreciation, shortages and contraction of business activity, which led to autarky.
  • Civil wars and intensification of thefts by an increasingly barbaric army.
  • Pestiferous pests and depopulation .
  • Disorders internal, revolts social, piracy land and sea.
  • The abandonment of lands and the expansion of colonatos.
  • They got great struggles of power between the barbarians and the Roman civil servants by the management of the state, military victory
  • The privileged classes were eliminated and the dominion of the countryside was imposed on the city

Division of the Roman Empire

After the fall of Romulus Augustus the Roman Empire of East survived 1000 years and land in the ancient Roman Empire of the West were ruled by barbarian tribes , which caused his fall. The distribution of the towns of barbarian origin would be the following:

  • Italy and Illyria : Ostrogoths and Heruli.
  • Hispania : Visigoths , Vandals, Alans, Swabians.
  • Gaul : Visigoths, Franks, Burgundians and Thuringians.
  • Britain : Angles, Jutes and Saxons.
  • Upper and Lower Germania : Franks, Alemanni and Gepids.
  • North Africa : Vandals.


The main characteristics of the Roman Empire were:

  • It was divided into dynasties .
  • The emperor was the highest authority.
  • The Roman Senate was in charge of representing the people and creating laws.
  • It was the cradle of Christianity.
  • They are seen as the creators of ” law ” and the code of laws .
  • They recorded in documents all aspects of the life of the empire.
  • It was one of the longest empires in history.


The Roman Empire was located in what is now known as the European continent , on the Peninsula Italica . Its limits were to the north with the Rhine River and the Danube , to the south with Asia Minor , to the north with Africa and some coastal regions of the Mediterranean Sea.


The maximum extension of the Roman empire was reached in 117 BC and encompassed the entire Mediterranean basin, including the places that they had conquered and that they had baptized with the name of provinces . In the imperial stage the territories reached until the reign of Trajan to the shores of the Caspian Sea , the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf , and from the Sahara desert to the banks of the Rhine, the Danube and the border with Caledonia.

Cultural manifestations

  • Art : had an influence from Etruscan art and Greek art . It can be said that the art of Rome was a kind of imitation of Greek art but the Romans looked for a way to give more aesthetic sense , utility and functionality to the works.
  • Architecture : the cities communicated by roads and these cities were founded on a basic orthogonal structure with two main streets. They had a sewage system and urban order. There were theaters , baths , amphitheaters and circuses for entertainment, libraries, study centers, and aqueducts. The houses were the insulae or islands and were made of adobe , columns , triumphal arches , equestrian statues and plaques were built.
  • Sculpture : the sculpture of Greece was taken as a reference but they gave more realism to their works, they leaned more towards the construction of statues and busts of Roman emperors and their gods.

Customs and traditions

  • Women and men waxed with waxes or special tweezers , they considered it a matter of hygiene.
  • To perfume her mistress , a slave filled her mouth with perfume and sprayed it on her mistress.
  • Roman women they made their makeup based droppings crocodile or flour. They used the poisonous substance red nitrate to color their cheeks and painted their lips with rotten fruit .
  • The person who had debts was owned by his creditor along with his family . They lost their rights as citizens and formed a class between the slaves and the free men.
  • When a father passed away, the eldest son closed his eyes and called him for the last time.
  • Poor families buried their dead in mass graves , where they deposited the urn with the ashes.

Political and social organization of the Roman Empire

The society of the Roman Empire was made up of the nobility who were those who had all the power. There was practically no middle class because the commoners increased in number. The commoners received some help from the state for the public shows they performed. There were also freedmen , who were the slaves who had been freed who had rights and privileges .

In the last place were the slaves that the Roman Empire had won and who performed domestic tasks , engaged in agriculture , mining , construction and the manufacture of handicrafts .


The most important Roman emperors were: Augustus, Tiberius , Caligula , Nero , Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Vero, Maximinus, Gordianus, Romulus Augustus, Theodosius the Great, Constantine the Great, Diocletian.


The economy of the Roman Empire was based on agriculture and mining , which were practiced on the lands that had been won through conquests. The trade was another important aspect of the empire and made exchanges of metals, perfumes, spices, silks and precious stones with the East .


The Roman religion was based on a set of different cults , some were carried out in homes and were family and others were public , and were always oriented to show respect before the State . There was the cult of the emperor but still tolerated other religions. It was a contractual religion because everything that was done including offerings and prayers was a pact with the gods to be able to receive favors .


The diet of the Roman Empire was influenced by the culture of Greece , which brought new cooking and food preparation techniques . They had a routine of three daily meals, but then they introduced a light evening meal . They fed on flat cakes , eggs , cheese , honey , milk, and fruits . Wheat bread with wine and olives or grapes was also a traditional meal. One of their main foods was meat , clamsand oysters .


The main contributions that the Roman Empire left us were:

  • They built a series of aqueducts and bridges .
  • Creation of the Julian calendar .
  • Roads and highways .
  • They taught us the Roman numerals .
  • They created concrete for structures and constructions.
  • They invented the basilicas .
  • They inherited the newspaper as a means of communication.
  • Roman law emerged that laid the foundations for current law.
  • Network of sewers and culverts .

Importance of the Roman Empire

The Roman Empire played a very important role as they left us an enormous legacy in our current society , in topics that range from architecture and construction to literature , law and even some of the details that we live daily.

Probably the greatest importance that the empire had was Roman law and its legislation because thanks to its legal structure , separated from morality , religion and which tended to equality among all men, the empire was maintained for so many centuries.

They also left us a legacy with respect to the forms of government or political systems , in customs, religion, laws, language, alphabet, law and the arts; they collaborated in one way or another with the spread of Judeo-Christian thought , from the fall and transformation of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the formation of the European nation states ; and by extension in the XV century d. C. to all America.

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