Roman Empire

Rome Empire at its largest (117 A.D.)
The Roman Empire at different times.

The Roman Empire (Latin: imperium romanum) was the largest empire of the ancient world. Its capital was Rome, and its empire was based in the Mediterranean. The Empire dates from 27 BC, when Octavian became the Emperor, Augustus, till it fell in 476 AD, marking the end of the Ancient World and the beginning of the Middle Ages, or Dark Ages.[1]

The empire was the third stage of Ancient Rome. Rome was first ruled by Roman kings, then by the Roman Republic, then by an emperor.

Many modern lands were once part of the Roman Empire, including Britain (not Scotland), Spain, Portugal, France (Gaul), Italy, Greece, Turkey, Germany, Egypt, Levant, Crimea, Switzerland,and the north coast of Africa. The main language of the Roman Empire was Latin; Greek was an important secondary language.

The western part of the Roman Empire continued for about 500 years, and the eastern part, including Greece and Anatolia, continued for about a thousand years more. The eastern part was called the Byzantine Empire, its capital being Constantinople.

Governing the Empire

In order to control their large empire, the Romans developed important ideas about law and government. They developed the best army in the world at that time, and ruled by force. They had fine engineering, and built roads, cities, and outstanding buildings. The Empire was divided into provinces, each with a governor plus civil and military support. Letters, both official and private, would constantly go to and from Rome.

Trade was most important for Rome, a city of more than a million people, by far the largest city in the world. They needed, and got, wheat from Egypt, tin from Britannia, grapes from Gaul, and so on. In return, the Romans built provincial capitals into fine cities, protected them from raids by barbarians, and provided education and career opportunities for young people in the provinces, such as jobs in the Roman Army.

In principle, emperors had absolute control, and could do as they pleased. In practice, they faced many difficult problems. They had a staff of what we call 'civil servants' and the advice of the Roman Senate. The emperor had to decide what were the most important issues facing the Empire, and what should be done about them. Most of them tried to do two sorts of thing. One was to do things to improve the life of Romans in peacetime. The other was to fight and defeat Rome's enemies. A wealthy empire always has enemies.

With kings and emperors, a big problem is the order of succession. Who follows them when they die? Kings were sometimes followed by their eldest son, if he was capable of ruling. For Roman emperors, more often it would be an adopted son. It worked like this. The emperor would notice an outstanding young man from one of the best families. He would adopt him as his son. Before he died he would make clear whom he thought should succeed him, by making him a Roman consul, or by stating in his will that the younger man should succeed him. Sometimes this worked; sometimes it did not. Every now and then there would be a civil war between claimants to the throne.

An adopted son or two gave the emperor more choices. Some emperors had no son; some had sons who were killed in battle, or died during a plague. Later on, emperors grew so weak that the Roman army would just pick one of their generals to be the next emperor. This often led to civil war. The life stories of the emperors can be found in List of Roman emperors.

The Romans fought many wars against other countries, and enjoyed watching violent sports. They enjoyed watching races between chariots pulled by horses, and fights between men using weapons (gladiators). Unlike in modern sports, the fighters were often killed in fights. Romans enjoyed these shows in the Colosseum.

The Romans had great civil engineering. They built many large public buildings and villas, aqueducts to carry water, stone bridges and roads. Some of these things can still be seen today. Many famous writers were Romans, including Cicero and Virgil.

The New Testament of the Bible tells about the Romans in the life of Jesus Christ. During Jesus' life, the Romans, who were pagans, ruled his country. Later, several emperors tried to destroy Christianity but they did not succeed. By 312 AD the emperor Galerius allowed people freedom to follow Christianity, and the next year, a general, Constantine, became emperor and converted to Christianity.

The city of Rome was taken over several times by barbarians, notably in 410 AD when the Goths sacked the city (looting). The last Western Roman emperor, Romulus Augustus, resigned in 476 AD. The Roman Empire would last another 1,000 years as the Byzantine Empire in the east.

The main coin of the Roman Empire was the silver denarius. Later denarii were smaller.

Various reasons have been given for the fall of Rome. Edward Gibbon wrote a long book called The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in which he said it was because the Romans didn't care enough to fight hard anymore, Other historians blame the unstable system of leadership. In a 50-year period, only 2 out of 22 emperors died a natural death. Most of the emperors were assassinated.[2]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Romeinse Ryk
aragonés: Imperio Román
asturianu: Imperiu romanu
azərbaycanca: Roma İmperiyası
Bân-lâm-gú: Lô-má Tè-kok
башҡортса: Рим империяһы
беларуская: Рымская імперыя
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Рымская імпэрыя
български: Римска империя
bosanski: Rimsko carstvo
català: Imperi Romà
dansk: Romerriget
dolnoserbski: Romski imperium
English: Roman Empire
español: Imperio romano
Esperanto: Romia Imperio
estremeñu: Empériu romanu
Fiji Hindi: Roman Samrajya
føroyskt: Rómverjaríkið
français: Empire romain
贛語: 羅馬帝國
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Lò-mâ Ti-koet
한국어: 로마 제국
hornjoserbsce: Romski imperij
hrvatski: Rimsko Carstvo
Bahasa Indonesia: Kekaisaran Romawi
interlingua: Imperio Roman
italiano: Impero romano
Kiswahili: Dola la Roma
Kreyòl ayisyen: Anpi Women
latviešu: Romas impērija
Lëtzebuergesch: Réimescht Räich
lietuvių: Romos imperija
Ligure: Impêo Roman
Limburgs: Romeins Riek
Lingua Franca Nova: Impero Roman
la .lojban.: latmo sosygugje'a
lumbaart: Impero Roman
македонски: Римско Царство
Malagasy: Empira Romana
Bahasa Melayu: Empayar Rom
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Lò̤-mā Dá̤-guók
Mirandés: Ampério Romano
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ရောမအင်ပါယာ
Na Vosa Vakaviti: Na Matanitu ki Roma
Nedersaksies: Romeinse Riek
नेपाल भाषा: रोमन साम्राज्य
日本語: ローマ帝国
Napulitano: Impero Rumano
norsk nynorsk: Romarriket
occitan: Empèri Roman
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਰੋਮਨ ਸਮਰਾਜ
پنجابی: رومی سلطنت
Papiamentu: Imperio romano
ភាសាខ្មែរ: ចក្រភព រ៉ូម
Piemontèis: Imperi Roman
português: Império Romano
qırımtatarca: Roma İmperiyası
română: Imperiul Roman
русиньскый: Римска империя
саха тыла: Рим империята
Gagana Samoa: Emepaea o Roma
Seeltersk: Roomske Riek
sicilianu: Mpèriu rumanu
slovenčina: Rímske cisárstvo
slovenščina: Rimski imperij
српски / srpski: Римско царство
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Rimsko Carstvo
Basa Sunda: Kakaisaran Romawi
татарча/tatarça: Рим империясе
Türkmençe: Rim imperiýasy
українська: Римська імперія
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: رىم ئىمپېرىيىسى
Vahcuengh: Lozmaj Daeqgoz
vèneto: Inpero Roman
vepsän kel’: Rimalaine imperii
Tiếng Việt: Đế quốc La Mã
West-Vlams: Romeins Ryk
吴语: 罗马帝国
粵語: 羅馬帝國
žemaitėška: Ruomas imperėjė
中文: 羅馬帝國