(753 BC- 1453) by Lance Wilson and Michael Holland

"I came, I saw, I conquered." - Julius Caesar (

Among all of the great civilizations in the history of the, none were greater than the Romans. The city of Rome was founded in 753 BC on the Tiber River in the Italian Peninsula. During Rome's early years, it was ruled by kings, at least two of which were Etruscans. In 509 BC, the Romans overthrew the Etruscan king and created a republic. Fearing the presence of the Carthaginians in Silicy, the Romans attacked them in the First Punic War. The Romans defeated the Carthaginian navy in 241 BC, bringing the war to an end. The Second Punic War was initiated in 218 BC by the greatest Carthaginian general, Hannibal. He entered Italy from the north, taking cities and villages as he went. At the Battle of Cannae, he defeated a force of over 45,000 men. Over 40,000 of them died. In 202 BC he was forced to return to Carthage to defend in against the Roman army led by Scipio. He was defeated, and the Second Punic War was brought to a close in 201 BC. The two nations were at a tense peace for the next 50 years, until a Roman Senator named Cato announced that "Carthage must be destroyed." The Third Punic War began from this in 149 BC. It was a relatively shortwar, and in 146 BC, Carthage was destroyed. After Roman defeated Carthage, it became the greatest power in the Mediterranean. In 133 BC, Tibrius and Gaius Gracchus took power and were popular leaders among the Plebeians because they gave land and sold grain at a cheap price to the poor. They were not popular among the Patricians, and were killed by the Senate. In 90 BC, a civil war broke out between Gaius Marius, who created a professional army loyal to him and not to Rome, and Lucius Sulla, who became the dictator at this time. The civil war died down in 88 BC, and it was a relatively peaceful time (with the exception of the slave revolt led by Spartacus in 73 BC) until three men came to power in 60 BC and formed the First Triumvirate.

The Colosseum, the Roman stadium in which gladiator fights and even naval battles were held.

The First Triumvirate was made of Gnaeus Pompey, Marcuss Crassus, and Julius Caesar, who all held nearly equal power at the time. Crassus was killed in a battle in the east during this time, leaving only Pompey and Caesar to struggle for power. While Pompey was favored by the Senate, Julius Caesar's military might and his holding of the support by the lower classes prevailed, and Caesar took control in 49 BC, and became dictator for life in 46 BC. He introduced many reforms, including giving Roman citizenship to loyal non-Italians and giving grain to the poor. However, the Senate did not support him, and he was stabbed on March 15, 44 BC by Gaius Cassius and Marcus Brutus. After Julius Caesar was killed, a Second Triumvirate was formed, made up of Caesar's nephew, Octavian, general, Marc Antony, and cavalry commander, Lepidus. Lepidus was forced out by Octavian, and soon the western empire was controlled by Octavian and the eastern half of the empire was controlled by Antony. But Octavian wanted control of the entire empire, and in in the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, Marc Antony was defeated. He and his wife, the pharaoh Cleopatra, committed suicide soon after. Soon after this Octavian was given the title Augustus, meaning "exalted one", and became the first Roman Emperor. His rule initiated the Pax Romana, the Roman Peace. Augustus was also created many reforms, includin the Praetorian Guard, designed to guard the emperor, and a census, which is still used today to count the number of people in a country. Augustus died in 14 AD, and was succeeded by his adopted son Tiberius. Jesus was crucified during Tiberius' reign. After Tiberius' reign ended in 37 AD, his grandson Caligula took power. Caligula's reign lasted only 4 years because of his insane behavior, which included making his horse a consul. In 41 AD Claudius, Caligula's uncle became Roman emperor. He expanded the empire to include Britain. In 54 AD his stepson Nero bcame emperor. During this time there was a fire that destroyed much of Rome, which Nero blamed on the Christians. At his death the line of Julian emperors ended. 25 years later, in 96 AD the Golden Age of Rome began with the first of the five "good emperors." In 98 AD Trajan became emperor. It was during the rule of Trajan that Rome's boundaries were extended to their greatest length going as far as Mesopotamia and the Caspian Sea. In 117 AD, Hadrian became emperor. Hadrian recognized the difficulty in defending the large empire, and took defensive measures, including building a wall at the northern border of Roman Britain to keep the Scots out. The last good emperor was Marcus Aurelius, who ruled from 161- 180 AD. Shortly after Marcus Aurelius' death, Rome faced a period of instability. From 192-284 AD Rome was ruled by whoever was strong enough to take over. Peace was partially restored in 284 AD when Diocletian became emperor. Diocletian decided that Rome was too large to ruled by one person, and split the empire into two parts, the east ruled by him out of Byzantium, and the west ruled by Maximian out of Rome.
This is a collection of five busts of Roman Emperors.

Despite some new strengths Rome acquire from emperors during this time, Rome was frequently attacked by barbarians from Germania, including the Goths, who wee driven into the Roman Empire by the Huns, led by Attila the Hun, who terrorized all people in the area, including Rome. Raids became more frequent, and Rome was sacked by Alaric, king of the Goths, in 410 AD. Attila the Hun was defeated by Rome in the Battle of Chalons in 451 AD. But despite this victory, barbarians were still present, and Rome fell to Odoacer in 476 AD. It was during the time of Rome when Christianity was created. Jesus was born during the reign of Augustus. While many Jews believed that he was a false prophet, many people believed he was the Messiah, chosen by God to save the people. He was ordered to be crucified by the Roman procurator of Judaea, Pontius Pilate. After his death, Jesus' closest followers became the Apostles, meaning "one who is sent out", who travelled around the Roman Empire and converted people to Christianity. The Christians were persecuted for several centuries, until Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity after seeing a vision of a cross before a battle in 312 AD. Christianity was tolerated from then until 392 AD, when Emperor Theodosius made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Important People

  1. Augustus Caesar: The popular first emperor of the Roman Empire, originally named Octavian. He was awarded the title Augustus, or "revered one," by the Senate in 27 BC
    Augustus Caesar, the nephew of Julius Caesar and first Roman Emperor
  2. Hannibal:The Carthiginian general that invaded Italy during the 2nd Punic War and defeated the Romans despite being badly outnumbered in the Battle of Cannae. He was eventually called back to Carthage, where the Romans were invading, and was defeated in 201 BC.
  3. Julius Caesar:The popular Roman general who defeated Gnaeus Pompey to become dictator of Rome for life in 46 BC. He was a very popular leader among the Plebeians, but the Patricians resented him, especially those in the Senate, and he was stabbed to death on March 15, 44 BC.
  4. Trajan:The Roman Emperor who ruled from 98-117 AD. He was the second of the five "Good Emperors." During his reign, the Roman Empire reached its largest extent, covering three and a half million square miles from Mesopotamia to Britain.
  5. Jesus: The man born in Judaea believed by Christians to be the Messiah. His teachings were popular among many people, and by the fourth century Christianity was widespread throughout the empire.


The Roman Empire at its largest extent, including its provinces.

Key Terms

Patrician: The upper class of wealthy landowners in ancient Rome. They were the aristocrats and the only ones who could be elected into the Senate.
Plebeian: The class of common people in ancient Rome. They could not vote early on in Roman society and they were made up of farmers, artisans, and merchants. They made up the majority of Roman citizens.
Legion: A section of the Roman Army made of 6,000 men. Its symbol was the eagle and its motto dut, discipline, and patriotism.
Senate: The Roman legislative body made of 300 Patricians. The made the laws and served their terms for life.
Twelve Tables: The first code of laws written in Rome. It created a separation between the Patricians and Plebeians in society.

For more Information

The Roman Empire: This website contains several pages of information on the history, battles, and the extent of the Roman Empire. There are also several maps showing areas controlled by Rome for several different dates in history.
BBC History: The BBC History page has several articles on the history, life, and culture of Rome, as well as specific emphasis on Roman Britain.
History for Kids: The History for Kids website provides a foundation of information on several aspects of Rome, including history, architecture, religion, science, government, and daily life.
Ancient Rome Wikipedia: The Wikipedia page for ancient Rome includes extensive information on the history, society, and culture of the city of Rome, as well as links to pages on the various eras and titles found during Rome's history.
Ancient Rome for Kids: This site includes several pages on Roman society during its time as a kingdom, a republic, and an empire.

View Roman Empire and over 3,000,000 other topics on Qwiki.

Key Dates

753 BC: Rome is believed to be founded by Romulus, who was, according to legend, raised by a wolf and who killed his brother Remus, giving Rome its name.
509 BC: Rome turns into a republic, giving the citizen the right to elect their own leaders.
264 BC: The First Punic War begins, marking a series of conflicts between Rome, who ruled Italy, and Carthage, who ruled a large trade empire across the Mediterranean.
146 BC: Carthage is defeated for the last time at the end of the Third Punic War, allowing Rome to become the dominant power in the Mediterranean.
49 BC: Julius Caesar takes control of Rome, ending the First Triumvirate. He is later appointed dictator for life.
March 15, 44 BC: Julius Caesar is stabbed to death by Gaius Cassius and Marcus Brutus.
27 BC: Octavian becomes the first Roman Emperor, and is given the title Augustus by the Senate.
117 AD: The Roman Empire reaches its largest extent on Emperor Trajan. At this time the empire would cover all land near the Mediterranean from Britain to Mesopotamia.
284 AD: Diocletian, believing the empire is to large to be controlled by one man, divides the empire into two, the east and west, with the eastern capital at Byzantium and the western capital at Rome.
476 AD: Odoacer, a barbarian leader, takes control of Rome, ending the Western Roman Empire.


The following video is a dramatization of Juilius Caesar's conquests in Gaul, from BBC's The Rise and Fall of an Empire
A statue of Romulus, the founder of Rome, and his brother Remus being fed by the wolf that, according to legend, raised them.