The Rome was founded as a city-state in the heart of Italy. Rome, which was militarily successful, took over the surrounding city-states and expanded. Rome’s first goal was to unite Italy. However, it soon began to spread all over the Mediterranean coast. The Roman republic became the Roman Empire over time. In this article I will try to briefly explain this transformation on Eastern and Western Roman Empire Map.
Short History of the Roman Empire
In fact, Rome was originally a Republic. It was ruled by the elites in the Roman Senate. In threatening situations, presidents were appointed under the name of Consul and they went on expedition at the head of the armies. The army of the Rome was far superior to its rivals in terms of technique and discipline. These units, called the Roman Legions, were obliged to protect Rome surrounded by barbarian tribes and to conquer when necessary.
The period of Roman conquests in Europe and Africa was the period of Julius Caesar. When Crassus, Pompei and Caesar formed the First Triumvirate, Julius Caesar prevailed with his intelligence and military skills. But those who were jealous of him and feared that he would declare himself a dictator killed Caesar with an assassination in the senate.
Achievements of Julius Caesar
After Caesar’s death, his adopted son, Augustus Caesar, destroyed all those responsible for his father’s death and ascended the throne. The period of the Roman Republic was over with Augustus and the period of the Roman Empire had begun.
Augustus and the ensuing 200-year period began the rise of the Roman Empire. The most fertile lands and trade centers of the known world came under the rule of Rome.
America and Australia had not yet been discovered at that time, and trade was limited to the Mediterranean coast. For this reason, the Roman Empire was almost unrivaled. Rome was able to neutralize its opponents, such as Hannibal of Carthage, Mitridates of Pontus, barbarians and the Persian Empire.
Five Good Emperors
Rome reached its peak in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. this era is described by historians as the period of the Five Good Emperors. These emperors were Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. During these emperors, the greatest extent of the Roman Empire were reached.
The peak, however, was also the beginning of the decline. The most prominent feature of the Five Good Emperors was that the emperors adopted and prepared the next ruler. But Marcus Aurelius insisted on taking his own son to the throne instead of raising a gifted man. Commodus, who did not have the characteristics to become a strong leader, ascended to the throne and paved the way for decline.
Roman Empire Map at Its Peak
50 years of chaos in the Roman Empire
Between 235 and 285 there was a period of great turmoil. The Emperors were deposed one after another and a new one came. The generals that ruled the Roman army were destroying the empire through the fights for the throne. It was Emperor Diocletian who put an end to this situation.
Diocletian introduced a system that was ruled by four emperors called Tetrarchy. He made military, economic and political reforms and saved the empire from extinction. But the system he established was against human nature. The peaceful sharing of political power between the four emperors was not possible in the long run. Constantine, one of the Caesars who gained power after Diocletian, destroyed his rivals and took power alone.
Relocation of The Capital from Rome to Constantinople
During the reign of Emperor Constantine, the Roman Empire moved its center from Rome to Byzantium. The new capital was renamed Constantinople in honor of the emperor.
Founded in 330 AD, the new capital offered far better opportunities than Rome, which had lost its strategic importance. Because it was close to the two fronts that emperors had to fight. Roman Emperors was waging war against the Germanic Peoples in the West and the Sassanid Empire in the East.
After Constantine, the empire began to decline. Emperor Theodosius ascended the throne at a time when the empire was about to collapse. He won important military victories and secured borders. But he died unexpectedly in his 40s. After Theodosius’ death, the empire was permanently divided in two.
The Western Roman Empire was poorly ruled and survived for only 81 years. However, the Eastern Roman Empire, which we call the Byzantine Empire in modern history, survived until 1453.
Fall of Western Roman Empire
Eastern Roman Empire
The Byzantine Empire consisted of the Greek-speaking eastern states of Rome. Therefore, the rulers of the Eastern Rome became Helenized in time. The transition from the Latin culture to the Greek culture began during the reign of Constantine and was completed during the reign of the Emperor Heraclius. To give a rough history, all titles left from ancient Rome were abandoned in 300 years.
As the culture that developed in the Eastern Roman Empire over time was different from the ancient Roman, today’s historians define Eastern Roman as a Byzantine Empire. Its purpose is to distinguish between Latin-speaking Pagan Rome, which transformed from a city-state to an empire, and Greek-speaking Christian Rome in the Middle Ages.
The Byzantine Empire continued to use the architecture, administration and military systems it took over from Rome. for this reason, it has dominated its neighbors for centuries. The Byzantine Empire, which reached its greatest extent during the Emperor Justinian, began a decline that would last for centuries starting from the sixth century.