Roman Empire

The Roman Empire was founded in 27BC by the first emperor, Augustus. The Empire lasted for around 500 years, it proceeded the Roman Republic which had lasted for 482 years previously. The newly founded Empire was controlled by the emperor and the Senate, as an advisory council. The Roman Empire was at its largest under the emperor Trajan, in 117AD. The Empire at this time included modern day Italy, France, Portugal, Spain, Britain, Greece, Macedonia, Turkey to name a few.


Octavian formed the Empire after defeating Marc Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31BC. When he was anointed as emperor he was granted the name Augustus alongside multiple other honours and roles of authority within the Senate.

The first emperor, Augustus, was careful not to change things too quickly, as the people of Rome were wary of trusting a sole dictator. He established his authority carefully and subtly, as if Rome was still a Republic. Instead of the title of dictator or king, Augustus, choose the word 'princeps' which means the leading citizen. He allowed the Senate to continue going about its business and made as few alterations to the hierarchy as possible, the only difference was that the emperor would have the final say on all decisions.

The early Roman Empire, during Augustus' reign of 40 years was one of unprecedented peace, it's referred to as the 'Golden Age' of the Empire. In fact following the establishment of the Roman Empire there was 200 years of peace within Rome, this is referred to as 'Pax Romana'. The provinces of the Empire were integrated into Roman life as cultural, religious, legal and economic ties were established amongst all corners of the Empire. This meant that during the first 200 years of the Empire that rebellions and uprisings were rare.

When Augustus came to power he started large building projects and moved to secure the territories of the Empire. Augustus also established the Praetorian Guard, this was made up of five-hundred veteran soldiers who were to protect the emperor and Rome.


The Empire was at its largest in 117AD, whilst Trajan was emperor, the Empire included over five million square kilometres. During this period, the Empire had a population in excess of sixty million people, which was roughly a quarter of the entire world's population at the time! It was not until the seventeenth century that a city had a larger population than Rome, when it was at its largest. Rome's territories included modern day Britain, Spain, France, Turkey, Egypt, northern Africa and Eastern Europe. Here's a list of Rome's important provinces: Britannia, Hispania, Northern Africa, Numidia, Dacia, Armenia, Illyricum, Macedonia.


Following the reign of Trajan, the emperor Hadrian turned policies towards defending and establishing the Empire's current borders, rather than expanding them further. Much like Augustus had done when the Empire was founded. For example, he commissioned the construction of Hadrian's Wall on the English/Scottish border in order to prevent barbarian attacks.


In 285AD the Empire was divided into two halves, the Eastern Empire and the Western Empire, this was done by the emperor Diocletian. It was split into two as a result of continuous civil war and disobedience in an attempt to make it easier to manage.

Following the death of an emperor there was no clear guideline to state who would become the next emperor. This meant that on the death of an emperor multiple men would raise an army in order to take the position by force. When Diocletian came to power he passed a law so that an emperor must choose his successor at the beginning of his rule. This period in the Empire is referred to as the 'Imperial Crisis'.


Constantine the Great

The first Christian emperor of the Roman Empire was Constantine, he was appointed in 312AD. This was despite the Christians being widely persecuted during by the Romans in past centuries. Constantine came to power in times of economic doubt and civil unrest in the Empire, he managed to turn things around in the Empire, and he achieved this by revaluing the currency and re-structuring the army. Constantine also founded the city of Constantinople, which was named the new capital city of the Empire in 324AD. The success that Constantine had whilst emperor earned him the title of 'Constantine the Great'.

Fall of Rome the Empire

The fall of the Roman Empire didn't occur because of any one single cause. There were multiple contributing factors; these included economic meltdown, constant barbarian invasions and political instability. All of these were caused because the Empire became too big making it impossible to control and manage effectively.

Roman Economy

The economy was suffering due to multiple reasons. There was no common circulating currency, which made trade extremely difficult. The lack of money flow in the economy meant that everyone was becoming poorer and more reluctant to spend money on unnecessary things. As less money was being spent, there was less money for the Roman Senate to collect in tax. This forced them to cut spending on the Roman army and other vital things required for the Empire to run smoothly.

Instability within the Empire

Towards the end of the Roman Empire barbarian tribes began to invade, sack and loot Roman cities. As the Roman army was unable to protect the cities properly the people became restless and revolts became more regular. In 410AD, the Visigoths sacked Rome, looting, burning, and pillaging their way through the city, leaving only a trail of destruction.

Fall of the Roman Empire

Civil War

Civil wars were also becoming a regular occurrence in the Empire. This was mainly because there was no clear cut succession policy. As a result, when an emperor died there would be multiple contenders to take the role of emperor but only one could. There were many factors which contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire; and no one single factor can be blamed.

Legacy of the Empire

The Romans left a large mark across Europe and its other territories which lasted for hundreds of years after the fall of the Roman Empire. Their developments in road construction and other architecture related innovations had a profound effect on how towns and cities were built. The Julian calendar, developed by the dictator Caesar, is still used to this day. They also had a massive influence on other matters such as medicine, philosophy, language and warfare.

Roman Empire Timeline

Rome is founded by Romulus
The Forum is built
Priscus builds the first sewer
Last king of Rome is expelled and Rome becomes a Republic
The Gaul's & Celts sack Rome
The Circus Maximus is built
The first aqueduct is built
Rome introduces currency
The first Punic war is fought
The Gaul's invade Italy
Rome defeats the Gaul's.
Hannibal attacks Italy
Hannibal is defeated
Rome attacks Carthage
Rome conquers Greece
Rome destroys Carthage
Slave revolt in Sicily, four-thousand slaves are crucified
Central and Southern Italians are granted full Roman citizenship
Sulla marches on Rome
Sulla conquers Rome, and becomes dictator
Syria becomes a province of Rome
Jerusalem is captured
Caesar is elected consul
Caesar conquers of Gaul
Caesar defeats Pompey and becomes dictator
Caesar is assasinated
The Republic ends and the Empire begins, under Augustus
The Praetorian Guard is formed
Population of Rome reaches 1 million
The Pantheon is built
Thracia becomes a province of Rome
Armenia is conquered
Wales is conquered
The Coliseum is completed
Human sacrifice is made illegal throughout the Empire
Dacia becomes a province of Rome
Hadrian's Wall is commissioned
Capital of the Western Empire is moved from Rome to Constantinople
Visigoths sack Rome
The Huns invade Italy
The Vandals sack Rome