The Roman Empire
In 600BC Etruscans invaded Latium, conquered the Latin’s, and imposed a government over early Rome. The Etruscans were the first to introduce Rome to the Hellenistic influences. The Etruscans were metal workers who were earlier in the 8thc invaded by Greeks who introduced Greek cultures in the area. During Etruscan rule, Roman villages were transformed into a city. The Romans began to engage in trade and adopted much from Greeks. They began to build temples, buy Greek art objects, and embrace Greek writing. In 6th C BC, the Roman Patricians, the wealthy landowners, rebelled against the Etruscans and created a new government called Republic. The republic was a type of democracy ruled by a few (Bunson, 2014). The patricians were the only ones who could vote and hold public office. Although marginalized, for example, the small farmers, traders, and artisans were many, they also played significant roles in the city. They provided labor as well as specialized skills; they also formed the army. They were therefore crucial to the patricians in defending the state. In 494 BC, the plebeians began to fight for reforms, for more rights, and empowerment. They downed their tools. The patricians compromised; the struggle continued until 287BC when the Plebeians won full rights as citizens. They became members of the assembly of tribes and centuries who voted on
Starting as one of the cities that developed in Italy, Rome evolved into a strong military enabling it to expand its boundary to the south, west, east, and north in the period 300BC- In 272 BC, the Romans conquered Greek-controlled southern Italy. The Roman Latin language spread to this area and roads were constructed to link this area to Rome. In 264-146BC, Rome engaged its greatest southern enemy, Carthage, in a protracted war. According to Bunson, (2014), they had been competing for control of the Mediterranean region. The military conflicts that resulted from this struggle have been referred to as the Punic wars. In the aftermath of the wars, Rome had gained control over Sicily. After a destructive war against Hannibal, Rome under general Scopio took over Carthage that became a maritime, commercial province of Rome.
Rome henceforth ruled southern Italy, Spain, Corsica, Sardinia, and North Africa. In 64BC, under Pompey, Rome had expanded to the east and subdued areas formerly under the Greek empire; Mediterranean sea, Macedonia, Greece, Syria, and Asia Minor. In 50s BC, under Julius Caesar, Rome expanded to northern Europe with its conquest of the Gaul, then to western part of Europe, Britain. The creative consequence of the imperial expansion was economic: slavery mode of production. The numerous captives were engaged into the agrarian economy of the Roman Empire dominated by the nobility. The slave gangs filled the sizeable agricultural property in the rural areas. The occurred vast expansion of ranches, olive, cereal, and wine cultivation. The assidua were slowly pushed out of their small-scale farms remaining with the option of military recruitment just like the proletarii. Slavery expanded widely beyond agriculture to other sectors as small-scale industries. By first century BC, the empire had registered high achievements in development
Success and challenges of the Roman Empire
Roman law: Introduced based on human rights, natural law, that all humans were equal because of rights and needs, not the will. The rules were written on 12 tablets and made public. But the Roman laws were later adapted to the varied cultures and customs of the conquered territories.
Increased urbanization in the west and in Rome itself, the capital city of Rome grew in size and population as the proletariat and slaves streamed into it.
According to Ando, (2013), the accumulation of wealth among the nobility from the tributes, land, and slaves acquired through’ conquest. And also, the polarization of the military: The state aggrandized wealth without paying the military well contributing to shifting of military loyalty to the generals. The army was therefore polarized between different generals.
Architecture Engineering: Rome achieved great engineering feats, for instance, they constructed roads, dams, drainage systems, aqueducts. The architectural style consisted of the arch and dome; Public baths: plumbing and ventilation.
Expansion of the empire and provinces of its territories was also another achievement. There was advanced communication system through carrier links that connected Rome and its outlying regions.
Trade: Through the Silk Road Western Europe traded with China. Silk, gold, gems, silver, slaves, statuettes, glassware, and spices were traded through the route. The Roman world was also connected to the east through the sea routes.
Challenges faced by Roman Empire
Economic Troubles and Overreliance on Slave Labour
Wells, (1995) explains that the economy of the empire was faced with a lot of problems, mostly caused by the infringed taxation to its citizens. As a result, most of the rich people in the empire moved out to escape the high taxes. On the other hand, its commercial activities which where agriculture and craftsmanship were deteriorating because of the disrupted slave trade, which the Roman Empire mostly relied on. For example when Vandals claimed North Africa and destroyed the empires slave trade in the name of fighting pirates from the land. The economy of the Romans later declined.
The Rise of the Eastern Empire
When Emperor Diocletian, divided the Roman Empire for easy governing was one of the best approaches at the time since the governing land was too big to administrate. However, with time the two sides developed competition regarding military aid as well as sharing of resources which later lead to the fact that they could not coordinate. The problem escalated when the eastern part continued to amass more wealth compared to the west. As a result, the west was later left venerable to any attract from outside.
Overexpansion and Military Overspending
This was a result of the extensive territory to administrate and also, the lack of communication that could coordinate the military. The situation escalated to the point that the empire could not manage to control internal rebellion as well as the external enemies effectively. Because of the communication breakdown and connection between the empires with regards to transport, consequently, Rome’s civil infrastructure fell into disrepair
Government Corruption, Weakening of the Roman Legions and increased Political Instability
Woolf, (1990) explains that developed by the vast administrative structure of the Roman Empire, the emperor was unable to control issues such as corruption in the land. The situation lead to the Roman citizens being oppressed by their leaders, this resulted in increased rebellion. Due to the corruption in the government of the day, political instability increased its grip where people lost their trust in the leadership of the day. On the other hand, the Roman legion was unable to recruit more and enough soldiers to maintain their authority in the land, due to this, they opted to source out the soldiers. For example, the German soldiers were recruited, where they had no loyalty to the empire, and this led to a revolt from the military against their own state, bringing the Roman Empire to its knees
Ando, C. (2013). Imperial ideology and provincial loyalty in the Roman Empire (Vol. 6). Univ of California Press.
Bunson, M. (2014). Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire. Infobase Publishing.
Wells, C. M. (1995). The Roman Empire. Harvard University Press.
Woolf, G. (1990). World-systems analysis and the Roman Empire. Journal of Roman Archaeology, 3, 44-58.