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The Romans: The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire

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The Romans and their empire at its height in 117 CE was the most extensive political and social structure in western civilization. By 285 CE the empire had grown too vast to be ruled by the central government at Rome and so was divided by Emperor Diocletian (284-305 CE) into a Western and an Eastern Empire.


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The Romans


The Legend of Rome: Romulus and Remus

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Romulus and Remus were twin brothers. Their father was Mars, the God of War, their mother was Rhea Silvia, a vestal virgin and daughter of the King, Numitor. Numitor’s brother, Amulius, had taken the throne from him and had forced Rhea Silvia to become a vestal virgin so that she would not have any children who might try to take back the throne.

When the boys were born, Amulius seized them, put them into a basket and threw them into the river Tiber. He hoped that they would drown. However, the boys were rescued by a she-wolf who fed the babies with her own milk and cared for them.

romulus and remus with wolf and shepherd

They grew up and were found by the shepherd Faustulus, who took them home and looked after them until they were grown up.

The two young men discovered who they really were and decided to kill Amulius and put their grandfather back on the throne. After doing this they decided to build a city of their own but could not agree where to build it. Remus favoured the Aventine Hill but Romulus wanted to use the Palatine Hill. They could not reach an agreement and so each began to build his own city enclosed with walls.

One day, Remus visited Romulus and made fun of his wall by jumping over it and saying how easily it could be breached. Romulus was so annoyed that he killed Remus and said the he would kill anyone who mocked his city or tried to break through the walls of Rome.

The legend says that Romulus became the first King of Rome in 753BC and populated his new city with runaway slaves and convicted criminals. He stole women from the Sabine tribe to provide wives for the slaves and criminals and to populate his new city.

The Sabine tribe were not happy about this and declared war on Rome. The war went on for many years but eventually the Sabine tribe and Romulus reached an agreement and the Sabines became a part of Rome under the Kingship of Romulus.

The legend ends by telling how Romulus was carried up to the heavens by his father, Mars, and was worshipped as the God Quirinus.

* Romulus and Remus illustration by: Jean-Pol GRANDMONT

The Roman Army: Organization and Battle Tactics

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The Roman army was the backbone of the empire’s power, and the Romans managed to conquer so many tribes, clans, confederations, and empires because of their military superiority. It was also the source of the empire’s economic and political strength, ensuring domestic peace so that trade could flourish. However, this peace was often coterminous with subjugation. The Emperor used the Roman army to protect the city and to control the people it had conquered.

The Roman army was also a tool of cultural assimilation. Some soldiers were away from their families for long periods of time, loosening their clan loyalties and replacing them with loyalty to Rome. The Roman army was a means by which a barbarian could become a citizen, but the process was not fast. Only when a soldier had served in the Roman army for 25 years he could become a citizen of Rome.

Organization of the Roman Army

The Roman army was organised in a very simple way:

5000 Legionaries (Roman Citizens who were in the army) would form a Legion.

The Legion would be split into centuries (80 men) controlled by a Centurion.

The centuries would then be divided into smaller groups with different jobs to perform.

A Roman Soldier

Roman Soldier

Roman soldiers had to be physically vigorous. They were expected to march up to 20 miles per day in line, wearing all their armor and carrying their food and tents.


Roman Army Turtle

Roman soldiers were trained to fight well and to defend themselves. If the enemy shot arrows at them they would use their shields to surround their bodies and protect themselves. This formation was know as ‘the turtle’.

They fought with short swords, daggers for stabbing and a long spear for throwing. They also carried a shield for protection as well as wearing armor.

The tactics were simple but versatile enough to face different enemies in multiple terrains: From the forests of Germania to the rocky planes of the Greek peninsula. For these and many other reasons the Roman army was the reason for the Empire’s existence for several centuries.

When was Julius Caesar Born?

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“How One Man Ruled 1920s Kansas City Like a Caesar—Jason Roe”

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The exact date of Julius Caesar’s birth is not known, but historians claim it to be on July 12 or 13, 100 or 102 BC in Rome. His parents were Gaius Julius Caesar (a praetor) and Aurelia and although he belonged to a noble family, they weren’t very influential or rich during this time. His aunt, Julia was the leader of the Popular faction, Gaius Marius’ wife.

Julius Caesar | Biography, Conquests, Facts, & Death | Britannica

Julius Caesar’s Youth

Caesar’s father died when he was only sixteen, leaving him as the head of the house. Rome at the time was very unstable, struggling to manage its influence and size. Caesar was already very ambitious and decided that his family would benefit most if he would become a  priest. He got himself nominated as Jupiter’s High Priest, but was required to not only be a patrician, but to also be married to one. This led him to break off his current engagement with a plebeian girl and to marry Cornelia, a patrician and daughter of a the influential Lucius Cinna (member of the Populares). Sulla, the Roman ruler at the time declared himself to be dictator of rome and started to purge his enemies systematically. He targeted Caesar, who fled Rome, but his mother’s family successfully convinced the ruler to lift his sentence. He was however no longer allowed to be a priest and Cornelia’s dowry was confiscated. With no other way to provide for his family, Caesar decided to join the army. From there he worked himself up until he, himself became dictator of Rome.

Roman Britain Timeline

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The Roman invasion and occupation of Britain



Detailed Information

26th – 31st August 55BC Julius Caesar attempted to invade Britain Julius Caesar crossed the Channel with a force of around 10,000 soldiers. They landed on the beach at Deal and were met by a force of Britons. The Romans eventually took the beach and waited for cavalry back up to arrive from France. However, a storm prevented the back up force from reaching Britain and Caesar had to withdraw.
July – Sept 54BC Julius Caesar’s second invasion of Britain Julius Caesar crossed the Channel with a force of around 27,000 infantry and cavalry. They landed again at Deal and were unopposed – the Britons had retreated to higher ground. The Romans marched inland and met a large force of Britons led by Cassivellaunus north of the River Thames. After a hard battle the Romans defeated the Britons and some tribal leaders surrendered to the Romans. Cassivellanus ordered crops to be burned and made guerrilla attacks on Roman forces.  But the Romans were too strong and Cassivellanus was forced to surrender. In September Caesar was forced to return to Gaul (France) to deal with problems there and the Romans left Britain.
54BC – 43AD Roman influence increased Although not present in Britain, the influence of the Romans increased due to trade links
5AD Cymbeline Cymbeline, King of the Catuvellauni tribe, was acknowledged by Rome to be King of Britain.
May 43AD Romans Invaded Britain A Roman force of about 40,000 led by Aulus Plautius landed in Kent. They defeated a force of Britons led by Caratacus and began taking the South-East of Britain. Caratacus escaped and fled to Wales where he set up a resistance base.
Autumn 43AD Claudius arrived with reinforcements The Roman emperor Claudius arrived in Britain with reinforcements. Colchester (Camulodunum) was taken and eleven tribal Kings surrendered to the Romans. Claudius appointed Aulus Plautius Governor of Britain before returning to Rome.
43 – 47AD Conquest of the South The Romans continued their conquest and by 47AD had conquered the whole of South Britain and claimed Britain as part of the Roman Empire.
47 – 50AD London Founded London (Londinium) was founded and a bridge built across the river Thames. A network of roads was built across the south of Britain.
51AD Caratacus defeated and captured Caratacus’ guerrilla force was joined by other tribes who resisted Roman conquest. and confronted the Romans near the River Severn. However, Caratacus was defeated. He escaped again and sought shelter with the Brigantes tribe. However their Queen, Cartimandua betrayed him to the Romans. Caratacus, his family and other rebels were taken prisoner and sent to Rome. In Rome Caratacus was pardoned by Claudius and allowed to live out his days in Italy.
60 – 61AD Boudicca leads revolt against the Romans Prasatugas, King of the Iceni tribe who had signed a peace treaty with the Romans, died. His wife, Boudicca intended to honour the treaty, but after the local Roman authorities seized Prasatugas’s property and raped his two daughters, Boudicca retaliated by signing a treaty with Trinovantes who were hostile to the Romans.Boudicca is said to have been very tall with striking red hair that hung to her hips. Her army of Iceni tribesmen and women captured and burned Colchester, London, St Albans and caused the governor of Britain, Suetonius Paulinus, to raise the biggest force he could. Boudicca’s army were eventually cornered and massacred. Boudicca poisoned herself to evade capture.
63AD Joseph of Arimathea visited Britain Joseph of Arimathea, one of Jesus’s disciples, was sent to Britain to convert the people to Christianity.
75 – 77AD Roman Conquest of Britain completed The Romans defeated the last of the resistant tribes in the North making all of Britain Roman.
77 – 400AD Life in Roman Britain Under Roman rule the Britons adopted Roman customs, law, religion. Many were taken by the Romans as slaves. The Romans built many roads, towns, bath houses and buildings. Trade and industry flourished under Roman rule.
79AD Agricola invaded Scotland The Governor of Britain, Agricola, attempted to conquer Scotland for Rome but was unsuccessful.
122AD Hadrian’s Wall built The Emperor Hadrian visited Britain and ordered that a wall be built between England and Scotland to keep the rebellious Scottish tribes out. Construction of the wall began in 122 and was completed by 139.
142AD Antonine Wall Built The Romans made another attempt to conquer southern Scotland and after making some gains built another wall across the land between the Forth and the Clyde. It was abandoned in 160AD.
216AD Britain divided into two provinces In order to better control Britain the Romans divided the land into two provinces. The South was known as Britannia Superior and the North Britannia Inferior.
260 – 274AD The Gallic Empire The Roman general Postumus rebelled against Rome and established himself as Emperor of France (Gaul) and Britain (Britannia)
22nd June 304AD St Alban Martyred Alban became the first Christian Martyr in Britain. The Emperor Diocletian ordered that all Christians should be persecuted. St Alban, a recent convert to Christianity changed places with a local priest who was wanted by the Romans. When he was discovered he was executed at Verulamium (St Albans).
312AD Christianity the official religion of the Empire The Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and made Christianity legal throughout the Roman Empire.
360sAD Attacks from Picts, Scots, Franks, Saxons Roman Britain was attacked by tribal groups of Picts, Scots, Franks and Saxons. Reinforcements were sent to Britain and the attacks were repelled.
388 – 400AD Romans begin to leave Britain The Roman Empire was being attacked by many different barbarian tribes and soldiers stationed in Britain were recalled to Rome.
410 Last Romans leave Britain All Romans had been recalled to Rome and the Emperor Honorious told the people of Britain that they no longer had a connection to Rome and that they should defend themselves.
500 Ambrosius Aurelianus – British warlord Ambrosius Aurelianus was a British warlord who commanded the victorious Britons at the Battle of Mons Badonicus. The Saxons had pushed the Britons further and further west unchecked until this battle. The story of King Arthur dates from this period.

How Did Julius Caesar Die?

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“Spies in the Ancient World, Part 2: On His Roman Emperor’s Secret Service”

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How did Julius Caesar die? Julius Caesar died from being stabbed to death by a mob of conspirators in a place just next to the Theatre of Pompey, in 44 BC on the Roman Ides of March. At the time, Julius Caesar had been declared dictator by the Senate and had only served a year’s term. He has, however, already reformed the Senate in that short period and made changes in how local governments worked. He became very popular with the lower and middle-class Romans, but many senators despised him and were concerned about him having too much power as dictator. One of his biggest mistakes was to appoint two of his former enemies, Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus who ended up leading the plot to assassinate him.

How Julius Caesar’s Assassination Took Place

Over 40 people were involved in the plot to murder Julius Caesar, or, as they called it, commit tyrannicide. They organized a gladiator game and a meeting of the Senate. During the meeting, Casca struck at Ceasar with a dagger, after which Caesar acted in surprise. Casca called for help and the whole group, Brutus included, stabbed him. He tried to get away but was surrounded by a mob of about 60 men. He was stabbed 23 times, although only one of the wounds was fatal.

What Caused the Fall of the Roman Empire?

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The main cause of the fall of the Roman Empire is still a topic of debate among historians, maybe because it is a symbol of what we fear about our own civilization. There are many different theories about why a superpower that ruled for 500 years crumbled and fell, but most scholars degree that it wasn’t one event, but a series of factors that caused a steady decline. Alexander Demandt, for example, had 210 different theories and even more emerged afterwards.

Possible Major Causes:

  • Conflict between the Emperor and the Senate
  • Weakening of the emperor’s authority (after Christianity the Emperor was no longer seen as a god)
  • Political Corruption – there was never a clear-cut system for choosing a new emperor, leading the ones in power to “sell” the position to the highest bidder.
  • Money wasting – the Romans were very fond of their prostitutes and orgies and wasted a lot of money on lavish parties, as well as their yearly “games”
  • Slave labor and price competition – Large, wealthy farm owners used slaves to work their farms, allowing them to farm cheaply, in contrast to smaller farmers who had to pay their workmen and could not compete price wise. Farmers had to sell their farms, leading to high unemployment figures.
  • Economical Decline – After Marcus Aurelius, the Romans stopped expanding their empire, causing in a decrease of gold coming into the empire. The Romans however kept spending, causing coinmakers to use less gold, decreasing the value of money.
  • Military spending – Because they wasted so much money and had to defend their borders all the time, the Government focused more on military spending than building houses or other public works, which enraged the people. Many stopped volunteering for the army, forcing the government to employ hired mercenaries, who were expensive, highly unreliable and ended up turning against the Roman Empire.
  • A stop in technological advancement – The Romans were great engineers, but did not focus on how to produce goods more effectively to provide to their growing population.
  • The Eastern Empire – The Roman Empire was divided in a Eastern and Western empire that drifted apart, making the empire easier to manage, but also weaker. Maybe the empire’s rapid expansion was its own downfall in the end.
  • Civil War and Barbarian Invasion – Civil war broke out in Italy and the smaller Roman army had to focus all of its attention there, leaving the borders wide open for the barbarians to attack and invade. Barbarian bandits made travel in the empire unsafe and merchants could not get goods to the cities anymore, leading to the total collapse of the empire

Roman Society and Social Classes

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“If I Were Sent Back in Time to the Roman Empire, How Would I Take Over?”

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Roman society was clearly hierarchical, with legally defined privileges allotted to different classes and countless informal differences in attitudes toward the classes in everyday life.

In ancient Rome, the population was divided into two groups: patricians and plebeians.



The patrician class were the descendants of the most ancient and powerful noble families. They were landowners, lived in large houses and they had political power in the Senate.The patricians married and did business only with people of their own class. Plebeians were mainly artisans or peasants who worked the patricians’ land; they lived in apartments and they had no political rights.If they were lucky plebeians could become clients (obedient servants) of a patrician family. They offered their services in return received the protection of the head of the patrician family, who became their patron.


Roman Society in the Era of the Empire 27BC – 1453AD

Below is the pyramid of Roman society, with the emperor at top and slaves at the bottom. Multiple layers existed between them. While it was possible to move up and down this social latter, as the categories were not immutable, changing one’s social standing was extremely difficult and only possible through meritocratic institutions such as the military.

The Emperor
Head of Roman society and ruler of all Rome

Patrician Families
Wealthy influential landowning families

Served in the Senate and governed Rome

Wealthy property owners who chose business over politics

Working class. Men without substantial wealth who worked for their living at jobs such as artisans, craftsmen, bakers etc

Freed Slaves
Slaves who had either been given their freedom or had paid for their freedom and now worked for their living.

Generally prisoners of war but sometimes abandoned children who were owned by their master

Roman Entertainment: Bread, Circuses, and Everything Else

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Roman entertainment is a byword for the decadence of the late empire, leading to its downfall when it spent more time on amusement than reforming the military or rooting out corruption. But few did mass entertainment better then the Romans. Their coliseums still inspire modern-day sporting arenas. Other forms of Roman entertainment could be found in the amphitheater, the hippodrome or the theatre.

Roman Entertainment: The Amphitheater

The Colosseum in Rome could seat up to 50,000 people and was the largest amphitheatre in the Empire. It was here that people gathered to see the fights between gladiators, slaves, prisoners and wild animals like lions.

The Emperors encouraged people to go to see the fights as it stopped them from being bored and criticising their ruler. The fights were very violent and ended when the loser died.

Sometimes, when the arena was flooded there would be fights with boats. The cells where the animals and prisoners were kept was underneath the floor of the main arena. The Colosseum even had a lift to bring them up to the arena.

Roman Entertainment: The Hippodrome

Circus Maximus

This was where the Romans went to see the chariot racing.

The Circus Maximus was the largest hippodrome in Rome and could hold up to 250,000 people. Chariots were pulled by 2 – 4 horses, and were driven seven times around the ring at extremely fast speeds. Sometimes accidents happened and drivers were often trampled to death.

There were four teams – red, white, blue and green – and fans of each team would wear their team’s colours.

Roman Entertainment: The Theatre

Drama Masks

People went to one of the big theatres in Rome to watch plays.

Because the audience would not stay quiet the actors had to wear costumes. The actors wore masks – brown for men, white for women, smiling or sad depending on the type of play. The costumes showed the audience who the person was – a purple gown for a rich man, a striped toga for a boy, a short cloak for a soldier, a red toga for a poor man, a short tunic for a slave etc.

Women were not allowed act, so their parts were normally played by a man or young boys wearing a white mask.

The actors spoke the lines, but a second actor mimed the gestures to fit the lines, such as feeling a pulse to show a sick person, making the shape of a lyre with fingers to show music. The plays were often violent and could result in the death of an actor by mistake.

Ancient Roman Games For Children

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The sort of leisure enjoyed by Roman children typically depended on one’s class. Children from poor Roman families engaged in near-constant labor, typically in agriculture, but they still found time to play, whether after the harvest or the fleeting moments of time between sundown and bedtime. Accounts by Roman writers and archeological evidence suggests they fashioned instruments at hand into many sorts of toys.

Children from wealthy Roman families had significantly more time for leisure. As the household slaves performed most of the menial labor, and their parents feared that the appearance of their children laboring would lower their social standing among other patricians, they had ample opportunities to play.

Some of the games were directly influenced by Roman social institutions. Children loved to engage in mock swordplay and mimic their favorite gladiator. Others reenacted the Punic Wars and pretended to be Scipio Africanus, dispatching Hannibal of Carthage.

Other toys and objects of leisure were influenced by the inter-imperial trade of Rome. Cats came to Europe in approximately 100 AD, thanks to growing connections with Egypt and the Near East.

Romans Clothing: What Did They Wear and Why?

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Roman clothes were made of wool, spun into cloth by the women of the family. Later on the richer people had slaves to do this work for them. If you could afford to buy clothes, you could buy linen, cotton or silk, which was brought to Rome from other parts of the Empire. Washing clothes was difficult because the Romans did not have washing machines or soap powder. They used either a chemical called sulphur or urine.

The Romans – Trade

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The Romans traded goods throughout their Empire. By importing goods from other countries they raised their standard of living and were able to have many luxuries.

The Romans used their network of roads and also waterways to transport goods from one country to another.


The Romans traded with Britain for silver, which they used to make jewellery and coins, and wool which they used to make clothes.


They imported dyes to colour their clothes from the south-eastern part of their Empire and also spices to flavour their food.


From the Far East, what is now China, they imported silk to make fine clothing.


Cotton came from Egypt and exotic and wild animals for the gladiator fights came from Africa by sea.

The Romans – Roads

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“Eisenhower’s Interstates: The Modern-Day Roman Roads”

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The Romans are noted for their skill at building roads. At the time of the Empire there was a vast network of roads that all led to the centre of Rome. Many of these roads still exist today.

The Romans were the first people to build paved roads that would be able to be used in all types of weather. They built their roads so that they were higher in the middle than at the edges. This meant that when it rained the rain would run off the sides of the roads. They often put a drainage system alongside the roads to catch the water as it ran off.

roman road

Rich people travelled along the roads in litters carried either by six or eight men or pulled by mules. Those who could not afford a litter often travelled in small groups for safety. They would travel in carriages. Messengers, who had to travel alone and fast, would ride in a light carriage like a chariot.

litter              chariot

Travel was not safe, especially at night. There were roadside inns along all the roads but even these were not safe. Fights would break out and sometimes people were murdered. Travelers preferred to stay with either friends of their own or friends of their friends.

The Romans – Housing

The Romans – Gladiators

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It is believed that the first gladiators were slaves who were made to fight to the death at the funeral of Junius Brutus Pera. The spectacle was arranged by the dead man’s relatives to honour his death.

The tradition was copied at other funerals and then became staged events put on by rich locals for the benefit of their local population. Spectators to the games were charged a fee to watch an array of gladiatorial tournaments.

The majority of gladiators were slaves who were taught how to fight in special schools. They were trained to fight with daggers, swords, forks and nets. They had to fight slaves and criminals who were either unarmed, or armed only with the net.

The Romans

The fight ended when one man died. If a man was wounded and unable to fight on, he make a sign for mercy. The crowd would then decide whether he should live or die by giving him thumbs up or thumbs down. Thumbs up signified that the crowd wanted the loser killed while thumbs down meant that he should be spared.

The largest and most spectacular gladiator fights were those staged in Colosseum in Rome. The huge circular amphitheatre could seat up to 50,000 people. Spectators were given tickets showing their seat place and also which of the 80 entrances they should use.

Engines of Destruction: Roman Advancement of Siege Warfare

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The Neo-Assyrian Empire used earthen ramps, siege towers and battering rams in sieges; the Greeks and Alexander the Great created destructive new engines known as artillery to further their sieges, and the Romans used every technique to perfection. That is to say, the Romans were not inventors, but they were superb engineers and disciplined, tough soldiers who fought against great odds and won, repeatedly.

Julius Caesar and the Siege of Alesia, 52 B.C.

The one main advancement the Romans brought to siege tactics came from Julius Caesar’s siege of the Gallic stronghold of Alesia. Arriving at Alesia, Caesar began the siege by directing his troops to build a fortified camp and then a wall ten miles long to circumnavigate the city. This wall is called a circumvallation. It would keep the Alesians in and cut off any supplies from the outside. The greatest threat to any besieging army was attack by allies from the outside.

Usually, when allies of a city attacked, the besiegers would have to turn and fight the allies while trying to protect their back from the city. Or they might have to give up the siege altogether, depending on the strength of the allies.

Caesar didn’t do either of these; instead he had his army build another wall to surround his army outside the first wall, which invested the fortress of Alesia. The second wall—Caesar’s great innovation in siege warfare—was called a contravallation.

When the Gallic army allied to Alesia arrived, they discovered they had to besiege the besiegers, Caesar’s army. The Romans successfully withstood the siege from the Gallic army. Alesia, bereft of food and supplies, began to starve. Finally, they surrendered.

The Romans – Roman Government

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The Roman government took on my different forms from its centuries-long existence, back to its legendary founding. For the sake of brevity, this article will skip over its city-state and kingdom periods to focus on its republican and imperial periods. From the time of Julius Caesar, 48 BC, Rome and the Roman Empire was ruled by an Emperor. The Emperor was wise if he listened to the advice of the Senate but some chose to be dictators and do what they wanted rather than follow the Senate’s advice.

Before Julius Caesar took control in 48BC, the Roman Empire was not ruled by the Emperor but by two consuls who were elected by the citizens of Rome. Rome was then known as a Republic.

Roman Government in the Republic Period

People were divided into different classes. There were Patricians, Plebeians and Slaves.

Patricians were wealthy citizens of Rome. They usually lived in grand houses and had slaves to do their work for them. Because they were citizens of Rome they were allowed to go to the Assembly to vote.

Plebeians were not wealthy but they were citizens of Rome. They were usually craftsmen or tradesmen and they worked for a living. Because they were citizens of Rome they were allowed to go to the Assembly to vote.

Slaves had no money, no rights, no freedom and were not citizens of Rome. Because they were not citizens of Rome they were not allowed to go to the Assembly to vote.

Patricians and Plebeians met in the Assembly and voted for consuls, tribunes and magistrates. Women and slaves were not allowed in the Assembly and could not vote.

Roman Government: Consuls

The citizens of Rome voted for two consuls. They were elected to serve for one year. It was the Consuls job to govern Rome. They had to both agree on all decisions. After they had served their year they were replaced. They were not allowed to be consuls again for ten years.


The citizens of Rome voted for a number of magistrates. It was the magistrates job to keep law and order and also to manage Rome’s financial affairs. When magistrates retired they became senators and attended the Senate.


The citizens of Rome voted for tribunes. It was the tribunes job to make sure that the people were treated fairly.

The Romans

The Senate

Senators went to the Senate to discuss important government issues. Senators were retired magistrates and knew a lot about the government of Rome. It was the job of the senate to give advice to the two consuls. When Rome had an Emperor the senate still gave advice on governing Rome and the Empire.



The Romans – Fall of the Empire

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“When Did The Roman Empire Really End?”

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The Fall of the Empire was a gradual process. The Romans did not wake up one day to find their Empire gone!

By AD369 the Empire was beginning to crumble for the following reasons:

The Government was running out of money.

The people had to pay very high taxes – up to a third of their money.

The rich were given grants of money and land which made them richer while the poor got poorer.

There was not enough money to pay for the army.

Barbarians from Germany called vandals were conquering parts of the Empire and there were not enough soldiers to fight back.

Although the outer edges of the Empire were well defended, there was no defence with in the Empire. This meant that once barbarians had broken through there was nothing to stop them marching to Rome.

The Roman network of roads allowed invaders an easy route to Rome.

No one had decided on a good way to choose an Emperor,. This meant that any general could march into Rome, kill the Emperor and make himself the next Emperor. In 73 years there were 23 Emperors and 20 of them were murdered.

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