In war, events of importance are the result of trivial causes.
- Julius Caesar
Ancient Rome had three stages: the Kingdom, the Republic and the Empire.
The Roman Kingdom is the monarchical period of ancient Rome from 752 – 509 BCE. Almost no records from the time survive and much of its history is based on stories. The Kingdom ended with the overthrowing of its kings in 509 BCE and the birth of the Roman Republic.
The Roman Republic began in 509 BCE with the overthrowing of the Roman monarchy and its replacement of a government that was headed by two annually elected consuls, advised by a senate. The Republic eventually developed a sophisticated constitution with a system of checks and balances to ensure that no single individual could dominate. Despite these lawful constraints, at the height of the Republic’s power, politics was controlled by a small number of men whose name we recognize today¹. Examples are Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. Following Julius Caesar’s assassination in 44 BCE, unstable alliances led to a series of civil wars that Octavian won. Twenty years after Caesar’s death, Octavian reformed the Republic, marking the beginning of the Roman Empire¹.
The Roman Empire followed the destabilized Roman Republic in 27 BCE. The Empire began peacefully with its first two centuries known as the Pax Romana (“Roman Peace”)¹. During the reign of Trajan from 89-117 CE, the Empire underwent a serious crises and a reunification, from which Christians rose to power in the 4th century. In the 5th century, the central government of the Western Empire collapsed and eventually fell in 476 CE². The East Roman Byzantine Empire continued until 1453 CE, referring to themselves as Romans despite not having a city of Rome or a Roman Emperor².
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