History Revealed

THE BURGEONING ROMAN EMPIRE

The Roman Empire was by no means the largest in history: in fact 25 others have occupied a larger land mass either before or since. Yet very few can boast as wide-reaching an influence and impact. At its height, in the second century AD, the Roman Empire stretched all the way from Britain’s Atlantic coast to Mesopotamia in the east, and as far south as North Africa. More than a fifth of the world’s estimated population was under its governance.

Because of the meticulous record-keeping of the Romans, a clear date can be ascribed to Rome’s move from republic to empire. By the first century BC, the Roman Republic had been firmly established for centuries, growing from its roots as a minor city-state to conquering and controlling vast swathes of the Mediterranean basin, including Italy, Greece, Iberia, Gaul (an area that included modern-day France among other regions), the North African coast and parts of the Middle East.

The transition from republic to empire was due in large part to the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. Caesar was, along, or ‘dictator for life’. It turned out to be a hollow title, for his life was ended a little over a month later, brutally curtailed by dagger-wielding senators eager to uphold Rome’s republican ideals.

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