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The Roman Empire
Introduction to the Roman Empire
• 500 BC, Rome just a small town in Italy
• 133 BC, Rome controlled all of Italy and many
foreign lands.
 Spain, Greece, Macedonia, Turkey, North Africa
• Roman Empire quickly spread to Europe
Reasons for Success
• Rome was located in the centre of the
Mediterranean world. This made it easy for its
army and navy to move quickly in any direction.
Reasons For Success
• Soldiers were courageous and well trained,
and battles were carefully planned ahead of
time by able generals.
• Romans had the ability to make friends out of
their defeated enemies. Eventually conquered
people accepted the Roman rule and the
peace that it bought.
Rise and Fall of Rome: Overview
Video: Legacy of the Roman Empire
The Roman Empire: Italy
• Italy is shaped like a high-heeled boot
• Has islands with largest being Sicily
• Italy is a peninsula that extends from Southern
Europe to the Mediterranean Sea
The Roman Empire: Italy
• Italy is hilly and mountainous
• The Alps separate Italy from Europe, Apennines
run the length of the peninsula
• Mountains encouraged independent states in
Ancient Italy
The Roman Empire: Italy
• Italy has great farmland
• Most population found in Italy’s plains
• Rome found halfway up
• Rome is built of hills along the Tiber River which
protects it from floods and enemies
• Good for farming, freshwater, transportation,
and an outlet to the sea
• City – State: city that is also a nation or country
• Veto: the power to reject proposals and acts, to cancel
someone’s decision
• Twelve tables: Laws that gave common people protection
against unfair decisions by patrician judges
• Punic wars: the three wars Rome fought with Carthage
• Dictator: absolute ruler of Rome, rules over all
the citizens and slaves
• Carthage: in North Africa. Carthage and Rome
fought three wars to control all trade on the
• First Triumvirate
 The three most powerful leaders formed an
alliance to govern the country (empire) together
(share the power).
 Crassus, Caesar, and Pompey; each person
would be in complete control of a specific portion
of the empire.
 Caesar got the west, Pompey got the centre
(Italy), and Crassus the east. They were not
allowed to travel into the other leaders area.
• Second Triumvirate:
 Three of Caesar’s supporters who joined forces
against Caesar’s murderers.
Rome’s Social Class
• In some republics “the people” had the power to
elect the leader.
• Only certain classes could vote
• Three classes
 Patricians
 Plebeians
 Slaves (not Romans and couldn’t vote)
The Roman Republic
• 500 B.C., Romans drove out Etruscan rulers
and established a Republic
• Not a democracy like Athens, leaders all
patricians (the wealthy)
• Consuls ran government and army
• Consuls hold office for a year and little chance
of gaining power
• Two consuls kept each other in check with
power to veto
The Roman Republic
• 300 patricians in the senate
• Responsible for making tough decisions
• Common people had no say in decisions
• Under Roman law common people could not be
in government or marry patricians
• Fight for equality would last nearly 200 years
The Roman Republic
• Early on plebeians said they would not fight in
the army unless they got say in government
• Not good because of ongoing wars with Italy
• Patricians let plebeians have an assembly and
elect 10 people who could argue with consuls
• These were called Tribunes.
• Done to avoid civil war
The Roman Republic
• 451 B.C., patricians let plebeians write the Twelve Tables
• A set of laws to protect plebeians from unfair patrician
• Next two centuries plebeian position improves
• Allowed to marry patricians, hold office for consul, make
laws for all, and become members of the Senate
• Enslavement for debt outlawed
• 287 B.C., equality although patricians still made up the
nobility and held highest positions
Decision Making
• Decisions made on a personal level
• Citizens chose a town elder
• Elder able to ask citizens for advice to make his
• Decisions often favoured patricians at expense
of plebeians
• This strained the relationship between
patricians and plebeians
• Patricians did not care about things that would
benefit plebeians