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The Roman Empire

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  1. The Roman Empire

  2. Classical Roman Empire • Rome was one of four Classical Empires: • Han China • Mauryan India • Parthian Persia • Rome • All arose between 200-100 B.C. • Characterized by their unification around at least two widely disparate geographical regions.

  3. The Classical Empire • All four classical empires had been united by force and would not have stayed together had not the rulers formed institutions to do so. • Rome was created not by the ability to conquer lands but it’s need to develop the institutions necessary to consolidate and rule those lands.

  4. The Classical Empire • Each Empire used basically the same unifying institutions to bind the Empire together: • Common Language • Currency • System of weights and measures • Networks of roads and canals • Standing army • Centralized authority • Professional civil servants

  5. Comparison of Eastern and Western Europe • Western-Western Mediterranean • Eastern-Influenced by Greek culture EasternWestern Population Dense Sparse Society Urban Tribal Education Literate Oral Law Written Customary Economy Commercial Agricultural Exchange Money Barter Living standard Wealthy Poor Language Koine Mixed

  6. Geography • Most of Roman population lived within reach of Mediterranean • Romans worked to keep sea clear of pirates for they realized the Mediterranean was dependant on it’s unity. • Romans called it Mare nostrum or “Our Sea” • Outlying reaches of the Empire were connected by rivers and streams that flowed into it. • Romans actively were dredging ship channels and building in river ports • Channels and water systems used for thousands of years even after fall of the Roman Empire

  7. Geography • Complex water routes were knit together by system of roads and bridges that are even used today. • These were built not by technology alone, but by extensive organization. • Romans were aware that the expensive army would not be in combat more than 10% of the time, so the government came up with ways to use their force effectively. • The roads were used by the military and was even able to reduce the armies size without reducing it’s effectiveness. • The great network of land routes that helped to unify the empire was a byproduct of this “policy of cost containment”

  8. Government • Absolute Rule of an Emperor who was considered to be a god. • Execution of Emperor's will was by a trained bureaucracy. • Though it was small in comparison with modern states and was rudimentary with the Han empire of China, it was superior to anything that had preceded in the West.

  9. Government • To citizens the emperor was a distant figure only on coins. • Romans lived their lives in their local civitas, local unit of government similar to an American county. • Civitas consisted of two parts: • City-in which political, commercial and cultural life was concentrated. • Pagus- countryside dependant on that urban center.

  10. Government • Most civitates attempted to emulate the capital Rome. • Though they did not have an impressive law court of basilicas or amphitheaters they did boast public baths, busy markets, and anything else the rich pagus could spend in the city to endow it. • Local life throughout the empire was centered on these communities and it was the same wherever the Romans went, from Scotland to the Syria. • Each civitates had the three basic similarities: • Well-developed written laws • Uniform currency • Uniform system of weights and measures

  11. Military • The large standing army was concentrated on the frontier and defended the interior of the empire against foreign invasion. • Most recruits came from poor and isolated regions of Italy they were taught from the bottom up by the military. • They were taught Latin, to practice personal hygiene, and learned one or more trades (developed MOS). • The Army controlled and ran brick factories, tile manufactories, and many other enterprises that demanded physical labor. • Enlisting was a career commitment since it was a 25 year standard enlistment. • Each year was marked off by the celebration and great rituals honoring Roma, the goddess who exemplified Rome.

  12. Military • Even when Rome fell into disorder or when the imperial administration fell to corruption it was the army’s reverence for the ideal of Rome that remained undiminished, even if it meant storming Rome trying to acclaim their general of new Emperor. • Most spent their time in towns building little villages into what they exemplified Rome to be. • Stationed on the frontier, they created transportation and communication networks. • Roads, bridges, beacons, canals, ports and aqueducts.

  13. Military • The Roman frontiers in the West were not meant to keep people out but to control their passage. • A great deal of trade moved through the frontier zones. • Germanic people settled just outside of the frontier in places where they could enjoy extensive and secure relations with the Romans without their control. • These towns were more Roman than Rome so some Germanic tribes grew comfortable with their presence and even emulated their culture in some areas. • In many cases where the Romans could have certainly fought and won the area over, most just proved simpler to win them over and enlist them as allies of the Roman state.

  14. Military • Wherever it was sent or wherever it was settled, the Roman army provided local inhabitants with an outstanding example of Romanitas, the sense of belonging to a great civilization.

  15. Culture • The Romans established Latin as the common and official language of the empire, but also adopted Greek culture and, in a form called Graeco-Roman, spread a common literature, architecture, art, etc., throughout the empire.

  16. Economy • An economic balance was maintained between the wealthy and productive East and the relatively poor and backward West. • The East was taxed heavily, and the money transferred to the West, which was used to purchase goods from the East.

  17. Religion • Established a strict policy of religious toleration • Freely adopted and adapted gods and goddesses of the people they conquered, and process called syncretism (essentially an inculcation of the Greeks and other worldly deities). • Promoted a certain degree of commonality by establishing and promoting emperor worship. • Saluting the flag, formulatic pledge of allegiance, standing when singing the national anthem, reverence for the cloth of the flag.

  18. Intangibles • Pax Romana: Roman Peace- The Romans brought and unprecedented degree of peace and security to their empire. • Romanitas: The sense of being Roman- a deeply held sentiment and outlived that empire itself. • Such institutions required attention and constant effort to maintain • A weakness in the Roman imperial system let to internal wars and civil strife that eventually made it impossible for the government to continue as it once had.

  19. Intangibles • The Annals of Tacitus provide an insight to the management of Roman affairs and were written by a man who had a role in that management.

  20. Intangibles • The Romans were unwilling to give up their reverence for republican government even when it was no longer effective due to Caesars, Despots, and absolute corruption • Augustus Caesar converted the Republic to an empire in about 14BC—what he did was make all the political and domestic administrative offices answerable to him and his decisions—a streamline effect. To preserve the republic!!!

  21. Intangibles • The issue that always plagues these types regimes—we see it in Islam, Socialism etc …inadequate and unstable system of imperial succession—Created a perpetual struggle for Power … The empire fell victim and was only a strong as its next Coup. • To understand Augustus it would be prudent to read his personal account of his greatness … • The Deeds of the Divine Augustus.

  22. Important Chronology • 69 AD—Civil War on frontier to replace Nero • 69—192 AD—era of military emperors—ineffective and inefficient administration—led to a bloody Civil War initiated by Septimius Severus (193—197). • 198—282 essentially 100yrs of peace, but peace ended by 258 and Rome fell into the era of the 30 Tyrants (258-283 AD)

  23. Chronology • 283 AD German Tribes raided at will on the western fringes of the Roman Empire • Diocletion came to power in 283 AD and began with sweeping reforms in the imperial system—land reform, lower taxes, and more representative government. • Essentially this was the end of what is termed the Glory that was Rome.

  24. History 101 Roman Empire • Diocletian's successor was Constantine. • Rome now a different place and this is the beginning of the character of what would become • Medieval Europe. • What followed was another Roman Empire, but one distinctly different under the reign of Constantine.

  25. Reforms of Diocletian (284-305 d. 311) • Political reform—Empire divided into two distinct regions. • Unfortunately he left the much larger and impoverished western region vulnerable.

  26. Reforms of Diocletian • Unfortunately the western lands were mostly tribal and underdeveloped academically, economically, and technologically. • Large frontiers (costly to protect) and a very small tax base to support development and military presence. • Diocletian established a base of succession—two emperors were to be chosen for respective regions—each appointed a Caesar (emperor in training).

  27. Reforms of Diocletian • Stable form of succession—failed. • Established smaller provinces with both civil and military governor—created gov’t interference and destroyed the influence of the middle class. • The Gov’t controlled the tax laws and taxed the middle classes and the urban areas to destruction

  28. Economic Reforms • Smaller created more concentrated government, but also created hundreds of small squabbles and eroded cohesion. • Diocletian ended Debasement (reduced quality and value of Gold by printing money—devaluing the dollar if you will). • Re-established the Gold standard—unfortunately, there was very little Gold in circulation—created an economic depression—very little Gold reduced consumer prices—money became more valuable than goods—so people hoarded money or traded in Gold rather than consumer goods.

  29. Economic Reforms • Reformed Taxation—reduced it to two categories: Property and head tax. • Property was a progressive wealth tax • Head tax was a flat tax—both were very extreme. • Unfortunately both taxes were extreme • Ended farming tax—where the government had the right to come in an action off a farm to collect taxes on the land. • Tax collectors bided for the right to collect taxes

  30. Economic Reforms • Taxes led to abuses. • Exempted Senatorial class from taxes (hereditary) • Farmers were sold into slavery (along with family) if no tax can be collected. Beginnings of Fiefdom. • Full weight of the tax code fell on businesses and the middle class.

  31. Economic Reforms • Diocletian thought that making tax collecting the responsibility of the Urban middle class, it would be frugal and possess integrity. • Unfortunately if the government expectations of the agreed upon tax assessment came up short, the Curiales (urban middle class) was required to make up the difference.

  32. Economic Reforms • The fallout of well intended policy: • Urban middle class fled the urban centers; however, this was ruled illegal, so many with their families were also enslaved and financially, socially, and emotionally ruined. • Established a permanent dependent class that the governmental structure was ill-equipped to administer with any efficiency. Financial center shifted to the villas of the western countryside—established a ruling planter and baronial class.

  33. Military reform • Abandoned frontier defense—open to invasion. • Security was abandoned in the name of economics. • Downgraded frontier legions, used mercenaries and militia—notoriously lacked loyalty and verve to the empire.

  34. Military reform • Frontier troops are Garrison status. • Training neglected—more into infrastructure labor. • Discipline and esprit d’corps diminished. • Barbarian mercenaries—changed to a mobile army stationed in interior.

  35. Military reform • Barbarian Military was problematic—tended to be loyal to the purse rather than the state. • Internal and transportation infrastructure usually the job of the military when not engaged in combat went by the way side—barbarians are warriors, not civil servants and laborers. • Huge loss of communication and transportation system—The empire decaying from within.

  36. Social Reform • Combated the urban flight by making their status hereditary. • Required to remain in trade of father or mother—no way to rise above one’s born station in life. • This ended social and family mobility. • This in essence killed what was left of the conceived greatness of the Roman Empire. To combat this loss of spirit and enmity toward the government—Diocletian blamed the Christians—extermination began with fervor.

  37. Reforms of Constantine (307-337) • Continued with Diocletian’s policies, but did make some very recognizable changes. • Recognized Christianity as a favored religion. • Christianity official religion 396 AD in both Western and Eastern provinces—Western became very catholic and eastern remained mostly Orthodox. • Made east very prosperous; increased gold currency (coinage) by seizing endowments of the Pagan Temples.

  38. Reforms of Constantine (307-337) • He also ended the idea that the tax code had to balance even with unequal taxation on the east to make up for the shortfalls of the West. • Shifted center of Empire from West (Rome) to East (Constantinople or Istanbul). • The best and brightest fled the west and went East. • By 400 Rome was no longer the Imperial capital.

  39. Rome (?) • 404 AD western version of capital moved to Ravenna in Northern Italy. • Protected by marsh and fortified harbor. • Rome sacked by Alaric and the Visigoths in 410. • Not much there, only the catholic Bishop (Pope). • 455 AD Attila attacked what was left of Rome.

  40. Western Rome • Loss of middle class and Tax base, became very much Medieval in character. • Planter and Baronial class became powerful and essentially a slaved or serfdom society. • Christian religion was state religion—all others forbidden.

  41. Constantine and Catholic Church • Church became center of Imperial Government. • Administered all social and economic services. • Early shared power with Government, but eventually became the main political power broker in western governments.

  42. Constantine’s Reforms and Decay of the West • Emperor semi-divine • Military power was mostly Germanic tribes. • Impoverished because of the decay of middle class. • Transportation and Marine endangered by Thugs and Pirates.

  43. Western Decay • West almost cut off completely—lost communication, lost sharing of ideas, and loss of connection as Romans. • Power in large landowners—eventually in the hands of the Church, as the Church gained large estates. Peasant under class. • Loss of frontier protection—open to invasion and loss of civil order—Pax Romana vanished.

  44. Conclusion of Rome • Regardless of tension and detriment to society, Rome collected taxes and forced an imperial government on the populace that neither benefited them nor protected them. • Western Rome—superfluous, poverty stricken, and ruined manufacturing industry—lost trade consumerism with the Germanic tribes (huge consumers). This trade enhanced their way of life and was a bargaining chip to help create a secure border of the western provinces.

  45. Christianity and Mediterranean • History 102 • Western Civilization I • The Rise of Christianity

  46. Christianity • Rose out of Judaism • Reform movement • Apostle Paul opened the religion to non-Jews and gave it its Greek Flavor • Roman religion no moral base or message of hope. • Christians Martyred not because they were Christians, but because they were REBELS!!

  47. Roman Religions • Myriad of religious systems and types of deities. • The Pantheon– gods and goddesses of mythology. • Old gods—Chronos, Uranus and others overthrown by the Olympians. • Titans—Friends of humanity—Prometheus (fire) • Demi-gods—Ganymede servant to the gods. • Heroes—human achieve godlike status—Hercules—important part—demarcation between god and human was miniscule. • Lot of local, regional and nature deities.

  48. Roman Religions • Many religions were derivatives of the Greek system and the philosophical systems such as (Epicureanism, skepticism and stoicism etc . . .). • Mystery Cults (Isis, Mithra, Orpheus etc …)These tended to offer hope on a moral basis based on human action and interaction. • Initiates and rituals—purifying bath, eating and drinking of blood and body of founder—many had something in common with Christianity.

  49. Christianity • Founder was an actual person • Jewish legal code and traditional morality. • Could adopt and adapt: Christmas taken from Mithras; Madonna taken form of Isis—other traditions borrowed

  50. Character of Christianity • Early Christians were Bigots; • Zealots; • Evangelicals; • Expand Christianity; • Appealed to the downtrodden; • Appealed to Women, • Low-skilled workers; Prostitutes, uneducated; slaves, tax collectors and fishermen