The Roman Empire ( Latin Imperium Romanum ) was the area ruled by the Romans, the city of Rome or the Roman state between the 8th century BC. BC and the 7th century AD , whereby a clear demarcation is neither possible to the pre-Roman epoch nor to the Byzantine Empire . The name Imperium Romanum for the Roman sphere of influence has been documented since the time of Cicero . The ancient legal name was Senatus Populusque Romanus (SPQR) - "The Senate and the People of Rome".
The form of rule changed in the course of time from a (uncertainly documented) royal rule to a republic and finally to an empire . The history of the Roman Empire can traditionally be roughly divided into four phases, for which the following - historically not always certain - periods apply:
- Roman royal period : 753 BC BC to 509 BC Chr.
- Roman Republic : 509 BC Until 27 BC Chr. (Fall of the Republic as a result of civil wars from 133 v. Chr. )
- Principate or (early and high) Roman Imperial Era : 27 BC BC to the time of the. Of the 3rd century Reich crisis ( 235 to 284 / 285 ; also called "time of the soldiers Kaiser " hereinafter)
- Late antiquity : from 284/285 to 6/7. Century (also called " Dominat " in older research ), with a smooth transition to the early Middle Ages . During this time the so-called Great Migration (375 to 568) and the actual division of the empire (395) as well as the fall of the Roman Empire in the west (476/480) and the transformation into the Byzantine Empire in the east (7th century) took place.
In the 3rd century BC The Romans began to expand their power beyond the Italian mainland, the first provinces were Sicily and Sardinia . At the time of its greatest expansion under Emperor Trajan , the Roman Empire extended over territories on three continents around the Mediterranean : from Gaul and large parts of Britain to the areas around the Black Sea (see also Bosporan Empire ). Rome thus ruled the entire Mediterranean region . The empire remained subdivided into provinces until late antiquity . The real backbone of the administration, however, formed the cities of the empire, which were organized as semi-autonomous civil parishes and were responsible in particular for collecting taxes. This delegation of tasks enabled the Romans to operate with a very small central administration.
The empire exerted a great influence on the areas it ruled, but also on the areas beyond its borders. The economy in the Roman Empire , art and culture reached a heyday in parts of the area, especially during the imperial era. The quality of life at that time and the corresponding population level were not to be achieved again in Europe and North Africa until centuries later. In the eastern half of the empire, the Roman influence mixed with Greek - Hellenistic and Oriental elements.
Latin became the official language in the entire empire (supplemented by ancient Greek in the east ), although other languages were also able to survive. This legacy of the Roman Empire continued long after its fall: Latin was the language of the educated in all of Western and Central Europe until the Baroque period . The Romance languages arose from Latin, including French , Italian , Spanish , Portuguese and Romanian . There are also many Latin loanwords in the Germanic and Slavic languages. In the Roman Catholic Church , Latin is the official language to this day. In some sciences, such as biology and medicine , Latin terms are used to this day.
The legal and political system of Europe, especially civil law , is largely shaped by Roman law . The legal system in ancient Rome contained elementary civil and criminal procedural provisions in the legal system , which in principle have flowed into modern legal norms.
The Roman Empire, with its many different peoples, languages and religions, was a state, a form of society and, last but not least, an embodiment of the idea of an imperium sine fine , a " borderless empire ".
Roman royal times and early republic
Ancient Roman tradition dates the founding of Rome between 814 and 728 BC. BC, but mostly around the year 750 BC. Chr .; the specification 753 BC, which later became canonical as the beginning of the Roman era ( "ab urbe condita" ) . BC goes back to the scholar Marcus Terentius Varro (116-27 BC). Although the oldest traces of settlement in the later area of the city go back to the 10th century BC. The earliest references to the layout of a city come from the last third of the 7th century BC. Chr.
The sources for the early Roman period are very poor, as the written tradition does not begin until centuries later. In the opinion of some researchers, therefore, it cannot even be taken for granted that the city of Rome was actually subject to kings in its early days. In any case, according to later tradition, the new city-state was ruled by reges and eventually came under Etruscan rule; this phase of its development is called the royal period . Although the area of Rome consisted of extremely sterile, partly swampy and sandy soils and thus a profitable agriculture was almost impossible, Rome soon gained economic importance under the Etruscans, as it controlled two important trade routes : the Via Latina and the Via Salaria . The introduction of the ancient Roman port tariffs for commercial goods also contributed to the economic success.
Various later legends want to link the Roman royal period with the history of Troy . The surviving Troians are said to have been brought to Latium by Aeneas , a son of Anchises and the goddess Venus , after a long sea voyage (similar to the Odyssey of the Greek Odysseus ) . The oldest tradition of this myth goes back to Timaeus of Tauromenion , the Roman poet Virgil then wrote the national epic of the Romans, the Aeneid , at the time of Augustus .
Culturally, the Romans were strongly influenced by the Etruscans; Greek elements also found their way into the city through this . Examples are the Etruscan numbers , the Greco- Etruscan script , from which the Latin alphabet developed, the Etruscan religion with liver and bird viewing and the funeral ritual , which found an excessive late bloom in gladiatorial fights . Rome gained increasing influence in Italy after it was around 500 BC. Had broken away from the rule of the Etruscans.
The last Roman or Etruscan king Tarquinius Superbus ("Tarquinius the proud", "the haughty") was, according to later tradition, in the year 510/09 BC. Expelled from Rome by the Roman people under the leadership of Lucius Junius Brutus , according to tradition, because one of his sons had violated a Roman woman named Lucretia . However, the year 509 is not historically secure and probably an invention of later times, which can be traced back to the overthrow of the Peisistratiden tyranny in Athens around 510 BC. Chr. Could lean on. The presumed monarchy probably only changed around 450 BC. In the Roman Republic ("republic" from " res publica ": "the public cause").
The Roman state grew over the years and changed constantly. Polybius , a Greek scholar, later characterized it as a mixture of monarchy (magistrate offices such as consul ), aristocratic rule ( senate ) and democracy ( comitia ). The highest office in the state was probably first exercised by a praetor ( prae-itor - the person who preceded the army), and in a historically certain time it was held every year by two consuls who had the highest governmental power and were at the highest level of the cursus honorum . The Roman aristocratic assembly, the Senate, played an important role and developed early into the actual center of power. In addition, there were several popular assemblies, the Comitia, which de iure were also important, especially in questions of war and peace and in the judiciary. The first reasonably fixed point in Roman history is the laying down of the Twelve Tables law around 450 BC. Chr.
The central location of the Roman Republic was the Roman Forum , which served as a place for political, religious and social gatherings.
At that time, the Roman social order was also formed, which changed only slowly over the centuries. At the top were the ancient families of Rome, the land-owning patricians who were the most politically influential. The majority of the population, however, made up the plebeians , who only had partial political rights. Slaves were not viewed as autonomously acting people , but as “speaking tools”, so they had no rights, but could achieve freedom. Relations between patricians and plebeians were regulated by the clientele system.
Initially only patricians were admitted to the highest offices in the state, which promised their owners prestige and fame , while all free citizens had to do military service. After the class struggles , which lasted about 150 years and in which the plebeians are said to have resorted to the “ secessio plebis ” (“the march of the common people”), the plebeians were defeated in 367 BC. Finally almost equal politically; however, only a few plebeian families managed to rise to the ranks of the ranks. From then on, this was mainly formed by those families of the upper class, whose members became "well-known men" (nobiles) by taking on public office ; this new nobility, legitimized by meritocracy , is therefore called nobility .
Expansion in Italy
Rome began from the 5th century BC. With an ever faster expansion in central Italy (conquest of Veji 396 BC), but also had to cope with severe setbacks. The "Gauls storm" under Brennus left deep psychological traces, with the Battle of the Allia on July 18 (probably) 387 BC. When "dies ater" ("black day") went down in the history of Rome. This was followed by the Samnite Wars (343–341 BC; 326–304 BC; 298–290 BC) and the Latin War (around 340–338 BC). Rome finally created a ramified network of alliances. Colonies were established in strategically important locations and alliances were made with several Italian tribes, which, however, did not receive Roman citizenship .
From this period in its history, Rome emerged as a tight state with a powerful army and a strong urge to expand. This laid the foundations for his further rise.
In the 3rd century BC BC Rome prevailed against the Samnites and other Italian tribes. Little by little, the entire peninsula fell to Rome (except Northern Italy, which was later annexed). In the south, the republic absorbed itself around 275 BC. The Greek city-states there, after it had succeeded during the Pyrrhic War in repelling the Hellenistic hegemon Pyrrhos I of Epiros . With this expansion, however, Rome came into conflict with the previously friendly trade republic of Carthage (in today's Tunisia ), which led to the Punic Wars .
The Punic Wars and the Eastern Mediterranean Expansion
In the First Punic War (264–241 BC) Rome broke the agreement with Carthage on the division of the zones of interest in Sicily and extended its sphere of influence to the limit of the Carthaginian sphere of influence. After Carthage, provoked in this way, attacked and defeated the Romans from the sea, Rome expanded its fleet in order to be able to successfully oppose the sea power Carthage. After several setbacks and changeable fortunes in war, Rome finally succeeded in gaining a foothold, especially in Sicily, and defeating the Carthaginian fleet several times. Carthage lost all its Sicilian possessions in the peace treaty (later also Sardinia and Corsica ); henceforth the main aim of Carthaginian politics was to compensate for the consequences of this defeat. The influential Carthaginian family of the Barkids established a kind of colonial empire in Hispania , whose resources could be used for the fight against Rome.
In the Second Punic War (218–201 BC) the Carthaginian strategist Hannibal almost succeeded in bringing Rome to its knees, the reason for the war being the siege and conquest of the Greek colony Saguntum by Hannibal, which was "allied" with Rome . After the fall of Saguntum and the refusal of the government in Carthage to extradite Hannibal, the Roman declaration of war followed. Hannibal took the land route through southern Gaul , crossed the Alps and invaded Italy with an army, annihilating several Roman armies one after the other. The defeat at Cannae (216 BC) was particularly painful for the Romans: It was the worst defeat in Roman history, but Hannibal did not succeed in destroying Rome's alliance system in Italy, so that Hannibal largely despite his victories remained isolated. The Roman general Scipio put 204 BC. To Africa and defeated Hannibal in 202 BC. At Zama . Carthage lost all possessions outside Africa and its fleet. Thus it was eliminated as a power factor, while Rome with its new province of Hispania gained increasing influence.
The victory over Carthage in the 1st and 2nd Punic Wars secured Rome's supremacy in the western Mediterranean . In addition to its new role as a sea power, the conquered silver mines in Hispania and the enormous reparations that Carthage had to make also contributed to Rome's new fortune. In the time from 200 BC The interference of Rome in the power play of the Hellenistic empires also fell: There the great powers were not able to achieve a peaceful coexistence. Conflicts with the Antigonids followed , with Rome from 200 to 197 BC. BC in Greece against Philip V intervened to push back the Macedonian influence in Greece.
After a request for help from Asia Minor states, the Roman-Syrian War (192–188 BC) broke out against the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire under Antiochus III. After Rome's victory, he had to give up a large part of his possessions in Asia Minor . Rome thus became the de facto supreme power in the eastern Mediterranean. Attempts by Macedonia to restore the old hegemony led to the Macedonian-Roman Wars . 168 BC The Macedonians were finally defeated under their king Perseus and their kingdom smashed, 148 BC. Finally converted into a Roman province. So it happened in 146 BC. BC also Greece (from 27 BC province Achaea , previously part of Macedonia) and the new Roman province Africa after the destruction of Carthage, which had regained power before the Third Punic War (149–146 BC) .
Pergamon became by inheritance contract 133 BC. To the Roman province. The same status was given in 64/63 BC. The remaining empire of the Seleucids, which was no longer viable and was made the province of Syria by Pompeius , who reorganized the east . Only the ailing Egypt of the Ptolemies , which became a Roman protectorate, retained its independence until it was in 30 BC. BC also rose in the Roman Empire. At the border of the Parthian Empire the Roman expansion came to a standstill, here Rome should have found an equal opponent in the next few centuries.
In the new provinces, especially in the rich Hellenistic coastal regions, taxes were levied by private “societates publicanorum” of Roman knights and patricians . While they paid a fixed amount to the state, they were able to keep additional income. This led to often excessive taxes that drained the economies of these areas and repeatedly led to riots. You can find out about the reputation of these tax farmers in the Bible ( tax collectors ). As a result of the Roman successes, the amount of available coin money also increased dramatically, as did the number of slaves. Slavery played an important role in the economy of the Roman Empire . Slaves were used for very different activities, but at the same time there was the possibility that they could regain their freedom.
As brilliant as Rome's foreign policy successes were, the internal republican order gradually eroded.
The revolutionary times and the civil wars
The republic came under control from the middle of the 2nd century BC. In a domestic political crisis, which finally culminated in the era of civil wars and should end with the fall of the previous form of government. The background to this was initially the call for reforms, especially in the agricultural sector. The Romans used to transfer part of the land conquered in the war into state ownership and leave it to needy citizens for use. In order to avoid the appropriation of large farms in the hands of a few, the land ownership was officially limited to 500 Iugera . However, this law could not be enforced. Wealthy citizens bought huge estates. This became a problem at the latest when practically all land within Italy was distributed and at the same time more and more slaves poured into the country as a result of the victorious wars. The small farmers and craftsmen from the class of the plebeians could not compete with the slave army, which was growing steadily through the numerous wars. At the same time, the numerous wars outside Italy forced them to be absent for a long time, which made it even more difficult to maintain the home court. The large landowners, on the other hand, increased their land holdings by buying unprofitable farms or by violent evictions. The impoverishment of large sections of the population led to rural exodus and considerable dissatisfaction.
Other groups of plebeians who had made their fortunes in trade wanted more rights. The Gracchian Reform , named after the brothers Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus and Gaius Sempronius Gracchus , was intended to reform land ownership and provide the poorer strata of the population with land and income. The reform failed, however, due to the resistance of the conservative Senate districts, the underlying conflict persisted: the Popularen , the representatives of the plebeians and small farmers, and the Optimates , the conservative aristocratic party, fought each other to enforce their respective policies. Tiberius Gracchus was murdered, his brother Gaius saw no way out and took himself in 121 BC. Life. Street fights and political murders were the order of the day. Internal tensions also made themselves felt in Rome's alliance system, so that it was in 91 to 89 BC. Came to the so-called alliance war. In the end, Roman citizenship was also granted to allies. This was followed by 88 BC. For the infamous Vespers of Ephesus : After the murder of tens of thousands of Roman settlers in Asia Minor , Rome went to war against Mithridates of Pontus and defeated him after several years of fighting.
These events were followed by the beginning of the Roman Civil War, in which popularists and optimates faced each other again ( Marius , Cinna , Sulla ) who fought each other in bloody pogroms and formal proscriptions . Sulla remained victorious and established the dictatorship to re-establish the Republican Senate rule. But this solution did not really last, especially since Sulla soon resigned and the old forces fought each other again. The aftermath of the breaches of law led to a permanent internal weakening of the republic, which at the same time achieved grandiose successes in foreign policy, in particular with the annexation of the Seleucid Empire and the reorganization of the east by Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus . It was around this time that the sources mentioned the Roman Empire for the first time .
The crisis of Senate rule was finally illustrated by the (first) triumvirate : the successful military Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (whom the Senate refused to recognize for his achievements and the care of his veterans), the ambitious Gaius Iulius Caesar (who lived between 58 BC and 51 BC in the Gallic War, Gaul was supposed to subdue as far as the Rhine) and the rich Marcus Licinius Crassus formed an informal alliance to support each other in their respective interests. After the death of Crassus in a campaign against the Parthians , the former friends Caesar and Pompeius fought for power in the state (49-46 BC), with Pompey taking the side of the Senate. After Caesar had brought the western part of the empire under his control, he was victorious on August 9, 48 BC. About Pompeius at Pharsalos in Greece. Pompey was murdered shortly afterwards while on the run in Egypt. After further campaigns in Egypt, Asia Minor, Africa and Spain, where the last republicans were defeated, the republic collapsed. 46 BC Caesar introduced the Julian calendar, which replaced the outdated calendar. In February 45 BC Caesar was appointed "dictator for life". Only his assassination on the Ides of March by a group of conspirators under Marcus Iunius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus prevented the republic from turning into a dictatorship.
After Caesar's assassination in 44 BC. The supporters of the republic did not succeed in restoring the old republican constitution. In the civil war that broke out, after the formation of the second triumvirate, Octavian (later Emperor Augustus ) and Marcus Antonius won the battle of Philippi against Brutus and Cassius. After the elimination of the last competitor Sextus Pompeius in Sicily and the disempowerment of the third triumvir, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus , Octavian and Marcus Antonius turned against each other. In the Battle of Actium Octavian defeated 31 BC. BC Mark Antony and the Egyptian ruler Cleopatra who supported him . With that, rich Egypt also fell to Rome and remained the “ granary of the empire” for centuries .
The entire area around the Mediterranean was now under Roman rule, the Mediterranean became the mare nostrum ("our sea").
The early imperial era (principate)
Like Caesar, Octavian aimed for sole rule. But unlike Caesar, Octavian did not try to achieve this goal through the means of an extraordinary dictatorship . Rather, Octavian left the old republican constitution formally in force and secured his position by taking on various offices, transferring special powers and, above all, assuming long-term command over important provinces with numerous legions . Octavian was able to persuade the old senatorial nobility to recognize his rule, especially since the most important republican-minded families had already been eliminated. The Senate saw in Octavian the "Princeps", the "First Citizen of the State". The ruling structure established by Octavian with a constitution that differed in essential points from the old republican constitution is therefore also called the " principate ". Octavian received in 27 BC From the Senate the title "Augustus" ("the sublime").
Many institutions of the res publica were also retained during the imperial era: for example the cursus honorum (official career), the senate, the provincial administration and the priesthoods ( “Pontifex maximus” , however, was the emperor). However, these offices have moved from political decision-making positions to more or less purely administrative offices . The social order of the republic began to change, in that since Augustus members of new classes, especially from Italy and the provinces, rose to the still prominent rank of senators and especially knights ( equites ) . The emperors had the right to appoint knights, which resulted in a certain permeability of social barriers. (You could also assign the honorable rank of patrician to plebeian senators.) In addition, it was now easier for non-citizens of Rome to acquire citizenship.
At this point in time, the Roman Empire ruled the entire Mediterranean region . The west and south of Germania also belonged to the Roman Empire; the expansion to the northeast, which had been initiated under Augustus (Augustus Germanic Wars ), was only stopped by the Varus Battle in 9 and by the successful Germanic defense against attempts at reconquest in the following years ( Germanicus campaigns ). Then Augustus limited himself to securing the existing borders, at which almost the entire professional army of around 300,000 men was stationed. His measures made a significant contribution to consolidating the "Roman peace", the " Pax Romana ". In the time of Augustus there were many important innovations, for example a census was carried out throughout the empire to record the number of Roman citizens. In addition, all residents were recorded in numerous provinces, for example in Syria (this is the “estimate” mentioned in the Bible ). Roads and traffic routes were expanded, economy and culture (“Augustan Classic”) flourished; Roman culture reached the provinces , the number of which increased. In spite of all measures to preserve old Roman institutions, the development from the city-centered state of the city of Rome to the state as a whole was already being driven on by the time of Augustus. A sign of this is that Augustus stayed in Gaul for three years and did not feel tied to Rome as the seat of power. His successor Tiberius even spent most of his reign on Capri . The institution of the princeps was therefore so secure from the beginning that the rulers did not have to directly control the urban institutions, above all the Senate, from which Caesar's assassins still came.
Augustus' adoptive son and successor Tiberius , who was considered a difficult character from a human point of view and still felt himself to be a republican inwardly, limited himself to largely defensive measures to secure the borders during his reign. His successor Caligula is traditionally considered to be the first example of " Caesarial madness "; Today one sees this emperor, who only ruled for a good three years, much more differentiated, which nevertheless does not mean a positive assessment of his reign. Under Claudius , who became emperor as a candidate for embarrassment after the assassination of Caligula (the empire was formally not hereditary anyway), Britain was added to the empire, followed later by Thrace , which, however, had previously been a client kingdom dependent on Rome . The bad reputation of Claudius' successor Nero goes back, among other things, to subsequent, particularly Christian judgments, since he initiated the first great Neronian persecution of Christians . However, Nero is also portrayed negatively in the pagan sources in which a pro-senatorial point of view was taken; He is also largely judged similarly in modern research, where he is accused of neglecting the military, among other things. Nero's death ended in AD 68 the domination of the Julio-Claudian house , which could be traced back to two of the most important Roman families. Its end marked a turning point in Roman history: From now on, hardly any emperors were to come from the old urban Roman nobility.
The high imperial era
After the turmoil of the Four-Emperor's Year , the Flavians , who were generally successful in ruling, came to power, with Emperor Vespasian having his son Titus put down an uprising in Judea in the year 70 . Vespasian reorganized the state finances and secured the border in the east against the Parthians. When Vespasian, who could look back on a generally successful reign, died in 79, he was succeeded by Titus, who was granted only a very short reign during which there were several catastrophes (the eruption of Vesuvius and an epidemic epidemic). Titus did what he could to face the consequences. Titus' brother Domitian succeeded him in 81. In the sources, for example in Tacitus and Suetonius , he is drawn in gloomy colors because his relationship with the Senate was disturbed, but was certainly able to record successes and make the administration more efficient. In 96, however, he was overthrown by a court intrigue.
The subsequent period of the adoptive emperors , which began with Nerva , is generally understood to be the heyday of the empire, both culturally and in relation to the power of Rome. The emperors mostly took into account the sensitivities of the Senate and as a rule adhered to the state order of the Principate. The Roman Empire reached its greatest expansion under Nerva's successor, Trajan, in 117, with Trajan, who was the first emperor not from Italy but from the provinces (from Hispania), to be celebrated as the optimus princeps , as the “best emperor”. After Trajan's Dacer Wars and the campaigns, the empire stretched from Scotland to Nubia in a north-south direction and from Portugal to Mesopotamia in a west-east direction; however, the conquests east of the Euphrates had to be abandoned after a very short time because they could not be held. Under the educated and Hellenophile Hadrian there was an internal consolidation of the empire and a civilizational, cultural and technical bloom, which favored the spread of the then still young, already strongly grown Christianity . He mainly focused on building efficient border fortifications (for example Hadrian's Wall in Britain, or the fortification and straightening of the eastern border). However, some modern historians accuse the emperor of having burdened the imperial finances too heavily. Indeed, harbingers of an economic crisis can be discerned, but it has not yet assumed dramatic proportions.
Around the middle of the 2nd century, with the beginning of the Antonine dynasty , the empire under Antoninus Pius seemed to have reached its peak, but the first problems arose under the "philosopher emperor" Mark Aurel (161 to 180). There were bitter battles with various Germanic tribes, especially with the Marcomanni - the battles broke out again several times, see Marcomannenkriege - while the Parthians attacked in the east ; In addition, the 166 Roman troops returning victoriously from the east brought a plague into the empire, the so-called " Antonine Plague ". In addition to the serious external threat, which claimed the empire's resources to the limit of what was possible, the first signs of decay made themselves felt inside. After the death of Marcus Aurelius, who was able to record preliminary successes in the area of the northern border, but failed to implement internal reforms, there were a number of other crisis events, especially since his son Commodus was apparently unable to provide security for the empire. When he was murdered in 192, a civil war ensued.
At the beginning of the 3rd century, the Severi were able to stabilize the situation; Septimius Severus , who prevailed in the fight for power in 193, was also the first emperor to come from Africa . He was able to record some successes in the war against the Parthians (establishment of the Roman province of Mesopotamia), while the power of the military grew inside. Under Caracalla , all free inhabitants of the empire, with the exception of the “ dediticii ” (the militarily subordinate who had a special legal relationship with Rome), were granted Roman citizenship ( Constitutio Antoniniana ), which represented a marked turning point in the structure of the Roman state. Caracalla, who was popular with the people and army, but had enemies within the Senate and also within his own family, was assassinated during his Parthian campaign. After a short period of time, Elagabal ascended the throne, whose reign was marked by the ultimately unsuccessful attempt to elevate the oriental deity of the same name to the state god. In 222 the unpopular Elagabal was murdered and Severus Alexander tried in vain to prove himself in the war in the east against the Sassanid Empire (see below) and on the Rhine against the Teutons. In 235 he was murdered by dissatisfied soldiers.
After the rather inglorious end of the Severi, the so-called imperial crisis of the 3rd century followed , in which the soldier emperors were exposed to the onslaught of Germanic peoples plundering the Rhine and Danube (especially the Alemanni and the Goths ). It is controversial whether the internal turmoil in the empire was more the cause or the consequence of the foreign policy problems. In any case, the Upper German-Raetian Limes had to be evacuated in the context of the Limesfall in 259/60 . Above all, however, there was heavy fighting on the eastern border with the New Persian Empire of the Sassanids (since 224), which had overthrown the Parthian Arsacid dynasty (see also the Roman-Persian Wars ). The Sassanids were to prove to be a more dangerous opponent of Rome than the Parthians had ever been: The important Sassanid king Shapur I raided Syria several times and was able to defeat several Roman armies. In 260 even Emperor Valerian fell into his hands, who ended his life in captivity - an incomparable disgrace for Rome. However, the Sassanid king could not achieve his actual goal, the recapture of northern Mesopotamia, annexed by Septimius Severus around 200.
While Rome endeavored to secure the provinces of Syria and Asia Minor in the east, imperial authority in the west was also eroding. The governors in provinces, who were in command of several legions, often used this to gain power. There were repeated civil wars between the usurpers and even the secession of individual provinces (especially Gaul , see Gallic Empire ), which could be reversed under Emperor Aurelian . The “acceptance system” ( Egon Flaig ) of the principate, in which the legitimacy of every princeps was fundamentally based on the consent of the army, senate and people of Rome, reached its limits. Other powers tried to capitalize on Rome's weakness. For example, Palmyra , a former ally of Rome against the Parthians and later the Sassanids, had to be forcibly subjugated in 272 after it had temporarily conquered parts of the eastern provinces of Rome under Zenobia's leadership. The crisis resulted in numerous changes, but did not affect all areas of the empire to the same extent. And finally it was to be possible once again to avert the impending decline of the empire.
The beginning of late antiquity
With Diocletian the transition into late antiquity took place in 284 , which - in contrast to the previous period - was marked by stronger centralization and bureaucratization as well as the later victory of Christianity . Today, this time is no longer understood as a pure disintegration , as it was in older research ( e.g. Edward Gibbon or Otto Seeck ), but rather as a time of upheaval and transformation of the ancient Mediterranean world.
Diocletian reformed the administration, which was divided into a civil and a military sector, and created the order of "tetrarchy" , according to which there were two "senior emperors" ( "Augusti" ) each with a "junior emperor" ( "Caesar") ) should give. Because for an emperor alone the empire had long since become ungovernable, especially since the pressure on the borders grew steadily and usurpations always had to be reckoned with when no man with imperial powers was within reach of the fighting troops. However, the empire remained a monarchy insofar as one of the four rulers, the senior Augustus Diocletian, had the greatest authority and the last word on all questions. The division of the provinces and the establishment of dioceses and prefectures should make the administration of the provinces more efficient. Diocletian tried to curb inflation and economic decline with maximum price regulations . The religious consolidation of imperial rule (Diocletian took the nickname "Iovius" after the god Jupiter ) was intended to bring about a renewed orientation of the imperial residents towards the state and the emperor. Diocletian therefore found the Christians in particular to be disloyal to the empire. The last (and most violent) persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire took place during his reign.
The idea of dividing the empire was not entirely new, but it has now been implemented more consistently. However, the idea of imperial unity was not given up now and later. Rome remained the ideal center of the empire, even if the emperors moved their residences near the borders, for example to Augusta Treverorum (from which today's Trier emerged ).
Constantine the Great , whose father Constantius I, after the resignation of Diocletian and his co-emperor Maximian , had taken over the office of "Senior Augustus" in the west, was proclaimed emperor by his soldiers in 306, and the now highest-ranking emperor Galerius reluctantly recognized him as co-ruler at. Constantine was not satisfied with that. He gradually eliminated his rivals and thus ensured the dissolution of the Roman tetrarchy . He had ruled the west since 312 and established sole rule over the entire empire in 324. His reign became important for two reasons in particular: on the one hand, because of the privileged status of Christianity , which initiated the change in Constantinople , and on the other hand, because of the establishment of Constantinople , which from then on served as the new capital. The empire's gaze turned more and more to the east.
Constantine's dynasty did not survive long. Fratricidal fights followed until Constantius II gained sole rule in 353. After his death there was a "renaissance" of paganism under his successor Julian , Constantine's nephew , in 361 , but this did not last long because the emperor died in a failed Persian campaign in 363. With him the Constantinian dynasty died out.
Under Valentinian I , the empire was temporarily divided for administrative reasons and finally after the death of Emperor Theodosius I , even if the unity of the empire was never given up in principle, which can be seen not only from a common citizenship, but also from constant disputes of rank between the two imperial courts leaves. After the death of Valens, Theodosius had been installed as emperor in the east by Valentinian's son Gratian . After the devastating defeat of Adrianople , he succeeded in binding treaties, at least for the time being, to the invading Goths . In 394 Theodosius finally became sole ruler after a series of usurpations and revolts in the west; he was the last emperor to rule over the entire empire. Christianity was also introduced as the state religion during his time . After his death in 395, his sons Honorius (in the west) and Arcadius (in the east) came to a final division of the empire , which was to prove final. Nevertheless, as I said, the idea of imperial unity remained alive - the laws of one emperor normally also applied in the other's sphere of influence.
Fall of the empire in the west and assertion in the east
The Eastern Roman Empire survived the turmoil of the so-called Great Migration , especially since it was the economically healthier and more densely populated part of the empire and remained pacified inside. In the course of the 5th century, the Roman Empire gradually disintegrated in the west in endless civil wars, in which mercenaries ( foederati ) from outside the empire were increasingly involved. According to some researchers, the advance of the Huns had triggered a domino effect that completely changed the political division of Europe; other historians, however, consider the internal turmoil to be decisive. After 400, the imperial government increasingly lost control of the western provinces, which were plagued by civil wars and raids. Large parts of Gaul and Spain were lost to Germanic warriors ( Vandals , Franks , Goths ) around the middle of the 5th century , who initially served Rome as mercenaries (foederati) , but increasingly pursued their own goals. Above all, the loss of Africa to the Vandals 435 was a heavy blow for Westrom. The western seat of government had already been moved from Milan to Ravenna at the turn of the century . And even Italy came more and more under the influence of Teutons . In 410 mutinous Visigoths plundered the city of Rome, in 455 they were followed by the Vandals, and in 472 by the Ricimer warriors.
There were several reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire in the west, while the Eastern Empire remained intact despite all the crises. Which processes ultimately led to the transformation of the Western Roman Empire into a series of post-Roman-Germanic successor states in the early Middle Ages , which could be considered sovereign since the 7th century at the latest (although it was a fluid process), has long been the subject of research discussion. For the most part, the army no longer consisted of Roman citizens, but of foreigners, although a distinction must be made between those warriors who joined the regular army and thus became Romans from the foederati who fought under their own leaders and were formally alien to the empire (whether in In late antiquity, the army was really “barbaricized” is very controversial in today's research). In view of the empty coffers, the strength of the Western army was no longer sufficient to secure the borders and undertake retaliatory campaigns. Inside, the administration had become dilapidated, and an economic decline can also be observed, albeit not as dramatically as older research suggested. Power-hungry military men such as Stilicho , Constantius (III.), Aëtius or Ricimer - Romans as well as "barbarians" - dominated the western imperial court and fought bloody power struggles. 476 of the Germanic sat Heermeister Odoaker the Romulus Augustus finally as Western Roman Emperor from (last recognized West Emperor, however, was Julius Nepos been). Odoacer saw himself as a "Germanic in Roman service" and his rule in Italy as part of the Imperium Romanum under the Roman Emperor in Constantinople , and his successor Theodoric the Great also saw himself as the ruler of West Rome and tried to gain imperial recognition his position.
The situation in the east was different: the eastern part of the empire was economically more successful, was able to largely avoid civil wars, had greater strategic reserves and was also more skilful in diplomacy. Above all, the highlands of Anatolia with the Taurus Mountains and the Propontis formed natural barriers against the advance of enemy troops. In addition, the Huns and Teutons never succeeded in crossing the Hellespont ; therefore the rich provinces of Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt remained largely unmolested. The often “barbaric” military, whose striving for power had contributed to the fall of West Rome, were pushed back from the imperial court in the 5th century and largely eliminated at the beginning of the 6th century. From then on, the military remained under control. And although there was heavy fighting with the Huns and Sassanids , the Eastern Empire remained intact.
Under Justinian I , the last Roman emperor, whose mother tongue was Latin, and his general Belisarius , the East Romans were able to recapture large parts of the west (North Africa, Italy, southern Spain), while in the East they were able to hold the borders against the Persians with great effort. However, the attacks of the Sassanids became more and more violent since the accession to the throne of Chosraus I and the intention was to conquer the entire Roman east. This ended the phase of coexistence between the two great empires, and a series of devastating wars began. The (Eastern) Roman Emperor was once again by far the most powerful ruler in the Mediterranean, and Eastern Current ruled most of the old imperial territory (with the exception of Britain , Gaul and Northern Spain). After Justinian's death (565), however, the recaptured territories often turned out to be untenable in the long run. For example, southern Spain fell back to the Visigoths after a few years, and Italy from 568 largely to the Lombards .
The end of the ancient empire
In the interior of the Eastern Roman Empire it was fermenting, religious disputes between Christian groups ( Monophysites versus Orthodox) and the high tax burden due to the constant wars increased the discontent of parts of the population, for example in Syria and Egypt ; this caused a clear weakening of the sense of loyalty. At the beginning of the 7th century, large parts of the empire were temporarily conquered by the Sassanid Empire . The Persian troops under Chosrau II advanced twice as far as Byzantium and kidnapped the Holy Cross , which allegedly Helena, the mother of Constantine, had found and which represented the “greatest treasure” of the empire, from Jerusalem. After Emperor Herakleios had finally victoriously ended the long war with great difficulty, the exhausted empire could hardly withstand the attack of the Islamic Arabs ( Islamic expansion ) and lost all of Syria and Africa. The loss of rich Egypt, in particular, weakened Eastern Europe substantially. Herakleios broke with the Roman tradition by adopting the old Greek royal title “Basileus” instead of the title “Imperator” and making Greek the only official language. The empire now lost its Roman-ancient character.
The Eastern Roman Empire with its capital, Constantinople , was legally preserved until the 15th century (it was destroyed by the Ottomans in 1453 ) - but the internal structures changed so fundamentally after about 640 that it seems justified, from that time onwards Byzantine Empire to speak. The Middle Ages also began in the East .
It must be noted, however, that the term “Byzantines” is a term coined by historians of the 19th century without a historical tradition. The Greek East continued to regard the entire Roman Empire as a unit until 1453, the continuity of which was only locally impaired by foreign occupation from the north. The West preferred the term "Empire of the Greeks" in order to subsequently deny the legitimacy of the Roman Empire after the Roman emperors turned to Constantinople. The Frankish and later the Roman-German kings claimed the imperial idea for themselves from the 9th century . On the other hand, when a Byzantine himself spoke of the "Greeks" (Ἕλλην), he meant almost exclusively the pre-Christian Greeks of antiquity. As with the Byzantines themselves, the name “Roman Empire” ( rum ) was always common among the inhabitants of the medieval Muslim empires when referring to the Byzantine Empire. The Imperium Romanum remained effective as an idea and point of reference beyond the end of antiquity .
The Frankish King Charlemagne was the first post-Roman emperor in Western Europe who, according to the translatio imperii , saw himself as the successor to the Roman emperors. His coronation as emperor on December 25, 800 in Rome led to diplomatic disputes with the Byzantine basileus , who regarded himself as the only legitimate Roman emperor.
The Holy Roman Empire (since the 15th century with the addition of "German Nation"), which in its greatest territorial extent - according to today's political borders - Germany , the Netherlands , Belgium , Luxembourg , Austria , the Czech Republic , Switzerland , Liechtenstein , North - and Central Italy , Slovenia , parts of France ( Lorraine , Alsace , Burgundy , Provence , Corsica ), parts of Poland ( Silesia , Pomerania ) and parts of Croatia ( Istria ), later saw themselves as the successors of the (Western) Roman Empire , during the Russian tsar also claimed the successor to the Roman imperial crown via the Byzantine inheritance (" Third Rome "): the titles " Emperor " and "Tsar" are both derived from the Roman title "Caesar".
With Napoleon I's coronation as emperor , there was for the first time more than one emperor in Western Europe. With the resignation of the Roman-German imperial crown of Francis II , the Holy Roman Empire ended in 1806. However, the imperial title was continued by various monarchs until 1917 with the end of the reign of Nicholas II ( Russian Empire ) and in 1918/1919 with the Abdication of Karl I ( Austria-Hungary ) and Wilhelm II ( German Empire ) the history of the emperors in Europe came to an end.
The empire was divided into provinces until late antiquity , when the Romans began to expand their power beyond the mainland in the 3rd century BC (the first province was Sicily ). During the imperial era, the provincial division of the empire was changed and reformed several times. Augustus divided the provinces into imperial and senatorial . Under Emperor Diocletian , the previous division of the Roman Empire into provinces was replaced by a new two-tier division into dioceses and provinces , which now also includes the Italian peninsula.
The actual backbone of the administration, however, formed the cities (in the legal form colonia , municipium , civitas or urbs ), which were organized as semi-autonomous civic communities and were responsible in particular for collecting taxes. This delegation of tasks enabled the Romans to operate with a very small central administration.
The inhabitants of the cities were not considered full Roman citizens for a long time at the time of the republic , but had to serve in the Roman army and pay taxes, but had no voting rights in the entire Roman community and were not registered in the tribe . The Lex Iulia and the Lex Plautia Papiria during the alliance war in 90 and 89 BC. BC raised all country towns in Italy to the municipality with full citizenship, so that since then the word municipality has generally meant "Italian country town".
During the imperial era, beginning with Gaius Iulius Caesar , cities in the provinces outside Italy (albeit almost only in the west of the empire) received the right of a municipality. In the 1st and 2nd centuries there was also municipia Latina, whose inhabitants had Latin law that was less comprehensive than Roman law. By the Constitutio Antoniniana of the year 212 AD all cities of the empire had at least the rank of a municipality, with it almost all free residents of the empire were given Roman citizenship.
Relative peace ( pax Romana ) at the borders and within, extensive demographic stability, freedom of movement granted to all citizens and a generally accepted and widespread currency system were the foundations for the functioning of an empire-wide economy. Even if agriculture with the latifundia economy was the basis of the Roman economy, trade and handicrafts also played an important role. A fundamental element of the economy was slavery (see Slavery in the Roman Empire ).
Arts and Culture
During the time of the Roman Empire, especially during the imperial era, the arts and culture flourished in parts of its territory. The quality of life and the corresponding population levels in Europe and North Africa were not to be achieved again until many centuries later.
Roman art and culture arose on the basis of the down-to-earth way of life of the inhabitants of the western Mediterranean, the rather art-poor and sober culture of the (Indo-European) Italians , who lived in the 2nd millennium BC. And finally the Etruscans , whose culture was largely adopted by the Romans. Greek architecture , painting and sculpture, including adapted motifs from Greek mythology, served as models for essential areas of Roman art . An equation of foreign gods ( Interpretatio Romana ) was also a special characteristic of the Roman dealings with subjugated cultures and religions, e.g. B. in ancient Egypt .
As a rule, the Roman state was an unusually tolerant community, although the relationship to Judaism and later especially to Christianity was difficult, which also resulted in persecution. In late antiquity , the now Christianized Roman state again went partly on a course of confrontation with pagan cults and, above all, with Christian currents that deviated from the imperial church . However, the religious policies of the individual emperors were quite different.
During his reign in art and culture, Rome exercised a great influence, especially in the north and west, on the areas under his control. The cultures beyond its borders were z. B. sustainably influenced by brisk trade. In the eastern half of the empire, the style mingled with existing Greek - Hellenistic and Oriental elements.
The excavations in Herculaneum and the then important Roman city of Pompeii in Campania offer a comprehensive presentation of art, culture and social coexistence during the high Roman Empire . Due to the catastrophe of the sudden volcanic eruption through Vesuvius in AD 79 , they were covered with an approximately 20 meter high layer of ash and pumice stone and thus naturally preserved . Despite destruction by an earthquake in the year 62 n. Chr. To show the excavated palaces, with reliefs decorated temples , theaters, spas and whole neighborhoods with its cobbled streets relatively well preserved because the cities at that time were in the reconstruction. The furnishing of the exposed houses indicates that the inhabitants were in some cases very prosperous. The workshops of Pompeii handicrafts were highly developed. Inside the building, the researchers found numerous, partly also erotic motifs of Roman wall paintings ( fresco ) and mosaics , which show a high artistic standard and reflect the life of a pulsating and - from today's point of view - sensual social structure.
Pompeii was inhabited, shaped and only gradually Romanized by Oscans , Samnites , Greeks and Etruscans during the first long period of its approximately seven hundred year history . The Romans had only been part of the multi-ethnic mix for around 100 years, even if they were the rulers. Added to this were the slaves and migrant workers , who mostly came from eastern provinces and made up up to a quarter of the total population . In this context , the excavated city must z. As with Isis and Aeskulap Salus temple , the Doric temple or the assumption of the Greek gods, which took place before the Romans with the found in Pompeii Art rezipiert be.
In addition to Pompeii and Herculaneum, the smaller towns of Stabiae and Oplontis were also completely buried. The eruption of Vesuvius was described in detail by Pliny the Younger , whose uncle Pliny the Elder perished in the catastrophe.
Latin , the language of Rome, spread throughout the empire as the official language . In the Hellenistic east of the empire and Egypt, ancient Greek was also the official language and was the language of education throughout the empire.
The legacy of the Latin language continued long after its demise: for centuries, Latin was the language of the educated in all of Western and Central Europe until the Baroque period . The modern “Romance” languages of Europe emerged from Latin . In the Roman Catholic Church , Latin is the official language to this day. Even today, Latin terms are used and even newly created in sciences such as biology , medicine, and law .
The legal system in ancient Rome contained elementary civil and criminal procedural provisions in the legal system , which in principle have flowed into modern legal norms. Law reached its peak in the first centuries of the imperial era (1st – 3rd centuries). The legal and political system of Europe, especially civil law , is still largely shaped today by Roman law . Important points of the tradition were the collections of late antiquity, such as the Codex Theodosianus and the Codex Iustinianus .
- For military law, see Military Law in Ancient Rome .
- For information on public law, see Roman constitutional law .
- List of Roman Emperors of the ancient world , List of Ancient Roman Kings , List of Roman Consuls
- Roman mythology , Roman religion
- Women in the Roman Empire
- Roman mosaics in Britain , theater of ancient Roman
- Food culture in the Roman Empire , bathing culture in the Roman Empire
- Roman architecture , Roman construction technology
- Roman city
- Roman road
- Ancient historiography , senatorial historiography
- List of the greatest empires and empires
In addition to the rise and fall of the Roman world , Oldenbourg Grundriss der Geschichte (Vol. 2-4), The Edinburgh History of Ancient Rome and above all the Cambridge Ancient History (2nd revised edition; from Vol. 7, Part 2, The Rise of Rome to 220 BC ):
- Mary Beard : SPQR. The millennial history of Rome. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2016, ISBN 978-3100022301 (popular science overview).
- Ada Gabucci : Rome and its empire . Theiss, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-8062-1932-X (richly illustrated story about the foundation, expansion and rule).
- Alfred Heuss : Roman history. 10th edition, ed., Incorporated. and with a new research part vers. by Jochen Bleicken , Werner Dahlheim , Hans-Joachim Gehrke . Schöningh, Paderborn 2007 (first 1960), ISBN 978-3-506-73927-8 (the best, albeit sometimes very brief, overview of Roman history in German).
- Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp , Elke Stein-Hölkeskamp (ed.): Places of remembrance of antiquity. The roman world . Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-54682-X (easy-to-read collection of case studies on Roman sites of remembrance ).
- Ulrich Huttner : Roman antiquity . UTB, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-8252-3122-4 (solid overview).
- Ingemar König : The Roman State - A Handbook . Reclam, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-15-010644-0
- Wolfgang Schuller (Ed.): The Roman Empire . 2nd Edition. Theiss, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-8062-1744-0 (easily legible cross-section through the time of the Roman Empire).
- Michael Sommer : Roman History. From the beginning to the end. Kröner, Stuttgart 2016, ISBN 978-3520909015 (one-volume special edition of Summer's Roman History in two volumes, see below).
- Greg Woolf: Rome. The biography of a world empire. Translated from the English by Andreas Wittenburg. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2015, ISBN 978-3-608-94848-6 (with a focus on structural issues).
- Jochen Bleicken : History of the Roman Republic . 6th edition. Oldenbourg, Munich 2004, ISBN 978-3-486-49666-6 ( Oldenbourg floor plan of history . 2).
- Wolfgang Blösel : The Roman Republic. Forum and expansion. CH Beck, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-406-67413-6 .
- Klaus Bringmann : History of the Roman Republic. From the beginning to Augustus . Beck, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-406-49292-4 ( Beck's historical library ; solid and reliable representation of the republic).
- Harriet I. Flower (Ed.): The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Republic . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge et al. 2004, ISBN 0-521-00390-3 (reprinted there: 2005, 2007).
- Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp , Elke Stein-Hölkeskamp (ed.): From Romulus to Augustus. Great figures of the Roman Republic . Beck, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-406-46697-4 .
- Martin Jehne : The Roman Republic. From the foundation to Caesar . 2nd Edition. Beck, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-406-50862-2 ( Beck'sche series. Wissen. 2008).
- Kathryn Lomas : The Rise of Rome. From the Iron Age to the Punic Wars. Profile, London 2018.
- David Potter: The Origin of Empire. Rome from the Republic to Hadrian. Profile, London 2019.
- Michael Sommer: Roman history I. Rome and the ancient world up to the end of the republic (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 449). Kröner, Stuttgart 2013, ISBN 978-3-520-44901-6 .
Principate and late antiquity
- Henning Börm : Westrom. From Honorius to Justinian . 2nd Edition. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2018, ISBN 978-317-033216-4 .
- Hartwin Brandt : The Imperial Era. Roman history from Octavian to Diocletian. 31 BC Chr. – 284 AD Beck, Munich 2021.
- Manfred Clauss (ed.): The Roman emperors. 55 historical portraits from Caesar to Justinian . 3. Edition. Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-47288-5 .
- Karl Christ : History of the Roman Empire. From Augustus to Constantine. 6th edition with updated bibliography. Beck, Munich 2009 ( Beck's historical library ; clearly legible depiction of the imperial era up to Constantine. Standard work, but now partially obsolete).
- Werner Dahlheim : History of the Roman Empire . 3rd revised and expanded edition. Oldenbourg, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-486-49673-5 ( Oldenbourg floor plan of the story 3).
- Alexander Demandt : Late Antiquity. Roman history from Diocletian to Justinian. 284–565 AD 2nd fully revised and expanded edition. Beck, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-406-55993-8 ( Handbook of Classical Studies . III. 6); also available as an edition with reduced content without scientific apparatus: Geschichte der Spätantike. Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-406-57241-8 (German standard work on late antiquity).
- Armin Eich : The Roman Empire. CH Beck, Munich 2014.
- Egon Flaig : Challenge the emperor . Campus, Frankfurt 1992.
- Scott Fitzgerald Johnson (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity. Oxford University Press, Oxford et al. 2012 (current and quite comprehensive handbook on late antiquity with extensive bibliography).
- Albino Garzetti: L'Impero da Tiberio agli Antonini. Cappelli, Bologna 1960 ( Storia di Roma. 6). Also in English: From Tiberius to the Antonines . Methuen, London 1974, ISBN 0-416-16800-0 , Methuen, London 1976, ISBN 0-416-70480-8 ( University paperbacks. 605).
- Klaus-Peter Johne (ed.): The time of the soldier emperors . 2 volumes. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-05-004529-0 .
- Michael Kulikowski: The Triumph of Empire. The Roman World from Hadrian to Constantine. Profile, London 2016.
- Rene Pfeilschifter : The late antiquity. The one God and the many rulers. CH Beck, Munich 2014.
- David S. Potter: The Roman Empire at bay. AD 180-395 . Routledge, London et al. 2004, ISBN 0-415-10058-5 ( Routledge History of the Ancient World ; very good overall representation of the period from 180 to 395).
- David S. Potter: A Companion to the Roman Empire . Blackwell, London 2009.
- Michael Sommer: Roman history II. Rome and its empire in the imperial era (= Kröner's pocket edition. Volume 458). Kröner, Stuttgart 2009, ISBN 978-3-520-45801-8 .
- Michael Sommer: The Roman Empire. The rise and fall of a world power. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2018 (closer than summer Rome and its empire in the imperial era ).
- Michael von Albrecht : History of Roman Literature . 2 vols., 3rd edition. Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 2003 (reprint of the 2nd edited edition 1997; dtv . 30099. dtv culture & history ).
- Thomas Fischer : Gladius. Rome's legions in Germania. CH Beck, Munich 2020.
- Andrea Giardina (ed.): The man of Roman antiquity . Magnus Verlag, Essen 2004, ISBN 978-3-88400-801-0 .
- Harald Küthmann among others: Buildings of Rome on coins and medals . Beckenbauer, Munich 1973 (exhibition by the Munich State Coin Collection from October 16 to December 2, 1973).
- Ludwig Wamser (Ed.): The Romans between the Alps and the North Sea. Civilizing legacy of a European military power. Catalog manual for the state exhibition of the Free State of Bavaria . Zabern, Mainz 2000, ISBN 3-8053-2615-7 . Special edition Albatros by Patmos Verlag, Düsseldorf 2004, ISBN 3-491-96108-4 (exhibition in Rosenheim from May 12 to November 5, 2000).
- Hans-Joachim Drexhage , Heinrich Clemens Konen , Kai Ruffing : The economy of the Roman Empire (1st – 3rd century). An introduction (= study books History and Culture of the Old World ). Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-05-003430-0
- Ulrich Fellmeth : Pecunia non olet. The economy of the ancient world. Darmstadt 2008, ISBN 978-3-534-20840-1 .
- Jan Dirk Harke : Roman law. From the classical period to the modern codifications. Beck, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-406-57405-4 .
- Paul Zanker : The Roman Art. CH Beck, Munich 2016, ISBN 978-3-406-54688-4 .
- Link to De Imperatoribus Romanis
- Comprehensive information about ancient Rome at LacusCurtius
- Roman history in an annalistic representation
Search for Roman Empire in the online catalog of the Berlin State Library - Prussian Cultural Heritage . Attention : The database has changed; please check result and
- On the current state of research with further literature: Scott Fitzgerald Johnson (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity . Oxford et al. 2012; Reinhold Kaiser : The Mediterranean World and Europe in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Frankfurt am Main 2014.
- Chris Wickham : The Inheritance of Rome. A History of Europe from 400 to 1000. London 2009.
- Introductory cf. for example Henning Börm : Westrom. From Honorius to Justinian. Stuttgart 2018.
- The Edinburgh History of Ancient Rome. Published by JS Richardson. 8 volumes. Edinburgh 2012-2020.