Rome (Page 2)
Augustus' successors, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero, continued to expand the civil service and provincial administration (14-68 AD). In the civil war of 68-9 AD, provincial armies successively made Galba, Otho and Vitellius emperors. Vespasian and his sons Titus and Domitian restored stability.
Rome reached the peak of its prosperity under Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius, but decline set in during the reign (180-92 AD) of Commodus. Civil war followed his murder and the Praetorians began to exercise the dominating influence in the choice of emperors.
Septimius Severus established a new dynasty (193 AD) supported by the army, and under Caracalla, his son, Roman citizenship was extended to free men throughout the empire. Military anarchy followed the murder (235 AD) of Alexander Severus and provincial armies made emperors in rapid succession. The borders came under increasing pressure from the Sassanids in Persia, and from the Alemanni, the Franks and the Goths in the north. The capable emperors Claudius II, Aurelian and Probus halted these incursions.
During the reign (284-305 AD) of Diocletian, the empire was divided into four administrative units. Constantine I, who moved its capital to Constantinople (330 AD), temporarily reunited it. Christianity, which had proliferated throughout the empire, won toleration (313 AD) and became official (380 AD) under Theodosius I.
On Constantine's death (337 AD) the split between east and west reappeared. It became final on the death (395 AD) of Theodosius I, Arcadius inheriting the east (Byzantine Empire) and Honorius the west. To deal with mounting barbarian attacks, the capital of the Western Roman Empire was moved to Ravenna (402 AD).
Rome was sacked by the Visigoths under Alaric I (410 AD) and by the Vandals under Genseric (455 AD). Pope Leo I prevented Attila from sacking it and papal influence over the city began to increase. The last Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus was deposed (476 AD) by Odoacer. The Roman Empire had brought urban civilization and a high degree of material prosperity as well as Roman law, the Latin language and the Christian religion to a large part of Europe.
Rome now came to be disputed between the Byzantine Empire and the barbarians, and later between the papacy and the Holy Roman Empire. As capital of the Papal States (after 756 AD), it became the spiritual center of Western Europe during the Middle Ages. It was several times devastated by invading armies but began to recover in the second half of the 15th century and became a center of the Renaissance. It became the capital of Italy in 1871.
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Sources: Article is scheduled to be reviewed.
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