Rome Early Origins & Recent Roma History
Rome History & Overview
Early Origins & History
Various legends, for one reason or another suggest that Rome origins as a city can be dated to between 758 BC & 728 BC. The Roman Empire later decreed that the actual year was 753 BC. The early origins of the City of Rome are therefore uncertain. Some historians suggest that the first settlers in the area were immigrants from the far east who had migrated to the Italian peninsula sometime between the second and first millennium BC whilst their brethren settled further north in Europe as founders of Germanic or Celtic races.
The historians believe that Rome was founded by some of these migrants in one of three settlements in the the 9th century BC. These settlements were at the Palatine Hill the home of the Rumi , the Quinnal Hill home to the Titientes and in the nearby forests the Luceres. In 2006 these theories were supported by archaeological findings to the north of Palatine Hill unearthed the remains of Palatine House, which is thought to be the birthplace of Augustus Rome’s Emperor. However not everyone accepts these interpretations.
By the 6th century AD the area was dominated by the monarchical Etruscans who had previously dominated the Italian peninsula to the north of Rome. in what today are the regions of Lazio and Tuscany. The Etruscans precise origins are uncertain as their culture has similarities with the far east but also Greek culture which through migration influenced Italian societies to the south of Rome. The Etruscans are credited (or discredited) with introducing the gladiatorial culture to Italy. They also gave the Romans the skills needed to build Temples to worship the Gods that Etruscan culture had installed in Roman society.
The Etruscans rule was weakened by conflicts in Southern Italy with Greek colonists and at the beginning of the 5th century BC the Romans rose up an over-threw them. The monarchy was replaced by a senate based on nobility and various democratic assemblies. By the 3rd century BC Rome had become the capital of the Italian peninsula and during the following two centuries its importance accelerated as the country embarked on building an empire in the Punic wars which won it territory in North Africa Spain Sardinia and Sicily. In the last century BC the Rule of Rome was challenged by other forces in other Italian cities who had fought alongside Rome but gained few democratic or economic rewards for their efforts. In 49 BC Rome fell to forces led by Julius Caesar until his death in AD44 when the city was then run by two of Caesars lieutenants Antonius and Octavian. Octavian and Antonius embarked on a 12 year struggle for sole control of Rome. Octavian (who was Caesar’s nephew) proved the stronger and in AD 31 became the leader of Rome and its empire. His rise to power signaled the end of the Roman Republic.
For the next 200 years Rome benefited from the total power of the Roman Emperors it population increased from around half a million to at least around a million and a half – though some estimates say it increased six fold. Between AD 165 and AD 189 the power of the Roman Empire waned as a smallpox plague spread across its territories. In Rome at it’s peak this plague is estimated to have claimed up to two thousand lives a day. The aftermath was that on the third century a weaker empire which had its critics within. It also made Rome vulnerable to repeated military challenges from across Europe. By 273 the city had a 19km fortified wall around it and though it remained the capital of the empire other cities including Milan became the safe homes of its Emperors.
By 330 Rome had lost it status as the empires capital to Constantinople. In the second half of this century the Roman Empire converted to Christianity and the Bishop of Rome (later to become known as the Pope) became the most powerful religious leader in western Europe. In 408 the city was attacked and fell to Alaric by a Germanic leader. In 455 and 472 it fell two Germanic leaders Gaiseric and Ricimer. The latter’s victory which was aided by Roman soldiers effectively marked the end of the Roman Empire.
During the 6th century Rome was fought over several times. Power was finally taken by the indigenous Byzantines and shared with Bishop of Rome. In 589 the River Tiber broke its banks and flood vast areas of the city. The following year another plague struck the city. Legend has it that the then Pope took out his sword at Hadrian’s Tomb in order to stop the plague spreading any further. Over the next century the power of the Pope grew and Rome once again became a city of importance in the west. In the 8th century several unsuccessful attempts were made by politicians and Italian forces to destabilize and remove the power of the Bishops of Rome.
In the 12th century these problems were resurrected but this time the people of Rome took to the streets as well. In 1188 the Catholic Church was forced to accept their co-existence with an independent Government based on a representative Senate. However the partnership was not a success with some of the senators accused of corruption. In 1204 street battles broke out across Rome as supporters of the Pope fought with supporters of another religious family – Orsini’s for the control of the Church. During these riots many of the city’s historic buildings were burnt to the ground or destroyed. The challenge of the Orsini family prevailed and they used their religious power and political influence over successive Italian rulers. For a while in the fourteenth century Papal power in Rome waned when it became temporally subservient to the rule of the King of France. However in 1527 troops loyal to Charles V attacked the city and executed over a 1,000 citizens loyal to Papal rule. 80% of the Swiss Guard appointed to protect the Pope were killed and the Pope himself was imprisoned for the best part of a year before being released. Successive Popes no longer had the authority in Rome or abroad as illustrated by Churches breaking away from Catholicism in England and Germany.
In 1798 Rome became part of the Roman Republic which was a construction by Napoleon leading the city to become part of France. When Napoleon lost power in 1814 Papal power was reinstated in Rome and other parts of Italy. During the 19th century following the Italian War of Independence Rome for a while was occupied by French troops who underpinned the power of the Popes. In 1870 at the outbreak of the Franco Prussian War French troops withdrew from the city and the Italian Army took control of it. Rome became part of greater italy. The former status of Florence as Italy’s capital was transferred to Rome the following year. Relations between the Italian government and the Vatican were strained until in 1929 a treaty gave the Church independence within the boundaries of the ancient Rome. This agreement led the declaration of the Vatican as independent state – the smallest in the world.
Rome Recent History & Overview
In June 1940 the Italian Leader outbreak of Benito Mussolini met Hitler in Munich – six weeks later Italians occupied British Somali land in East Africa. In mid-September Italy invaded Egypt and then later in the month signed a Tripartite Pact with Germany and Japan. The following month Italy invaded Greece but they were defeated within four weeks. Further engagements with Allied Forces followed over the next two and half years. On July 19th 1943 the British bombed Rome and within a week the Mussolini regime fell. On September 8th Italian forces led by Marshal Pietro Badoglio surrendered. Five weeks later on October 13th Italy declared war on Germany. Even though Italy fought on both sIdes during WW2 Rome escaped any significant damage.
After the war, Rome expanded to accommodate it growing economy. New suburbs were built and by 1960 its growth enabled it to stage the 1960 Olympics. During these games some events were staged on ancient sites which internationally promoted Rome as a historic city and this combined with interest in the new Vatican State and its many treasures (more info) dramatically increased tourism to Rome. In recent years Rome has been repeatedly named as one of Europe’s Top Ten city by travel companies. In the year following the death of Pope John Paul it had nearly 10 million visitors nearly double the number of visitor it would have expected a decade earlier.