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Legends and history of Rome Italy

The legends and initial history of Rome Italy are intertwined, and what's more the history of Rome is for the most part also the history of Italy.

History of Rome Italy: Beginnings

• The legend

• The Roman Republic

• The Roman Empire

• The rise of Christianity

• The fall of the Roman Empire

• Rome and the renaissance

• Baroque Rome

• Rome and the unification

• Rome and the modern era

History of Rome Italy: The beginnings

Of course Neanderthals have been wandering around Europe and Italy since more than 20 000 years ago but by the start of the Bronze age around 2000BC there are records of several Italic tribes spread throughout Italy.

At around 900BC the Etruscans settled and controlled the area between the Arno River in Tuscany and the Tevere in Rome. The Etruscans continued to develop along with the founding of Rome but they were eventually overwhelmed by the Roman Republic. The last Etruscan City falling to Rome around 300 BC.

Legend has it that Rome was initially ruled by kings, 753 - 510 BC. The 1st king being Romulus. Then as a Republic by consuls, 510 - 30 by BC and finally by Emperors, 30 BC - 470 AD

History of Rome Italy: The legend begins

Romulus and twin Remus were supposedly raised by a she-wolf in a cave on Palatine hill in Rome. Romulus was said to have killed his twin brother in a dispute over who was to govern the city.
And so, it is said, began the glorious history of Rome as a settlement on Palatine hill.

history of Rome Italy Palatine

What followed was the rule of the seven kings of Rome, Romulus being the 1st (and if you really want to know, then Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, Ancus Martius, Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius and Tarquinius Superbus.)

With Tarquinius expelled for tyranny and moral misconducts against the people of Rome, the royalty was overthrown and so began the history of the Roman Republic- and the end of Etruscan rule. The Patricians (from latin meaning "fathers") established an autocratic commonwealth.

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History of Rome Italy: The Roman Republic

In 390 BC the gauls won a remarkable battle against the Romans and they took control over Rome for forty years. They eventually returned to their own lands (apparently they missed their onion soup) and Rome was rebuilt.
The population of Rome Italy reaches about 30 000.

The punic wars which ended with the destruction of the Carthage began in 264 BC and ended in 146 BC at which time Greece also succumbed to the rule of Rome.

In 50 BC the population of Rome reaches 1 000 000.

On 15th March 44 BC Julius Caesar (Giulio Cesare) was assassinated during a senate meeting.
The date known as the Ides of March comes from latin "Idus Martiae". Idus, meaning 15th, was usually a day of celebration in the Roman Republic and was dedicated to the God of Mars. Nowadays the term has come to be used as a metaphor for an impending disaster.

History of Rome Italy: The Roman Empire

27 BC - 14 AD Julius Caesar's nephew Octavian became the first emperor of Rome - Caesar Augustus.

During his reign Christ was born and the Western world experienced the golden age of literature with Cicero, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Livy and Tacitus.

trajans market rome italy

98 AD - 117 AD Under emperor Trajan, the Roman empire achieved it's largest size and dominance.
The Population of Rome is it's largest at 1 600 000 people, a figure only reached again 1850 years later!

118 - 138 AD Hadrian's time of "containment" of the Empire and a time when some of the most glorious testaments to Roman Architecture was adorned on and throughout the Roman Empire.

After Hadrian began the internal crises and implosion of the Roman Empire. At the end of the 3rd century AD. Emperor Diocletian divided the Empire into Western and Eastern administrative powers.

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History of Rome Italy: The rise of Christianity

312 A.D. After being persecuted for centuries christians gained religious freedom under Emperor Constantine and in 331 A.D. he transferred the capital of the Roman Empire to Byzantium - which he later renamed Constantinople.
During the 4th Century A.D. Christianity was declared the official state religion and so grew its power and influence.
Before the sacking of Rome the population of Rome sits at 200 000.

History of Rome Italy: The sacking of Rome and the middle ages.

410 A.D. Rome is sacked by the Goths and in 476 A.D. Odoacer claimed himself as ruler of Italy. And so began the middle ages.

A tug-of-war ensued between the Goths and Byzantines. When the Northern European Lombards invaded Italy in 568 A.D. Italy was divided between the Lombard barbarians and the Eastern Empire - the Byzantines. (The term "barbarians" was derogatory and used to describe foreigners who did not speak the Greek language. Greek being the Roman Byzantine Empire's official language.)
By 700 AD the population of Rome is only about 20 000.

The Roman Empire starts gradually being replaced by Papal Rome and when Charlemagne, king of the Franks, defeats the Lombards in 800 AD he is crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by Pope Leo III.

In 1305 Pope Clement V moves the Papal seat from Rome to Avignon where it stayed until 1377.

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History of Rome Italy: The Renaissance.

history of Rome Italy

Thanks to the eagerness of the popes in Rome (Pope Nicholas V, then Julius II and Leo X) to outdo the cultural and architectural advancements of (mostly) Florence, this period saw huge investments by the Papacy into the many of Rome's iconic symbols that we see today:
The new Saint Peter's Basilica, began in 1503, the Sistine Chapel, the ponte Sisto, which was the first bridge across Rome since the Ancient Roman Empire, and Piazza Navona and the twin churches.

Artists, who need no introduction, found an abundance of work in "Caput Mundi" - Michelangelo, Bramante, Raphael, Cellini, Ghirlandaio and Botticelli, to name a few.

1527 Spain's turn, and the troupes of Charles V of Spain sacked the city of Rome. Pope Clement VII took refuge in Castel Sant' Angelo.
This unfortunately put a halt to the City's golden age until 1585 when Pope Sixtus V recommenced with the town planning of Rome.

History of Rome Italy: Baroque Rome.

berninis fontana del tritone
Bernini's "Fontana
del tritone" in
Piazza Barberini.

By the late 1500s the Catholic church had become immensely rich and certainly many a protestant found themselves questioning the direction of the Catholic Church. This, along with some Pope's delving's into Nepotism and Simony (paying for papal positions), found the Catholic Church trying to appease the people and re-interest their flocks with sumptuous buildings of immense grandeur, literally dripping with ornature.

Great news for artists like Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Francesco Borromini who helped to transform Rome with beautiful churches, villas, statues and fountains.

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History of Rome Italy: Rome and the unification.

1805 Napoleon transforms the Italian republic into a monarchy and Italy has a brief taste of unity again. In 1816 the monarchy collapses and Italy splits once again into smaller states.

For the next 50 years patriarchs like Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi fight to unify Italy. In 1848 Rome is briefly declared a Republic but Garibaldi's troupes are forced out by the French protecting and supporting the pope.
During the next 20 years with the help of Giuseppe Garibaldi ("O Roma o morte" - or Rome or death) the remainder of Italy is unified as a kingdom and Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy takes the throne.

Finally on 20 September 1870 Rome is stormed by troops of the king and an end comes to the papal leadership of Rome.
Rome is declared capital. The population of Rome is 220 000.

History of Rome Italy: Rome and the modern era.

1922 Mussolini and his fascists march on Rome and King Victor Emmanuel III asks Mussolini to appoint a new government.

The Lateran Pact (now part of the Italian Constitution) is made between Mussolini and the Catholic Church bringing to an end centuries of conflict between church and state. The Vatican State is established and Catholicism is declared the official state religion and taught in schools.

1935 Italy invades Ethiopia for the 2nd time (the 1st time, in 1896, they were defeated). The population of Rome is 1 000 000.
1939 Mussolini occupies Albania.
1940 Italy join the Nazis and declare war against France and England.
1941 Italy and Germany declare war on the USA. The Italian colonies in Africa are lost.
1943 Marshal Badoglio substitutes Mussolini who is arrested but then saved by German paratroopers. Mussolini then starts a socialist alternative government at Salo, Lake Garda.
1945 Benito Mussolini is caught and executed.

Even today various fascist symbols adorn buildings and the uniforms of public servants, and restaurants and children are frequently named Benito?! Just more contradictions of Italians culture and customs that seem glearingly inappropriate to foreigners but are accepted in Italian and Roman daily life.

2002 Out with the Lira, Italy adopts the EURO as it's currency.
2005 After the death of the much loved Pope John Paul II Joseph Ratzinger is elected Pope and will go by the name of Pope Benedict XVI.
The population of Rome sits at 2 700 000.

A lot of work went into creating this page, if you found my summary of the History of Rome Italy interesting or it helped you in some way please show your appreciation by bookmarking this page, thank you.
If you would like some more information about the History of Italy visit my page a brief history of Italy.

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Rome 8 BC

Map of ancient Rome at 8BC

(These four maps of the ancient Roman Empire actually line the walls of the present day Roman Forum)


The Republic after the punic wars
146 BC

roman empire after the punic wars


Roman Empire at the death of Caesar Augustus 14 AD

Roman empire at death of Augustus


Roman Empire:
It's largest under Trajan.

Map of roman empire trajan

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