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The Roman Empire Timeline and Fun Facts


The decline of the Roman Empire was brought about by a number of reasons. The three primary reasons that caused the Roman Empire to fall were political, economic and military in nature. From the 4th to 5th century AD, the people at the helm of power in Rome were finding it increasingly difficult to defend the Roman Empire against invasions. Many Romans were displeased with the authoritarian leadership in Rome, and the empire started to experience internal strife. The military might of the Romans, which the empire was famous for, also started to diminish as it became more difficult for Rome to produce the quality of soldiers that it had in the past. Furthermore, with the drying up of the funds from other cities, the economy too began to crumble.

Monetary taxation, which was the earlier system of collecting revenue from the people, was substituted by direct requisitioning. In this system, the Roman Empire took food grains from the farmers, cattle from the herdsmen, and iron tools from the blacksmiths. The workers were also compelled to work in the same occupation. Therefore, if a particular occupation or business was not going well, the people associated with it would be impoverished. This led to unemployment on a large scale. As a result, resentment among the Roman people began to grow. Additionally, the excessive intake of alcohol by several disgruntled people of Rome resulted in poor overall public health. The contaminated water that came through lead pipes further deteriorated the health of the Roman people.

When the Roman Empire was flourishing, the market economy was highly complex and effective. From the 3rdgold and silver in the empire’s reserves began to dwindle, the Roman currency started to lose its value. As a countermeasure, more coins were minted, which eventually led to inflation on a large scale. In addition, the inflation resulted in a shortage of food grains in the cities. As a result, the artisans and businessmen who settled in cities started migrating to the villages, so that they could grow their own food in the farmlands. This caused an urban decay in Rome.

There was mismanagement from the military perspective as well. The enormous amount of money spent by the Roman administration on the military originated from the extremely high taxation that was imposed on the farmers and businessmen. The fear of invasion from barbarians outside the borders led to an increase in military spending, which caused the common people to oppose the Roman Empire. Also, the Romans were lagging behind other empires in technological innovation. Germanic inventions such as the horseshoe slowly changed the military power equation in favor of other empires.

Politically, the Romans were becoming more corrupt. The Roman officials would occasionally take bribes to do a favor; they would even sell their official position to the people who could pay them a good amount of denarii, which was the Roman currency at that time. Therefore, the moral standards began to fall and took down the Roman Empire with it. The event that truly sunk the empire was a German invasion led by General Odacer, who overthrew the final emperor of Rome, Augustulus Romulus, in 476 AD.

Timeline of the Rise and Fall of The Roman Empire

753 BC: Rome is founded by Romulus
750 BC: Greeks establish a colony at Cuma
750 BC: first Etruscan inscriptions
616 BC: Tarquinius I becomes an Etruscan king of Roma
600 BC: Etruscans build the colossal tombs of Cerveteri
600 BC: the Forum is built
578 BC: Tarquinius Priscus builds the Cloaca Maxima, the first sewer
550 BC: Servius Tullius builds city walls
474 BC: the Greeks defeat the Etruscans at Cuma
509 BC: the last king is expelled and Roma becomes a republic
450 BC: the Twelve Tables of the Roman law
396 BC: Roma conquers the Etruscan city of Veii
387 BC: the Gauls/Celts sack Roma
326 BC: the Circus Maximus is built
312 BC: the first aqueduct, the Aqua Appia, is built
308 BC: Roma conquers the Etruscan city of Tarquinia
295 BC: Roma defeats the Gauls/Celts in northern Italy
283 BC: Roma establishes Gallia Cisalpina in nothern Italy
275 BC: Roma conquers southern Italy
272 BC: a second aqueduct, the Anio Vetus, is built
264 BC: Roma and Carthage fight the first Punic war
264 BC: the Romans destroy the last vestiges of the Etruscan civilization
232 BC: Gaius Flaminius enacts an agrarian law ceding land of Northern Italy to poorer classes of citizens
225 BC: the Gauls invade Rome
202 BC: Scipio defeats Hannibal and Roma annexes Spain
196 BC: the Romans defeat the Macedonian king Philip V at Cynoscephalae
189 BC: Antiochus III, king of the Seleucids, is defeated at the battle of Magnesia and surrenders his possessions in Europe and AsiaMinor
184 BC: the Basilica Porcia
171 BC: The Third Macedonian War begins
167 BC: At the end of the Third Macedonian War the romans divide Macedonia into four republics
149 BC: Roma conquers Greece after winning the battle of Corinth
146 BC: Macedonia becomes a province of Roma
146 BC: Roma destroys Carthage
144 BC: The first high-level aqueduct is built
133 BC: Tiberius Gracchus enacts a law to redistribute land to the poor farmers but is assassinated with 300 of his supporters
133 BC: Attalus III of Pergamum wills his kingdom to Roma and the whole Mediterranean Sea is under Roman control
128 BC: Southern France becomes a provinces of Rome
123 BC: Tiberius’s brother Gaius Gracchus enacts populist laws
121 BC: Gaius Gracchus is assassinated
106 BC: the Romans led by newly elected consul Marius defeat Jugurtha, king of Numidia
105 BC: the Teutones and the Cimbri defeat the Romans at Arausio/Orange
102 BC: consul Gaius Marius defeats the Teutonic army at Aix-en-Provence
101 BC: consul Gaius Marius defeats the Cimbri at Vercelli
90 BC: Central and Southern Italians start the “social wars” over the issue of citizenship
88 BC: Central and Southern Italians are granted full citizenship
88 BC: Sulla marches on Roma to seize power from Marius, the first time that a Roman army invades Roma
73 BC: Spartacus leads the revolt of the gladiators
71 BC: Mithridates VI of Pontus is conquered by Roman general Lucius Lucullus
69 BC: Rome invades Tigranes’ Armenian kingdom and edstroys its capital, Tigranocerta
64 BC: Syria becomes a Roman province under general Pompey
63 BC: Cicero thwarts Catilina’s attempted coup
63 BC: Pompeus captures Jerusalem and annexes Palestine to Roma
60 BC: Crassus, Pompey and Caesar form a “triumvirate”
59 BC: Caesar is elected consul
53 BC: in the first war against Persia, Crassus is defeated and killed by the Parthians at Carrhae
51 BC: Caesar crushes revolt of Vercingetorix in Gaul
50 BC: Roma introduces the gold coin “aureus”
49 BC: Ceasar crosses the Rubicon, defeats Pompey and becomes sole dictator of Rome, calling himself “imperator”
47 BC: Ceasar invades Egypt and proclaims Cleopatra queen
45 BC: Julius Caesar employs the Egyptian astronomer Sosigenes to work out a new 12-month calendar
44 BC: Julius Caesar is killed.
42 BC: The religious cult of Julius Caesar is officially instituted
36 BC: Rome tries to invade Persia
31 BC: Octavianus defeats Mark Anthony at the battle of Actium and ending the civil wars
30 BC: Cleopatra commits suicide and Egypt is annexed to Roma
27 BC: Octavianus appoints himself “augustus”
20 BC: a treaty between Roma and Persia fixes the boundary between the two empires along the Euphrates river
17 BC: the theater of Marcellus
13 BC: Augustus expands the borders to the region of the Danube
6 BC: Jesus is born in Palestine
5 AD: Roma acknowledges Cymbeline, King of the Catuvellauni, as king of Britain
6 AD: Augustus expands the borders to the Balkans
9 AD: Gothic warlord Arminius destroys the Roman army at the Teutoburg Forest
12 AD: The last Etruscan inscription is carved
14 AD: Augustus dies and Tiberius becomes emperor
25 AD: Agrippa builds the Pantheon
37 AD: Tiberius dies and the mad Caligula succeeds him
41 AD: Caligula is assassinated and is succeeded by Claudius
43 AD: Claudius invades Britain
46 AD: Thracia becomes a Roman province
50 AD: the Romans found Londinium in Britain
54 AD: Claudius is succeeded by Nero
58 AD: the Romans conquer Armenia
64 AD: Nero sets fire to Roma and blames the Christians for it
68 AD: Nero commits suicide and, after the Praetorians kill the successor, is eventually succeeded by Vespasianus
79 AD: Vespasianus is succeeded by Tito
70 AD: Tito destroys Jerusalem and Jews spread in Armenia, Iraq, Iran, Arabia, Egypt, Italy, Spain and Greece
77 AD: the Romans conquer Wales
79 AD: the Vesuvius erupts and Pompeii is buried under ash
79 AD: the Colosseum is completed
80 AD: the Romans invade Caledonia
81 AD: the Arch of Titus
84 AD: British rebels are defeated by the Romans at the battle of Mons Graupius
97 AD: Rome forbids human sacrifice throughout the Roman empire
97 AD: Chinese general Pan Chao sends an embassy to the Roman Empire
98 AD: Trajan becomes emperor
106: Trajan defeats Dacia that becomes a Roman province
106: Trajan captures the Nabataean capital Petra and turns Nabataea into the province of Arabia
107: The Roman Empire sends an embassy to India
110: the Basilica of Trajano is completed
112: the Forum of Trajanus
113: Colonna Traiana
116: Trajan conquers Mesopotamia and the Parthian capital Ctesiphon
117: Trajan dies on his way to the Persian Gulf and Hadrian becomes emperor
122: Hadrian’s Wall is built along the northern frontier to protect from the Barbarians
132: Jews, led by Bar-Cochba, whom some identify as the Messiah, revolt against Roma
134: Villa Hadriana
136: emperor Hadrian crushes the Jewish resistance, forbids Jews from ever entering Jerusalem, and changes the name of the city to Aelia Capitolina
138: Hadrian is succeeded by Antoninus Pius, who repels Hadrian’s anti-Jewish laws
161: Marcus Aurelius becomes Roman emperor
164: the plague spreads throughout the Roman empire
167: the Roman empire is attacked for the first time by barbarians
192: the Praetorian Guard kills emperor Commodus
193: Libyan-born Septimius Severus seizes power militarily and turns Rome into a military dictatorship
194: Rome annexes Palmyra to the province of Syria
197: Septimius Severus wins the civil war and reforms the Praetorian Guard with non-Italians
211: Septimius Severus dies and the Praetorian Guard or the soldiers will kill most of them succeeding emperors
212: Caracalla grants Roman citizenship on all free people who live in the Roman Empire
214: Caracalla murders King Abgar IX of Edessa and declares Edessa a Roman colony
216: the thermae of Caracalla
217: the Baths of Caracalla are inaugurated
217: Caracalla is murdered in Edessa
218: Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, the last of the Antonines, becomes emperor and promoties the cult of Elegabalus, a Syriac sun god
235: After the assassination of emperor Severus Alexander a 50-year civil war erupts
238: The Praetorian Guard assassinates the emperor chosen by the Senate and appoints the ten-year old Gordian III
244: Shapur I becomes king of the Sassanids and attacks Roma
250: emperor Decius orders the first empire-wide persecution of Christians
253: Gallienus becomes emperor but 30 “tyrants” carved out their own kingdoms around the empire
256: the Persians/Sassanids defeat the Romans and conquer Dura Europus in Mesopotamia
261: Gallienus forbids aristocrats from serving in the army
268: Gallienus is assassinated by his own officers
273: the Romans destroy the rebellious city of Palmyra in Syria
284: Diocletian becomes emperor but rules from Nicomedia in the East
285: Diocletian reunites the empire and ends the 50-year civil war
298: Roma captures Nisibis and the Sassanids sign a peace treaty with Roma
300: the population of the Roman Empire is 60 million
303: Diocletian orders a general persecution of the Christians
303: the thermae of Diocletian are built
305: Diocletian retires and civil war erupts again
312: Constantine becomes emperor and disbands the Praetorian Guard
313: Constantine ends the persecution of the Christians
313: the Basilica of Maxentius is completed
313: Constantine recognizes the Christian church
324: Constantine I founds a new city, Constantinople
330: Constantine I moves the capital of the Roman empire to Constantinople
337: after Constantine’s death, his sons split the empire: Constantine II, Constans I, and Constantius II
359: Constantinople becomes the capital of the Roman empire
360: pagan general Julian defeats an invasion of Barbarians and is declared emperor by his German troops
363: Julian dies attempting to invade the Sassanid kingdom of Persia, which recaptures Nisibis and Armenia
364: Valentinian delegates Valens as emperor of the East
376: Valens allows Visigoths to settle within the empire
378: the Visigoths defeat the Roman army at Hadrianopolis/Adrianople
380: Theodosius I proclaims Christianity as the sole religion of the Roman Empire
393: Theodosius forbids the Olympic Games because pagans and shuts down the temple of Zeus at Olympia
395: Theodosius divides the Roman empire in the Western and Eastern Empires, with Milano and Constantinople as their capitals
402: the western Roman empire moves the capital from Milano to Ravenna
406: Barbarians invade France from the north
410: the Visigots sack Roma
410: Roma withdraws from Britannia
418: the emperor grants Wallia’s Visigoths to settle in Aquitaine
425: the eastern emperor Theodosius II installs Valentinian III as emperor of the west
427: Gensenric’s Vandals crosses the strait of Gibraltar and lands in Africa
443: the emperor grants Burgundi to settle in Savoy
450: Theodosius II dies and Marcian succeeds him, the first Roman emperor to be crowned by a religious leader
452: the Huns invade Italy
455: the Vandals sack Roma
476: Odoacer, a mercenary in the service of Roma, leader of the Germanic soldiers in the Roman army, deposes the western Roman emperor and thereby terminates the western Roman empire
488: emperor Zeno sends Theodoric’s Ostrogoths to conquer Italy
493: the Ostrogoths led by Theodoric conquer Italy
526: Antioch in Syria is destroyed by an earthquake
527: Justinian becomes eastern Roman emperor and decides to reconquer Italy
527: Byzantium enforces anti-Jewish laws and the Jews all but disappear from the eastern Roman Empire
529: Roman emperor Justinian shuts down the Academia of Plato
533: Justinian’s code of law is published
534: Justinian’s general Belisarius destroys the Arian kingdom of the Vandals and reconquers southern Spain and northern Africa
536: the Ostrogoths surrender and Belisarius reconquers Rome
537: Justinian’s general Belisarius deposes pope Silverius and replaces him with pope Vigilius
537: Justinian builds the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople
540: Justinian’s general Belisarius takes Ravenna from the last Ostrogothic resistance and thus reconquers Italy to the empire
542: the plague decimates the Empire
546: Visigothic rebels led by Totila sack Roma
551: imperial troops reconquer Rome
552: Nestorian monks smuggle silkworm eggs from China to Byzanthium
552: End of Ostrogothic resistance in Italy
554: Rome is reduced to a camp of about 30,000 people, while Constantinople has about one million people
554: the new king of the Visigoths, Athanagild, accepts the emperor’s sovereignity over Spain
554: the empire reorganizes Italy as an imperial province
565: Justinian dies
568: Alboin’s Lombards invade northern Italy
600: Constantinople has 500,000 inhabitants
602: the Persians attack the eastern Roman empire in Asia Minor
610: Heraclius I overthrows the tyrant Phocas and becomes emperor
614: the Persians capture Jerusalem and 5 years later capture Egypt
621: the Visigoths reconquer all of Spain from the Roman empire
627: the Sassanid king Khusrau II is defeated by Roman emperor Heraclius at Niniveh
628: the Romans retake Syria from the Sassanids
636: Arabs capture Syria and Palestine
639: the Arabs invade the southern provinces of the Empire
718: Leo III repels the Arabs from Constantinople
739: emperor Leo III issues the Ecloga that introduces Christian principles into law
800: Charlemagne, king of the Franks, is crowned emperor by Pope Leo III and founds the Holy Roman Empire
811: the eastern Roman emperor recognized Charlemagne as emperor of Roma
813: an Armenian general becomes eastern Roman emperor Leo V
840: Basil’s fleet retakes Bari from the Muslims
843: Icons are restored
846: the city of Roma has 17,000 inhabitants
860: the Rus attack Constantinople
867: Basil I becomes the Byzantine emperor and founds the Macedonian dynasty
879: Basil I defeats the Arabs and reconquers Cappadocia
896: Symeon of Bulgaria defeats the Byzantine army for the first time
922: Symeon of Bulgaria defeats the Byzantine army for the fourth and last time
934: Magyars raid Constantinople
968: Nicephorus II defeats the Arabs and reconquers Syria
969: Nicephorus II defeats the Bulgars
976: Basil II becomes the Byzantine emperor
1018: Basil II annexes Bulgaria and the Byzantine empire reaches its zenith
1025: Basil II dies
1054: The patriarch of Constantinople and the pope in Roma excommunicate each other
1057: end of the Macedonian dynasty
1064: the Seljuks invade Armenia
1071: the Byzantine army of Romanus IV Diogenes is defeated by the Seljuks at Manzikert in Armenia, and establish a sultanate in Anatolia
1071: Normans led by Robert Guiscard conquer southern Italy from the eastern Roman empire
1081: Alexius I Komnenos establishes the Komnenos dynasty
1099: the first Crusade captures Jerusalem
1187: Saladin defeats the crusaders
1291: the Moslems expel the Crusaders from the Middle East
1345: Serbia defeats the eastern Roman empire and annexes Macedonia and Thrace
1347: the black death strikes Constantinople and it will kill half the population of the city
1348: Serbia defeats the eastern Roman empire and annexes Thessaly and Epirus
1453: the Ottoman Turks under Mehmet II capture Constantinople
1461: the Ottomans conquer the empire of Trebizond, the last Greek state