Roman Republic and Empire

Roman Republic and Empire

Ancient state that once ruled the Western world. It centred on the city of Rome from the founding of the republic (509 BC) through the establishment of the empire (27 BC) to the final eclipse of the empire in the west (5th century AD). The republic's government consisted of two consuls, the Senate, and magistrates, originally all patricians, and two popular plebeian assemblies: the military centuriate assembly and the civilian tribal assembly. A written code, the Law of the Twelve Tables (451 BC), became the basis of Roman private law. By the end of the 3rd century BC, Roman territory included all of Italy; by the late republican period it encompassed most of western Europe, northern Africa, and the Near East, organized into provinces. After a period of civil war, Julius Caesar took power as dictator. Following his assassination (44 BC), conflict among the triumvirs—Mark Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian—ultimately resulted in Octavian's victory (31) and his accession as Emperor Augustus (r. 27 BC–AD 14). The imperial government, a principate, combined aspects of the republic and a monarchy. In AD 395 the empire split into eastern and western halves, with the west under severe pressure from the barbarians. Rome was sacked in 410 by the Visigoths, and the western empire fell to German invaders in 476; the east continued as the Byzantine Empire until 1453.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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