Roman History: Imperial Era (27 BC to 476 AD)

The Roman state in the early imperial period (1st / 2nd century AD): Octavian laid down in 27 BC. Chr. His exceptional power and received from the Senate the honorary name “Augustus”. In 23 he also renounced the consulate, which had been permanently clad since 31. Instead of the offices, Augustus received the powers derived therefrom, v. a. the Imperium proconsulare maius (Imperium) with the supreme command of the non-pacified border provinces (since 27) and the new standing army as well as the power of a tribune of the people (Tribunicia Potestas, since 23) and since 19 also the powers of a consul (Imperium consulare). Augustus became pontifex maximus in 12, 2 BC. He received the honorary title of Pater Patriae (“Father of the Fatherland”). The reorganization (according to Augustus “restoration”) of the state (Res publica restituta) was not identical with the restoration of the traditional “liberal” constitutional order (libera res publica, in contrast to the monarchy). By the special forces and by extraordinary honor of the Senate legalized rather the powerful position of Augustus, however, avoided a sovereign title and first citizen (princeps, therefore Prinzipat cited the name of the state form). But Augustus was already worshiped in the provinces and in Italy during his lifetime, and in a weakened form (cult of the genius Augusti) even in Rome. After his death he became (as before Caesar) accepted as a “Divus” among the state gods. The reign of Augustus was marked by a religious renewal, strict moral legislation (especially marriage laws), a flourishing of art and literature (including Horace, Virgil, Ovid, Livius) and extensive building activity in Rome and in the empire, as well as expansion and consolidation of the Roman Empire. After the death of his grandchildren, Augustus was finally able to solve the problem of succession by adopting his stepson Tiberius. Also the following emperors Caligula, Claudius and Nerowere related to the house of Augustus (Julio-Claudian dynasty). Tiberius decimated the senatorial ruling class through numerous “majesty trials” (for “crimes” against the person of the emperor). Caligula introduced a Hellenistic-Oriental divine empire. Under Claudius there was a return to the Augustan tradition and the expansion of the imperial court offices led by freedmen. Under Nero, after the fire in Rome, the first major persecution of Christians took place under Nero, and after the Pisonian conspiracy was uncovered, numerous executions (forced suicides by Seneca the Younger and Lucan) took place again). The fall of Nero (68) and the turmoil of the Four Emperor’s Year (69) was followed by the Flavian dynasty, whose rule was strongly absolutist. Vespasian’s law of appointment (Lex de imperio Vespasiani) freed the emperor from restrictive laws (Princeps legibus solutus). Domitian particularly promoted literature and poetry (including Martial and Statius), but was murdered because of his striving for a divine emperor (96). That with Nerva The beginning of the adoptive empire was theoretically determined by the selection of the best. To remedy the economic crisis in Italy, the emperors granted special child allowances (alimentation) in order to increase and promote the population and agriculture in Italy. Nevertheless, Italy slowly lost its special position. Increasingly, provincials first came from the west, then from the east to the senate and soon became emperor (first Trajan from the Roman municipality of Italica in Spain). In the 2nd century there was a renaissance of Greek culture (sophistry). Under Hadrian, Athens became the seat of the newly founded Panhellenic League and the cultural capital of the East. The empire experienced under Hadrian and Antoninus Pius his highest economic prosperity, which was v. a. expressed in a brisk construction activity in the cities.

Conquests and border security in the early imperial period: With the conquest of northwestern Spain, the Alpine countries and the Illyrian area, Augustus completed the unity of the empire, to which the client states (including Mauritania and Thrace) also belonged. The attempt to subdue Germania up to the Elbe, however, failed (9 AD defeat of Varus, Varus Battle). Under the successors of Augustus, the empire was only marginally expanded. Claudius conquered southern Britain. During the reign of Vespasian, Titus made the decisionwith the conquest of Jerusalem in 70 the Jewish War (66–70). Judea became an independent province alongside Syria. At the time of Domitian, northern England as well as southern Germany and the Wetterau were included in the empire. The provinces of Upper and Lower Germany were created in place of the two army districts of the Rhine Army that had existed until then. Domitian also began building the Upper German-Rhaetian Limes, which was later significantly reinforced by Hadrian. Trajan added Dacia and Arabia (i.e. the kingdom of the Nabataeans) and Mesopotamia and Armenia, which his successor Hadrian however both gave up again. The border in Britain was secured by the construction of Hadrian’s Wall. After his successful Parthian War (162–165), Lucius Verus made Mesopotamia a Roman client state, but brought the plague to Italy on his return. In heavy defensive battles against the Teutons and the Iranian Sarmatians, Marcus Aurelius was able to secure the imperial borders (166–175 first, 178–180 second marcomannic war). The abandonment of the policy of conquest and the economic decline as a result of the plague and war (including famines and gang mischief) led under Commodus to a chain of conspiracies, which the emperor responded to with excessive absolutism (Rome was re-established as Colonia Commodiana 191).

Severan period and imperial crisis of the 3rd century AD: After the murder of Commodus, Septimius Severus was only able to found a new dynasty after a long civil war (193–197). He defeated the Parthians in two campaigns (195, 197-198) and made Mesopotamia a Roman province. His son Caracalla granted Roman citizenship to all members of the empire in 212. Roman law became imperial law and was perfected by the important jurists Aemilius Papinianus, Domitius Ulpianus and Julius (Iulius) Paulus. However, the general militarization of public life led to a financial crisis (214 creation of the double denar Antoninian). After the assassination of Caracalla (217), relatives of his mother Julia Domna, who came from Syria, came to power: Elagabal, who temporarily made the sun god of Emesa (today Homs) an imperial god, and the senate-friendly Severus Alexander. The rise of the neo-Persian empire of the Sassanids (224 end of the Parthian empire) and the attacks of the Alemanni on the Rhine border (repeated crossing of the Limes) increased the threat to the empire and led to the overthrow of Severus Alexander (235). Under his successors, the “soldier emperors”, the empire came to the brink of collapse politically and economically. While the pretenders to the throne fought each other, the empire was only able to withstand the attacks of the Alemanni, Franks and Goths in the west and the Persians in the east. In 247, Philip Arabs celebrated the millennium of Rome with great splendor. His successor Decius fell in 251 fighting the Goths. Valerian was captured by Persia in 260. Under his son and successor Gallienus, the Gallic Special Empire was formed in the west (260-274, Gaul) and the Empire of Palmyra in the east (260-272). 260 had to go to the Dekumatland to be abandoned, 270 the province of Dacia. However, Gallienus created the conditions for overcoming the crisis through his army reform (formation of a mobile cavalry army). In economic terms, the general crisis expressed itself in a steadily rising inflation and a partial return to natural economy. The general impoverishment favored the gang mischief. War losses, plague and famine led to a sharp decline in population in the empire. The return to the old gods made Decius and Valerian order the first systematic, nationwide persecution of Christians, which, however, failed to achieve lasting success. Gallienus stood by Neoplatonism close, who at that time had his most important representative in Plotinus. Only Aurelian succeeded in re-establishing imperial unity and temporarily stabilizing the currency through his coin reform. The “invincible sun god” (Sol invictus) became the god of the empire under him. His successors Probus and Carus were able to maintain imperial unity and consolidate it by securing the borders.

Roman History - Imperial Era (27 BC to 476 AD)