Roman Republic

The Roman Republic was an era of classical Roman civilization; during this time, Rome was more or less governed by its people through an early form of democracy. The Republic was ruled by two consuls who were elected each year by the public and advised by a senate. Society at this time was hierarchical. A class of patricians, or aristocratic land-owners, traced their ancestry back to the early Roman Kingdom and were more privileged than the plebeians, the so-called commoners. At one point, laws were made that weakened the patricians entitlement to the highest offices, allowing plebeians to become part of the aristocracy.

For the Roman Republic, military and political success often went hand in hand. The Republic conquered as much as the entire Italian peninsula, North Africa, Greece, parts of modern day France, and the Iberian peninsula. Later it was able to take the rest of modern France as well as the eastern parts of the Mediterranean. The Republic remained in place from 509 BC to 27 BC when the Roman Empire was established.

Roman Republic Timeline (509 – 27 BC)

509 BC Lucius-Junius-Brutus-sLucius Junius Brutus led a rebellion which replaced the Etruscan rulers with the Roman Republic. He was one of the first Consuls of the Republic. He was also said to have been the ancestor of the Junia family which included Marcus Junius Brutus and Decimus Junius Brutus, the most famous assassins of Julius Caesar.
501 BC Titus Larcius, who was twice consul of the Republic, became the first ever dictator to come into power.
494 BC The Plebs seceded in Rome and established the Tribune of the Plebs.
451 – 449 BC A body of 10 magistrates formed the Decemvirate. Together they wrote the Code of the Twelve Tables, a set of laws that guided their society at the time.
445 BC Gaius Canuleius, a tribune, proposed a law which eventually passed and became known as the Lex Canuleia, which abolished the marriage prohibition between plebians and patricians in the Twelve Tables. The law was passed when plebians refused to provide military assistance against invasions by neighbors.
428 BC Latium_5th_Century_map_sRome conquered Fidenae.
406 BC For many centuries Rome had been defending against invaders. It finally took an offensive against Veii, a neighboring Etruscan city. It emerged victorious in 10 years, leading to further territory conquests after.
390 BC The Gauls invaded Rome through the Allia River. They took enormous sums of gold as a condition for their departure. This outcome took a toll on the Roman’s morale.
326 – 304 BC Samnite_soldiers_from_a_tomb_frieze_in_Nola_4th_century_BCE_s2nd Samnite War. Rome’s second clash with the Samnites in which they suffered heavy losses at the battles of Claudine Forks (321 BC) and Lautulae (315 BC). Despite this, the Romans were able to win thanks to their superior reserves of manpower.
326 – 304 BC 3rd Samnite War. In a last ditch effort to resist Roman domination, the Samnites allied with the Gauls, Umbrians, and Etruscans. Their attempts were futile at best, since the Roman war machine was by then too powerful, mainly thanks to the construction of roads. Rome crushes the alliance in 295 BC.
280 – 275 BC Roman_conquest_of_Italian_peninsula_s3rd Samnite War. In a last ditch effort to resist Roman domination, the Samnites allied with the Gauls, Umbrians, and Etruscans. Their attempts were futile at best, since the Roman war machine was by then too powerful, mainly thanks to the construction of roads. Rome destroys the alliance in 295 BC.
264 BC Gladiator games became popular in Rome.
264 – 146 BC First, Second, and Third Punic Wars – a series of three wars between Carthage and the Roman Republic.
260 BC Castro_Battle_of_Actium_sRome constructed its first navy fleet.
202 BC Scipio defeated Hannibal at the Battle of Zama.
215 – 148 BC The Macedonian Wars, a series of four major campaigns. Rome engaged in war in the Aegean, Adriatic, and Mediterranean with Northern Greece.
174 BC Circus-Maximus-June-1983-sDue to major damage, the Circus Maximus in Rome was reconstructed.
146 BC Consul Lucius Mummius was appointed to lead in the Achaean War. He entered and defeated the Greeks in Corinth, conquering Greece. His needless cruelty was regarded as uncharacteristic, but it was said that it was due to instructions of the senate and pressure from the mercantile class that wanted to stifle their commercial rival.
135 – 132 BC 1st Servile War. Sicilian slaves fought back.
133 BC Tiberius_Gracchus_sTiberius Gracchus, a Tribune who wanted reforms, proposed to redistribute lands of the public to the poor citizens. Aristocrats who profited from the land objected to these reforms, leading to civil disorder. Gracchus was killed during a public assembly. Tiberius’ brother, Gaius, was also murdered trying to propose more reforms in 121 BC.
112 – 105 BC The Jugurthine War broke out between Rome and the king Jugurtha and Numidia in northern Africa after he murdered both his brothers, Hiempsal and Adherbal. Numidia had been an important ally of Rome, so it felt compelled to intervene.
104 – 100 BC 2nd Servile War. The Senate had decreed to free the slaves from states which became allies of the Romans. However, the governor of Syracuse refuses the emancipation of his territory. Salvio, taking after Eunus, led a second slave rebellion but was defeated by Manius Aquillius.
107 BC Marius_in_exile_sElected as consul, gifted soldier and politician Gaius Marius reformed the army of the Romans by removing the property requirement for military service. This increased loyalty among poorer soldiers who were previously pressed to settle properties.
91 – 89 BC Marcus Livius Drusus, a tribune, was murdered for proposals of granting Italians Roman citizenship. His death initiated the Social War. The states declared themselves Italia and minted their own coins. To put down the reistance, Rome agreed to grant them citizenship.
88 BC Sulla_Glyptothek_Munich_sLucius Cornelius Sulla, a consul, was stripped of a lucrative military command in Asia. Consequently, he marched his personal troops into Rome after a campaign in the East, taking over and ruling with an iron fist.
78 BC Sulla passed away.
73 BC Third Servile War. Spartacus, a Thracian slave and gladiator, rallied as many as 90,000 recruits.
71 BC Tod_des_Spartacus_by_Hermann_Vogel_sSpartacus’ army was chased down and finally put out by Marcus Crassus, who had Spartacus killed. The rest of the rebellious forces were stifled by Pompey.
70 BC Pompey and Crassus became consuls.
59 BC Julius Caesar became a Roman consul after many years of steady progression in the Roman political sphere.
59 – 53 BC pompey-sJulius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus formed a political alliance known as the First Triumvirate.
58 BC Julius Caesar carried out campaigns in Gaul. His eight years as Gaul’s governor amassed him lots of wealth and popularity. His violent tactics allowed him to extend the frontier of Gaul as far as the west side of the Rhine River. In 52 BC at the battle of Alesia, he defeated a large combined army of Gauls.
55 BC julius-caesar-sCaesar attempted to invade Britain but did not succeed until 54 BC.
53 BC Marcus Crassus who desperately wanted to bask in the glory that his rivals, such as Pompey, enjoyed, sought to expand his influence to Parthia, far beyond the fringes of his influence in Syria. Floundering in the treacherous Parthian desert, Crassus and his men were slaughtered at the Battle of Carrhae.
49 BC Presumed-Rubicon-path-sCaesar’s forces crossed the Rubicon with his legion. Nobles that were opposed to him abandoned Rome.
48 BC Julius Caesar pursued Pompey’s forces as far as northwestern Greece, defeating them at Pharsalus. After this Pompey fled to Egypt but was murdered there. Caesar establishes diplomatic relations and fathers a son with Queen Cleopatra of Egypt.
44 BC Karl_Theodor_von_Piloty_Caesars_assassination_1865_sJulius Caesar became a dictator of Rome and was going to rule for life. Even though his rule was relatively bloodless, aristocrats feared his growing power, influence, and monarch-like appearance. Ultimately, they decided to stab him to death.
43 BC Octavian, Julius Caesar’s nephew and adopted son, and Marc Antony form the Second Triumvirate.
42 BC Octavian seized control of Rome.
31 BC Augustus_Statue_sOctavian marched into Egypt and defeated both Marc Antony and Cleopatra.
27 BC Octavian was crowned, becoming Augustus, officially becoming Rome’s first emperor. This coronation ended the Roman Republic as it was known.

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