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Rome

According to legend, Rome was founded as a city state by Romulus on 21 April 753 BC. He was the city's first king, but after his death, the city was drawn under Etruscan rule. The Etruscans governed large areas of the Italian peninsula to the north of Rome, and ruled the city as the southernmost of a chain of semi-independent city states, although there were further Etruscan settlements in the Campania region to the south. When they were ejected in 509 BC, Rome founded a republic, and began to established the greatness that would be imperial Rome from the first century AD. The empire survived until the last quarter of the fifth century AD, but by that time Rome was no longer the capital, having been found to be hard to defend.

Latin Kings of Alba Longa

The Indo-European Latins or Latini occupied a small area of territory between the River Tiber and the Monte Circeo promontory about a hundred kilometres (sixty miles) to the south-east of Rome. The later Romans knew this as Old Latium. By the ninth century BC, they were neighboured to the north by the Etruscans, and to the east and south by the Umbri, while the Tyrrhenian Sea formed their western border.

The Q-Celtic language of the Latins was a branch of the Italic group of Indo-European languages, and was therefore related to the Celtic tongue. The Latins and other Italic peoples migrated into the peninsula during Italy's late Iron Age, from the start of the tenth century BC, probably shortly before the ascent of the Etruscans, although the route they took is open to a great deal of speculation. These new arrivals disrupted and eventually superseded the remnants of the indigenous Apennine culture in the mountainous centre of Italy and the Villanovan culture nearer the coast. Strabo and Pliny, amongst other ancient writers, claim that the Latins defeat the Siculi around the Tiber, forcing this Italic people southwards and taking the land for themselves. This event took place probably in the eleventh century BC, although it is hard to pinpoint it with any accuracy at all.

The foremost of the Latins were ruled by their eponymous first king, Latinus, following their (very early) arrival on the Tiber, perhaps as much as two centuries before the generally accepted arrival date for the Latins. Other Latin groups were formed by the Rutuli (or Rutulians) and at a settlement called Pallanteum. The tribe is popularly held to have been conquered by Dardanian refugees from the Trojan Wars who fled Troy when the Mycenaean Greeks took it around 1183 BC. Most of the names involved are legendary, but in all probability there were real versions of these rulers, living in a very rough early settlement that was probably little more than a collection of villages. The mythology surrounding Romulus and Remus developed during the fifth and second centuries BC, and was considerably refined, embellished and trimmed before it was committed to text by Varro in the first century BC.

fl c.1176 BC

Latinus (I)

Latin leader of Latium.

fl c.1176 BC

Turnus

Latin leader of the Rutulians. Killed by Aeneas.

Tradition links the Rutulians (or Rutuli) to the Pelasgians and Umbri, although this is an unlikely combination as the former are pre-Indo-Europeans while the latter are Indo-European Italic tribes. Instead, it is more likely, and more commonly accepted, that the Rutulians have links to the Etruscans or Ligurians. The Rutulians are largely unmentioned in the semi-legendary history of early Rome, but they make a reappearance during the late sixth century, when Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, king of Rome, attacks them.

fl c.1176 BC

Evander

Latin leader of Pallanteum. His son, Pallas, killed by Turnus.

c.1183 - 1176 BC

Aeneas and his Dardanian followers wander for seven years (travelling via Carthage) before reaching Italy. Initially opposed by Latinus, ruler of the Latins, Aeneas bests him in battle and is subsequently accepted, marrying his daughter, Lavinia. The Dardanians found the settlement of Lavinium (named after Lavinia but unlocated by archaeologists). It lies close to Laurentum, the principle Latin settlement, and serves as the leading Trojan city for a generation.

Aeneas in Latium
This second century AD relief in Rome depicts Aeneas landing in Latium

Aeneas fights the first Italian War against Turnus and his allies - most of the other Latin tribes. Aeneas is aided by Latinus and the aged King Evander of Pallanteum (on the site of present-day Rome), who sends a force under the leadership of his son, Pallas. Turnus is aided by an Etruscan force under Mezentius, and it is Turnus who kills Pallas. Despite this, Aeneas is victorious, ending the resistance by the Latins to the Dardanian settlement in the region.

c.1176 - ? BC

Aeneas (I) ('White Shield')

Allowed to leave Troy by friendly Mycenaean Greeks.

Ascanius

Son. First king of Alba Longa. Reigned for 28 years.

Ascanius founds the settlement of Alba Longa which, after the death of Latinus, serves as the principal Latin city until the founding of Rome. While never the urbanised city state painted by tradition, and doubted even to exist by some, Alba Longa is probably formed by a series of small villages set up close together, just like Rome itself in its earliest stages.

Silvius ('Born in the Woods')

Son. Founded the Silvian line. Reigned for 29 years.

c.1125 BC

FeatureGeoffrey of Monmouth in his History of the Kings of Britain expands on a story recorded by Nennius. In it he mentions Silvius, the father of Aeneas Silvius and one of the legendary Latin kings of Italy. Silvius also has another son. As foretold before his birth, the boy's mother dies bringing him into the world, and when grown the boy accidentally kills his father while they are hunting. It is this rough fate that had caused Silvius to name him Brutus.

For the death of his father, Brutus is expelled from Italy. He wanders into late Mycenaean Greece where he frees Trojan slaves who have been subjugated by one King Pandrasus (who is not otherwise connected with any known, historical kingdom, but there is a suggestion that the region may be Epirus). He marries the king's daughter, Imogen. Together with his new followers, he sails to the Atlantic coast of Spain where they are joined by more Trojan refugees under Corineus. The host sails to Britain, which they occupy as their own.

Aeneas (II) Silvius

Son. Reigned for 31 years.

Latinus (II) Silvius

Son. Reigned for 51 years.

Alba Silvius

Son. Reigned for 39 years.

c.11th century BC

Lista, the 'metropolis' of the early Latins (which they had taken from the Umbri), is destroyed by the Sabini of Amiternum after a night attack. The inhabitants are never able to recover it and are seemingly forced westwards by the event, into the territory of the Siculi around the River Tiber. If true, this event which is taken from Varro and which is supported by Portius Cato would seem to mark the arrival of the Latins in the territory in which Rome would later be founded.

Now resettled, Dionysius says that the Latins are reinforced by the Etruscans of Curtun (modern Cortona). They send out yearly colonies into the territory of the dominant Siculi, in the form of consecrated bands, to settle in the territory that they are able to conquer from the Siculi. This process eventually drives the Siculi southwards and out of the region entirely.

c.1000 - 700 BC

During this period, according to the archaeological record, the Latins appear to develop along different cultural lines from their Italic cousins to the east. Instead, a Latin variant of Villanovan culture emerges (which is often called Latial culture). Funerary urns are produced in the form of miniature huts known as tuguria, in small numbers at first, during Phase I of the culture (1000-900 BC), but in far greater numbers during Phase II (900-770 BC). The wattle-and-daub huts themselves remain the principle form of dwelling for the Latins until the mid-seventh century BC.

Atys Silvius

Son. Reigned for 26 years.

Capys Silvius

Son. Reigned for 28 years.

Capetus Silvius

Son. Reigned for 13 years.

Tiberinus Silvius

Son. Drowned in River Albula (renamed Tiber). Reigned 8 years.

In legend, Tiberinus drowns in the River Albula while trying to cross it. The river, which forms the border between the Latins and the Etruscans, is renamed in his honour.

Agrippa Silvius

Son. Reigned for 41 years.

Romulus (I) Silvius / Aremulus / Alladius

Son. Reigned for 19 years. Struck by lightening.

Aventinus Silvius

Son. Reigned 37 years. Buried on hill named Aventine after him.

Proca Silvius

Son. Reigned for 23 years.

Numitor

Son. Had a daughter, Rhea Silva. Reigned briefly, and usurped.

Numitor is overthrown by his brother, Amulius. He forces Rhea Silvia, Numitor's daughter, to become a Vestal Virgin, a priestess of Vesta, so that he can be sure that she will never bear any sons that might overthrow him. Rhea is raped or seduced by the god Mars, which results in the birth of Romulus and Remus. Thinking that she has violated her oaths of chastity, Amulius has Rhea buried alive and throws her sons into the Tiber. The river god, Tiberinus rescues the twins and passes them onto a she-wolf to suckle. Then he saves and marries Rhea Silvia.

Alba Longa
A romantic view of the ruins of Alba Longa, following its destruction by Rome under Tullus Hostilius in the seventh century BC

Amulius

Brother. Reigned for 31 years. Killed by Romulus & Remus.

Numitor

Restored by Romulus & Remus.

Romulus (II)

Son of Rhea Silva, and grandson of Numitor.

Remus

Brother.

753 BC

According to legend, Romulus founds the settlement of Rome on 21 April 753 BC (although there is evidence to point to its existence as a small group of settlements for at least three centuries beforehand, most notably the legendary town of Pallanteum which had been ruled by Evander in the twelfth century BC). The event probably marks the point in history when the elders of several small villages scattered around the hills meet to create a single government, forming for the first time a united city state.

Romulus wishes to found the new 'city' on the Palatine Hill, while Remus prefers the Aventine Hill. The two dispute the choice and Remus is killed while construction of the new city progresses with Romulus as its first king. The settlement of Alba Longa becomes secondary to Rome while being governed by the elected descendants of Silvius following the eventual death of Numitor.

Kingdom of Rome
753 - 509 BC

The traditional 'founding' of Rome was probably a formal melding together of various small villages in the area, a process that has also been observed in the late Villanovan in Italy, when the first Etruscan cities began to emerge in the mid to late ninth century BC. The Etruscans were the dominant culture in central and northern Italy, rising to prominence between circa 850-750 BC. At the height of their power until the fifth century BC, they subdued and dominated the Latin Romans (or Romani) for a century, with hegemony over Rome being held by the city of Veii.

The earliest-known written history of Rome was compiled during the Second Punic War, in the third century BC, and it mentioned Romulus and Remus, and the founding of Rome. The first two rulers of Rome after Romulus are little known, and they may have been little more than village chieftains of what was still a settlement near an island on the Tiber, a convenient crossing point for Etruscans travelling between the Etruscan heartland and the settlements in Campania to the south. That Roman settlement began to expand in the early seventh century, with the first dwellings being placed on the hills around Rome. Under Etruscan governance it gained much of its early culture and building, laying the seeds for the future republic.

(Additional information by Edward Dawson, from The Roman History: From Romulus and the Foundation of Rome to the Reign of the Emperor Tiberius, Velleius Paterculus, J C Yardley, Anthony A Barrett, from The History of Rome, Volume 1, Titus Livius, translated by Rev. Canon Roberts, and from External Link: Perseus Digital Library.)

753 - 717 BC

Romulus (II)

Legendary founder of Rome. Killed.

753 BC

After completing the construction of his 'city' Romulus divides his warriors into regiments numbering 3000 infantry and 300 cavalry, which he calls his legions. Then he forms the city's system of government by selecting the hundred richest and most noble elders, the patricians, and it is these men who become the first senators.

The Sabine Women
The Sabine Women, painted by Jacques-Louis David, depicts the intervention of the captured Sabine women in the fighting between Sabines and Romans

Romulus' city is built and many landless and homeless men settle in it, swelling the nascent population. Romulus raids the neighbouring Sabine tribes for women, which sparks war between the two. The Sabine ruler, Titus Tatius storms the city and battle is joined, but thanks to the intervention of the Sabine women themselves, the two agree peace terms. The Sabines share Rome, settling on the Quirinal, and the two kings rule jointly, also doubling the size of the Senate and the early legions.

748 BC

The Sabine King Tatius is killed by the Latin inhabitants of Lavinium out of revenge for his sheltering of allies who have plundered that settlement. This ends the joint kingship of the city and Romulus continues to rule alone. Tatius' daughter is Tatia, and she marries Numa Pompilius, thereby giving him a legitimate claim to the throne.

748 - 717 BC

Having already subdued the Alban colony of the Camerini with Tatius, over the course of the next thirty years, Romulus goes on to expand Rome's territory. He conquers the Etruscan town of Fidenae, and defeats the Crustumini, but his rule grows increasingly dictatorial. Eventually it seems that he is killed by the weary Senate, with the deed being hidden by claiming that Romulus has ascended to heaven.

716 - 672 BC

Numa Pompilius

A Sabine. Elected after a year of deliberation by the Senate.

672 - 640 BC

Tullus Hostilius

Elected king. Fell ill during a plague.

According to Livy, two dictators rule in the former key Latin settlement of Alba Longa during the reign of Tullus Hostilius. They are quite possibly descendants of the kings of Alba Longa, and are therefore related to Romulus and Remus. Gaius Cluilius dies in a war against Tullus Hostilius and is succeeded by Mettius Fufetius. He is executed by Tullus Hostilius for treachery. The settlement of Alba Longa is razed to the ground and its inhabitants resettled on the Caelian Hill above Rome.

Hostilius goes to war against the Sabini. The cause seems to be little more than an excuse, with Hostilius claiming that Roman merchants have been seized at a market while the Sabini claim in return that some of their people are being detained in Rome. The Sabini gain the help of volunteers from the Etruscan city of Veii, although no official support is forthcoming. In a battle in the forest of Malitiosa, the larger and stronger forces of Hostilius, augmented by Alban units, scatter the Sabini and inflict heavy casualties on them as they retreat.

657 or 656 BC

Kypselos, the former head of the army, seizes power to rule the Greek city of Corinth as tyrant. The Bacchiades, former kings of Corinth, are forced out and flee the city and one of their number is Demaratus, who flees to Italy and marries an Etruscan woman. He becomes the father of the future Etruscan king of Rome, Lucumo, or Lucius Tarquinius Priscus.

640 - 616 BC

Ancus Marcius

Grandson of Numa. Elected king. Built the port of Ostia.

The Latins declare war on Rome, expecting it to follow the former peace policy of Numa Pompilius. Instead, Ancus Marcius takes the town of Politorium (situated close to Lanuvium) and forces its inhabitants to resettle on the Aventine Hill as Romans. When the Latins resettle Politorium, Marcius takes it again and demolishes it. He does the same to the Latin villages of Tellenae and Ficana, and captures the town of Medullia, each time adding to Rome's burgeoning population.

c.625 BC

The settlements of Rome now begin to expand. For the first time they spread into the valleys, a result of the marshes being drained and evidence of Etruscan engineering expertise at work. The Etruscans, already a powerful group of city states which trade widely along the Mediterranean, are beginning to influence and even dominate Roman culture and construction.

616 BC

With the death of Ancus Marcius, the first non-Roman king is elected in place of one of the teenage sons of the former king. This is a departure for Rome, as it marks the first time a non-Roman gains the kingship, and effectively confirms the Etruscan domination of central Italy.

616 - 578 BC

Lucius Tarquinius Priscus

Son of Demaratus of Corinth and an Etruscan. Murdered.

c.600 BC

Tarquinius Priscus drains the swampy area between the Capitoline and Palatine hills. This marketplace expands along with Rome and eventually became the centre of all things political, religious, and commercial in the ancient world. Tarquinius Priscus also seems to be responsible for introducing a good deal of Etruscan civilisation to the Romans (who are sometimes referred to as barbarians before this period). The first archaic Latin inscriptions now begin to appear, as do Etruscan tombs, and it is at this stage that Rome begins to progress from being a large village to a promising and flourishing early city. (The name 'Lucius' may be a Latin corruption of the Etruscan word for ruler, lauchum.)

The first century BC writer, Livy (Titus Livius Patavinus), writes of an invasion into Italy of Celts during the reign of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus. As archaeology seems to point to a start date of around 500 BC for the beginning of a serious wave of Celtic incursions into Italy, this event has either been misremembered by later Romans or is an early precursor to the main wave of incursions. Livy writes that two centuries before major Celtic attacks take place against Etruscans and Romans in Italy, a first wave of invaders from Gaul fights many battles against the Etruscans who dwell between the Apennines and the Alps. They are apparently lead by Bellovesus of the Bituriges tribe.

c.586/585 BC

Livy describes how Tarquinius Priscus is preparing to construct a wall around Rome when the Sabini attack. The engagement is bloody but inconclusive and the Sabini withdraw to their encampment. A second battle is fought the next day, this time with Rome bringing up a much stronger force which ultimately breaks the Sabini, inflicting great slaughter on their number, many of whom drown in the River Teverone. With the conflict now escalating, Tarquinius proceeds into Sabini territory and inflicts another defeat on fresh forces. The Sabini sue for peace and relinquish control of the town of Collatia (nothing of which remains today).

578 BC

The Etruscan city of Clusium enters into an alliance with its sister city, Arret- (the full name has been lost), and other Etruscan towns against the dominant and powerful Tarquinius Priscus. Mastarna and his comrades, Aulus and Caeles Vibenna, from the city of Velch (modern Volci) play a key role in overthrowing Tarquinius Priscus, with Mastarna achieving this with a slight of hand. Mastarna assumes power and changes his name to Servius Tullius. He is considered a strong reformer, and becomes known as the second founder of Rome.

Early Rome
Early Rome would have looked more like a large village than the collection of grand stone edifices that are more familiar from the imperial period

578 - 534 BC

Servius Tullius

Son-in-law. Etruscan. Assassinated by Lucius Superbus.

c.575 BC

It seems that Servius Tullius continues the work of Tarquinius Priscus in developing Rome. The familiar picture of primitive settlements suddenly changes, with the straw and reed-roofed wattle huts at the foot of the Palatine, Esquiline and Quirinal all disappearing as part of a planned building programme. They are replaced by grander buildings that mark the true beginnings of a city of Rome, along with a pebbled forum and the round temple of Vesta (or Hestia to the Etruscans).

534 BC

According to Livy, Servius Tullius is killed by his daughter and her husband, Tarquinius. The latter seizes the throne (he is also the son or grandson of Tarquinius Priscus) and establishes an absolute despotism, for which he is given the sobriquet 'superbus', meaning 'the proud'.

534 - 509 BC

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus (the Proud)

Son-in-law. Last Etruscan king. Died at Cumae in 495 BC.

c.510 - 509 BC

After having already commenced two centuries of Roman warfare by attacking the Volsci city of Suessa Pometia, Lucius Tarquinius goes to war against the Latin tribe of the Rutulians (or Rutuli). Livy mentions the wealth of that people, and this is the target of the Roman king. He attacks the Rutulian city of Ardea, and failing to take it by a surprise storming, lays siege to it. This siege is interrupted by the ejection of the king from Rome. The subsequent Roman republic renews it, although the final outcome is unknown.

509 BC

Etruscan rule is thrown out by a Latin insurrection that is supported by a group of senators who are led by Lucius Junius Brutus (another Etruscan nobleman and the great-grandson of Demaratus of Corinth, father of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus). According to several sources including Livy, the final straw had been the rape of the noblewoman, Lucretia, by Tarquin's son Sextus, although the real reason is more likely to be a power struggle between the king and the leading aristocratic families. The Etruscans continue to fight the Latins for some years during the sixth century, but eventually they fade under increasing Latin domination and by the first century BC are almost completely Romanised.

Republic of Rome
Incorporating the Ferrentani & Latins
509 - 28 BC

Fresh from expelling the Etruscan king of Rome, the rebellious nobles set up a republic. This was not a unique event in the ancient world. Several Greek cities had done the same, and a similar wave of revolts and changes from kingship to republic subsequently gripped the Etruscan city states in the fifth and fourth centuries. However, expelling Etruscan kings did not remove Etruscan influence overnight. A large number of the nobles had strong Etruscan links that would take another couple of generations to fade.

In Rome, two consuls are elected each year to govern (with some breaks) alongside the Senate, over which they preside. Dictators (Latin for 'one who dictates' or gives orders) - also known as the praetor maximus, the supreme praetor, or magister populi, master of the people - are elected to temporary office (usually a six month term) during periods of emergency. The first two consuls are Lucius Junius Brutus, leader of the anti-Etruscan rebellion, and Tarquinius Collatinus (both Etruscans).

Mentioned by Livy in connection with events in 319 BC, the Ferrentani (or Ferentani) are otherwise unknown. It's generally thought that they are in fact the Frentani, the Samnites' Sabellian neighbours on the Adriatic coast. However, during this period the Romans would not have dared post their forces far away from Latium or provoke the Samnites by placing armed forces along their eastern borders. Instead, the Ferrentani must be the Forentani, placed by Pliny in Campania and Latium, much closer to Rome.

(Additional information by Edward Dawson, from Magistrates of the Roman Republic, T R S Broughton, from The Roman History: From Romulus and the Foundation of Rome to the Reign of the Emperor Tiberius, Velleius Paterculus, J C Yardley, Anthony A Barrett, from The History of Rome, Volume 1, Titus Livius, translated by Rev. Canon Roberts, from Samnium and the Samnites, E T Salmon, from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, from Continuity and Innovation in Religion in the Roman West, R Haeussler, Anthony C King & Phil Andrews, from Liber Prodigiorum, Julius Obsequens, from Periocha, Livy, Ammianus Marcellinus, Valerius Maximus, Pseudo-Quintilian, and Paulus Orosius, from Epitome of Roman History, Florus, Historia Romana, Cassius Dio, Flavius Eutropius, and Ammianus Marcellinus, from Strategemata, Frontinius, 'Breviary', Sextus Festus, St. Jerome Emiliani (Hieronymus), from Getica, Jordanes, from The Getae in Southern Dobruja in the Period of the Roman Domination: Archaeological Aspects, S Torbatov, and from External Links: Perseus Digital Library, and The Works of Julius Caesar: Gallic Wars, and Polybius, Histories, and the Encyclopśdia Britannica, and from the Journal of Celtic Studies in Eastern Europe and Asia-Minor.)

509 - 507 BC

The former Etruscan king of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, attempts several times to regain control of the city. In 507 BC he enlists the help of Lars Porsena, ruler of Clevsin. Lars Porsena attacks Rome and probably captures it (although the Roman version of events paints a more flattering picture from their point of view, with Porsena saluting their brave defenders and withdrawing). Porsena's occupation is brief, perhaps ending after a peace treaty is signed.

With the ending of Etruscan rule, the states of the Latin League fail to unify, instead vying with each other for dominance. The balance of power shifts often between Rome and other influential cities such as Alba Longa and Lavinium.

505 - 504 BC

Again it is Livy who records fresh conflict between the Sabini and the new republic of Rome. Again the Sabini come off second best (in 505 BC), and the two Roman consuls of this year celebrate a triumph in Rome. The following year, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus is appointed dictator of the Sabini, who play a leading part in the fresh conflict that erupts. The Fidenates (of the former Etruscan town of Fidenae) and Camerians (of the settlements Cameria) are brought in to assist them. The allied army marches on Rome and is stopped at the River Teverone (Latin Anio, modern Aniene). A planned night attack by the Sabini is leaked to the Romans, and turns into a Sabini massacre. Tarquinius manages to escape but his campaign (and presumably his dictatorship of the Sabini) comes to an end.

503 BC

Livy describes how the Latin colonies of Cora and Pometia rebel against Rome's domination of the region. In their fight the colonies unite with the Aurunci. Rome sends two armies against them and a hard-fought battle results in defeat for the rebels, with a high number of casualties. Few prisoners are taken, it seems, and even those are butchered in a blood-thirsty rampage by the Roman troops. The rebels retire to Pometia, followed by the Roman armies who besiege them. An Aurunci sally forces the Romans to withdraw with losses, but they return, take the town, behead the Aurunci officers, sell the Pometians into slavery, level the buildings, and sell off the land.

501 BC

Titus Lartius Flavus

Dictator. Member of an Etruscan family.

501 BC

Titus Lartius commands forces against the thirty Latin cities that have sworn to reinstate Lucius Tarquinius Superbus as the Etruscan king of Rome. Aruns of the Etruscan city of Clevsin may be the Aruns Tarquinius who is a son of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, and the brother of Lucius Tarquinius. This Aruns is the subject of a plot involving his brother and his wife, Tullia, daughter of Servius Tullius, former king of Rome. They conspire to murder Lucius' wife (another Tullia who is also a daughter of Servius Tullius) and Aruns himself so that they can marry each other.

501 BC

Manius Valerius

Dictator.

498 BC

Aulus Postumius Albus Regillensis

Dictator.

496 - 493 BC

The various political intrigues and schemes of the Latin states turn to war when Lavinium breaks its alliance with Rome in an attempt to secure power. Members of the League unite with Lavinium and Tusculum and move against Rome. At the battle of Lake Regillus, Rome claims the victory over the combined might of her neighbours, and the result proves Rome's capacity to stand alone against all-comers. The war draws to a close in 493 BC with the Latin League claiming independence from Rome. The Treaty of Cassius ensures this independence but places Rome on what is virtually a status equal with all of the other members of the Latin League combined.

495 BC

The Aurunci field an army in support of the Volsci against Rome. While on the march, they send envoys ahead to demand that Rome withdraws from Volsci territory. The reply is a consular army under Publius Servilus Priscus Structus which meets them at Arricia and ends the war in a single, victorious battle. The Aurunci, or Opici, are thoroughly put down.

494 BC

Manius Valerius Maximus

Dictator for the second time.

492 BC

Thanks to his defeat of the Volsci town of Corioli, the Roman patrician Gneus Marcius is given the cognomen Coriolanus. Promoted to general, he attempts to abolish the office of plebeian tribune in Rome, which he believes is responsible for a grain shortage. The tribunes fight back with false charges of misappropriation of public funds, and he is forced into exile. Coriolanus seeks shelter with the Volsci and eventually leads an army against Rome. Town after town is captured along the way and Rome looks set to fall, until Coriolanus' mother and wife are sent to placate him. He relents and retires, but having now committed acts of disloyalty towards both Rome and the Volsci, he is soon tried and then conveniently assassinated.

486 BC

The Hernici have become highly adapted to Latin culture and customs. Under pressure from the Aequi and Volsci, they join the mutual protection treaty between the Romans and Latins. The armies defending Latium now consist of Romans, Latins and Hernici. As time passes and the alliance grows more essential to survival, the Hernici are absorbed into Latin culture and largely vanish as a separately identifiable people.

477 BC

As a close neighbour of Rome, the powerful Etruscan city of Veii is seen as a serious rival and even a threat to its existence. A long-running series of wars results, starting in this year. Despite having major Etruscan connections, the Fabian Gens, one of the most powerful familial groups in Rome, builds a defensive post on land between the two cities which they own but which is subject to heavy cattle raiding by both sides. Veii attacks the post which is held by the semi-private army of the Fabii. The resulting Battle of the Cremora sees three hundred Fabii killed and the area abandoned to the Veiians. Veii now controls the entire west bank of the Tiber, including the Janiculum Hill which overlooks Rome. Less than a year later, Veii's navy is crushed off the coast of Cumae and the city is forced to agree a treaty with Rome.

463 BC

Gaius Aemilius Mamercus?

Possibly not a dictator, but an interrex.

458 BC

Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus

Dictator. Elected for 16 days to rescue Minucius' trapped army.

444 BC

Rome replaces its two civilian consuls with three military officers with consular powers, known as the tribuni militum consularii potestate. Two other magistrates, the censors, are instituted with a term of office lasting eighteen months in order to examine the property rolls of citizens and determine who has the privilege and responsibility of providing military service. Military service is not an option for men of little or no property.

439 BC

Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus

Dictator. Called a second time from his farm to defend Rome.

437 BC

Mamercus Aemilius Mamercinus

Dictator.

435 BC

Quintus Servilius Priscus Fidenas

Dictator.

434 BC

Mamercus Aemilius Mamercinus

Dictator for the second time.

431 BC

The Volsci control much of southern Latium (Cora, Velitrae, Satricum, and Antium), and they continue to pressure the Latins. In addition, the Aequi are said to reach Rome itself, and a decisive battle between the Latins and the Volsci appears to be fought in this year. The Romans, under the command of A Postumius Tubertus, again meet the Aequi at the Algidus Pass, but this time they are victorious. With this victory the Romans are able to open an aggressive offensive which the Volsci are unable to withstand forever.

431 BC

Aulus Postumius Tubertus

Dictator. Defeated the Aequi.

428 BC

Rome fights the Etruscan city of Veii again, possibly resulting in the loss to the Etruscans of Fidemae (either at this point or in 406 BC).

426 BC

Mamercus Aemilius Mamercinus

Dictator for the third time.

418 BC

Quintus Servilius Priscus Fidenas

Dictator for the second time.

408 BC

Publius Cornelius Rutilus Cossus

Dictator.

396 BC

Marcus Furius Camillus

Dictator.

396 BC

After a ten year siege, the once-dominant Etruscan city of Veii is conquered by its former subject city, Rome, under the command of Marcus Furius Camillus. (More recent views tend to lean towards a six year siege, with the ten year claim being made in order to draw parallels with the fall of Troy.) With Veii's fall, a key southern defence is lost, leaving the Etruscans under pressure from all sides by several different forces. The city is later rebuilt as a Roman colony.

391 - 376 BC

Consuls are replaced by military tribunes. Rome comes under attack from the Celts.

377 BC

By the 390s the Romans and Latins had regained control of the plains of Latium and relegated the Aequi and Volsci to the western highlands. The Volsci are finally defeated with the capture of the port of Antium in 377 BC, and the defeated Aequi are doomed to be destroyed within the century.

390 BC

Marcus Furius Camillus

Dictator for the second time.

389 BC

Marcus Furius Camillus

Dictator for the third time.

389 BC

Brennus and his band of Senones Celts sack Rome, with only the Capitoline Hill standing out against them. The citizens of Rome are forced to pay a thousand pounds in gold to buy off the Celts (a pretty low sum by Roman standards, which perhaps outrages them more than the city being sacked in the first place). Rome afterwards takes steps to ensure the city is never again placed in such a position.

385 BC

Aulus Cornelius Cossus

Dictator.

380 BC

Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus Capitolinus

Dictator.

370 - 367 BC

Consuls are replaced by military tribunes.

368 BC

Marcus Furius Camillus

Dictator for the fourth time.

368 BC

Publius Manlius Capitolinus

Dictator.

367 BC

Marcus Furius Camillus

Dictator for the fifth time.

363 BC

Lucius Manlius Capitolinus Imperiosus

Dictator.

362 BC

Appius Claudius Crassus Inregillensis

Dictator.

361 BC

T Quinctius Poenus Capitolinus Crispinus

Dictator.

360 BC

Quintus Servilius Ahala

Dictator.

358 BC

Gaius Sulpicius Peticus

Dictator.

356 BC

Gaius Marcius Rutilus

Dictator.

354 BC

The Samnites agree a treaty with Rome, the first concrete historical record of their existence. It sets their border along the River Liris (now divided into the Liri and the Gari, with the one meeting the other shortly before the latter flows into the Tyrrhenian Sea at the Garigliano), and may in part be a joint defensive pact against Celtic incursions from the north.

353 BC

Titus Manlius Imperiosus Torquatus

Dictator.

c.353 BC

The Etruscan city of Caisra at last becomes impatient of the increasing domination by Rome and protests or rebels. However, their gesture is brought to order, and they are deprived of their coastland territory (in favour of Roman colonists) by the terms of a hundred-year treaty or truce. The city's independence is at an end, although Roman nobles are still sent to Caisra to study the Etruscan language and literature, and perhaps to learn Greek as well.

352 BC

Gaius Julius Iullus

Dictator.

351 BC

Marcus Fabius Ambustus

Dictator.

351 BC

A truce which lasts for forty years is agreed between Rome and the Etruscan city of Tarquinii.

350 BC

Lucius Furius Camillus

Dictator.

349 BC

Titus Manlius Imperiosus Torquatus

Dictator for the second time.

c.346 - 345 BC

As the final act in the revolt of the Volsci, Rome sacks and levels their town of Satricum around 346 BC. The surviving fighting men, who number about 4,000, are sold into slavery. The Aurunci choose this moment to send a force against Rome itself, which causes panic, with the senate viewing the threat as a wider conspiracy of the Latin League. Lucius Furius Camillus is selected as dictator, for the second time. He pulls together an emergency army from Rome's citizens and ends the threat at the very first battle against the Aurunci. The same army is then used to complete the conquest of the Volsci at Sora.

345 BC

Lucius Furius Camillus

Dictator for the second time. Defeated the Aurunci and Volsci.

344 BC

Publius Valerius Publicola

Dictator.

343 - 341 BC

The Samnites are continuing to expand into former Etruscan Campania following their capture of Capua and Cuma. Their advances force the Greek city states along the coast to request of Rome that it reins in its ally. The Samnites also launch an apparently unprovoked attack against the Sidicini. When the Samnites refuse to listen to Roman 'reason', Rome triggers the First Samnite War. Roman Consul Cornelius attacks the Samnite town of Saticula (on the border of the modern region of Campania), but the war ends with Rome distracted by the Latin War against its other Italic allies. At the bargaining table, the Samnites agree to restore the former Roman-Samnite alliance on condition that the Samnites are permitted to go to war against the Sidicini if required. As Rome has no agreement with the Sidicini, the terms are accepted.

342 BC

Marcus Valerius Corvus

Dictator.

340 BC

Lucius Papirius Crassus

Dictator.

340 - 338 BC

The Latin War is the last major attempt by the Latins to retain independence from Rome. As its trigger, the Samnites attack the Sidicini who, in their desperation, offer to subjugate themselves to Rome. They are refused on the grounds that they are too late in seeking Rome's protection following the conclusion of the First Samnite War. Instead, the beleaguered Sidicini ally themselves to a Latin League force which is advancing against the Samnites.

Encouraged by Rome's indifference to the Latin-Samnite conflict, the Latins (and the Volsci) plan to attack Rome next. Rome hears of this and, following failed bargaining in the Senate with ten Latin chiefs to agree a new treaty, declares war against the Latin League. Allied to the Samnites, Rome fights for two years to defeat the Latins in a number of battles and subjugate them fully. The Latin League is dissolved, and some Latin states are annexed directly to Rome, while others retain autonomy.

339 BC

Quintus Publilius Philo

Non-military dictator who carried out reforms.

337 - 335 BC

Having signed separate treaties with Rome, the Aurunci and Sidicini now fall out. Livy describes that the Sidicini attack the Aurunci in 337 BC. The Ausones side with the Sidicini, and in 335 BC, Rome sends an army under Marcus Valerius Corvus to besiege Cales, the Ausones capital. Corvus captures the town while its defenders are in a drunken sleep and a Roman garrison is placed there. Colonists soon follow, and land is distributed amongst them, effectively destroying the Ausones.

335 BC

Lucius Aemilius Mamercinus Privernas

Dictator.

c.334 BC

The Sidicini now bear the brunt of Rome's attentions. In a campaign by both consular armies, the Sidicini apparently accept subjugation without a battle, while the Romans are struck by an unexplained plague (probably malaria, which is prevalent in the region). The details are not mentioned at all by Livy, which is unusual if this people have been conquered in battle.

334 - 331 BC

At the request of the embattled Greek colony of Taras, Alexander I Molossus embarks with a force of Epirotes, Macedonians and Tarantines to Italy. He fights the Brutii and Lucani, and in 332 BC defeats an alliance of Lucani and Samnites near Paestum. In the same year he concludes a treaty with the Romans and continues battling against the other Italic peoples. He captures Heraclea from the Lucani and then Sipontum and Terina from the Brutii but, having been forced to accept battle at Pandosia (in Calabria), he is killed by a Lucani exile. The defeat is a significant one as it marks the end of any new Greek colonisation in Italy and teaches the Italians how to defeat the phalanx, which is completely outmanoeuvred on rocky ground by the fast-moving Italics.

333 BC

Publius Cornelius Rufinus

Dictator.

332 BC

Marcus Papirius Crassus

Dictator.

331 BC

Gnaeus Quinctius Capitolinus

Dictator.

325 BC

Lucius Papirius Cursor

Dictator.

325 - 304 BC

At around the same time as the former Peucetii settlement of Gravina is taken from Greek settlers by the Samnites, the Second Samnite War is triggered against Rome. During this period the Marsi ally themselves to the Romans in an attempt to remove the Samnite hold over them, while the Dauni, Iapyges, Lucani, Messapii, and Peucetii side with the Samnites. The Oenotri and Chones also appear to be subject to Samnite control by this time, during which the Samnite commander, Gaius Pontius, leads a force of around 9,000, including a thousand cavalry, with which he wins several early victories.

324 BC

Lucius Papirius Cursor

Dictator for the second time.

322 BC

Aulus Cornelius Cossus Arvina

Dictator.

321 BC

Meddix Gaius Pontius (a meddix being a Samnite consul or magistrate) commands the Samnite forces at the Battle of the Caudine Forks. Not actually a battle, the event (near Benevento) sees the Romans fooled into entering a trap in a mountainous defile, where they are cornered by the Samnites. They are forced to agree terms so that they can return home and the terms of the agreement are maintained until 316 BC.

320 BC

Gaius Maenius

Dictator.

320 BC

Lucius Cornelius Lentulus?

Dictator.

320 BC

The Samnite commander, Gaius Pontius, defeats the army of Dictator Lucius Cornelius Lentulus, and captures the towns of Canusium and Gnaitha, but the Samnites suffer defeat at the hands of Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus at Imbrinium.

320 BC

Titus Manlius Imperiosus Torquatus

Dictator for the third time.

319 BC

The Ferrentani (more properly known as the Forentani) are subjugated by Rome when they reconquer Satricum. This event may instead belong to 315 BC, when Quintus Aulius Cerretanus is master of the horse rather than 319 BC when he is consul.

316 BC

Lucius Aemilius Mamercinus Privernas

Dictator for the second time.

315 BC

Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus

Dictator.

315 BC

Rome strikes back under Dictator Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus when he successfully besieges Saticula. He is less successful when he fights the Samnites at the Battle of Lautulae, during which his inexperienced levies are no match for seasoned Samnite warriors. The southern reaches of Latium are captured and the second class Roman citizens there are persuaded to abandon their allegiance to Rome. The Samnites advance on Rome itself and, although it is successfully defended, the Samnites storm through the weakened Roman lines of the Liris Valley and capture Sora. The lines of communication to Apulia are cut and the Samnites enjoy the high watermark of their superiority.

315 BC

Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus

Dictator for the second time.

314 BC

Gaius Maenius

Dictator for the second time.

313 BC

Gaius Poetelius Libo Visolus

Dictator.

313 BC

Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus

Dictator for the third time.

c.313 BC

The Romans have been learning from Samnite fighting methods and begin to turn the tables. Meddix Gaius Pontius is captured and executed by Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus, probably during the latter's third and last dictatorship.

312 BC

Gaius Sulpicius Longus?

Dictator.

312 BC

Gaius Junius Bubulcus Brutus

Possibly a magister equitum rather than a dictator.

310 BC

Lucius Papirius Cursor

Dictator for the third time.

310 BC

Etruscans allied to the Samnites fight Rome at the Battle of Sutrium (modern Sutri). The Roman forces are commanded by the now-Consul Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus. After winning the battle on this key route into Etruscan territory, he pursues the Etruscans into the ancient Ciminian Forest, which divides Latium from Etruria, where he defeats them again. The Etruscan cities of Curtun and Perusna fall to Rome in the same period, and the first Roman contact with the Umbri to the north-east takes place.

309 BC

Lucius Papirius Cursor

Dictator for the fourth time.

308 BC

The Etruscan city state of Tarchna capitulates to Rome.

306 BC

Publius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus

Dictator.

304 BC

The Samnites are defeated by Rome, ending the Second Samnite War. Their confederates, the Frentani, Marsi, Marrucini, and Paeligni, voluntarily accept their reintegration into Roman administrative rule. All the other Samnite allies are also subjugated by Rome.

302 BC

Gaius Junius Bubulcus Brutus

Dictator for the second time.

302 BC

Marcus Valerius Corvus

Dictator for the second time.

301 BC

Marcus Valerius Corvus

Dictator for the third time.

301 BC

The Etruscan city of Arret- has been suffering civil turmoil in this century, possibly a result of Roman pressure on Etruscan lives and freedoms. In this year the plebeians revolt against the important and powerful Cilnii family. A Roman army under Marcus Valerius Maximus arrives to help to restore order, and within twenty years or so, the city submits entirely to Rome.

299 BC

Latin colonies are founded in Umbrian territory by Rome in the next half a century, starting in 299 BC with the conquest of the city of Nequinum, which Rome renames Narni. Rome also concludes a treaty with the Picentes, or what Livy later terms the Picentine people.

298 BC

General Scipio defeats the forces of the Etruscan city of Velathri, and the city itself is severely damaged in the process. It now becomes a Roman possession and later provides military aid and supplies to Rome during the Second Punic War.

The Picentes warn the Roman senate that they have been approached by the Samnites, who are seeking allies in advance of a renewal of hostilities against Rome. The Third Samnite War begins with Consul Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus immediately defeating the Samnites at Tifernum after managing to encircle their forces.

297 - 295 BC

The Samnites march into Etruria in 297 BC to rouse the Etruscans and form a coalition against Rome. The combined armies of consuls Lucius Volumnius Flamma Violens and Appius Claudius Caecus (dictator in 292 BC) defeat this force and the Samnites withdraw back into their own territory. In 295 BC, Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus, Roman consul for a fifth time, wins lasting fame after he defeats a fresh coalition of Gauls and Samnites at the Battle of Sentinum (near the modern town of Sassoferrato).

294 BC

Lucius Postumius Megellus defeats the Etruscans of Volsinies. The city of Rosella, close to Vetluna, is occupied by Rome, much to Vetluna's detriment, and the latter city begins to decline. The irrigation systems begin to decay, the drainage systems silt up, and the area slowly reverts to malaria-infested swamp. The Romans attempt to establish a garrison nearby, at Graviscae, but fever kills off its inhabitants.

293 - 290 BC

The Samnites are defeated by Rome at the Battle of Aquilona in 293 BC. The nearby capital of the Samnite confederation, Aquilona (in modern Campania), is destroyed. The former Pentri capital of Bovianum resumes the role, although the Samnites are gradually broken, accepting final defeat in 290 BC.

292 - 285 BC

Appius Claudius Caecus

Dictator. Victor against the Samnites in 297 BC.

291 - 285 BC

Marcus Aemilius Barbula

Dictator.

291 - 285 BC

Publius Cornelius Rufinus?

Dictator.

291 BC

The Etruscan city state of Clevsin falls to Rome.

287 BC

Quintus Hortensius

Dictator.

283 BC

The Picentes make another appearance in the historical record, in relation to successful Roman conquests in the far northern reaches of Picene territory. The Ager Gallicus on the north-east coast of Italy has been populated by different ethnic groups for quite some time. These are mainly Picentes and Etruscans, but with a strong admixture of more recently arrived Gauls. Ancona had been built by the Greeks of Sicily, but to the north of this the Gauls dominate. Rome has been winning a series of victories against these Gauls, and in this year it expels the tribe of the Senones from the coastal region. Rome annexes this strip as far south as Ancona, and the area is renamed Gallia Togata.

282 - 278 BC

The growing power of Rome has defeated the Boii in the north and saved the Greek colony of Thurii from being overwhelmed by the Italics, but the colony of Tarentum intervenes, sinking some of the Roman ships. Rome declares war on Tarentum, but Pyrrhus of Epirus declares for Tarentum, as do many of the southern Italic peoples, including the Brutii, Lucani, and Samnites. A few years later these three Italic tribes send auxiliaries to the army of Pyrrhus, while Rome has its own loyal Frentani auxiliaries (or, more probably, the subject Ferrentani of Campania). Following the withdrawal of Pyrrhus in 278 BC to conquer Syracuse, the Italics face Rome's might alone.

280 BC

Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus

Dictator.

280 BC

The Etruscan city state of Vulci falls to Rome.

278 - 272 BC

In six years of further campaigning in southern Italy, Generals Gaius Fabricius Luscinus and Lucius Papirius inflict defeat after defeat on the Italic tribes that had supported Pyrrhus until they are subdued (by 272 BC). They are forced to concede half of the forest of Sila, which is a valuable source of timber, in exchange for peace.

277 - 275 BC

Pyrrhus of Epirus conquers Syracuse in 277 BC, and holds it for two years, with support being given by the Messapii. His hard but costly fighting against Rome on the island brings his southern Balkans kingdom a brief sense of importance. It is also his costly victories which inspire the term 'pyrrhic victory', as a victory with such high loses is no real victory at all.

273 BC

The Romans found their first colony in Etruscan territory.

268/267 BC

The Picentes appear to rebel against Roman domination. They are defeated by two consular armies in Gallia Togata and Rome gains the region around Arimnus (Rimini), on the border region between the Picentes and the Etruscans. This former Etruscan city is captured by Publius Sempronius Sophus. He returns to Rome and is given a triumph for his victory over the Picentes.

267/266 BC

Perhaps spurred on by the recent Messapii support of Epirus, Rome attacks and conquers the Messapii and the former Greek settlement of Brandusium (modern Brindisi).

265 - 264 BC

Velzna, the last independent Etruscan city, is suffering civil strife, so the Romans are called upon by the city's aristocrats to help calm the situation in their favour. Roman troops take a very heavy-handed approach, plundering around two thousand bronzes from all over the city. Their loot is often melted down to provide bronze coin for the war chest. The following year, the city is razed to the ground by the Romans, and the fortunate survivors are forced to resettle, leaving the city's ruins abandoned (it is likely that the modern city of Orvieto has been built directly over those ruins). The Romans interpret the city's name as Volsinii, and the resettled populace now occupy a fresh site which is named Volsinii Novae (modern Bolsena).

264 - 241 BC

The First Punic War erupts between Rome and Carthage. It starts in Sicily and develops into a naval war in which the Romans learn how to fight at sea and eventually gain overall victory. Carthage loses Sardinia and the western section of Sicily.

263 BC

Gnaeus Fulvius Maximus Centumalus

Dictator.

257 BC

Quintus Ogulnius Gallus

Dictator.

253 BC

The Etruscan city state of Caisra is subjugated by Rome.

249 BC

Marcus Claudius Glicia

Dictator.

249 BC

Aulus Atilius Caiatinus

Dictator. Following the disaster of Drepana.

246 BC

Tiberius Coruncanius

Dictator.

231 BC

Gaius Duilius

Dictator.

231 - 225 BC

The two most extensive Gallic tribes of northern Italy, the Boii and Insubres, send out the call for assistance against Rome to the tribes living around the Alps and on the Rhone. Rather than each of the tribes sending their own warriors, it appears that individual warriors are effectively hired from the entire Alpine region as mercenaries. Polybius calls them Gaesatae, describing it as a word which means 'serving for hire'.

Celtic warriors
While most of the Gauls of the third century BC fought fully clothed, their Gaesatae mercenaries tended to fight with nothing more than their weapons, and not even the trousers shown here

The Gaesatae are offered a large sum of gold on the spot and the wealth of Rome is also pointed out - wealth that can be theirs if they stick to their task. The mercenaries are easily persuaded, and are proud to remind the other Gauls of the campaign that had been undertaken by their own ancestors in which they had seized Rome.

Rome has been informed of what is coming, and hurries to assemble the legions. Even its ongoing conflict with the Carthaginians take second place, and a treaty is hurriedly agreed with Hasdrubaal, commander in Iberia, which virtually confirms Carthaginian rule there. Such is Rome's haste that they approach the Gaulish frontier before the Gauls have even stirred.

It is 225 BC when the Gaesatae forces cross the Alps and enter the valley of the Padus with a formidable army, furnished with a variety of armour. The Boii, Insubres, and Taurini accompany them but the Cenomani and Veneti are persuaded to side with Rome, forcing the Gauls to detach a force to guard their flank. Despite this, their main army consists of about a hundred and seventy thousand foot and horse, which petrifies the Romans and reminds them of 389 BC. As well as the four new legions, they are accompanied by Etruscans, Sabines, Sarsinates, and Umbri, and more Cenomani and Veneti. Defending Rome and its territories are Ferrentani, Iapygians, Latins, Lucanians, Marrucini, Marsi, Messapians, Samnites, and Vestini, plus two more legions on Sicily and in Tarentum.

The first battle, when it comes, is near Faesulae, outside the subjugated Etruscan city of Clevsin. The Romans are decimated and routed by superior Gaulish tactics. A fresh army under Lucius Aemilius arrives, and Aneroetes counsels retreat with their booty and army intact, ready to launch a fresh attack when ready. Consul Gaius Atilius lands at Pisae with the Sardinian legion and the Gauls find themselves caught between two Roman armies. The battle is fierce, and the Gauls gain the head of Gaius Atilius. However, the battle turns against them and large numbers of Gauls are cut down or taken prisoner, including Concolitanus. Aneroetes is able to flee with his band of followers, and they commit suicide together.

224 BC

Lucius Caecilius Metellus

Dictator.

224 - 222 BC

Rome continues the Gallic War against the Gauls of northern Italy, but in far less spectacular fashion than in 225 BC. With many of the tribes already pacified, only the Boii and Insubres remain to offer any real resistance, and this is quickly put down. In 222 BC, the Insubres are left with no option but to surrender, their unnamed chief making a complete submission to Rome. This act effectively ends the Gallic War in northern Italy, as Rome now dominates all of the tribes there.

221 - 219 BC

Q Fabius Maximus Verrucosus

Dictator.

218 - 202 BC

The Second Punic War is fought against Carthage. Rome is aided by its Etruscan, Frentani, Picene, and Umbrian forces, but Italy is invaded by Hannibal Barca after the general forces his way through the Alps, fighting off the attentions of the Celtic Allobroges tribe along the way.

217 BC

Q Fabius Maximus Verrucosus Cunctator

Dictator. Nicknamed Cunctator (the Delayer) for his tactics.

217 BC

Marcus Minucius Rufus

Dictator.

216 BC

Marcus Junius Pera

Dictator.

216 BC

Marcus Fabius Buteo

Dictator.

216 - 209 BC

As part of the Second Punic War, a Roman army is massacred at the Battle of Cannae in 216 BC, killing 60,000. The Hirpini now declare for Carthage. The final stages of the war in Italy are fought out in the south-east.

213 BC

Gaius Claudius Centho

Dictator.

210 BC

Quintus Fulvius Flaccus

Dictator.

209 - 202 BC

When the Carthaginians finally withdraw in 209 BC, Rome is able to capture the ports of Brundisium (modern Brindisi) and Tarentum (modern Taranto). This establishes full Roman dominion over the south-east of Italy and the tribes of the Dauni, Hirpini, Iapyges, Lucani, Messapii, and Peucetii. Rome also finds time to conquer the Greek colony of Syracuse and fight the First Macedonian War in an attempt to tie down possible Macedonian reinforcements for Carthage.

208 BC

Titus Manlius Torquatus

Dictator.

207 BC

Marcus Livius Salinator

Dictator.

205 BC

Quintus Caecilius Metellus

Dictator.

203 BC

Publius Sulpicius Galba Maximus

Dictator.

202 BC

Gaius Servilius Geminus

Dictator.

202 BC

At the end of the Second Punic War the post of dictator is outlawed. It is replaced by powers for the two consuls which allows them to take any action to defend the republic.

200 - 196 BC

Rome fights the Second Macedonian War, thanks to claims made by by Pergamum and Rhodes of a treaty between Macedonian and the Seleucid empire that is designed to carve up Egypt's possessions. The republic launches an attack and after a spell of indecisive conflict, Philip of Macedonia is defeated at the Battle of Cynoscephalae in 197 BC, while his general, Androsthenes, is defeated near Corinth. The Macedonian army is drastically reduced in size as a result of the defeat, and Philip's standing as an important Greek king is greatly diminished.

200 BC

The Etruscan city of Caisra is drawn directly under Roman control.

190 - 188 BC

Rome defeats the Seleucids in the Seleucid War, taking Asia Minor as a province in 188 BC. The Seleucid ally, Cappadocia, negotiates friendly terms with Rome, notably because Stratonice, the king's daughter, is about to marry the king of Pergamum, a Roman ally. Pergamum annexes Lydia and Pamphylia around this point in time.

The newly appointed commander of Roman forces in Asia Minor is Gnaeus Manlius Vulso. He ensures that the entire region knows about Rome's arrival by looting, robbing and extorting plunder from the local population, and destroying those who resist (so says Livy). Even worse, he views the Galatian Celts as a mongrel race and is determined to exterminate them, despite receiving no such instructions from Rome. He exhibits an extreme degree of the general Roman dislike of Celts due to their sack of Rome under Brennus of the Senones in 387 BC.

172 - 168 BC

Perseus of Macedonia and Rome renew fighting in the Third Macedonian War. Epirus is split, with the Chaonians and Thesprotians siding with Rome and the Molossians allying themselves to Macedonia. The result is a disaster for Epirus, with the Chaonians being annexed by Rome in 170 BC.

168 - 150 BC

Roman rule of Macedonia and Thrace follows the defeat of Perseus. The Antigonids are removed from power and the kingdom is dismantled and replaced by four republics. In 150 BC, Andriscus of Macedon breaks the Roman hold over the former kingdom when he leads a popular uprising in the Fourth Macedonian War.

159 BC

Rome conquers the Greek kingdom of Epirus, with thousands of its inhabitants being enslaved and the region being plundered so thoroughly that it takes centuries to recover. Epirus remains within the Roman empire and its subsequent eastern division for the next seven hundred and fifty years or so.

149 - 148 BC

Andriscus invades Macedonia from Thrace in 149 BC and defeats the Roman praetor, Publius Juventius. Then he proclaims himself King Philip VI of Macedonia. In the following year, his popular uprising is put down by the legions at the Second Battle of Pydna, and they establish a permanent residence in Greece. The Achaean League of Greek states rises up against this presence and is swiftly destroyed. Rome also destroys Corinth as an object lesson and annexes Greece and Macedonia.

149 - 146 BC

Carthage has recovered from its defeat in 202 BC and refuses a change in terms by Rome, and the Third Punic War is the result. After a siege which conquers Carthage, Rome takes brutal action to obliterate the city and its people.

146 BC

The Achaean League is dissolved by Rome and the four client republics of the north are dissolved. Macedonia officially becomes the Roman province of Macedonia, which also includes Epirus, Thessaly, and areas of Illyria, Paeonia, and Thrace.

133 - 129 BC

Rome is bequeathed the Anatolian kingdom of Pergamum, but has to send two armies in 131 and 129 to secure the claim. The first is defeated and its commander, Proconsul Publius Licinius Crassus Dives Mucianus, is killed along with his ally, King Ariarathes V of Cappadocia.

123 - 121 BC

The Allobroges come into direct conflict with Rome following the latter's defeat of the Salluvii. That tribe's king, Tuto-Motulus, flees northwards and seeks shelter with the Allobroges. They welcome him in, and when Rome demands that he is handed over, they refuse. Having declared war, Rome sends Quintus Fabius Maximus to attack them in 121 BC. He is the son of Quintus Fabius Maximus Aemilianus, consul of 145 BC, and is consul himself during this year. He campaigns in Gallia Transalpina (the modern Auvergne and RhŰne-Alpes regions) with Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, fighting the Allobroges, Arverni, and Helvii. They are defeated and the consul is awarded the honour of a triumph which is famous for its spectacle, with the Arverni ruler, Bituitus, being displayed in his silver battle armour. The Ruteni, Segovellauni, Vocontii, and Volcae Arecomisci are subjugated at the same time.

107 - 101 BC

The Cimbrian War is ignited when the Germanic Teutones and Cimbri migrate into northern Italy. Initially the invaders are successful against tribes which are allied to Rome. Consul Lucius Cassius Longinus enters Gallia Narbonensis to oppose the Cimbri in 107 BC, but he is killed at the Battle of Burdigala (modern day Bordeaux, the chief town of the Biturices Vivisci) by the Helvetii, along with his lieutenant, Lucius Piso (grandfather of Lucius Calpurnius Piso, father-in-law to Julius Caesar). The Roman force under Cassius is routed and made to 'pass under the yoke' by the Helvetii after surrendering most of its supplies.

In 105 BC a huge Roman army is destroyed at the Battle of Arausio. Consul Gaius Marius rebuilds the Roman forces and, while the Cimbri raid Iberia, in 102 BC the weakened Teutones are defeated and enslaved. The Cimbrians are similarly destroyed at the Battle of Vercellae in 101 BC.

96 - 75 BC

Cyrene becomes part of the republic in 96 BC, and in 75 BC is made a province of Rome.

95 - 89 BC

Rome secures the independence of Cappadocia in the face of attempted control by Pontus.

91 - 89 BC

The Etruscans, Frentani, Hirpini, Iapyges, Lucani, Marrucini, Marsi, Paeligni, Picentes, Samnites, Umbri, and Vestini fight the Social War (Italian War, or Marsic War) against Rome. The Latins and Umbri play only a minor role in the war, joining the rebels late and agreeing terms with Rome early on. The Picentes side with Rome during the war and Picenum serves as a base for Roman troops. The war is the result of increasing inequality in Roman land ownership, and the spark for conflict is delivered by the assassination of the reforming Marcus Livius Drusus.

89 - 82 BC

Civil war explodes in Italy between the supporters and forces of Sulla and Gaius Marius. The latter is supported by the Etruscans. Athens takes the opportunity to rebel against Roman control and Sulla is forced to crush the rebelling Greeks. he also conducts an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Samnites, Rome's most stubborn and persistent adversaries, forcing the remnant to disperse. The Italians are granted Roman citizenship and Sulla recaptures Rome in 82 BC to end the war. A new form of dictatorship is created in which there is no time limit for the office.

82 - 79 BC

Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix

Dictator. Resigned when Senate regained control of Rome.

80 BC

Sulla devastates the Etruscan cities; the Etruscans become Roman citizens, but as a result of their support of Gaius Marius, their language and customs are suppressed.

Lucius Cornelius Sulla
Lucius Cornelius Sulla was the victor in Rome's first full-scale civil war (88-82 BC), after which he became dictator of the Roman republic

80 - 72 BC

The Sertorian War in Hispania causes the Celts of Mediterranean Gaul to be subjected to troop levies and forced requisitions in order to support the military efforts of Metellus Pius, Pompeius, and other Roman commanders against the rebels. However, some Celtic polities, including, remarkably, the Helvii, support Sertorius and they pay the price for their support after his assassination. The Helvii and Volcae Arecomisci are forced to cede a portion of their territory to the Greek city state of Messalina. Caesar mentions this land forfeiture but does not provide any details of the Helvii actions against Rome.

73 - 71 BC

A slave named Spartacus, a former chieftain of the Maedi tribe of Thracians, leads a slave revolt in southern Italy. Aided by the Celts, Castus, Crixus, Gannicus, and Oenomaus, his numbers are swelled by more and more slaves joining his forces in what is known as the Third Servile War. Ultimately he is defeated by Crassus in battles at Brundisium, Lucania, and Silarus. Over six thousand slaves are crucified along the Via Appia. Pompey gains the final victory over the remaining slave force and the credit in Rome, while Crassus is almost forgotten.

68 - 63 BC

Phoenicia becomes a Roman possession in 68 BC, while in 64 BC, Lycia follows suit. The following year, the Seleucids fall to Rome, and Syria and areas of the Levant become Roman provinces.

65 BC

The Allobroges revolt under the leadership of Catugnatus, and the Segovellauni may also be involved. The revolt is defeated in short order by Gaius Pomptinus at the Solonium and it results in a good deal of the tribe's accumulated wealth being paid to Rome. Senator Catiline (Lucius Sergius Catilina) invites the Allobroges to join his conspiracy. Instead, they decline the offer and expose it. This earns Rome's gratitude and the Allobroges remain allies thereafter.

62 - 61 BC

In response to Rome's incursions into the Danube delta, which are seen as a major threat by all the peoples of the region, King Burebista of the Getae has united all of the Getae into a single kingdom. He has also established overlordship of the neighbouring Bastarnae and Sarmatians. Burebista's powerful forces raid regularly into Roman-held territory. In 62 BC the Greek cities rebel against Roman rule, and in the following year the Bastarnae managed to isolate the Roman infantry of the inept proconsul of Macedonia, Gaius Antonius (uncle to Marc Antony). The entire force is massacred. The Roman hold over the region collapses.

60 - 53 BC

Caesar, Pompey and Crassus

First Triumvirate.

60 - 58 BC

The Helvetii begin an invasion of the lowlands of Gaul, and Julius Caesar recruits two new legions to face the threat. After some skirmishing, the two sides face each other at the Battle of Bibracte in 58 BC, and the Helvetii are mercilessly crushed by six Roman legions. Their shattered remnants are forced back to their homeland, but are now unable to fight off Germanic incursions that could also threaten Gaul. Julius Caesar allows the relatively hospitable Boii to settle a buffer zone to the north of the Helvetii and east of the Aeduii, but even this shift leaves gaps for Germanic incursions, and one is already underway to the north. Caesar receives a federation of chiefs from tribes that include the Sequani, all of whom are suffering thanks to the Suebic invasion under Ariovistus. It is this campaign and its mixed outcome, despite victory in battle, that triggers Julius Caesar's campaigns in Gaul from this point onwards, which result in the eventual annexation of the entire land into the Roman state.

58 BC

The Gallic Wars of Julius Caesar begin when he becomes governor of Gaul. Over the course of the next decade or so, he conquers all of the Gaulish tribes. His efforts begin with a showdown against Ariovistus of the Suevi at the Battle of Vosges. The Suevi host lines up in units of tribal groups starting with the Harudes, Marcomanni, Triboci, Vangiones, Nemetes, Sedusii and the core of the Suebi themselves. Superior Roman tactics breaks that line and the Suevi host makes a run for the Rhine. Ariovistus makes it across, but many of his allies now turn on him and the Suebi. It is Caesar who records the existence of the Suebi, differentiating them from the tribe of the Cherusci, but now they avoid the Rhine for generations, concentrating on building a fresh confederation in central Germania.

57 BC

The Belgae enter into a confederacy against the Romans in fear of Rome's eventual domination over them. They are also spurred on by Gauls who are unwilling to see Germanic tribes remaining on Gaulish territory and are unhappy about Roman troops wintering in Gaul. The Senones are asked by Julius Caesar to gain intelligence on the intentions of the Belgae, and they report that an army is being collected. Caesar marches ahead of expectations and the Remi, on the Belgic border, instantly surrender, although their brethren, the Suessiones remain enthusiastic about the venture. The Bellovaci are the most powerful among the Belgae, but the confederation also includes the Ambiani, Atrebates, Atuatuci, Caerosi, Caleti, Condrusi, Eburones, Menapii, Morini, Nervii, Paemani, Veliocasses, and Viromandui, along with some unnamed Germans on the western side of the Rhine.

Caesar encourages his ally, Diviciacus of the Aeduii, to attack the Bellovaci and divert part of the Belgic forces. The remaining Belgae march against the Romans en masse, attacking the Remi town of Bibrax along the way. Rather than face such a large force with a reputation for uncommon bravery, Caesar elects to isolate them in groups using his cavalry. He confronts the Bellovaci at the Battle of the Axona, during which they learn that Divitiacus and the Aeduii are approaching their territories. They leave the battlefield in some disorder to attempt to head off the Aeduii, but Roman troops are able to follow them and cut down large numbers of men before breaking off.

Battle of the Axona
The Battle of the (River) Axona (the modern Aisne in north-eastern France) witnessed the beginning of the end of the Belgic confederation against Rome

The next day, Caesar leads his army into the territories of the Suessiones, to capture the town of Noviodunum. With this victory, the Suessiones surrender and Caesar marches on the surviving Bellovaci, who take refuge in their town of Galled Bratuspantium. Diviciacus of the Aeduii pleads for the former allies of his people, whose leaders in the confederacy against Rome had already fled to Britain. With the Bellovaci subdued, Caesar receives the surrender of the Ambiani, while the Nervii, refusing any surrender, assemble with the Atrebates and Viromandui to offer battle. The Atuatuci are expected to join them, but the Nervii launch an early surprise attack at the Battle of the Sabis (probably the River Selle). The Romans are supported by auxiliaries sent by the Treveri, while the Nervii are back up by the Atrebates. The attack surprises the Romans, but they rally and turn potential defeat into a near-massacre of the Nervii. The Atuatuci, who had been marching to the assistance of the Nervii, return home once they hear that they have missed the battle. They are attacked there by the Romans and are completely defeated. The region inhabited by the Atuatuci on the western side of the Rhine is left entirely depopulated when Caesar sells all surviving tribal members into slavery, which amounts to something like fifty-three thousand individuals.

According to Caesar, the Aulerci, Cariosvelites, Osismii, Redones, Sesuvi, Venelli, and (western) Veneti, all of whom are located along the Atlantic coast, are subdued by the legion of Publius Licinius Crassus. With this action, northern Gaul has been brought under Roman domination, while the victorious legions winter amongst the Andes, Carnutes, and Turones.

56 BC

Following his successful campaign against the Belgae in the previous year, Caesar heads for Italy. He sends Servius Galba ahead with the Twelfth Legion and part of the cavalry to secure the way. The pass through the Alps has been dominated by the Nantuates, Seduni, and Veragri tribes, making the route a dangerous one for Roman merchants, and now is the time to end that danger. Galba conducts a few successful battles and storms several of their forts, until the tribes sent embassies and hostages, and peace is concluded. Having settled into winter quarters in the area, Galba finds himself attacked anew by the tribes he has just defeated. The Romans are hard-pressed by the superior numbers attacking them, perhaps 30,000 in all. The six hour battle ends when the exhausted Romans make a last-ditch sally that takes the Celts by surprise and inflicts heavy casualties on them, forcing them to withdraw. Having survived the onslaught the Romans withdraw in good order, heading westwards into the territory of the Allobroges where they settle into safer winter quarters.

With Gaul now apparently at peace, Caesar sets out for Illyricum. Once he has left, war flares up again, triggered by Publius Licinius Crassus and the Seventh Legion in the territory of the Andes. With supplies of corn running low, he sends scavenging parties into the territories of the Cariosvelites, Esubii, and the highly influential Veneti. The latter revolt against this infringement of their lands and possessions, and the neighbouring tribes rapidly follow their lead, including the Ambiliati, Diablintes, Lexovii, Menapii, Morini, Namniti, Nannetes, and Osismii. The Veneti also send for auxiliaries from their cousins in Britain. Julius Caesar rushes back to northern Gaul, to a fleet that is being prepared for him by the (Roman-led) Pictones and Santones on the River Loire. Crassus is sent to Aquitania and Quintus Titurius Sabinus to the Cariosvelites, Lexovii and Venelli, to prevent them sending reinforcements to the Veneti.

The campaign by Caesar against the Veneti is protracted and takes place both on land and sea. Veneti strongholds, when threatened, are evacuated by sea and the Romans have to begin again. Eventually the Veneti fleet is cornered and defeated in Quiberon Bay by Legate Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus. The Veneti strongholds are stormed and much of the Veneti population is either captured and enslaved or butchered. The confederation is destroyed and Roman rule is firmly stamped upon the region.

Entering Aquitania after subduing the Petrocorii along the way, Crassus recruits auxiliaries from the Gaulish regions of Tolosa, Carcaso, and Narbo (which includes the tribes of the Bebryces, Sordones, and Volcae) before entering the territory of the Sotiates. That tribe has gathered together a large force which attacks the Romans in a drawn-out and vigorously-contested engagement. The Romans are only just victorious and the tribe is defeated. Crassus then marches into the territories of the Vocates and Tarusates, and despite massive numbers in their favour, they are undone because they have failed to protect their rear. When news of this defeat spreads, the majority of the tribes of Aquitania surrender to Crassus, including the Ausci, Bigerriones, Cocosates, Elusates, Garites, Garumni, Preciani, Suburates, Tarbelli, Tarusates, and Vocasates.

Now only the Morini and Menapii remain in opposition to Rome, never having sent their ambassadors to agree peace terms. Caesar leads his army to their territory but they withdraw into the forests and marshes, having realised that head-on conflict will be fruitless. However, guerrilla warfare simply results in the Romans decimating the countryside and burning the villages, and the invaders return to winter quarters amongst the Aulerci and Lexovii and other recently conquered tribes, having seen off the latest threat.

55 BC

As recorded by Julius Caesar in his work, Commentarii de Bello Gallico, the Germanic Tencteri and Usipetes tribes are driven out of their tribal lands in Germania by the militarily dominant Suevi. This probably places them on the middle Rhine. Throughout the winter they attempt to resettle, but fail to find any land. Their wanderings bring them to the mouth of the Rhine, in the territory of the Belgic Menapii, who are located on both sides of the river. The Germans attack them, forcing them to withdraw to the western side of the Rhine, where the Menapii are able to defend the river line for some time. They also attack the Condrusi and Eburones tribes. Feigning a withdrawal to lure out the Menapii, the Tencteri and Usipetes defeat them, capture their ships and occupy many of their villages for the winter.

Caesar, alarmed at this threat to the north of territory in Gaul that he has already conquered, takes a force into the region. After much diplomatic effort and some delays, he attacks the Germanic tribes and drives them back into Germania with heavy losses. Both tribes follow the east bank of the Rhine upstream and find refuge with the Sicambri. They remain settled in these lands for much of the remainder of their existence. Caesar crosses the Rhine to follow them and to show the Germans that Romans are not afraid to stage a counter-invasion. Another reason is that a portion of the cavalry of the Usipetes and Tencteri had not been present at the recent battle. Instead they had proceeded to the territories of the Sicambri to join this tribe, remaining defiant, while uniquely amongst the peoples across the Rhine, the Ubii petition Caesar for help against the oppressive Suevi who until recently have been ruled by the powerful Ariovistus.

FeatureSeveral other tribes submit to Caesar, but the Sicambri withdraw from their territories on the advice of the Usipetes and Tencteri. Caesar remains in their lands for a few days before burning down their villages and taking their corn. He moves his forces into Ubii territory to show solidarity with them against the Suevi threat before returning to Gaul. Soon afterwards, he mounts his first expedition to Britain, seemingly determined to go ahead with this 'reconnaissance' despite the lateness of the year. He encounters fierce resistance there, as well as finding some allies in various tribes. On his return, two ships carrying troops are blown off course and make port a little farther down the coast. The Morini, who had pleaded for peace with Caesar before his departure, now see the opportunity for some trophies and they surround the troops. Caesar sends cavalry to relieve them and the Romans manage to withdraw after about four hours of fighting. The Morini are subsequently quelled, and an attempt is made to do the same to the Menapii, although they avoid a confrontation by hiding in the woods.

54 BC

Julius Caesar starts the year by visiting Illyricum to put down incursions by the Pirustae. He raises a local force that readies itself to repel the invaders, forcing the Pirustae to negotiate a peace. From there, he returns to Gaul and assembles a fleet at Port Itius, intent on a second expedition to Britain.

Before leaving, he visits the Treveri with four legions in order to settle an internal power struggle. They join the revolt led by Ambiorix of the Eburones and a Roman legion is defeated before Caesar's legate, Titus Labienus, defeats and kills one of the leaders of the revolt in a cavalry engagement. Following Caesar's return from Britain, he is forced to winter his troops in different quarters in Gaul owing to the poor harvests of that year. One legion is quartered in the territories of the Morini, while others are sent to the Nervii, Essui, and Remi. Three more legions are stationed amongst the Belgae and one with the Eburones.

The recent assassination of Tasgetius of the Carnutes raises the fear that the tribe will revolt. Lucius Plancus takes a legion to winter amongst them, but his investigations into the murder are interrupted. About fifteen days after the legions enter winter quarters, Ambiorix and Cativolcus of the Eburones instigate the revolt mentioned above, prompted primarily by pressure from their people. In a pitched battle, and despite a massive disparity in numbers, the Gauls are put to flight by Caesar's forces, suffering great losses, although the Romans themselves suffer casualties of ten per cent.

Although the situation is calmed by this victory, Cavarinus of the Senones is condemned to death by his people and is forced to flee to the Romans for protection. This serves as a commitment by the tribe to oppose Julius Caesar during his Gallic campaigns. The act seems to rally support from amongst most of the Gauls, except the Aeduii and Remi who remain loyal to Rome, although the Gauls are unable to encourage the Germans to cross the Rhine and support them due to the recent defeats of Ariovistus of the Suevi and of the Tencteri expedition, something that has dissuaded them from a third attempt. However, following the death of Indutiomarus of the Treveri, no further action is taken against the Romans in this year.

53 BC

Having left a strong guard with the Treveri following the conclusion of their revolt, Caesar again crosses the Rhine to deal with their German supporters. The Ubii reaffirm their loyalty to him while Caesar discovers that the auxiliaries that had joined the Treveri had been sent by the Suevi. They are drawing together units of infantry and cavalry from all across their vast domain and, having learned of Caesar's approach, they withdraw to the vast wood called Bacenis (a thick forest of beech trees which has been equated with the Harz), which separates the Suevi from the Cherusci. Unwilling to follow them, Caesar fortifies the bridge that connects to the Ubii and stations twelve cohorts there.

Caesar then enters the country of the Eburones, forcing the rebellious Ambiorix to flee, while his co-ruler, Cativolcus, commits suicide by poisoning. Despite this apparent capitulation, the country of the Eburones proves difficult for the Romans, so Caesar burns every village and building, drives off all the cattle, and confiscates all of the tribe's grain. Once the situation has calmed, Caesar is able to settle his men into winter quarters.

However, greater events are afoot. On 13 February 53 BC the disaffected Carnutes had massacred every Roman merchant who had been present in the town of Cenabum, as well as killing one of Caesar's commissariat officers. This is the spark that ignites a massed Gaulish rebellion. While Julius Caesar has been occupied in the lands of the Belgae, Vercingetorix has renewed the Arverni subjugation of the Aeduii. He has also restored the reputation of Arverni greatness by leading the revolt that is building against Rome.

In the same year, Rome suffers one of the worst defeats in its history when Triumvir Marcus Licinius Crassus leads an army to annihilation against the Parthians at Carrhae (Harran). He dies shortly afterwards. Subsequent legend says that a small band of Roman prisoners wander through the desert and are eventually rounded up by the Han military seventeen years later (36 BC).

52 BC

While Caesar is tied down in Rome, the Gauls begin their revolt, resolving to die in freedom rather than be suppressed by the invaders. The Carnutes have already taken the lead under Cotuatus and Conetodunus by killing the Roman traders in Cenabum. News of the event reaches the Arverni, and Vercingetorix summons his people to arms.

After sustaining a series of losses at Vellaunodunum, Genabum, and Noviodunum, Vercingetorix summons his men to a council in which it is decided that the Romans should be prevented from being able to gather supplies. A scorched earth policy is adopted, and more than twenty towns of the Bituriges are burned in one day, although their oppidum at Avaricum is spared. However, Caesar secures all the supplies he needs when he besieges and storms Avaricum, despite a formidable Gaulish defence. From there, the two sides gravitate towards an eventual confrontation at Gergovia, a town of the recently resettled Boii. Caesar loses the siege there after having to split his forces to face an unexpected Gaulish threat from his rear, a rare defeat for him in Gaul.

Vercingetorix, his cavalry routed in a further battle, withdraws in good order to Alesia, a major fort belonging to the Mandubii. The remaining cavalry are dispatched back to their tribes to bring reinforcements. Caesar begins a siege of Alesia, aiming on starving out the inhabitants. Four relief forces amounting to a considerable number of men and horses are assembled in the territory of the Aeduii by the council of the Gaulish nobility. Together they attempt to relieve Vercingetorix at the siege of Alesia, but the combined relief force is soundly repulsed by Julius Caesar's remarkable strategy of simultaneously conducting the siege of Alesia on one front whilst being besieged on the other. Marcus Antonius (Mark Anthony) and Caius Trebonius marshal the troops for the rearward defence. Seeing that all is lost, Vercingetorix surrenders to Caesar. The garrison is taken prisoner, as are the survivors from the relief army. They are either sold into slavery or given as booty to Caesar's legionaries, apart from the Aeduii and Arverni warriors who are released and pardoned in order to secure the allegiance of these important and powerful tribes. Vercingetorix is imprisoned in the Tullianum in Rome for five years and Gaul falls to the republic.

However, while Caesar's conquest of Gaul, claimed by him in his Commentaries as being complete, is an effective domination of the territory, it is incomplete in regards to fully subjugating the Gaulish tribes. It is apparent to modern scholars that many tribes completely or partially flee Gaul for Britain and Ireland. It is not in Caesar's interests to list tribes whose members have sailed away, thumbing their noses in his general direction. This fleeing instead of submitting continues when the Romans conquer Britain.

49 - 46 BC

In the same year that the peoples of Gallia Transalpina are granted Roman citizenship (including the Cenomani tribe), civil war erupts between Julius Caesar and Pompey as the former crosses the Rubicon. Rome's various allies and subject peoples take sides, including the Getae who side with Pompey. Again in the same year, Pharnaces of Pontus takes the opportunity to occupy additional territory in Anatolia, and also the first conflict takes place between Rome and the Garamantes when the latter join the Numidian king, Juba I. Juba's army defeats the Roman commander Curio in 49 BC, but a retaliatory strike by Caesar in 46 BC defeats the Garamantes in turn.

Vercingetorix and Caesar in 52 BC
Having surrendered with honour to Caesar in 52 BC, Vercingetorix remained a potent symbol of resistance to Roman domination, so his murder in 46 BC dealt a terminal blow to hopes of renewed Celtic freedom

Caesar also wins the civil war at the Battle of Thapsus in 46 BC, and is appointed dictator of Rome for ten years. The surviving Pompeians, including Cato the Younger, flee to Utica. One of Caesar's first projects is the building of Colonia Junonia on the site of ancient Carthage. By about 40 BC it becomes the capital of the Roman province of Africa Proconsularis. In 46 BC he also refounds the city of Corinth and murders Vercingetorix, former high king of the Gauls.

49 - 44 BC

Gaius Julius Caesar

Dictator. Assassinated.

45 BC

Caesar is appointed dictator of Rome for life, much to the consternation of many members of the Senate.

44 BC

Julius Caesar is assassinated on the Ides of March in a conspiracy led by Cassius and Brutus. Afterwards, Caesar's consular colleague, Marc Antony, passes a 'lex Antonia' which abolishes the dictatorate and expunges it from the constitutions of the Republic. When Caesar's great-nephew and adopted son, Octavian, returns to Rome, the two rivals share an uneasy peace as they jostle for political superiority and influence.

43 BC

Many senators are opposed to Marc Antony's hold on power. Octavian is granted the status of senator, despite not yet being twenty. Cicero leads the Senate to dispatch Octavian to attack Marc Anthony in northern Italy, and the young general wins victory at Mutina. The two reigning consuls are among the casualties, so Octavian subsequently marches on Rome and forces the Senate to accept him as consul. Three months after that, he meets Antony and General Marcus Lepidus at Bologna and on 27 November they come to a power-sharing agreement known as the Triumvirate (Lepidus is definitely the lesser of the three in terms of power, and is soon brushed aside). This completely cuts off the Senate from power, hastening the transition from Republic to empire.

43 - 31 BC

Octavian, Antony and Lepidus

Second Triumvirate.

42 BC

During his reign, Raskouporis of Sapes has already granted assistance to both Pompey and Caesar during their struggle for power. Now, immediately after the murder of Julius Caesar, he supports Brutus and Cassius against Marc Antony and Octavian. In return, Brutus and Cassius lead campaigns against the tribal Bessoi in the Thracian highlands in defence of their allies.

32 - 31 BC

The agreement regulating the Triumvirate has expired, and in the political manoeuvring that follows Octavian gains and reads out Antony's will in public. It shows that his heart belongs to Cleopatra and Egypt, thereby making it clear to most Romans that Antony could never be one of them. The Senate declares war, and Octavian and Antony clash on 2 September 31 BC at the naval Battle of Actium, off the western coast of Greece. Antony is defeated as Cleopatra departs with the surviving fleet and he commits suicide. Octavian's next act is to put to death Cleopatra's son Caesarion.

31 - 27 BC

Gaius Octavius / Octavian Caesar

In sole control of Rome.

31 - 30 BC

With Octavian's defeat of Antony at Actium and no other opponents to his hold on power, Egypt and Libya become provinces of Rome upon the death of Cleopatra in the following year. Octavian also recognises the authority of the turncoat Polemon I of the Bosporan kingdom, Cilicia, Kolkis, and Pontus.

27 BC

The office of dictator is offered to Caesar Augustus (Octavian), who wisely declines it. He opts instead for the power of a tribune and consular imperium without holding any office other than that of Pontifex Maximus and Princeps Senatus - a politic arrangement which leaves him as functional dictator without having to hold the controversial title or office itself. The Empire is born.

Empire of Rome
27 BC - AD 476

The Roman republic had lasted for half a millennium, but the final century of its existence had greatly weakened it, with a few powerful individuals vying for ultimate power. While several dates are commonly proposed to mark the transition from Roman republic to empire, including the date of Julius Caesar's appointment as perpetual dictator (44 BC), the victory of Octavian at the Battle of Actium (2 September 31 BC), and the Roman Senate's granting to Octavian the honorific 'Augustus' (16 January 27 BC), it is usually the latter that is accepted as a starting point. Octavian was Caesar's youthful but utterly ruthless great-nephew and his appointed successor. In effect, he oversaw the creation of the empire that Caesar may have been attempting to form in order to save the fabric of Roman dominance over much of the ancient world.

Some of the names listed here were never accepted as emperors in Rome, often merely leading revolts in some of the provinces and holding regional power for a time. These names are usually backed in a darker shade to separate them. Of course, if they had managed to defeat their opposition then they would have achieved legitimacy, which sometimes was the case.

(Additional information from The Oxford History of England: Roman Britain, Peter Salway, from Roman Soldier versus Germanic Warrior: 1st Century AD, Lindsay Powell, and from the BBC series, Mary Beard's Ultimate Rome: Empire Without Limit, presented by Mary Beard and first screened between 27 April-18 May 2016.)

Julian-Claudian Dynasty

These five rulers were linked through marriage and adoption into the patrician families of the Julii and Claudii. The reigns of all five were remarkably similar, each expanding the Roman empire's territory and initiating large-scale building projects. All were resented by the senatorial class, despite their popularity with the people, and there was constant plotting to restore the Republic. In fact, many notable members of the ruling families were themselves desirous of seeing the Republic return, but these individuals were usually disposed of by Livia Drusilla in her pursuit of securing the imperial throne for her son by a previous marriage, Tiberius. A detailed feel for the period and events (if not necessarily full historical accuracy) can be gained from the BBC drama series, I, Claudius.

27 BC - AD 14

Caesar Augustus (Octavian)

Great-nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar.

27 BC

Octavian, son of Atia Balba Caesonia, niece of Julius Caesar, ends a century of civil wars and gives Rome an era of peace, prosperity, and imperial greatness, known as the Pax Romana, or Roman peace, which lasts for over two hundred years. He is known generally as Augustus, which simply means 'revered one'.

Caesar Augustus
During his long 'reign' as Rome's first citizen, Augustus brought peace to the city and oversaw its transition from failing Republic to vigorous and expanding empire

25 - 15 BC

Augustus determines that the Alpine tribes need to be pacified in order to end their warlike behaviour, alternately attacking or extracting money from Romans who pass through the region, even when they have armies in tow. He wages a steady, determined campaign against them, and in a period of ten years he 'pacifies the Alps all the way from the Adriatic to the Tyrrhenian seas' (written by Augustus himself). The Brigantii and their immediate neighbours are defeated by 15 BC, with Brigantion being captured. The settlement is converted into a Roman military camp.

12 - 9 BC

Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus, stepson of Emperor Augustus, is appointed governor of the Rhine region of Gaul. He launches the first major Roman campaigns across the Rhine and begins the conquest of Germania. He starts with a successful campaign that subjugates the Sicambri. Later in the same year he leads a naval expedition along the North Sea coast, conquering the Batavi and the Frisii, and defeating the Chauci near the mouth of the Weser. In 11 BC, he conquers the Bructeri, Usipetes and Marsi, extending Roman control into the Upper Weser. In 10 BC, he launches a campaign against the Chatti and the resurgent Sicambri, subjugating both. The following year he conquers the Mattiaci, while also defeating the Marcomanni and Cherusci, the latter being taken care of near the Elbe. He is killed following a fall from his horse during his fourth campaign, and his death deprives Rome of one its best generals. (There is the suggestion that he may in fact be recovering from his serious injury but is poisoned by a doctor sent by Livia to take charge of his care, removing one of the more serious obstacles to her own son's path to becoming the successor of Augustus.)

12 - 11 BC

With the loyal General Agrippa his only possible successor in 23 BC, Augustus had him divorce his wife and marry the widowed Julia, his daughter from his previous marriage to Scribonia. Agrippa had been twenty-five years older than his new wife, but their marriage had delivered three sons and two daughters, and two of the sons, Gaius and Lucius, had been adopted by Augustus as his own. Now in 12 BC Agrippa dies and Augustus realises that the boys need a guardian. Therefore, he turns to the two adult sons of his wife, Livia. The elder of them, Tiberius, is made to divorce his wife Vipsania, marry Julia, and become protector to the young heirs to Augustus. Despite Tiberius deeply resenting this demand, the marriage goes ahead on 12 February 11 BC.

AD 4

With both Gaius and Lucius, the sons of Agrippa and Julia, now dead (possibly due to the machinations of Livia), Augustus has little choice but to adopt the reluctant Tiberius as his successor, along with fifteen year-old Agrippa Postumus, Julia's youngest son. Postumus is conveniently sent into exile just three years later.

9

Arminius, king of the Germanic Cherusci tribe, decimates three legions of infantry under Roman governor Publius Quinctilius Varus. The disaster is a tremendous blow to Roman plans for expansion into Germania Magna, something from which they never entirely recover. Upon the death of Emperor Augustus, a document left by him is read to the senate, expressly forbidding any extension of the empire beyond the Rhine. News of this command is welcomed by the German tribes, thinking that it gives them a free hand in the region.

In the eastern Mediterranean, the new provinces of Dalmatia, Moesia and Thrace are formed, and the province of Macedonia acquires the physical dimensions that it retains throughout the empire period. It also gains safety and security at last, with the Thracian tribes fully pacified and external threats kept away by the buffer provinces around it.

14

The death of Caesar Augustus is the occasion for the Res Gestae Divi Augusti ('The Deeds of the Divine Augustus') funerary inscription to be read. The document is a form of obituary, recounting the emperor's deeds to his mourning subjects. It also mentions the Charudes of Jutland who are said to have petitioned Rome for its friendship.

14 - 37

Tiberius

Son of Livia, and adopted son of Octavian. By birth a Claudian.

14 - 15

Germanicus Julius Caesar, born either Nero Claudius Drusus after his father or Tiberius Claudius Nero after his uncle, invades northern Germany on a campaign against the victorious Cherusci tribe. Together with his Cherusci ally, Segestes, he starts with a massacre of the Marsi. This enrages the Germanic tribes and Arminius' confederation is reformed willingly. Roman forces (and Batavi allies) have to relieve Segestes from a siege which is being conducted by Arminius.

16 - 17

The Cherusci suffer two defeats to Germanicus in AD 16, the first being at Idistaviso and then at the Battle of the Angrivarian Walls in the summer of the same year. Arminius doubtless finds his authority has been damaged by the second defeat at least, and in AD 17 civil war breaks out amongst the Germans when his own allies turn against him.

During this period, also in AD 17, Germanicus is recalled from Germany and sent to the east. Many see this as an act of jealously by an emperor who is envious of the general's popularity. It could also be due to Germanicus being perceived as a potential rival to Tiberius, despite his proclamations of loyalty. To cap it all, Germanicus dies in suspicious circumstances, possibly poisoned, with the act being attributed by some to Livia and her network of agents and supporters. Another rival to Tiberius has been removed from the scene.

Tiberius
Tiberius was probably a reluctant emperor who was manoeuvred into the role by the machinations of his mother, Livia, and in his later days he shunned many of his duties

17

Archelaus of Cappadocia angers Tiberius after favouring one of his rivals for the imperial diadem, and is summoned to Rome where he dies, possibly of natural causes (or suicide). Tributary Cappadocia now becomes a Roman province while Lesser Armenia is handed to the stepson of Archelaus, Artaxias III, who rules there as a client king. Cilicia is handed to Archelaus' natural son to rule as another client king.

21

The somewhat divided Aeduii appear to have been neglected by Rome. The dissatisfaction of the tribe's people results in a revolt by them and the Treveri under the leadership of Julius Sacroviros of the Aeduii and Julius Florus of the Treveri. They seize control of Augustodunum, but are quickly put down by Gaius Silius. Sacroviros is forced to flee with a few of his followers and takes refuge in the Aeduii countryside. Soon afterwards they all commit suicide in the Roman fashion, by the sword. Julius Florus is defeated in battle against Gaius Sillius' lieutenant, Julius Indus. He commits suicide to avoid capture.

31

Lucius Aelius Seianus (more commonly known as Sejanus) has manipulated his position as head of the Praetorian guard to become the emperor's personal advisor. He is also the vicious and ambitious head of a network of agents and informers who may hold his own ambitions of gaining the imperial throne. The emperor is partially responsible for the air of suppressed fear in Rome, as he has willingly allowed Sejanus to take much of the burden of government from his hands. Finally realising that he has created a monster, Tiberius is able to initiate a purge in Rome which sees Sejanus and many of his supporters and allies killed in the streets.

37 - 41

Gaius Caesar (Caligula)

Son of Germanicus Caesar, Tiberius' nephew. A despot.

41

Early in the year, Caligula's brief and colourful reign is ended by a plot engineered by army officers and senators. He is replaced by the unlikely and unprepared Claudius, whose wife is a member of the Urgulanilla, a noble family which can trace its origins back to the Etruscan city of Caisra.

41 - 54

Claudius

Uncle. Assassinated by Agrippina, mother of Nero.

43

Rome invades Britannia and begins the conquest of the island. Under the command of Governor Aulus Plautius, the invasion force probably consists of four legions of citizen troops, II Augusta, XIV Gemina, XX Valeria Victrix, and IX Hispana. Each legion has a nominal strength of just over 5,000 men and is divided into ten cohorts, each of 480 men except the first which probably has 800. Each ordinary cohort comprises six centuries of eighty men. Additional units of auxiliaries probably brings the total strength of the force up to about 40,000 men (although it has to be assumed that four legions in fact take part in the invasion).

47

The Chauci and Frisii are to be found under the command of Gannascus of the Canninefates. Together, they continue to raid the coastline of Gallia Belgica. The newly-appointed Roman military commander, Corbulo, engages the attackers in battle and defeats them. He also places triremes on the Rhine and takes on the Chauci vessels, successfully destroying those too. Gannascus is driven out of Gallia Belgica and the Frisii are occupied by force. Under the pretence of holding negotiations with Gannascus, the Romans assassinate him. This dishonourable act causes outrage among the Chauci, and Emperor Claudius orders a withdrawal of Roman forces to the Rhine in order to ease tensions.

c.50

There is an invasion across the Rhine into the empire by a Teutonic people whom later Roman writers name the Chamavi [tribe or group] of the Franci.

54 - 68

Nero

Deposed by Senate and suicided to avoid the Roman mob.

54 - 59

Julia Agrippina (Minor)

Mother. Self-appointed regent. Killed on Nero's orders.

59

The lower Rhine has recently been cleared out by Rome to serve as a buffer zone between the empire and tribal Germania. The Frisii are under the mistaken belief that they will be exempt from any retaliation by Rome if they reoccupy this area, but they are swiftly disabused of this belief when Roman cavalry sweeps them out. Then the homeless Ampsivarii tribe petitions Rome to be able to settle the area but this attempt also fails.

66 - 73

The First Jewish Uprising in Judah leads to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. In 67, the Nabataeans send an army to aid General (later emperor) Vespasian in the siege.

67

The early leader of the Christian church, Peter, is put to death in Rome by means of crucifixion. He is later claimed as the first official Pope.

68

With Nero's Rome slipping into chaos, Caius Julius Vindex, a governor in Gaul, launches a revolt with support from Servius Sulpicius Galba. Vindex soon finds that his levies are no match for legions sent from Germania Superior (IIII Macedonica, XXI Rapax, and XXII Primigenia), under the command of Lucius Verginius Rufus and supported by ever-reliable Gallic communities such as the Lingones. Nero loses control in Rome and commits suicide, ending the Julio-Claudian dynasty of emperors. The scene is set for the 'Year of Four Emperors'.

Soldier Emperors

The 'Year of the Four Emperors' witnessed the first time the imperial selection system broke down, as various legions proclaimed their own emperors. The process was started by the Senate voting Galba emperor at the same time as they declared Nero a public enemy. Suddenly the legions and Gaulish tribes who had supported the former regime by suppressing Vindex's revolt found themselves under suspicion. Supported by the Helvetii, Galba replaced their commander with Marcus Hordeonius Flaccus, which was interpreted as a sign of distrust. Instability and distrust gripped the empire.

68 - 69

Servius Sulpicius Galba

Spanish general who marched on Rome. Murdered.

68 - 69

Galba, a former governor of Africa Proconsularis, begins his short reign with the execution of many allies of Nero and possible future enemies, but he swiftly demonstrates his lack of ability to wield supreme power. His replacement of key figures leads to a revolt of the legions in Gaul. They accept as their emperor Aulus Vitellius, governor of Germania Inferior. When this news reaches Rome, Galba panics and announces the appointment of a successor. The result is that imperial guard assassinates Galba and replaces him with Marcus Salvius Otho.

69

Marcus Salvius Otho

Popular with the soldiers. Committed suicide.

69

Among the first measures to be enacted by Otho is to award Roman citizenship to all Lingones, hoping that they will abandon their alliance with Vitellius. Unfortunately, eight Batavian auxiliary units meet up with the legions of Vitellius in the country of the Lingones. On 16 April AD 69, the Vitellians defeat Otho's army near Cremona. Otho commits suicide and the Senate hastily sends its congratulations to Vitellius. The Helvetii are also crushed by the forces of Vitellius.

69

Aulus Vitellius

Proclaimed on the Rhine. Executed by Vespasian.

69

At this point, with the supporters of Vitellius openly battling those of Vespasian in the streets of Rome, a Lingonian named Julius Sabinus proclaims himself emperor. This appears to be the first instance of a western emperor standing in opposition to Rome and using Gaul as his power base. Sabinus becomes the leader of the Batavian rebellion, although it is Gaius Julius Civilis who commands the Batavi forces. Initially the rebellion is successful, with two Roman legions being lost, while two others fall into the hands of the rebels.

Flavians

Vespasian was proclaimed emperor by his troops and returned from Judea to take control of Rome. He ended the period of uncertainty in the empire and effectively saved Rome from the chaos that had gripped it since the accession of Vitellius. He authorised the demolition of Nero's fabulous Golden House in the centre of Rome and began construction of its replacement, the Colosseum.

FeatureAlthough the period of the Flavians was relatively short, the name proved popular, and was a common component of Roman names for generations. The third emperor, Domitian, also served a single term as elected archon of Athens (AD 91-92).

69 - 79

Vespasian

General in his 60s. Former governor of Africa Proconsularis.

70

With the defeat of Vitellius in Rome, his former supporters join Sabinus in opposing Rome. Sabinus makes a major mistake, however, when he attacks the Sequani who have remained loyal to Vespasian. They repulse his attack and a conference of the Gauls in the land of the Remi leads to a decision to support Rome against the Batavi. The Lingones and Treveri are invited to lay down their weapons, which many apparently fail to do. Quintus Petillius Cerialis is sent against them with three legions and they are quickly suppressed. The Lingones surrender the remaining rebels to him. Vespasian orders the execution of Julius Sabinus but the Lingones go unpunished, although their auxiliary units are posted to Britain (at least four units of 500 men).

Celts
The Gaulish and Germanic Batavian revolt of AD 69-70 was a major contributor to the instability experienced in the Roman empire during the 'Year of Four Emperors'

79

FeatureCatastrophe hits southern Italy when Mount Vesuvius explodes with violent strength to bury the cities of Herculanium and Pompeii. The death toll is unknown, but the people of Herculaneum, once thought to have got away, are found in excavations on the ancient waterfront in 1980, huddled on the beach and in boatsheds where they die during the worst of the eruption.

79 - 81

Titus

Son.

81 - 96

Domitian

Brother. Assassinated thanks to his increasing paranoia.

c.81 - 96

The Celtic tribe of the Lugii are mentioned by Cassius Dio in his Roman History. During Domitian's reign the 'Lygians' in Moesia, having become involved in war with some of the Suevi, send envoys asking Domitian for aid. He grants them a force of a hundred warriors, 'a force that was strong, not in numbers, but in dignity'. The Suevi, indignant at this help, attach members of the Iazyges to their number make preparations to cross the Ister with them. What happens next remains unrecorded.

83

Around this year, Rome establishes two provinces on the border territory between Gaul and Germania Magna, calling them Germania Superior and Germania Inferior. The latter has contained Roman settlements for over a century, and had previously formed part of Gallica Belgica. Cities such as Aachen, Cologne, Mainz, Speyer, Trier, and Worms are all founded within these provinces by Rome and all of them become important medieval cities. Domitian also antagonises the Germanic tribes by driving back the Chatti from these new provinces.

89

Antoninus Saturninus

Usurper army general.

89

Two legions of Domitian's armies in Germania Superior at Mogontiacum (Mainz) revolt under L Antoninus Saturninus, for reasons that are largely lost to history (thanks to the later destruction of Saturninus' personal documents). The revolt is supported by the Chatti tribe. It is quite plausible that the officers involved rebel against Domitian's rather strict moral policies. Whatever goal Saturninus has is completely unknown and there seems to be little indication of a plan. The governor of Germania Inferior puts down the revolt, seemingly before it even begins. In AD 90, the Governor of Britannia, Sallustius Lucullus, is executed, possibly for a perceived (or real) connection with the revolt.

Adoptive Emperors

The election to the purple of Nerva, an elderly, moderate and capable man, saw the start of the 'five good emperors' golden age. The adoptive emperors are so named because they adopted their successors during their lifetime, ensuring a smooth and peaceful transfer of power upon their deaths. The system collapsed when Marcus Aurelius had to chose between an effective heir and his own unstable son.

At this time, the early Christian church was still growing and, although not subject to the same levels of barbarity as seen in the first century, Christians remained persecuted and were often executed. Even the early church fathers (often later claimed as the first Popes) suffered at the hands of Roman emperors.

(Additional information from The Oxford History of England: Roman Britain, Peter Salway.)

96 - 98

Marcus Cocceius Nerva

Adopted Trajan, a commander of the Rhine forces.

98

Writing at this time, Tacitus not only mentions a large number of tribes in Europe, he also describes Ireland. He calls it 'a small country in comparison with Britain, He goes on to state that he has often heard his father-in-law,  General Agricola, 'say that Ireland could be reduced and held by a single legion with a fair force of auxiliaries'.

Tombstone of Tacitus
The tombstone of Tacitus once marked the final resting place of one of Rome's most important authors, who not only chronicled the creation of the empire, but also listed the many barbarian tribes of Europe and the British Isles (Licensed: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International)

98 - 117

Trajan

Increased the empire's borders to their greatest extent.

101 - 106

Trajan fights two Dacian Wars (the area of the Balkans up to Transylvania) in 101-102 and 105-106 as the Dacians are proving to be an obstacle to Roman expansion in that area. It is possible that some neighbouring tribes, such as the Bastarnae, are also involved, despite having been at peace with Rome for some time. In 106, the Nabataeans are conquered and their capital city becomes the capital of the province of Arabia Petraea.

117

He dies on the way back from conquests in Mesopotamia against the Parthians (in which Harran is captured), which the consolidating Hadrian disavows.

117 - 138

Hadrian

Archon of Athens (112-113). An unconventional emperor.

132 - 135

The Second Jewish Uprising in Judah is led by Simon Bar Kochba against Roman rule.

117 - 136

Hadrian spends much of his career consolidating the empire and securing its borders. This includes the building of limes, or defensive works, along the Rhine to keep out possible future Germanic incursions, although it is probably Hadrian's successor, Antoninus, who completes much of this work.

136

Two years before his death Hadrian adopts a consul by the name of L Aelius Caesar to be his successor, but the latter's premature death forces Hadrian to select again. Antoninus Pius has a reputation for honesty and devotion to duty.

138 - 161

Antoninus Pius

Died of fever in Etruria.

140 - 143

Never one to willingly make war, Antoninus is forced to order the reoccupation of the British territories of lowland Scotland and begin construction of the Antonine Wall in order to resolve the problem of barbarian pressure.

161 - 180

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

Aurelius and Lucius Verus are the empire's first joint rulers.

161 - 169

Lucius Verus

Co-emperor. M Lucilla, dau of Marcus Aurelius. Died early.

165 - 180

Plague enters Rome from the east, brought back by returning legionaries. It quickly spreads throughout the empire and is generally known as the Antonine Plague, although the Plague of Galen, who describes its spread, is sometimes used. The total death toll may reach five million, with as many as 2,000 dying a day in Rome at its height. It may be the reason for the early death of Lucius Verus in 169, and it drastically weakens the army.

166 - 169

The first invasion of Germanic peoples across the Danube takes place under the leadership of the Marcomanni, which also includes elements from many other tribes including the Buri, Iazyges, Quadi, Sarmatians, and Suebi. It penetrates into Italy and forces Marcus Aurelius to spend the rest of his life campaigning in the Danube region to contain the problem. While he is away from Rome, a new generation emerges which is in thrall to the gladiator spectacles arranged by his fun-loving son, Commodus.

Roman defensive tower
Emperors Hadrian and Antoninus Pius had concentrated on defining the Roman empire's borders, defending the territory they had. That would have included building watch towers along the limes in the Danube region which the Marcomanni managed to break through

169 - 170

The resistance put up by the Romans surprises the tribes, and some of the latter seek individual peace treaties with Rome. As recorded by Cassius Dio, both the Iazyges and the Buri seek peace, and some concessions are granted to them, but neither are willing to join the Roman side until they receive pledges that Marcus Aurelius will "without fail prosecute the war to the uttermost; for they were afraid he might make a treaty with the Quadi, as before, and leave enemies dwelling at their doors". Ultimately, the Buri are well-rewarded for absenting themselves from the war, but have to face the hostility of their former allies.

172 - 174

Peace is agreed between Rome and the Quadi after two years of heavy fighting in Quadi territory, with the Roman forces being led by Marcus Aurelius in person. The start of the fighting is known thanks to a battle in Slovakia on 11 June 172 during which the Romans, who have been cut off from access to water by the Quadi, are saved from defeat by a 'magic rain', a fortuitous heavy downpour. This event is depicted on the Column of Marcus Aurelius in Rome.

175 - 176

Avidius Cassius

Army general.

176

Cassius leads a revolt against Marcus Aurelius in the east, but a campaign against him swiftly ends his ambitions.

177 - 180

Commodus

Son of Marcus Aurelius. Totally unfit to rule Rome.

180

Marcus Aurelius dies while conducting what would have been a final campaign against the most dangerous barbarian Germanic tribes across the Danube which is under Marcomanni leadership and includes Dacians, the Peucini, and Sarmatians. As it is, the problem is never fully resolved thereafter, and Rome gains one of the most worthless of emperors.

180 - 192

Commodus

Assassinated by arrangement of the praetorian prefect.

182

The reign of the dangerously erratic Commodus is very well depicted by two feature films (albeit an inaccurate depiction), The Fall of the Roman Empire (1963) and Gladiator (2000). Becoming sole emperor in 180, the nineteen year-old Commodus rules in relative external peace but with increasing political instability within the empire as his arbitrary mode of rule increases. In this year his sister, Lucilla, engineers an assassination attempt. The assassins, Marcus Ummidius Quadratus Annianus (her first cousin and consul in 167) and Appius Claudius Quintianus fail, are arrested and are executed. Lucilla is exiled to Capri where she is later killed.

192

Despite being largely popular with the army and the people, thanks to his lavish gladiatorial displays in which he frequently plays a starring role, Commodus has become increasingly dictatorial, especially following several conspiracies. Portraying himself as a demigod and ruling in opposition to the Senate, he re-founds Rome in 192 following a devastating fire, renaming it Colonia Lucia Annia Commodiana. The months of the year are renamed with his own twelve names, and various other institutions are renamed to reflect his glory, including the army and the navy. Finally tired of the emperor's self-deification, conspirators arrange for him to be strangled in his bath, ironically by his own wrestling partner.

Unassociated Emperors

Pertinax was prefect of Rome at Commodus' death and was proclaimed emperor by the praetorian prefect who arranged to have Commodus assassinated. Unfortunately he was a strict disciplinarian whose approach to politics ruffled a lot of feathers and began a period of instability and military mutiny. The 'Year of the Five Emperors' had begun.

193

Publius Helvius Pertinax

Former Governor of Britain and prefect of Rome. Assassinated.

193

The same praetorian prefect who had arranged the murder of Commodus also causes his men to assassinate Pertinax. In perhaps the most cynical act in their history they put the throne up for auction to the highest bidder. At the same time three separate provinces proclaim their own emperors and the seeds are sown for civil war.

Rome
Rome during the height of the empire, complete with forum, circus, and winding viaducts

193

Didius Julianus

An immensely wealthy senator. Murdered in the palace.

193 - 194

Pescennius Niger

Governor of Syria.

193

Decimus Clodius Albinus

Governor of Britannia.

193

Septimus Severus

Governor of Pannonia.

193

Severus marches on Rome and the praetorians declare for him. Julianus is dispatched only six months after the death of Commodus. Severus, now fully in command, offers Albinus the junior title of Caesar.

Severans

Septimus Severus, of North African origin, was proclaimed emperor by his legions in Pannonia at almost the same moment as the military in Syria proclaimed Niger and the troops in Britain proclaimed Albinus. Severus showed Machiavellian shrewdness in his dealings with his rivals, while his eldest son, Caracalla, was ruthless in dispatching any opposition to his own claim to succeeding his father. Both his father-in-law and his brother, Geta, were his victims.

193 - 211

Septimus Severus

FeatureDied 4 February.

193 - 197

Decimus Clodius Albinus

Caesar. Defeated and killed by Severus.

196 - 197

After an attempt to have Albinus assassinated fails, Severus marches on Gaul to meet Albinus' forces. The final battle is a close-run affair, but Albinus does not survive the encounter. Severus immediately divides the single province of Britannia, probably in a temporary fashion at first, with division being confirmed within two or three years.

202 or 203

The edict of persecution is issued in Rome. It forbids any conversion to Christianity under the severest penalties. This follows a period of relative relaxation in the persecution of early Christians within the empire.

Arch of Septimus Severus
The Machiavellian Septimus Severus continued to increase the glory of Rome (this surviving arch is named after him) but he continued the imperial practice of Christian persecution

209 - 211

Severus leads a campaign against the Caledonii in person, making his headquarters (and the centre of the Roman empire for three years) at Eboracum (York), but ill-health means he has to hand control of its day-to-day conduct to Caracalla.

198 - 217

Antoninus (Septimius Bassianus Caracalla)

Son. Became Augustus upon the death of his father.

209 - 212

Antoninus (Publius Septimius Geta)

Brother. Co-emperor. Murdered by Caracalla.

213

The Alemanni are first mentioned by Dio Cassius when they fight Emperor Antoninus (Septimius Bassianus Caracalla). They apparently live in the basin of the River Main, to the south of the Chatti. According to Asinius Quadratus, they have emerged from the Irminone grouping of Germanic tribes that was to be found in the Elbe region by the late first century AD.

217

Caracalla dies a rather mysterious death while visiting a temple of Luna with only his personal bodyguard, which includes his prefect of the Praetorian guard, Macrinus. Perhaps not coincidentally, Macrinus had recently found his name on one of Caracalla's death lists.

Second Unassociated Emperors Period

By 11 April 217, Macrinus had proclaimed himself emperor. He was the first man to become so without membership in the senatorial class and was the first emperor of Moorish descent. Macrinus also nominated his son, Diadumenianus, as Caesar (the junior rank) and successor and conferred upon him the name 'Antoninus', so connecting him with the relatively stable reigns of the Antonine emperors.

217 - 218

Macrinus

Of Mauritanian origin.

218

Diadumenianus (Caesar)

Son.

218

Severan family plotting paves the way for the proclamation of one of their own as emperor. Macrinus, deserted by many of his allies, is defeated in battle, flees, and is captured and executed. His son is also later executed.

Second Severans Dynasty

Macrinus reinforced the notion of the soldiers as the true brokers of power in the third century empire and highlighted the importance of maintaining the support of this vital faction. His reign was followed by another seventeen years of rule under Severan emperors.

218 - 222

Antoninus (Elagabalus)

Son of Caracalla's female cousin.

222 - 235

Severus Alexander

Cousin. Murdered for failing to fight the German tribes.

232 - 233

Just as the newly dominant Sassanid Persians conquer areas of Mesopotamia (including Harran) in 232, the Alemanni make the first of their invasions of the empire in 233. They participate decisively in the plundering raids into the limes region, the provinces beyond, and even into Italy.

before 232

Uranius Antoninus

Usurper cited by Zosimus either here or in 253.

before 232

Uranius is apparently active during the reigns of Elagabalus or Alexander Severus. However, it is possible that Zosimus confuses this usurper with L Julius Aurelius Sulpicius Severus Uranius Antoninus, who reigns in 253. What happens to him after he stakes his claim to the throne is not known, but can be guessed.

Second Soldier Emperors Period

The murder of Severus Alexander ended the principate system set up by Augustus and began a period of chaos in which usurper after usurper gained and lost the imperial throne as palace plot, mutiny, and murder created a climate that elevated no less than seventeen would-be emperors to the purple. During these uncertain times, the hiring of Germanic barbarians as laeti to help guard the borders of the empire began to be seen as standard practice.

(Additional information by Edward Dawson, from The Oxford History of England: Roman Britain, Peter Salway, and from External Links: University of Leicester, and Listverse.)

235 - 238

Maximinus Thrax

A Thracian soldier who rose through the ranks.

235

Maximinus (Gaius Julius Verus Maximinus) is conspicuous for being the first barbarian to wear the imperial purple and the first emperor never to set foot in Rome. During his reign he faces various threats and plots against him, and the year 238 is remarkable as one which has no less than six rival emperors.

Colosseum in Rome
The Colosseum in Rome - also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre - was built from concrete and stone by Emperor Vespasian from AD 72, and was completed in AD 80 under the aegis of his son, Titus - it continued in use as a place of entertainment until the sixth century, after which it was converted into a cemetery (click on image to see full sized)

238

Gordian I (the Elder)

Formerly Gov of Britain. Proclaimed in Africa. In power 3 wks.

238

Gordian II

Son. Proclaimed co-emperor at the same time as his father.

238

Both Gordians die in the province of Africa when the governor of the neighbouring province of Numidia marches against them and kills Gordan II. His father commits suicide upon hearing the news. As the Senate had supported the Gordians, they elect two of their own number to protect them against Maximinus' retribution.

238

Balbinus

Elected by Senate.

238

Pupienus (Maximus)

Elected by Senate.

238

Maximinus marches on Rome but his troops, suffering from famine and disease, and bogged down in an unexpected siege of the city, which had closed its gates when they approached, become disaffected. In April the Praetorian guards in Maximinus' camp assassinate him, his son and his chief ministers and place their heads on poles to carry them into Rome. The Senate elects the thirteen year-old Gordian III, grandson of Gordian I, as emperor.

238 - 244

Gordian III

Elected Caesar by Senate under pressure from Roman mob.

240

Sabinianus

Usurper in Africa. Defeated by the governor of Mauritania.

244 - 249

Marcus Julius Philippus 'the Arab'

Praetorian prefect who may have murdered Gordian.

247 - 249

Phillipius (Casear)

Son of Phillipius the Arab. Murdered at the age of 11.

244 - ?

Priscus

Ruler of the East in Philip's name (Rector Orientis).

248 - 249

Tiberius Claudius Pacatianus

Usurper on Danube frontier. Quickly crushed.

248

Marcus Jotapianus

Usurper in the East. Put down by Priscus.

249?

Marcus Silbannacus

Usurper in Rome in c.249 or 253.

c.249

Sponsianus

Usurper on the Danube frontier. Of dubious existence.

249 - 251

Gaius Messius Quintus Decius

Proclaimed by Danube legions. Killed at the Battle of Abrittus.

249 - 251

Decius marches on Rome in 249 and defeats Philip the Arab in battle. Philip's son is murdered in Rome when the news arrives there. In 251, Decius fights the Goths at the Battle of Abrittus (otherwise known as the Battle of Forum Terebronii). Both he and his son are killed, making him the first emperor to suffer this fate in a battle against non-Roman enemies. However, his death brings respite to the persecuted Christians of the Roman Church.

250

Julius Valens Licinianus

Usurper in Rome with Senate backing.

251

Herennius Etruscus

Son of Decius. Co-emperor. Killed at the Battle of Abrittus.

c.250

A group of Franks take advantage of the state of the empire and penetrate as far as Tarragona in modern Spain. They plague this region for about a decade before Roman forces subdue them and expel them from Roman territory.

251

Titus Julius Priscus

Usurper in Macedon with Gothic protection.

251

Hostilianus / Hostilian

Son of Decius. Accepted as Caesar by Gallus. Killed by plague.

251 - 253

Trebonianus Gallus

Governor of Moesia Superior proclaimed by his troops.

251 - 253

Volusianus

Son. Murdered.

253

Marcus Aemelius Aemilianus

Governor of Moesia Spr & Pannonia proclaimed by troops.

253

Upon Aemilianus' approach to Rome, both Gallus and his son are murdered by their own troops. Unusually, both emperors are commemorated in milestones found in the territory of the Cornovii in Britain.

253?

Marcus Silbannacus

Usurper in Rome in c.249 or 253.

253

Valerian marches on Rome to avenge Gallus and sees Aemilianus assassinated by his own troops rather than offer battle to a more powerful army. The accession of Valerian and his son, Gallienus, as joint emperors marks the end of nearly two decades of chaos at the centre of the empire. It also comes just in time as pressure on the Roman frontiers both in the west and east turn into a series of massive invasions.

253 - 260

Valerian

Defeated & captured by Sassanid Persian Shah in 260.

253 - 260

Gallienus

Son. Archon of Athens. Joint emperor. Ruled alone from 260.

253 - 254

Uranius Antoninus

Usurper cited by Zosimus either here or before 232.

256

The Sassanids capture the Roman fortress city of Dura in eastern Syria. Part of their efforts to take the fortress involves digging a deep mine under the city wall and a tower. The Romans tunnel from the other side to intercept them and a shaft is created around the intercept point. The precise outcome is unknown.

Dura
The city of Dura-Europos had been founded in 300 BC by the Seleucid Greeks, seized by the Arsacids and then by the Romans, and was then destroyed almost six hundred years after its creation by a drawn-out border conflict between Rome and the Sassanids

258

The Alemanni break into the empire in strength, causing widespread damage. The archaeological evidence reveals a lack of continuity in the provincial Roman population of the limes. Roman encampments and settlements, including the villae rusticae (farms), are abandoned and destroyed. With extraordinary effectiveness the Alemanni penetrate as far as Italy where they are at last halted (the Juthungi can be included in this invasion). Gallienus (who is administering the west) meets them and defeats them in battle at Milan. He also agrees an alliance with the Marcomanni to defend the empire's border in Pannonia.

260 - 268

Gallienus

Murdered in unclear circumstances.

260

The accession of Gallienus as sole emperor brings to an end the wave of persecution that Valerian had triggered. Gallienus issues an edict of toleration which lasts until AD 303 and gives the Roman Church legal status.

258/260

Ingenuus

Usurper in Pannonia. Died during or after his defeat in battle.

260

Regalianus

Usurper in Pannonia. Defeated.

260

Crisis strikes the weakened empire, with two major splinter states (both backed in pink) forming in the same year. The Rhine frontier collapses completely at around the same time.

The first is created by Postumus, lieutenant on the Rhine to Emperor Gallienus. He murders the praetorian prefect, Silvanus, and Gallienus' own son Saloninus at Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (modern Cologne) and declares himself emperor. The Roman provinces in Germany, Gaul, Spain, and Britain and their armies support him. For the next thirteen years the whole of the north-western part of the empire is run as an independent but fully Roman state with its own series of emperors, and is called the 'Empire of the Gallic Provinces' (Imperium Galliarum / the Gallic Empire - 260-274). Postumus establishes a capital at Cologne, the headquarters of Germania Inferior and chief town of the Ubii.

The second splinter state is the Palmyrene empire (260-272), which encompasses the Roman provinces of Syria, Palestine, Egypt and large parts of Asia Minor. It is ruled as little more than an expanded kingdom by Queen Zenobia for her infant son Vaballanthus with a capital at Palmyra.

260 - 268

Marcus Cassianus Latinius Postumus

Usurper in Gaul. Murdered while putting down an insurrection.

260 - 273

Zenobia of Palmyra

Usurper in Syria. Defeated, captured, and lived on in Rome.

267 - 273

Vaballanthus

Infant son. Died on the way to Rome.

260

Macrianus Major / the Elder

Elected by the Eastern army. Made his two sons emperors.

260

Balista

Prefect who supported Macrianus.

260 - 261

Macrianus Minor / the Younger

Son.

260 - 261

Quietus

Brother.

261

Lucius Calpurnius Piso Frugi

Sent by Macrianus to counter Valens. Killed by Valens.

261

Valens

Governor of Achaea. Killed by his own troops.

261

Mussius Aemilianus

Macrianus supporter in Egypt. Killed by a General Theodotus.

260 - 261

Quietus and Balista remain in the East and in Egypt to secure their rule, while Macrianus Major and Minor move to Thrace to counter Gallienus. Both are defeated and killed in battle, while Quietus is killed by Odaenathus of Palmyra.

Valens' troops, marching in defence of Gallienus, proclaim their commander emperor, and Piso's troops do the same with their commander. Piso is then killed by Valens, who is later killed by his own troops.

262

Memor

Usurper in North Africa. Prepared to rebel. Killed by Theodotus.

268

Manius Acilius Aureolus

Roman cavalry cmdr. Revolted and supported Postumus.

268 - 270

Claudius II Gothicus

Died of plague in January.

268 - 270

Victorinus

Successor to Postumus in Imperium Galliarum.

267/268 - 269

The Peucini Bastarnae are specifically mentioned in the invasion across the Roman frontier. Part of the barbarian coalition which includes Goths and Heruli, they use their knowledge of boat building from several centuries of living on the Black Sea coast and in the Danube estuary to help build a fleet in the estuary of the River Tyras (now the Dniester). The force of which they are part sails along the coast to Tomis in Moesia Inferior. They attack the town but are unable to take it. Sailing on, they are frustrated twice more, at Marcianopolis (Devnya in modern Bulgaria) and Thessalonica in Macedonia. Finally, they move into Thrace where they are crushed by Emperor Claudius II at Naissus in 269.

268

The Alemanni incur into Italy after breaking through the frontier at Brenner Pass. They are confronted by Claudius II who may initially attempt to negotiate a peace. This fails and the resultant Battle of Benacus (Lake Garda) in November is a crushing victory for Rome. More than half the Alemanni are killed or captured and the rest flee northwards over the Alps and back into their territory.

270

Quintillus

Brother of Claudius. Seized power. Killed or suicided.

270 - 275

Aurelian

Completed reuniting the empire. Murdered.

270 - 274

Beginning with Aurelian, a series of remarkable soldier emperors commences the process of reunifying and restoring the empire. Aurelian defeats the Germanic barbarians who had crossed the Danube, including Goths, Sarmatians and probably Bastarnae, and kills the leader of the Goths. This act begins a shift of power amongst the barbarian tribes.

270 - 274

Esuvius Tetricus

Successor to Victorinus in Imperium Galliarum.

273 - 274

Tetricus II

Son. Caesar. Life (and senatorial rank?) spared by Aurelian.

271

Domitianus

FeatureTried to rule Imperium Galliarum. Killed by Aurelian.

273

Firmus

Usurper in Egypt. Evidence for him is unreliable.

274

The Imperium Galliarum collapses when Aurelian defeats its military power in battle at Ch‚lons, the capital of the Catalauni Gauls. Tetricus surrenders and is permitted to pursue a useful and distinguished career in Roman life. The governance of Britain is rearranged, creating the Diocese of the Britains between now and 314 and sub-dividing the existing two provinces into four.

275

Ulpia Severina

Wife of Aurelian. Augusta since 274. Ruled during interregnum.

275 - 276

Marcus Claudius Tacitus

Elected by the Senate. Assassinated.

276

Marcus Annius Florianus

Half brother of Tacitus. Killed for failing to defeat Probus.

276 - 282

Marcus Aurelius Probus

Carried on the Roman recovery. Killed by his troops.

277

Vandali and Burgundians who had crossed the Rhine to invade the empire are defeated by Probus and are resettled in Britannia. Probus also defeats and resettles the Bastarnae south of the Danube.

280 or 81

Julius Saturninus

Usurper in Syria. Killed by his own troops.

280 - 281

Proculus

Usurper in Gaul. Betrayed and handed over by Frankish allies.

280

Gallus Quintus Bonosus

Joint usurper. Hanged himself when defeated by Probus.

282 - 283

Marcus Aurelius Carus

Cmdr of Praetorian Guard. Probably died of natural causes.

283 - 284

Carinus (Caesar)

Son. Governed the west. Defeated by Diocletian.

283 - 284

Numerian (Caesar / Augustus)

Brother. Succeeded his father in the east. Died naturally.

283 - 285 or 286

Julianus Sabinus / Julian I

Usurper in Pannonia (possibly two similarly named usurpers).

Tetrarchs

Commander of Numerian's personal guard, Diocletian's sudden elevation marked the start of the so-called Late Roman world. Of humble provincial origin in Dalmatia, and originally named Diocles, he was marked as an arch reformer, yet he was also dedicated to Roman tradition.

One of his most remarkable reforms was the introduction of the 'Tetrarchy' in 293 when the empire was again under serious strain. Each of the two senior emperors, the 'Augusti', would rule the eastern and western halves of the empire, aided by their own junior 'Caesar'. The system worked as a college of four emperors. When one of the elder two died or retired, his colleague would also retire, the juniors would take their places, and would promote two Caesars of their own. Unfortunately it was not to work for very long.

(Additional information from The Oxford History of England: Roman Britain, Peter Salway.)

284 - 305

Diocletian

Britannicus Maximus. Abdicated.

285

Diocletian appoints Maximianus, one of his officers, as his chief lieutenant with the title of Caesar. He also takes the title of Britannicus Maximus, and it seems reasonable to assume that a military success of some importance had been won in his name in Britannia, which lays within Maximianus' command. The following year, Maximianus is promoted to Augustus to act as co-emperor.

286 - 305

Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus

Abdicated.

286 - 287

Carausius, a commander of low birth who had been impressive under Maximianus' command, is suspected of collusion with raiding barbarians. When Maximianus orders his execution he proclaims himself emperor and seizes the provinces of Britannia. In 289 he successfully defeats at least two attempts by Maximianus to dislodge him, revealing a level of weakness within the empire.

287 - 293

Marcus Mausaeus Carausius

Usurper in Britannia.

288 - 292

Gaul and Germany still present problems to Rome, especially where Heruli have crossed the Rhine to attack Gaul, along with Alemanni and Saxons. Maximianus is involved in heavy fighting on the Lower Rhine and also on the Upper Danube. He returns to take personal command on the Rhine in order to release Constantius for an attack on Britannia.

293

Constantius Chlorus, the western Caesar, retakes important sections of Carausius' Gallic territories and defeats his Frankish allies in Batavia In Britannia, Allectus assassinates Carausius and assumes command himself.

293 - 305

Galerius

Caesar in the east.

293 - 305

Constantius I Chlorus

Caesar in the west.

293 - 296

Allectus

Usurper in Britannia. Former treasurer to Carausius.

296

Constantius launches a major invasion of Britannia. Constantius' division is delayed by bad weather, but another division, under the praetorian prefect Asclepiodotus, takes advantage of fog to avoid Allectus' ships stationed around the Isle of Wight, and lands near Southampton Water, where they burn their ships as a gesture of defiance and determination. Allectus is forced to retreat from the coast, but is cut off by another of Constantius' divisions and is defeated. Allectus himself is killed in the battle. In the same year, Rome loses its hold on the Upper Euphrates region which includes Harran.

296 - 297

Domitius Domitianus

Usurper in Egypt. Died in December.

297 - 298

Aurelius Achilleus

Possible usurper in Egypt. Could have succeeded Domitius.

297

Diocletian calls in a people known as the Nobate from the oases of the western Egyptian desert (on the fringes of Kush), to defend the southern frontier of the empire at Aswan from raids by the Blemmyes, who are probably the Beja of the Red Sea Hills. These Noba and Nobatae settle along the river, and soon intermarry with the native population and replace the local language with their own. The Blemmyes are defeated, as is known by the Silko Greek inscription at Kalabsha which may be dated to around AD 530. Here Silko, who calls himself 'Basiliskos' or kinglet of the Nobatae, describes fighting the Blemmyes from Ibrim to Shellal and extracting an oath of submission from them.

303

St George, an officer of the Roman army (believed to have been born in Anatolia), is beheaded on 23 April on Diocletian's orders for refusing to renounce his Christianity. He is in Britannia when he hears that Christians are being persecuted by the pagan emperor, and returns to plead their case. Diocletian, in return, does all he can to persuade George to renounce Christianity, but without success (George becomes the patron saint of England, in place of Edward the Confessor, in the fourteenth century).

305 - 311

Galerius

Became Eastern Augustus upon Diocletian's retirement.

305 - 306

Constantius I Chlorus

Became Western Augustus upon Maximianus' retirement.

305 - 313

Maximinus Daia

Caesar in the east. Augustus from 311.

305 - 307

Flavius Valerius Severus II

Caesar in the west. Killed by Maxentius.

306 - 307

The year 306 heralds the confusing situation of having six emperors. When Constantius Chlorus dies at York in Britannia, Severus is promoted to Augustus by Galerius, while in Britannia the troops raise the popular Constantine. The latter is apparently encouraged by King Crocus of the Alemanni, commander of a cohort serving in Britain at this time.

Maxentius, the son of the retired emperor Maximianus, revolts at Rome and Galerius sent Severus to suppress him. Maxentius offers his father co-rule of the empire, and Maximianus accepts, regaining his title of Augustus. Severus' men desert him and Severus flees to Ravenna, later surrendering to Maximianus.

When Galerius himself invades Italy in 307 to suppress both Maxentius and his father, Maxentius has Severus killed. Galerian elevates Licinius as his replacement.

306 - 324

Constantine I the Great

Son of Constantius. Elevated by his troops in Eboracum.

306 - 312

Maxentius

Son of Maximianus. Revolted in Rome.

307 - 310

Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus

Restored by Maxentius.

308 - 310

By 308, Maximianus realises that his role is just a cover for Maxentius' real power, and he rebels against his own son, marching upon Rome, but is beaten. Maximianus finds refuge with Constantine in Gaul, where in 310 he briefly declares himself emperor for a third time in rebellion against Constantine. Forgiven, he is later revealed to be plotting an assassination attempt. He commits suicide.

During the same period, as recorded by the Panegyrici Latini Veteres which praises the later emperors, Constantine the Great is in Gaul during his preparations to invade the territory of the Bructeri. This action is possibly part of the retaliation for the Frankish raid across the Rhine in 306, which had been led by Ascarich and his co-ruler, Merogais. It is also possible that it is for this campaign that Constantine is able to assume the title Germanicus Maximus for the second time.

312

Maxentius is attacked by Constantine's army near Rome and defeated, with Maxentius himself drowning in the Tiber during the chaotic retreat of his forces.

308 - 324

Gaius Valerius Licinius Licinianus

Western Augustus. Became Eastern Augustus in 313.

308 - 313

Licinius is elevated to emperor of the west by Galerius. In 311, upon Galerius' death, Licinius shares the entire empire with Maximinus Daia.

Licinius successfully defends himself from an attack by Maximinus in 313 (the Battle of Tzirallum, 30 April), forcing the latter to flee, eventually, to Tarsus, where he dies. Licinius becomes master of the east, allowing his brother-in-law, Constantine, to rule unrivalled in the west.

313

Constantine confers his favour on the Christian church with the Edict of Milan.

324

Sextus Martinianus

Caesar in the east. Raised by Licinius.

324

Constantine declares war against Licinius again and defeats his army at the Battle of Adrianople (3 July). After withdrawing, Licinius surrenders after the Battle of Chrysopolis, near Chalcedon (18 September). He and his former co-emperor Sextus Martinianus are assassinated by Constantine for attempting to raise troops among the barbarians.

Second Flavian Dynasty

With all rivals in the former Tetrarchy removed, Constantine was now sole emperor and the second Flavian dynasty began. The immense personality and prestige of Constantine held the whole empire firm in his grip, but his death changed all that. The imperial family witnessed an outbreak of murderous squabbling and for three months there was no Augustus at all, and a major army revolt at Constantinople refused to accept any of the appointments to imperial rank that were proposed other than the sons of Constantine themselves. Eventually three brothers emerged to simultaneously hold the rank of Augustus, but even they squabbled.

(Additional information from The Oxford History of England: Roman Britain, Peter Salway.)

324 - 337

Constantine I the Great

Feature Now sole emperor.

325

On the rise in the three centuries following the death of Jesus in Judea, Christians are now in a position of strength, and serious conflict between them and the pagans of the empire arises, threatening to tear it apart. Constantine accepts Christianity as the religion of the empire and convenes the first ecumenical Christian council, confirming the position of the Pope.

Emperor Constantine the Great
Emperor Constantine the Great is perhaps best known for confirming Christianity as the official religion of the Roman empire, but he also did a great deal to stabilise the empire and ensure that it survived into the next century

330

Constantine dedicates his new capital, Constantinople, formally shifting Roman power away from Rome.

337

Constantine II emerges from the unsettled period following his father's death as the senior Augustus, controlling Britain, Gaul, and Spain - the Gallic Provinces. Constans controls Africa, Italy, and the Illyrian provinces, while Constantius II holds Constantinople and most of the east.

337 - 340

Constantine II

Son. Caesar since aged one month. Senior Augustus.

337 - 361

Constantius II

Brother. Eastern Augustus. Died of fever.

337 - 350

Constans I

Brother. Western Augustus from 340. Killed by Magnentius.

340

Constantine II objects to the attitude of Constans and launches an invasion of Italy. It is disaster: his army of the Gallic Prefecture is defeated and he is killed at Aquileia. This point seems to mark the start of Britannia's troubles, weakening the garrison there and perhaps contributing to a general loss of confidence. The Scotti and Picts on its border certainly seem to pick up on this, and begin raiding near or across the border on a regular basis

350

Vetranio (Vetriano)

Caesar. Accepted and then rejected by Constantius.

350 - 353

Magnentius

Usurper in the Imperial Gd units and controlled most of West.

351 - 353

Magnus Decentius

Caesar and probably brother.

353

One of the bloodiest battles in Roman history, Mursa Major in the Balkans, takes place between Magnentius and Constantius in 351, but it is following the former's defeat against Constantius at the Battle of Mons Seleucus in Gaul in 353 that Magnentius commits suicide by falling on his sword. Decentius subsequently hangs himself at Senonae. Constantius conducts a vicious witch hunt of Magnentius' supporters, notably in Britannia.

c.354 - 358

Carausius II

An unverified usurper in Britannia between these dates.

355 - 360

Julian the Apostate

Cousin. Elevated to Caesar by Constantius. A pagan.

355

Claudius Silvanus

Usurper in Gaul. Killed by bribed troops.

358

The Salian Franks are accepted into the northern Roman empire by Julian the Apostate. They settle in Brabant along with their Batavi allies. In reality the acceptance is little more than a formality as the empire is beginning to lack the ability to fight off barbarians on all fronts.

Julian the Apostate
Julian the Apostate abandoned Christianity in favour of a return to the old Roman ways of worship, and is shown being initiated into the Eleusian mysteries

360 - 361

At the start of 360, Julian is wintering in Lutetia Parisiorum (the city of the Parisii) when reports reach him that the Scotti and Picts have broken a previous agreement (perhaps made in 343) and are plundering lands close to the frontier in Britannia, presumably those of the Novantae and Selgovae. Given the situation on the Rhine, especially with the Alemanni, he is unable to leave, so he sends his magister militum, Lupicinus, along with some of his best units, the Heruli, the Batavi, and two numeri Moesiacorum. Lupicinus marshals his forces at London, but is recalled following Julian being proclaimed Augustus by his troops. Whether the campaign goes ahead under a less senior commander is unknown.

361 - 363

Julian the Apostate

Raised to Augustus in Gaul. Died of wounds on campaign.

363 - 364

Jovian

Raised perhaps mistakenly and died of food poisoning.

364 - 375

Valentinian I

Raised in Nicaea. Western Augustus. Died of apoplexy.

364 - 378

Valens

Raised by his brother, Valentinian. Eastern Augustus.

365 - 366

Procopius (Prokop)

Usurper in Constantinople. Captured and executed.

367

The Barbarian Conspiracy sees attacks falling on Britannia from all sides, although this seems to be the culmination of seven years of large-scale trouble on behalf of the Picts, Scotti, Saxons, and the mysterious Attacotti. Initially, Rome is taken by surprise, and the emperor's dux Fullofaudes is put out of action, either killed or cut off, probably near the Wall. Then Nectaridus, comes maritimi tractus (count of the maritime region), is killed in action. Both loses are serious blows, and the barbarians are now able to divide up into bands so that they can steal and sack and burn whatever they like. General Theodosius (the Elder) is sent to salvage the situation, which he does by restoring the army in Britain as a fighting force, pardoning soldiers who had deserted, attacking bands of brigands and looters wherever he finds them, and installing a new vicarius at the head of the Diocese of the Britains.

367 - 383

Gratian

Son of Valentinian. Western Augustus. Assassinated.

372

In an act of imperial favour, an Alamannic king, Fraomar, is sent to Britannia as a military tribune to command a Roman unit of Alemanni cavalry which is already stationed on the island, as recorded by Ammianus.

372 - 375

Firmus

Usurper in Africa. Chose suicide over capture.

376 - 382

The Gothic War takes place in the Balkans, but its most notable episode is in 378. Valens ensures his name is never forgotten by being utterly defeated and then killed by the Visigoths at Adrianople.

375 - 392

Valentinian II

Brother. Proclaimed as an infant.

379 - 392

Theodosius I the Great

Raised by Gratian. Eastern Augustus.

383

Magnus Maximus takes advantage of the growing contempt for the failing Gratian by revolting in Britannia. After reorganising the island's defences he invades Gaul with a large army, and is even attributed with setting up a British kingdom in Armorica. After being defeated near Paris, Gratian is deserted by his troops and is betrayed. Delivered to one of the rebel generals, Andragathius, Gratian is assassinated on 25 August. Valentinian II is forced out of Rome, and Maximus, now the senior Augustus in the west, sets up his capital at Augusta Treverorum (Treves, Trier). He becomes a popular emperor and is recognised by Theodosius, primarily because there is little that Theodosius can do about the situation at present.

383 - 388

Magnus Maximus

Usurper in Britannia. Executed.

384 - 388

Flavius Victor

Infant son. Murdered by Arbogast.

383 - 395

Arcadius

Son of Theodosius. Eastern Augustus.

385

In Augusta Treverorum, Magnus Maximus sentences to death the bishop of Avila, Priscillian, after he and some of his followers have been found guilty of the crime of magic. The charge is the only way that Priscillian's vehement opponents can be rid of the eloquent and learned promulgator of a doctrine that is based on the Gnostic-Manichaean doctrines of an Egyptian called Marcus. Priscillianism is later declared a heresy.

387

Rome partitions Armenia between itself and Persia, gaining the western half. Magnus Maximus advances across the Alps to occupy Milan, forcing Valentinian to flee.

Magnus Maximus coin
The reverse of this coin issued by Magnus Maximus during his reign as co-emperor shows him standing, holding a laburnum and Victory on a globe

388

Magnus Maximus is defeated at the Battle of the Save by Theodosius and Valentinian, and retreats to Aquileia and surrenders there. Pleas for mercy are met with execution, although his wife and two daughters are spared and many of his descendants continue to occupy important positions. Andragathius is defeated near Siscia. Arbogast / Flavius Arbogastes, the new, Frankish-born, magister militum of the Western Empire, personally defeats Maximus' son, and himself becomes the de facto ruler in the West.

However, another dux appears in Britannia (the previous known incumbent of this military office being the unfortunate Fullofaudes who had been put out of action during the Barbarian Conspiracy of 367). Coel Hen, as he is known in later British oral and written material, appears to exercise a good deal more power in the northern half of Britain than previous holders of the office. If the traditions about him are correct, he may represent a transition between Roman military official and a ruler in an increasingly independent Britain.

Within the greater empire, while Theodosius is occupied with Magnus Maximus, there is an invasion of the Roman provinces of Germania and Belgia by Franks. Their warriors break through the limes, destroying farmlands and killing people around the city of Cologne, before retreating across the border with their booty. General Quintinus mounts a reprisal raid across the border but his troops are surrounded and beaten, and very few of them make it back.

c.380s/390s

In the late fourth century, Sulpicius Alexander writes a history of Germanic tribes that has since been lost but which has been quoted by Gregory of Tours. One of those quotes relates that the magister militum, Arbogast, attacks the Franks across the Rhine, wreaking havoc amongst them. While there he sights on a distant hill a force containing Ampsivarii and Chatti under the control of Marcomer, king of the Salian Franks. The two forces do not engage.

392

With the murder or suicide of Valentinian II (probably caused by Arbogast ), Theodosius, son of Theodosius the Elder who rescued Britannia from the Barbarian Conspiracy of 367, becomes sole emperor, the last emperor to rule both east and west.

Arbogast challenges Theodosius by raising an acquaintance, Eugenius, to Augustus in Rome. Theodosius responds by raising his own two year-old son, Honorius, as Western Emperor, and marches on Italy, defeating his enemies at the Battle of Frigidus in 394 on the Italy-Slovenia border. The battle typifies a trend towards using increasing numbers of barbarian troops, especially in the west, where it leads to the weakening of the empire itself. Arbogast commits suicide in 394 and Eugenius is executed.

392 - 395

Theodosius I the Great

Died of a vascular disease.

393 - 395

Honorius

Son. Western Augustus aged nine.

392 - 394

Flavius Eugenius

Usurper in Rome. Executed.

395

FeatureThe formal partition of the Roman empire into the Eastern and Western sections is undertaken by Honorius and Arcadian. An official register of all the offices, other than municipal, which exist in the Roman empire at this time is compiled in the Notitia Dignitatum.

Western Roman Empire
AD 395 - 476

The following Emperors from Honorius to Romulus Augustulus reigned in the West only. The Eastern Emperors continued to reign in Constantinople, the former city of Byzantium. The accession of Honorius and Arcadius was marked by a basic change in the role of the emperor. It affected east and west differently, and what happened is of major importance in comprehending what occurred subsequently in the two halves of the empire. Roman emperors after Theodosius were heads of state but no longer held effective power. This now fell into the hands of their chief ministers.

The change was complete in the west, but less so in the east where occasional emperors still took direct command. Perhaps the crucial difference was that in the east the ministers were usually civilians, but in the west they were almost without exception professional soldiers who tended to dominate their emperors. Due partially to this, and to a series of problems, Honorius' reign was characterised by the erosion of the Western Roman empire and its territories. When he died he left an empire on the verge of collapse.

395 - 423

Honorius

A weak emperor controlled by Stilicho and Constantius III.

395 - 408

Flavius Stilicho

Vandal general and guardian. Executed.

395 - 408

For the first part of his reign, Honorius depends on the military leadership of his chief ministers, the Romano-Vandal general, Stilicho. Stilicho had been appointed as Honorius' guardian by the boy's father, shortly before his death. To strengthen his bonds to the young emperor, Stilicho marries his daughter Maria to him. Despite many successes, the imperial courtiers plot his death by trumping up charges against him. Stilicho is executed on 22 August 408. Flavius Constantius (later Emperor Constantius III) fills the void to become the power behind Honorius' throne.

397 - 398

Gildo

Usurper in Mauretania. Defeated under Stilicho's leadership.

398

Gildo is quickly suppressed, allowing Stilicho, probably upon his receipt of an appeal for help from Britannia (mentioned by Gildas), to send a force to quell barbarian raids there. However, a eulogy proclaimed in 400 for Stilicho's major success disappears just a month after it is released, and does not reappear.

402

The seat of imperial power is moved from Milan to Ravenna. This flourishing city is located, like Venetia (Venice), in an area of marshland, with one main access point via a causeway which makes it more easily defendable. Unlike Milan, it also has a port and good seaward connections to the Adriatic. With Ravenna now the official home of the emperor, it is greatly expanded in terms of its monuments and monumental building.

Ravenna
Ravenna became an imperial city in 402, and remained Italy's capital under succeeding Gothic, Ostrogothic, and Eastern Roman administrations

405 - 406

Stilicho defeats Radagaisus, a barbarian leader of unknown origin, and his army of Goths, Vandali, Suevi, Burgundians, and Alans when they invade Italy in 405. The barbarians are incorporated into the Roman forces. Stilicho is aided by a second body of Alans, and Huns under the command of Uldiz.

Also in 406, the situation in Britannia is even more problematic. The British provinces are relatively isolated and constantly lack support from the empire, so the soldiers raise a series of their own claimants to the throne. While the first two are minor, Constantine III takes Gaul and Spain to add to his dominions.

406

Marcus

Usurper in Britannia. Killed by his own troops.

407

Gratian (Gracianus)

Usurper in Britannia. Killed by his own troops.

406 - 409

The Alans, Suevi and Vandali cross the Rhine at Mainz, largely destroying the city. Groups of Franks are already on the west bank of the Rhine, living in a confederation of small kingdoms which are tributary to Rome, and they attempt to fight them off. Despite the potential threat to Britannia, Gratian refuses to enter Gaul to fight the barbarians, so his troops kill him and elect Constantine III instead. Constantine quickly crosses into Gaul and secures the Rhine, making Arles, the recently relocated headquarters of the Gallic prefecture, his capital in 408.

407 - 411

Constantine III

Usurper in Britannia. Surrendered and was executed.

408 - 411

Constans

Son. Caesar. Executed by Gerontius.

408

Constantine sends his son, Constans, and the general Gerontius to Hispania to defeat the cousins of Honorius there and secure that province. Stilicho's forces in Italy rebel and he is executed. As a result of this and intrigues at the imperial court, plus the fact that Alaric's Visigothic army is roaming Etruria, Honorius is left powerless, and gladly accepts Constantine as co-emperor.

409

FeatureThe Alans, Suevi and Vandali enter Hispania, disrupting Constantine's hold on his territory. Gerontius rebels against Constantine, raises Maximus as his own puppet emperor, and the following year advances into Gaul. At the same time in Britannia, Saxon raids convince the British and Armoricans to rebel and expel Roman officials, thereby breaking ties with Rome that are never renewed, as Honorius is hardly in a position to take any action on their behalf.

409 - 411

Maximus

Puppet usurper of Gerontius' in Hispania.

409

Priscus Attalus

Usurper in Rome with Visigoth support. Removed by Alaric.

410 - 411

As his enemies tighten the noose around him, Constantine attempts to attack Italy but is defeated and forced to retreat back to Gaul. Rome itself is sacked by Alaric's Visigoths after a collapse in relations. This affords Constantine no leeway however as, in 411, his forces facing Gerontius are defeated at Vienne, and Constans is captured and executed.

Constantine's praetorian prefect, Decimius Rusticus, abandons him only to be caught up in the Frankish and Burgundian supported rebellion of Jovinus. Gerontius besieges Constantine at Arles but the magister militum, the power behind Honorius' throne, and future emperor, Constantius III, puts Gerontius to flight (he commits suicide in Hispania) and captures and executes Constantine. Maximus takes refuge with barbarian allies in Hispania.

411 - 413

Jovinus

Usurper on the Rhine when Constantine died. Executed.

412 - 413

Sebastianus

Brother. Co-Augustus. Executed by the Visigoths.

413

Jovinus manages to insult Ataulf, king of the Visigoths, so the latter allies himself with Honorius and defeats Jovinus' troops. Sebastianus is executed. Jovinus flees and is besieged and captured in Valentia (Valence, DrŰme). Shortly after he is executed. Honorius regains authority throughout Gaul and Spain, although he is still in a very weak position.

414

Priscus Attalus

Restored by Visigoths and then abandoned. Exiled by Rome.

418

A treaty is signed granting the Visigoths former Gallia Aquitania, the south-western portion of Gaul. At the same time, in the north of Gaul the Franks are increasing their influence. Following a further revolt in 417, the Armoricans are almost completely independent of Rome, but Auxerre on the Yonne is still under Roman control, as is the new capital of Roman Gaul at Arles, and the northern region centred on Soissons manages to retain a Roman government until 486. However, more and more often Rome has to use barbarian foederati to solve its problems rather than Roman troops.

421

Constantius III

Western Emperor 'under' Honorius. Not recognised by East.

423 - 425

Upon the death of Honorius (of dropsy), his patrician elevates Johannes, a senor civil servant, as emperor. Theodosius II in the East elevates the young Valentinian III first to Caesar, then to co-emperor as Augustus. In late 424, he sends AŽtius to the Huns to seek military help, but while AŽtius is away Johannes is betrayed and captured. AŽtius returns with sizable Hunnic army and comes to an agreement that establishes the political landscape of the Western Roman empire for the next thirty years. The Huns are paid off and sent home, while AŽtius is promoted to magister militum.

423 - 425

John (Johannes)

Usurper in Rome. Captured and executed.

423 - 455

Valentinian III

Son of Constantius III. Murdered, perhaps due to Maximus.

423

Galla Placidia

Mother. Regent to her infant son.

429

Under pressure from the Visigoths, and from Roman attacks, the Vandali in Iberia see an opportunity presented by the unsettled conditions in Africa. They and the Alans migrate to the south of Iberia from where they invade Roman North Africa. Once there, they carve out a kingdom over the course of a decade, taking the cities of Carthage and Utica, and leaving eastern, central and southern Iberia back in Roman hands.

432 - 453

Following a victory by AŽtius against the Franks the previous year (as well as in 428), the Huns now threaten the existence of the empire as, under Attila, they sweep across Europe.

433 - 454

Flavius AŽtius

Daco-Roman general and power behind the throne. Murdered.

439

The Vandali capture Carthage and create a kingdom of their own in the province of Africa, depriving Rome of vital foodstocks. The loss also deprives Rome of vital income, and the blow is once which contributes to a fading of Roman power over the next four decades, until it fades out of existence.

442 - 446

Suevi raids are ravaging the eastern and southern provinces of Iberia to such an extent that Rome is deprived of vital income in the form of tax revenue. Between 439-441 it dries up completely, so AŽtius sends first Asturius in 442 and then Merobaudes in 443 to handle the problem. They concentrate on defeating the Bagaudae (peasant insurgents or brigands who are roaming the land), in order to secure Roman control of Tarraconensis. In 446 Vitus, the magister utriusque militiae, is sent to Iberia to put a halt to the raiding, leading a combined Romano-Visigothic force into the province of Carthaginiensis and Baetica. When his unruly force meets the Suevi in battle, it is routed. The defeat confirms Suevian control of Lusitania and Baetica and the loss of the bulk of Hispanic revenues to Rome.

443

Rome loses Savoy (443) and Switzerland (450) to the Burgundians in a further settlement of Germanic barbarians. From around 440, AŽtius had apparently been pursuing a policy of extending the settlement of friendly (or defeated) barbarians within Gaul under treaty, rather than Roman reconquest. The former is certainly easier given the lack of resources.

451

To preserve their new domains, the Visigoths and Franks fight on the side of Rome to halt the advance of the Huns at the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains, close to the chief town of the Catalauni Gauls. The Huns call on their subject allied tribes, which include the Gepids, Ostrogoths, and Scirii. Rome also has units of independent Armoricans on its side.

455

Petronius Maximus

Patrician. Great-grandson of Magnus Maximus.

455

The usurper, Maximus, is not recognised by the Eastern Empire. The enmity between Maximus and the magister militum, AŽtius, does much to lead to the gradual chain of events that brings down the Western Roman empire. Before he seizes power himself, Maximus plots and gets Valentinian III to kill AŽtius with his own hands. AŽtius' death marks the end to any true Western Roman chances of holding onto its empire.

Maximus rules for only 77 days before being stoned to death by a Roman mob while fleeing Genseric's Vandali on 24 May, after which the Vandali spend fourteen days sacking Rome.

Genseric's sack of Rome
An interpretation of Genseric's sack of Rome by Kark Briullov

455

Maximianus

Son of a bodyguard of AŽtius. Obscure.

455

Rome loses Cologne on the Rhine (which they had founded in 30 BC based on a Germanic tribal settlement) to the Franks, as a Frankish king sets up a royal court in the former Roman governor's palace.

455 - 456

Avitus

Magister militum. Encouraged by the Visigoths. Abdicated.

456 - 472

Ricimer / Ricomer

Suevi-Visigoth general and power behind throne. Died of fever.

465 - 472

Another Romano-barbarian, Ricimer (Ricomer), the son of a prince of the Suevi with a mother who had been the daughter of Wallia, king of the Visigoths, secures a senior position in the Western Empire. Ricimer is the power behind the throne in 456-472 with a series of 'shadow emperors' to disguise his rule. This rule probably does not extend much beyond Italy's borders, as Gaul is already being governed by Romans (where they survive in power) for their own sake rather than for the imperial court.

457 - 461

Majorian

Raised by the regent, Ricimer. Not recognised by the East.

461

Majorian proves to be a little too popular after he expels the Visigoths and Burgundians from Roman cities in Gaul which they had occupied, and it is Ricimer who is behind him being forced to abdicate by his troops. He dies five days later. Ricimer raises Libius Severus as his replacement, seemingly as the perfect puppet, as Libius Severus appears to have absolutely no achievements. Majorian's magister militum per Gallias, Aegidius, is prevented from marching on Rome when Ricimer hires the previously defeated Visigoths and Burgundians, but Aegidius' troops remain loyal to him and Rome again loses its authority in northern Gaul until after the magister militum's death.

461 - 465

Libius Severus

Not recognised by Eastern Roman empire. Died.

461 - 464

Aegidius

Ruled an independent Gallic command based at Soissons.

465 - 467

Interregnum lasting eighteen months. Ricimer commands without a figurehead until a highly distinguished candidate is forced on him by the East, determined to restore order in Gaul.

467 - 472

Anthemius

Perhaps the last able ruler. Executed by Ricimer.

469

The Visigoths have to fight two battles against a combined army consisting of Romans, troops from Soissons under Comes Paulus, Burgundian foederati, and joint federate Britanni (Britons and Armoricans) under Riothamus in 469. Thanks to the apparent treachery of Gaul's imperial prefect, one Arvandus, the Visigoths are victorious and extend their kingdom, cutting off both Soissons and Armorica from Rome.

472

After killing Anthemius, Ricimer dies of fever and his nephew, Gundobad of the Burgundians becomes Western Commander.

472

Anicius Olybrius

Not recognised by Eastern Roman empire. Died naturally.

472 - 473

Interregnum. Gundobad of the Burgundians rules Rome until his father dies and he becomes joint king of the Burgundians along with his brothers. After elevating the Count of the Domestics to emperor he returns to the kingdom.

473 - 474

Glycerius

Not recognised by Eastern Roman empire. Died after 480.

473

During Glycerius' brief reign, the Apennine Peninsula is threatened by both the Visigoths, living in southern Gaul and Spain, and the Ostrogoths, living in Dalmatia. When the Ostrogoths move into Gaul, Glycerius sends Roman troops into the area, preventing the armies of the two branches of Goths from joining forces against Rome and perhaps delaying the final end of the Western Empire for a few years.

However, this doesn't prevent the Eastern emperor, Leo I, from sending his own candidate to rule the remains of the Western empire. Upon the arrival of Julius Nepos, Glycerius immediately surrenders.

474 - 480

Julius Nepos

Relative of Eastern Augustus, Leo I.

475

On 28 August 475, the magister militum, Orestes, assumes control of the government at Ravenna, deposing Nepos and forcing him to flee to Dalmatia, where he reigns as emperor-in-exile until 480. His replacement is not recognised in the East which, along with Gaul, considers Julius Nepos to be the lawful emperor until his death in 480.

Since Orestes, a Germanic tribesman, cannot become emperor himself, he appoints his son Romulus, who had been born to his Roman wife. The boy is probably no more than ten years old.

475 - 476

Orestes

General and power behind throne. Killed.

475 - 476

Romulus Augustus (Augustulus)

Deposed to live a full life in a Villa retirement.

476

On 4 September, the Scirian magister militum of the Roman army takes Ravenna, killing Orestes and deposing Romulus. By this time the western Roman army has effectively ceased to exist, starved to death by a steady decrease in recruiting grounds and a severe lack of funds to pay those troops who still remained, so that they have drifted off. Also, the western emperor has such a small domain and such an ineffective role to play that the senate sends an embassy to the Eastern court with the imperial regalia, announcing that they feel no need for a new emperor at Ravenna and are happy to accept a single throne at Constantinople.

Half-Siliqua of Romulus Augustus
This half-siliqua was the only silver coinage issued during the short reign of Romulus Augustus, puppet and final official Western Roman emperor

The Roman empire per se comes to an end in the West (although Odoacer's rule of Italy, as a Roman-elected general, could be considered a final extension, even though he, like other barbarian leaders in the west, calls himself rex). By this stage the empire only consists of Italy and the western Balkans, plus a west African province and Syagrius' northern Gallic province.

Gothic Kingdom of Italy
AD 476 - 493

The Heruli were a subject tribe of the Goths who had followed them and their later Ostrogoth division until the latter were destroyed by the Huns in 375. After the fall of the Huns in 454 they set up a short-lived Roman foederati kingdom of their own in southern Slovakia near the Rivers March and Theiss. These foederati were used by Orestes to depose Julius Nepos in 475, but Orestes reneged on his promise of land for them, so the Scirian general, Odoacer, with Eastern Roman backing, invaded Italy and killed Orestes.

Odoacer subsequently ruled Italy as a continuation of the Roman state with the blessing of Eastern Emperor Zeno, while his people, Heruli, Rugii, and Scirii, gained the land they were promised in Italy. In reality, the Eastern Romans were in no position to do more than object vocally. The empire even in the east was weakened by more than a century of turmoil, and it would be a further sixty years or so before Constantinople could begin to retake some of the lost western territories. Until then it attempted to rule Italy through proxies such as Odoacer (the name is pronounced oh-dough-a-ker, with heavy emphasis on the last syllable).

476 - 493

Odoacer / Odovacar

Scirian magister militum. Patrician of Italy.

476 - 480

Odoacer asks the Eastern emperor Zeno to legalise his position as patricius of the Roman empire and Zeno's viceroy in Italy. Zeno does so, but insists that he recognise Julius Nepos as Western emperor. Odoacer agrees, and even issues coins in Nepos' name throughout Italy. A similar situation obtains in the Roman domain of Soissons in northern Gaul where the Roman general Syagrius mints coins in Nepos' name until his defeat in 486. By a collusion of convenience the Western Empire continues to exist after 476, but only as a legal formality.

A contemporary account by the historian Malchus states that former Emperor Glycerius is involved in a plot that results in the murder of Juilius Nepos in either April or May, most likely with Odoacer's cooperation. The surviving historical evidence to confirm this is meagre.

487

Odoacer destroys the Germanic tribe of the Rugii, who had formerly been subjugated by the Huns and were long-time allies of the Ostrogoths. Many of their number are drawn to follow Odoacer back to Italy. The Langobards initially fill this vacuum, until they conquer much of Italy in 568, and then a new confederation, the Bavarii, forms in their place.

489

The Ostrogoths, settled in Pannonia and nominally Eastern Roman allies, are problematic at best. Their restlessness is creating increasing problems in their management for Emperor Zeno. Working with Theodoric to find a solution, the emperor invites him to invade Italy and overthrow the troublesome Odoacer. The Ostrogoths immediately win the Battle of Isonzo on 28 August 489, close to Aquileia, and Odoacer is forced to withdraw. A second battle is fought at Verona in the same year.

490 - 493

A further battle is fought on the River Adda in 490, and in 493 Theodoric takes Ravenna. On 2 February the same year, Theodoric and Odoacer sign a treaty that divides Italy between them, but at a banquet to celebrate the terms, Theodoric murders Odoacer with his own hands. Now unopposed, he is able to found a Romanised Ostrogothic kingdom of Italy based at the imperial capital of Ravenna. His accession is viewed by most Italians, Roman and Gothic, as a legitimate succession. The city of Rome is sidelined politically, but it becomes the centre of Roman Catholicism and eventually the Papal States.