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05 - An Age of Empires Rome and Han China, 753 B.C.E. - 600 C.E..doc

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HST 101
Tom Wang

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CHAPTER 6 An Age of Empires: Rome and Han China, 753 B .C.E.–330 C.E. I0. Rome’s Creation of a Mediterranean Empire, 753 B.C.E.–330 C.E. A0. Geography and Resources 10. Italy and Sicily are at a crossroads of the Mediterranean and serve as a link between Africa and Europe. Rome is at a crossroads of the Italian peninsula. 20. Italy’s natural resources included navigable rivers, forests, iron, a mild climate, and enough arable land to support a large population of farmers whose surplus product and labor could be exploited by the Roman state. B0. A Republic of Farmers, 753–31 BC E. 10. Rome was inhabited at least as early as 1000 B.C.E. According to legend it was ruled by seven kings between 753 B.C.E. and 507 B.CE . Kingship was eliminated in 507 B.C.E. when representatives of the senatorial class of large landholders overthrew the last king and established a republic. 20. The centers of political power were the two consuls and the Senate. In practice, the Senate made laws and governed. 30. The Roman family consisted of several generations living under the absolute authority of the oldest living male, the paterfamilias. 40. Society was hierarchical. Families and individuals were tied together by patron/client relationships that institutionalized inequality and gave both sides of the relationship reason to cooperate and to support the status quo. 50. Roman women had relatively more freedom than Greek women, but their legal status was still that of a child, subordinate to the paterfamilias of her own or her husband’s family. Eventually procedures evolved which made it possible for some women to become independent after the death of their fathers. 60. Romans worshiped a large number of supernatural spirits as well as major gods such as Jupiter and Mars. Proper performance of ritual ensured that the gods continued to favor the Roman state. C0. Expansion in Italy and the Mediterranean 10. Rome began to expand, at first slowly and then very rapidly in the third and second centuries B.C.E. until it became a huge Mediterranean empire. Possible explanations for this expansion include greed, aggressiveness, the need for consuls to prove themselves as military commanders during their single year in office, and a constant fear of being attacked. 20. During the first stage of expansion, Rome conquered the rest of Italy (by 290 B.C.E.). Rome won the support of the people of Italy by granting them Roman citizenship. As citizens, these people then had to provide soldiers for the military. 30. In the next stages of expansion, Rome first defeated Carthage to gain control over the western Mediterranean and Sicily, Sardinia, and Spain (264–202 B.C.E.). Next, between 200 and 30 BC E., Rome defeated the Hellenistic kingdoms to take over the lands of the Eastern Mediterranean. Between 59 and 51 B.C.E., Gaius Julius Caesar conquered the Celts of Gaul. 40. The Romans used local elite groups to administer and tax the various provinces of their rapidly expanding and far-flung empire. A Roman governor, who served a single one-year term in office, supervised the local administrators. This system was inadequate and prone to corruption. D0. The Failure of the Republic 10. As Rome expanded, the social and economic bases of the Roman republic in Italy were undermined. While men from independent farming families were forced to devote their time to military service, large landowners bought up their land to create great estates called latifundia. This meant both a decline in Rome’s source of soldiers and a decline in food production, as latifundia owners preferred to grow cash crops like grapes rather than staple crops such as wheat. 20. Since slave labor was cheap in an expanding empire, Italian peasants, driven off the land and not employed by the latifundia, drifted into the cities where they formed a fractious unemployed underclass. 30. As the independent farming family that had been the traditional source of soldiers disappeared, Roman commanders built their armies from men from the underclass who tended to give their loyalty, not to the Roman state, but to their commander. This led to generals taking control of politics, to civil wars, and finally to the end of the republican system of government. 40. Julius Caesar’s grandnephew Octavian (also known as Augustus) took power in 31 B.CE., reorganized the Roman government, and ruled as a military dictator. After Augustus died, several members of his family succeeded him. However, the position of emperor was not necessarily hereditary; in the end, armies chose emperors. E0. An Urban Empire 10. About 80 percent of the 50 to 60 million people of the Roman Empire were rural farmers, but the empire was administered through and for a network of cities and towns. In this sense, it was an urban empire. Rome had about a million residents, other large cities (Alexandria, Antioch, and Carthage) had several hundred thousand each, while many Roman towns had populations of several thousand. 20. In Rome, the upper classes lived in elegant, well-built, well-appointed houses; many aristocrats also owned country villas. The poor lived in dark, dank, fire- prone wooden tenements in squalid slums built in the low-lying parts of the city. 30. Provincial towns imitated Rome both in urban planning and in urban administration. The local elite, who served the interests of Rome, dominated town councils. The local elite also served their communities by using their wealth to construct amenities such as aqueducts, baths, theatres, gardens, temples, and other public works and entertainment projects. 40. Rural life in the Roman Empire involved lots of hard work and very little entertainment. Rural people had little contact with representatives of the government. By the early centuries C E., absentee landlords who lived in the cities owned most rural land, while the land was worked by tenant farmers supervised by hired foremen. 50. Manufacture and trade flourished under the “pax romana.” Grain had to be imported to feed the huge city of Rome. Rome and the Italian towns (and later, provincial centers) exported glass, metalwork, pottery, and other manufactures to the provinces. Romans also imported Chinese silk and Indian and Arabian spices. 60. One of the effects of the Roman Empire was Romanization. In the western part of the Empire, the Latin language, Roman clothing, and the Roman lifestyle were adopted by local people. As time passed, Roman emperors gradually extended Roman citizenship to all free male adult inhabitants of the empire. F0. The Rise of Christianity 10. Jesus lived in a society marked by resentment against Roman rule, which had inspired the belief that a Messiah would arise to liberate the Jews. When Jesus sought to reform Jewish religious practices, the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem turned him over to the Roman governor for execution. 20. After the execution, Jesus’ disciples continued to spread his teachings; they also spread their belief that Jesus had been resurrected. At this point, the target of their proselytizing was their fellow Jews. 30. The target of proselytizing changed from Jews to non-Jews in the 40s–70s C E. First, Paul of Tarsus, an Anatolian Jew, discovered that non-Jews (gentiles) were much more receptive to the teachings of Jesus than Jews were. Second, a Jewish revolt in Judaea (66 C E.) and the subsequent Roman reconquest destroyed the original Jewish Christian community in Jerusalem. 40. Christianity grew slowly for two centuries, developing a hierarchy of priests and bishops, hammering out a commonly accepted theological doctrine, and resisting the persecution of Roman officials. By the late third century, Christians were a sizeable minority in the Roman Empire. 50. The expansion of Christianity in the Roman Empire came at a time when Romans were increasingly dissatisfied with their traditional religion. This dissatisfaction inspired Romans to become interested in a variety of “mystery cults” and universal creeds that had their origins in the eastern Mediterranean. G0. Technology and Transformation 10. The Romans were expert military and civil engineers. Among their accomplishments were: bridge-building, ballistic weapons, elevated and underground aqueducts, the use of arches and domes, and the invention of concrete. 20. Following Augustus’ death, the army was organized primarily for defense. The Rhine-Danube frontier was protected by a string of forts; long walls protected the frontiers of North Africa and Britain. On the eastern frontier, the Romans fought for centuries against the Parthians. Neither side made any significant gains. 30. The state system constructed by Augustus worked well until what historians call Rome’s “third-century crisis.” The symptoms of this crisis were frequent change of rulers, raids by German tribesmen from across the Rhine-Danube frontier, and the rise of regional power when Rome seemed unable to guarantee security. 40. Rome’s economy was undermined by the high cost of defense, debasement of the currency and consequent inflation, a disruption of trade, reversion to a barter economy, disappearance of the municipal aristocracy of the provincial cities, and a movement of population out of the cities and back into the rural areas. 50. The empero
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