Rome and Han ChinaTracy Rosselle, M.A.T.Newsome High School, Lithia, FL Pantheon An Age of Empires: 753 BCE – 600 CE Colosseum
A new kind of empire • The Roman Empire included all the lands around the Mediterranean and stretched from continental Europe to the Middle East. • Its contemporary (though arising somewhat later and ending sooner), the Han Empire, spanned from the Pacific Ocean to the oases of Central Asia. • They were the largest empires the world had yet seen, in both land and population. They were: • centralized to a greater degree than earlier empires. • more culturally influential on the land and peoples they dominated. • remarkably stable and long-lasting.
Eurasia, 116 CE Han Kushan Roman Parthian The Roman Empire and Han China were separated by thousands of miles, and neither influenced the other. But they were linked by a far-flung international trading network, so they were vaguely aware of each other’s existence.
Rome’s Mediterranean Empire • Italy’s climate (long growing seasons, wide variety of crops) and geography (numerous navigable rivers, well forested and rich in iron and other metals) were conducive to sustaining a large population. • Rome lay at the midpoint of the peninsula, and the peninsula was a crossroads in the Mediterranean. • Vast majority of early Romans were self-sufficient independent farmers owning small plots of land … small number of families able to acquire large tracts of land heads of these wealthy families were members of the Senate – a “Council of Elders” dominating Roman politics.
The Roman Republic • According to tradition: seven kings of Rome between 753 and 507 BCE … when senatorial class – vowing never again to be ruled by a harsh tyrant – deposed the king and instituted a res publica, “a public possession” or republic. • republic – a form of government in which power rests with citizens who have the right to vote for their leaders. (The United States today is a republican form of democracy.) • The Roman Republic (507-31 BCE) – unlike the direct democracy of the Greeks, sovereign power rested in several assemblies: all male citizens eligible to attend, but votes of wealthy classes counted more than votes of the poor citizens. • Real center of power Roman Senate – technically an advisory council, but increasingly made policy, governed; self-perpetuating body whose members served for life and nominated their sons for public offices.
“Conflict of the Orders” • Inequalities in Roman society periodically led to unrest and conflict between the elite (wealthy landowners called patricians) and the majority of the population (common farmers, artisans and merchants called plebeians). • Plebeian gains: • Twelve Tables (c. 450 BCE) – laws carved on 12 tablets, hung in the Forum (laws now written, published patrician officials now can’t interpret law to suit themselves); became basis of later Roman law. • tribunes – new officials drawn from and elected by the lower classes; had power to veto, or block, actions of the Assembly or patrician officials.
The class-conscious Roman family • Roman society extremely conscious of status (determined by achievements of ancestors, living members of family). • The Roman family, made of several generations plus domestic slaves, was basic unit of society. • Absolute authority in family exercised by paterfamilias – the oldest living male could sell children into slavery or have them killed … but this began to change by second century CE. Statue of a Roman carrying busts of his ancestors (c. first century BCE).
Institutionalized inequality • In Rome, inequality was accepted and turned into a system of mutual benefits and obligations. • patron/client relationship – Senator to middle class, middle class to poor: • Men of wealth and influence might have dozens, hundreds of clients (lower status men he provided guidance, protection, money … in return for loyalty in politics and war, work on land and even money for daughter’s dowry). • Large retinues of clients brought prestige: clients would await their patrons in morning, accompany them to Forum for the day’s business.
The Roman Forum Built on the site of an old cemetery, the Roman Forum was the central area around which ancient Rome developed. It contained many buildings, including temples and basilicas. People would come to conduct commerce, and political leaders carried out public affairs and administrated matters of justice.
Institutionalized inequalityWomen in Roman society • Girls in some upper-class families received a primary education but were pushed into marriage (arranged by fathers) commonly by the time they were 14 (12 was the legal minimum). • Nearly everything we know of Roman women pertains to the upper classes. • In early times, women never ceased to be a child in eyes of the law needed male guardian advocates. • Over time, gained greater personal protections and freedoms could own, inherit and dispose of property; unlike Greek women, weren’t segregated from husbands but rather appreciated at the center of the household, could attend races, the theater, events in the amphitheater.
Institutionalized inequalitySlavery • Common throughout the ancient world, but Romans relied on slave labor more than any other people peaked at perhaps 1/3 of population by the last two centuries of the Republic as empire expanded through warfare (prisoners of war became slaves). • Large gangs of slaves worked huge agricultural tracts under pitiful conditions: • branded, beaten, inadequately fed, worked in chains and housed at night in underground prisons. • periodic slave revolts took up to 17,000 men and several years to suppress most famous led by Thracian gladiator Spartacus, who managed to defeat several Roman armies with 70,000 rebellious slaves before he was finally captured and killed (6,000 of his followers executed by crucifixion).
Institutionalized inequalitySlavery (cont.) • Greek slaves were in much demand as tutors, musicians, doctors, artists. • Many slaves of all nationalities used as menial household workers (cooks, valets, gardeners, etc.). • Businessmen would employ slaves as shop assistants and artisans. • Being attended to by many slaves became badge of prestige in Roman society.
A vaunted military • Unlike Greeks, the Romans granted the political, legal and economic privileges of Roman citizenship to conquered populations this relative leniency helped establish long-lasting empire. • Demanded soldiers from its Italian subjects manpower advantage a key to its military success (could tolerate high casualties). • Two consuls chosen by Assembly for one-year terms were chief executives of the government and commanders-in-chief of the army (each could veto the other) structure of the state thus encouraged war because consuls had limited time to gain military glory.
Expansion through force • Between 264 and 146 BCE fought and won three wars with Carthage (Punic Wars) for mastery of western Mediterranean. The Carthaginian general Hannibal led a brilliant rear-flank invasion (using elephants!) crossing the Alps – but Rome eventually prevailed in the Second Punic War. Rome Carthage
Expansion through force (cont.) • First territorial acquisition in Europe’s heartland between 59 and 51 BCE conquest of the Celtic peoples of Gaul (modern France) by Rome’s most brilliant general, Julius Caesar. • As he gained popularity, Caesar’s rivals urged him to disband his legions and return home. • Instead, he and his men defied the Senate, crossed the Rubicon River (the southern limit of his command) and headed for Rome – where he would assume dictatorial power in a military coup.
The failure of the Republic • Rome’s success in creating a vast empire unleashed forces that eventually destroyed its republican system of government. Caesar became dictator in 46 BCE and dictator for life in 44 BCE. Here’s the bigger picture of how it happened: • In the third and second centuries BCE, while Italian peasant farmers were away from home serving in the military, it was easy for investors to take possession of their farms through deception or intimidation. • Growing empire’s wealth became concentrated in hands of upper classes with broad estates (which replaced the small, self-sufficient farms run by peasant owners now part of Roman legions [units of 6,000 soldiers]).
The failure of the Republic (cont.) • Owners of large estates found it more profitable to graze herds and make wine instead of grow the staple crop of wheat dependence on grain imports thus rose. • Cheap slave labor (from increasing numbers of war prisoners) peasants who’d lost farms couldn’t find work in countryside … or in growing cities like Rome, where the idle poor were increasingly prone to riot. • Soon a shortage of men who owned the minimum amount of property required for military service until a leader at the end of the second century BCE promised farms upon military retirement to poor, propertyless men he now accepted into the Roman legions. • Over time, then, armies became more loyal to the leaders of the armies than the state itself series of bloody civil wars eventually developed between military factions.
The Death of Julius Caesar by Vincenzo Camuccini J.C.’s legacy New “Julian” calendar based on solar year instead of moon cycles (extra day every four years, and July named for him). Julius Caesar’s ascent to power was part of this political and military infighting, and 44 BCE – the year marking the start of his perpetual dictatorship – is seen by some as the end of the Roman Republic. The “dictator for life” gig didn’t last long: He was assassinated by members of the Senate (including his friend Marcus Brutus [“Et tu, Brute?”] on March 15 of that same year.
The end of republic … but not empire • Caesar’s grandnephew and adopted son, Octavian (63 BCE – 14 CE), eliminated all rivals by 31 BCE. • A military dictator in fact, Octavian claimed to be princeps, “first among equals” in a restored Republic period following Roman Republic thus the Roman Principate. • Octavian best known to us as Augustus, one of his honorary titles that means “exalted one.” The reign of Augustus began a 207-year period of peace and prosperity known as the Pax Romana – “Roman peace.”
Augustus and his urban empire • Augustus – ruthless, patient, frugal, religious and family-oriented (banished his only child, Julia, from Rome for adultery) – aligned himself with the equites (EH-kwee-tays), the class of well-to-do Italian merchants and landowners second only to senatorial class. • This group became backbone of the civil service system Augustus instituted: workers paid to manage affairs of government (grain supply, tax collection, postal system) key to stability and smooth functioning of expansive empire. • The Roman Empire of the first three centuries CE was “urban” – 80% of its 50-60 million people still lived in countryside but empire administered through network of towns and cities (Rome’s population was perhaps 1 million; some other cities, like Alexandria and Carthage, had several hundred thousand people; most had far less than that).
“All roads lead to Rome” • A complex network of roads, originally built by the legions for military purposes, linked the empire’s cities and helped communication and trade. • Roads also helped spread Roman culture (Latin language, way of life Greco-Roman tradition the foundation of Western civilization. • Ultimately, though, the roads also eased the way for barbarian invasions! A surviving Roman road in Britain.Main roads were up to 25 feet wide (for two-way traffic), while more remote roads were 6-10 feet wide.
Rich and poor • The upper classes lived in elegant villas with an atrium, interior gardens, a well-stocked kitchen, floors with pebble mosaics, and perhaps a private bath. • The poor lived in crowded slums: wooden tenements that were dark, smelly and poorly furnished, prone to catching fire.
Bath, England Public baths and the communal act of gathering to bathe served an important social function for many Romans – from neighborhood gossip to business transactions. To read more about public Roman baths, go to: http://www.vroma.org/~bmcmanus/baths.html
Amusing the masses • Cities and towns that sprang up all over empire were little replicas of the capital city in political organization, physical layout and appearance. • Town council and two annually elected officials drawn from prosperous members of community maintained law and order, collected taxes. • These municipal aristocracies endowed their cities with elements of Roman urban life: a forum (open plaza serving as a civic center), government buildings, temples, gardens, baths, theaters, amphitheaters, and games and entertainments of all sorts.
Gladiator games • To distract and control the poor masses, government provided free games, races, mock battles and gladiator contests (150 holidays a year by 150 CE). • Gladiators fought one another or with exotic wild animals – often until death. • Spectacles combined bravery and cruelty, honor and violence. Thumbs up or down? Roman crowds would often help decide the life-or-death fate of fighters in the 50,000-seat Colosseum.
Pax Romana(31 BCE – 180 CE) • Aside from some skirmishes with tribes along its borders, this period was a secure time when even some urban dwellers got rich from manufacture and trade. • Glass, metalwork, delicate pottery and other fine manufactured products were exported throughout the empire (Roman armies stationed on the frontiers not only ensured safety and prosperity of border provinces but were a large market themselves) … while other merchants imported luxury items from abroad, especially silk from China and spices from India and Arabia. • Grain, meat, vegetables and other bulk foodstuffs limited to mostly local trade because transportation was expensive and perishables spoiled quickly.
Technology Scholars can estimate the population of an ancient city by calculating the amount of water available to it. Roman aqueducts channeled water from a source, sometimes many miles away, to an urban complex, using only the force of gravity. • The Romans invented concrete – a mixture of sand, gravel and water – which allowed them to create, among other things, vast vaulted and domed interior spaces. • Engineering expertise seen in surviving remnants of roads, fortification walls, aqueducts, buildings: Some of the best engineers served in the army, working on construction projects during peacetime.
The rise of Christianity • Christianity is a child of Judaism, and the two faiths’ often troubled relationship forms the Judeo-Christian tradition, which is cited – along with the Greco-Roman tradition – as the bedrock of Western culture. • The founder of Christianity was Jesus of Nazareth (c. 4 BCE – 29 CE). Born into a humble Jewish family in northern Israel, he had a career as a carpenter before gathering an inner circle of disciples and a growing number of followers during a three-year ministry as a wandering teacher during a time when the Roman Empire dominated the region. • Scholars agree that his portrait in the Bible’s New Testament reflects the viewpoint of his followers a half-century after his death.
The rise of ChristianityThe New Testament says … • Jesus taught that obeying rabbis and observing customs not enough to please God sincerity of one’s belief mattered more than giving money, wearing proper dress, following strict dietary guidelines. • charity, compassion, forgiveness matter most. • reinforced his message with Sermon on the Mount (“Blessed are the poor in spirit …”), which contains one of several of the New Testament’s iterations of what came to be known as the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”). • spoke of himself as the “Son of God,” claimed to be the Messiah (the “Annointed One”) foretold by the Hebrew prophecy. • attracted large crowds because of his reputation for wisdom, power to heal the sick. • his teachings would redeem those who followed his words.
The rise of ChristianityWho was the historical Jesus? • Scholars, however, find it difficult to assess the motives and teachings of the historical Jesus. Varying views: • He was a teacher as described in the Gospels, offended by and intent on reforming contemporary Jewish practices. • He was connected to the apocalyptic fervor found in certain circles of Judaism a fiery prophet warning people to prepare for the end of the world. • He was a political revolutionary, advocate of the poor and downtrodden, committed to driving out the Roman occupiers (the Jewish homeland, Judea, had been put under direct Roman rule in 6 CE) and their elite Jewish collaborators.
The rise of ChristianitySeen as a threat to the Romans • The charismatic Jesus eventually attracted the attention of Jewish authorities in Jerusalem, who regarded popular reformers as potential troublemakers. • They turned him over to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, who accused Jesus of blasphemy and treason. • His followers, the Apostles, carried on after his death and sought to spread among their fellow Jews his teachings and their belief that he was the Messiah and had been resurrected (returned from death to life). Jesus was imprisoned, condemned and executed by crucifixion, a punishment usually reserved for common criminals. The instrument of his death – the cross – is the most important symbol in the Christian faith.
The rise of ChristianitySpreading the word • Key Disciples: Peter (considered the first pope) and the authors of the Four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). • Paul – an early persecutor turned convert, he was most responsible for the early spread of Christianity widened appeal by decreeing that Christians needn’t observe Jewish diet and circumcision laws … which made it easier to convert Greeks and other non-Jewish peoples. Paul
The rise of ChristianityOvercomingearly persecution • Monotheistic Christians held meetings in secret, refused to worship Roman gods and abstained from public festivals honoring them, and wouldn’t recognize the emperor as a deity all of which seen as threat to public order by Romans otherwise tolerant of different religions. • Some Roman rulers used Christians as scapegoats for political and economic troubles, occasionally launching campaigns of suppression that led to spontaneous mob attacks. • Despite this, or maybe in part because of it, the young Christian movement gained converts so that by 300 CE Christians – many of them educated and prosperous, with jobs in the local and imperial governments – could be found as a significant minority throughout the Roman Empire.
The rise of ChristianityAppealing to the powerless • The widespread appeal of Christianity – the “good news” of which was spread by missionaries on Roman roads – was due to a variety of reasons. Christianity: • embraced all people – men and women*, enslaved persons, the poor and nobles. • gave hope to the powerless. • appealed to those repelled by the extravagances of imperial Rome. • offered a personal relationship with a loving God. • promised eternal life after death. ___________________________________________________________ * Although it later became male dominated (“original sin” blame placed on Eve, and Paul wrote that women must obey men and must not occupy church’s highest positions of leadership), the early church gave women a sense of belonging and, within limits, influential roles within missionary communities.
Christianity’s Growth From 1 to more than 2,000,000,000 A number of “mystery” cults claiming to provide secret information about life and death, and promising adherents a blessed afterlife, spread throughout the eastern Mediterranean and Greco-Roman lands during the Hellenistic and Roman periods – presumably in response to a growing spiritual and intellectual hunger not satisfied by traditional pagan practices. Historical circumstances helped Christianity win out over these rival cults.
The third-century crisis • Following the Pax Romana, the Roman state began to falter: a “third-century crisis” hit from 235 to 284 CE empire nearly destroyed by political, military and economic problems. • Twenty-plus men claimed office of emperor, most reigning for only a few months or years before being toppled by rivals or killed by their own troops. • Germanic invaders took advantage of the civil wars and generally destabilized conditions to raid deep into the empire, while pirates disrupted trade on the Mediterranean Sea.
Troubles lead to money woes • Political and military difficulties stressed the economy troops’ loyalty needed to be purchased (government sought out mercenaries) and protective walls built, but taxes fell because of fighting-induced reductions in commerce. • Short of cash, emperors devalued the currency (put less precious metal in Roman coins) inflation ensued, so many people resorted to barter, which further curtailed commerce. • Because of the political and economic upheaval, average citizens lost their sense of patriotism, became indifferent to the empire’s fate. • It somehow managed to survive, however, for another 200 years.
A split, east and west • Diocletian – took power in 284, bringing empire back from brink of destruction: • set fixed prices for goods and froze many people into their jobs to ensure adequate supply of labor in key areas (which worked short-term but contributed long-term to common view that government was oppressive, no longer deserving of loyalty). • divided the sprawling, difficult-to-manage empire into Greek-speaking East (Greece, Anatolia, Syria and Egypt) and Latin-speaking West (Italy, Gaul, Britain and Spain), taking the far wealthier East for himself and appointing a co-ruler for the West.
An edict … and a major move • Constantine (r. 306-337) – won the struggle for power after Diocletian resigned in 305: • continued many of his predecessor’s coercive policies. • issued Edict of Milan, which in 313 made Christianity an approved religion of the emperor (Theodosius would make it the empire’s official religion in 380). • reunited entire empire under own rule by 324. • moved capital from Rome to Byzantium (renamed Constantinople and now Istanbul), an easily defendable city strategically located on the Bosporus strait linking the Mediterranean and Black seas.
The Fall of the Roman EmpireWest falls, east lives on • The eastern realm of the Roman Empire lived on for a thousand years as the Byzantine Empire, but the West fell in the fifth century CE: • Short-term cause – In the late fourth century, Mongol nomads from central Asia, the Huns (led by Attila), began terrorizing the region the various Germanic peoples forced to flee, pushing into and invading the Roman Empire (German group called the Franks attacked Gaul and northeastern part of Spain gave their name to France; Scandinavian tribe called the Saxons sailed into English channel, raiding coastal villages and becoming part of English history). Visigoths sacked Rome itself in 410, and the last Roman emperor was deposed in 476.
The Fall of the Roman EmpireLong-term causes Click on the icon below to see an interactive illustration of the short-term Germanic invasions: • Scholars believe there may be numerous causes that in the long run contributed to the fall of the Western Roman Empire: Political – Office seen as burden, not reward. – Military interference in politics. – Civil war and unrest. – Division of empire. – Moving of capital to Byzantium. Social – Decline in interest in public affairs. – Low confidence in empire. – Disloyalty, lack of patriotism, corruption. – Large inequality between rich and poor. – Decline in population due to disease and food shortage. Economic – Poor harvests. – Trade disruption. – No more war plunder. – Gold and silver drain. – Inflation. – Crushing taxes. – Gap between rich and poor and increasingly poor West. Military – Threat from northern European tribes. – Low funds for defense. – Problems recruiting Roman citizens; recruiting of non-Roman mercenaries. – Decline in patriotism and loyalty among soldiers.
The legacy of the Romans • With the economy of the region and its urban centers in shambles, the Western Roman Empire had fragmented into a handful of kingdoms run by Germanic rulers by 530. • Rome’s population fell precipitously, its political importance disappeared. • But, significantly, it retained its prominence as the home of the West’s most important churchman. Local nobility competed for control of this position, the name of which came to be Pope, who held supreme power in the Latin-speaking church. • Language – Among uneducated masses formerly under Roman rule, Latin quickly evolved into Romance dialects (Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian and Romanian) and Latin further influenced other languages (more than half the words in English have a basis in Latin).
The legacy of the RomansLaw … and a reconstituted tradition • In addition to language, engineering and architecture, the preservation and building upon of the Greek legacy (hence the term Greco-Roman) in government, philosophy, art and literature … Rome’s most lasting and widespread contribution was law. Some of the most important principles it established: • All persons had the right to equal treatment under the law. • A person was considered innocent until proven guilty. • The burden of proof rested with the accuser. • A person should be punished only for actions, not thoughts. • Any law that seemed unreasonable or grossly unfair could be set aside.
Not so dark, not so middle • The period following the fall of the Western Roman Empire in Europe was once commonly referred to as the “Dark Ages” (c. 500-1000 CE) and the “Middle Ages” (c. 500-1500 CE) – terms that have fallen from favor in light of more recent scholarship revealing more vitality to what was going on in Europe between this middle period between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance, the so-called “rebirth” of art and learning. • From the Roman point of view, the rise of the Germanic kingdoms was a triumph of barbarianism at a time when the continuing imperial heritage of the Romans was still being preserved in the Byzantine Empire to the east … but in the long run, the West would prove to be much more dynamic and creative.
The origins of imperial China • As we’ve seen earlier this year, the Shang (1750-1027 BCE) and Zhou (1027-221 BCE) dynasties ruled over a relatively small region in northeastern China … and the last 250 years or so of nominal Zhou rule – the Warring States Period – was characterized by clashes of small states with somewhat different languages and cultures. • In the second half of the third century BCE, the Qin (pronounced “chin,” from which we get China) state of the Wei (way) Valley emerged victorious from the wars and created China’s first empire. • The Qin Empire lasted just 15 years (221-206 BCE) but was important for several reasons, and it set the stage for a new dynasty, the Han (hahn), which ruled China from 206 BCE to 220 CE … beginning an imperial tradition of remarkably unified political and cultural heritage that lasted into the early 20th century.
Qin up! It’s the law! • Qin Empire founded by Qin Shi Huangdi, who adopted Legalism (highly authoritarian, centralized rule) as his official ideology: • opponents of regime punished, sometimes executed. • books burned. • central bureaucracy established and divided into three primary ministries: civil authority, military authority, and censorate (whose inspectors surveyed the efficiency of officials throughout the system later standard administrative practice for subsequent Chinese dynasties). Qin Shi Huangdi The First Emperor of China
Qin EmpireRuthless and expansive Shi Huangdi: • unified system of weights and measures, standardized monetary system and the written forms of Chinese characters, and ordered construction of road network throughout the empire. • eliminated potential rivals and raised tax revenues by dividing the estates of landed aristocrats among the peasants, who were now taxed directly by the state. • required members of aristocratic clans to live in the capital city at Xianyang so his court could keep an eye on their activities. • viewed merchants as parasites severely restricted and heavily taxed private commerce, and monopolized vital industries like mining, wine making and distribution of salt.
Qin EmpireConcerns to the north and south Shi Huangdi: • was aggressive with foreign policy armies (modernized with iron weapons) continued the gradual advance southward begun during the Zhou era, extending China’s border to Red River in present-day Vietnam. • ordered a canal dug to support his armies in the south direct inland navigation from Yangtze River in central China. • built 44 walled district cities and ramparts spanning more than 3,000 miles to defend against nomadic incursions from the north the origins of the Great Wall of China, the massive granite blocks of which were put in place 1,500 years later by the Ming dynasty.
Qin EmpireCentralizing power alienates • Rivalry between the “inner” imperial court and the “outer” court of bureaucratic officials led to tensions in China for millennia, and Shi Huangdi was aware of the dangers of this factionalism established a class of eunuchs (which later became standard feature of Chinese imperial system) as personal attendants for himself and female members of the royal family, probably to restrict influence of male courtiers. • Totalitarian zeal meant to ensure a rule to be enjoyed for 10,000 generations of Shi Huangdi’s heirs but it alienated practically everyone: Just four years after his death in 210 BCE, which triggered infighting among the factions formerly under his rule, the Qin Empire was overthrown.