Roman history has been among the most influential to the modern world,
from supporting the tradition of the rule by law to influencing the
American Founding Fathers to the creation of the Catholic church.
Roman history can be divided into the following periods:
Pre-historical and early Rome, covering Rome's earliest inhabitants
and the legend of its founding by Romulus.
The period of Etruscan dominance and the Regal Period, in which
according to tradition,
Romulus was the first of seven kings.
The Roman Republic, which commenced in 509 BC when kings were replaced
with rule by elected senators. The period was marked by vast expansion
of Roman territory. During the 5th century BC,
Rome gained regional
dominance in Latium, and eventually the entire Italian peninsula by
the 3rd century BC. With the
Punic Wars from 264 to 146 BC, Rome
gained dominance over the Western Mediterranean, displacing Carthage
as the dominant regional power.
The Roman Empire: With the rise of Julius Caesar, the Republic waned
and by all measures, concluded after a period of civil war and the
victory of Octavian, the adopted son of Caesar in 27 BC over Mark
Antony. After the collapse of the Western Roman Empire,
to hang onto the empire, still known as the
Roman Empire but long
centered on the eastern Mediterranean, until the 8th century as the
Duchy of Rome. At this time, the city was reduced to a fraction of its
former size, being sacked several times in the 5th to 6th centuries,
in 546 even temporarily depopulated entirely.
Medieval Rome: Characterized by a break with Byzantium and the
formation of the Papal States. The Papacy struggled to retain
influence in the emerging Holy Roman Empire, and during the Saeculum
obscurum, the population of
Rome fell to as low as 30,000 inhabitants.
East–West Schism and the limited success in the
Investiture Controversy, the Papacy did gain considerable influence in
high medieval Europe, but with the
Avignon Papacy and the Western
Schism, the city of
Rome was reduced to irrelevance, its population
falling below 20,000. Rome's decline into complete irrelevance during
the medieval period, with the associated lack of construction
activity, assured the survival of very significant ancient Roman
material remains in the centre of the city, some abandoned and others
continuing in use.
The Roman Renaissance: In the 15th century,
the symbol of artistic and cultural influence. The Roman Renaissance
was cut short abruptly with the devastation of the city in 1527, but
the Papacy reasserted itself in the Counter-Reformation, and the city
continued to flourish during the early modern period.
Rome was annexed
by Napoleon and was technically part of
France during 1798–1814.
Modern History: The period from the 19th century to today.
under siege by the
Allied invasion of Italy
Allied invasion of Italy and was bombed several
times. It was declared an open city on 14 August 1943.
Rome became the
capital of the Italian Republic (established in 1946), with a
population of 4.4 million in its metropolitan area (as of
2015[update]; 2.9 million within city limits)—is the largest city in
Italy. It is among the largest urban areas of the European Union
and classified as a "global city".
1 Ancient Rome
1.1 Earliest history
Legend of Rome
1.1.2 City's formation
1.1.3 Italic context
1.2 Etruscan dominance
1.3 Roman Republic
1.4 Roman Empire
1.4.1 Early Empire
1.4.2 Crisis of the Third Century
1.4.4 Germanic invasions and collapse of the Western Empire
1.4.5 Barbarian and Byzantine rule
2.1 Break with Byzantium and formation of the Papal States
2.2 Formation of the Holy Roman Empire
2.3 Roman Commune
2.4 Guelphs and Ghibellines
2.5 Boniface VIII and the Babylonian captivity
Cola di Rienzo
Cola di Rienzo and the Pope's return to Rome
2.7 Western schism and conflict with Milan
4 Early modern history
4.1 Sack of
5 Modern history
5.1 Italian unification
5.2 Kingdom of Italy
5.3 Capital of the Italian Republic
6 Historical city center
7 See also
9 Further reading
9.1 Imperial Rome
9.2 Medieval, Renaissance, Early Modern
For more information, and the history of
Rome as a complete
civilization, see Ancient Rome.
Roman Kingdom and Republic
According to legend,
Romulus founds Rome.
Rule of the seven Kings of Rome.
Creation of the Republic.
Gauls invade Rome.
Social and Civil Wars. Emergence of Marius, Sulla,
Pompey and Caesar.
Julius Caesar assassinated.
Further information: Founding of Rome
There is archaeological evidence of human occupation of the
from at least 5,000 years, but the dense layer of much younger
debris obscures Palaeolithic and Neolithic sites. The evidence
suggesting the city's ancient foundation is also obscured by the
legend of Rome's beginning involving
Romulus and Remus.
The traditional date for the founding of
Rome is 21 April 753 BC,
following Marcus Terentius Varro, and the city and surrounding
Latium has continued to be inhabited with little
interruption since around that time. Excavations made in 2014 have
revealed a wall built long before the city's official founding year.
Archaeologists uncovered a stone wall and pieces of pottery dating to
the 9th century BC and the beginning of the 8th century BC, and there
is evidence of people arriving on the
Palatine hill as early as the
10th century BC.
The site of
Sant'Omobono Area is crucial for understanding the related
processes of monumentalization, urbanization, and state formation in
Rome in the late Archaic period. The Sant’Omobono temple site dates
to 7th-6th century B.C., making these the oldest known temple remains
Legend of Rome
Capitoline Wolf suckles the infant twins
Romulus and Remus.
The origin of the city's name is thought to be that of the reputed
founder and first ruler, the legendary Romulus. It is said that
Romulus and his twin brother Remus, apparent sons of the god Mars and
descendants of the Trojan hero Aeneas, were suckled by a she-wolf
after being abandoned, then decided to build a city. The brothers
Romulus killed Remus, and then named the city
himself. After founding and naming
Rome (as the story goes), he
permitted men of all classes to come to
Rome as citizens, including
slaves and freemen without distinction. To provide his citizens
Romulus invited the neighboring tribes to a festival in
Rome where he abducted the young women from amongst them (known as The
Rape of the
Sabine Women). After the ensuing war with the Sabines,
Romulus shared the kingship with
Sabine King Titus Tatius. Romulus
selected 100 of the most noble men to form the
Roman senate as an
advisory council to the king. These men he called patres, and their
descendants became the patricians. He created three centuries of
equites: Ramnes (meaning Romans), Tities (after the
Sabine king), and
Luceres (Etruscans). He also divided the general populace into thirty
curiae, named after thirty of the
Sabine women who had intervened to
end the war between
Romulus and Tatius. The curiae formed the voting
units in the Comitia Curiata.
Attempts have been made to find a linguistic root for the name Rome.
Possibilities include derivation from the Greek Ῥώμη, meaning
bravery, courage; possibly the connection is with a root *rum-,
"teat", with a theoretical reference to the totem wolf that adopted
and suckled the cognately-named twins. The Etruscan name of the city
seems to have been Ruma. Compare also Rumon, former name of the
Tiber River. Its further etymology remains unknown, as with most
Etruscan words. Thomas G. Tucker's Concise Etymological Dictionary of
Latin (1931) suggests that the name is most probably from *urobsma
(cf. urbs, robur) and otherwise, "but less likely" from *urosma "hill"
(cf. Skt. varsman- "height, point," Old Slavonic врьхъ "top,
summit", Russ. верх "top; upward direction", Lith. virsus
Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the
Palatine Hill and
surrounding hills approximately 30 km (19 mi) from the
Tyrrhenian Sea on the south side of the Tiber. The
Quirinal Hill was
probably an outpost for the Sabines, another Italic-speaking people.
At this location, the
Tiber forms a Z-shaped curve that contains an
island where the river can be forded. Because of the river and the
Rome was at a crossroads of traffic following the river valley
and of traders traveling north and south on the west side of the
Archaeological finds have confirmed that there were two fortified
settlements in the 8th century BC, in the area of the future Rome:
Rumi on the Palatine Hill, and Titientes on the Quirinal Hill, backed
by the Luceres living in the nearby woods. These were simply three
of numerous Italic-speaking communities that existed in Latium, a
plain on the Italian peninsula, by the 1st millennium BC. The origins
of the Italic peoples lie in prehistory and are therefore not
precisely known, but their
Indo-European languages migrated from the
east in the second half of the 2nd millennium BC.
According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, many Roman historians
(including Porcius Cato and Gaius Sempronius) regarded the origins of
the Romans (descendants of the Aborigines) as Greek despite the fact
that their knowledge was derived from Greek legendary accounts.
The Sabines, specifically, were first mentioned in Dionysius's account
for having captured the city of Lista by surprise, which was regarded
as the mother-city of the Aborigines.
The Etruscan Tomb of the Whipping
The Italic speakers in the area included
Latins (in the west), Sabines
(in the upper valley of the Tiber), Umbrians (in the north-east),
Samnites (in the South), Oscans, and others. In the 8th century BC,
they shared the peninsula with two other major ethnic groups: the
Etruscans in the North and the
Greeks in the south.
Etruscans (Etrusci or Tusci in Latin) were settled north of Rome
Etruria (modern northern Lazio,
Tuscany and part of Umbria). They
founded cities such as Tarquinia, Veii, and
Volterra and deeply
influenced Roman culture, as clearly shown by the Etruscan origin of
some of the mythical Roman kings. The origins of the
lost in prehistory. Historians have no literature, no texts of
religion or philosophy; therefore, much of what is known about this
civilisation is derived from grave goods and tomb findings. The
behaviour of the
Etruscans has led to some confusion. Like Latin,
Etruscan is inflected and Hellenised. Like the Indo-Europeans, the
Etruscans were patrilineal and patriarchal. Like the Italics, they
were war-like. The gladiatorial displays actually developed out of
Etruscan funerary customs. Future studies of Etruscan and more
excavations in the region will no doubt shed more light on the origin
Rome and the Romans.
Greeks had founded many colonies in Southern
Italy between 750 and
550 BC (which the Romans later called Magna Graecia), such as
Cumae, Naples, Reggio Calabria, Crotone, Sybaris, and Taranto, as well
as in the eastern two-thirds of Sicily.
Further information: Roman Kingdom
Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus
Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus 526–509 BC
Servian Wall takes its name from king
Servius Tullius and are the
first true walls of Rome
After 650 BC, the
Etruscans became dominant in
Italy and expanded
into north-central Italy. Roman tradition claimed that
Rome had been
under the control of seven kings from 753 to 509 BC beginning
with the mythical
Romulus who was said to have founded the city of
Rome along with his brother Remus. The last three kings were said to
be Etruscan (at least partially)—namely Tarquinius Priscus, Servius
Tullius and Tarquinius Superbus. (Priscus is said by the ancient
literary sources to be the son of a Greek refugee and an Etruscan
mother.) Their names refer to the Etruscan town of Tarquinia.
This traditional account of Roman history has come down to us through
Livy, Plutarch, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, and others. It claims that
Rome was ruled during its first centuries by a succession of seven
kings. The traditional chronology, as codified by Varro, allots
243 years for their reigns, an average of almost 35 years,
which has been generally discounted by modern scholarship since the
work of Barthold Georg Niebuhr. The
Gauls destroyed much of Rome's
historical records when they sacked the city after the Battle of the
Allia in 390 BC (according to Polybius, the battle occurred in
387/6) and what was left was eventually lost to time or theft. With no
contemporary records of the kingdom existing, all accounts of the
kings must be carefully questioned. The list of kings is also of
dubious historical value, though the last-named kings may be
historical figures. It is believed by some historians (again, this is
Rome was under the influence of the
Etruscans for about
a century. During this period, a bridge was built called the Pons
Sublicius to replace the
Tiber ford, and the
Cloaca Maxima was also
Etruscans are said to have been great engineers of this
type of structure. From a cultural and technical point of view,
Etruscans had arguably the second-greatest impact on Roman
development, only surpassed by the Greeks.
Expanding further south, the
Etruscans came into direct contact with
Greeks and initially had success in conflicts with the Greek
colonists; after which,
Etruria went into a decline. Taking advantage
Rome rebelled and gained independence from the Etruscans
around 500 BC. It also abandoned monarchy in favour of a
republican system based on a Senate, composed of the nobles of the
city, along with popular assemblies which ensured political
participation for most of the freeborn men and elected magistrates
Etruscans left a lasting influence on Rome. The Romans learned to
build temples from them, and the
Etruscans may have introduced the
worship of a triad of gods — Juno, Minerva, and
Jupiter — from the Etruscan gods: Uni, Menrva, and Tinia.
However, the influence of Etruscan people in the development of Rome
is often overstated.
Rome was primarily a
Latin city. It never
became fully Etruscan. Also, evidence shows that Romans were heavily
influenced by the Greek cities in the South, mainly through trade.
Further information: Overthrow of the Roman monarchy, Roman Republic,
and Crisis of the Roman Republic
Roman Republic traditionally dates from 509 BC to 27 BC. After
Rome joined with the
Latin cities in defence against
incursions by the Sabines. Winning the
Battle of Lake Regillus
Battle of Lake Regillus in
Rome established again the supremacy over the Latin
countries it had lost after the fall of the monarchy. After a lengthy
series of struggles, this supremacy became fixed in 393, when the
Romans finally subdued the
Volsci and Aequi. In 394 BC, they also
conquered the menacing Etruscan neighbour of Veii. The Etruscan power
was now limited to
Etruria itself, and
Rome was the dominant city in
Also a formal treaty with the city of
Carthage is reported to have
been made in the end of the 6th century BC, which defined the spheres
of influence of each city and regulated the trade between them.
Chart Showing the Checks and Balances of the Roman Constitution.
At the same time, Heraclides states that 4th-century
Rome is a Greek
Rome's early enemies were the neighbouring hill tribes of the
Volscians, the Aequi, and of course the Etruscans. As years passed and
military successes increased Roman territory, new adversaries
appeared. The fiercest were the Gauls, a loose collective of peoples
who controlled much of Northern Europe including what is modern North
and Central-East Italy.
In 387 BC,
Rome was sacked and burned by the
Senones coming from
Italy and led by Brennus, who had successfully defeated the
Roman army at the
Battle of the Allia
Battle of the Allia in Etruria. Multiple
contemporary records suggest that the
Senones hoped to punish
violating its diplomatic neutrality in Etruria. The
130 kilometres (81 mi) to
Rome without harming the surrounding
countryside; once sacked, the
Senones withdrew from Rome. Brennus
was defeated by the dictator Furius Camillus at
Rome hastily rebuilt its buildings and went on the
offensive, conquering the
Etruscans and seizing territory from the
Gauls in the north. After 345 BC,
Rome pushed south against other
Latins. Their main enemy in this quadrant were the fierce Samnites,
who outsmarted and trapped the legions in 321 BC at the Battle of
Caudine Forks. In spite of these and other temporary setbacks, the
Romans advanced steadily. By 290 BC,
Rome controlled over half of
the Italian peninsula. In the 3rd century BC,
Rome brought the Greek
poleis in the south under its control as well.
Map showing Roman expansion in Italy.
Amidst the never ending wars (from the beginning of the Republic up to
the Principate, the doors of the temple of
Janus were closed only
twice – when they were open it meant that
Rome was at war),
to face a severe major social crisis, the Conflict of the Orders, a
political struggle between the Plebeians (commoners) and Patricians
(aristocrats) of the ancient Roman Republic, in which the Plebeians
sought political equality with the Patricians. It played a major role
in the development of the Constitution of the Roman Republic. It began
in 494 BC, when, while
Rome was at war with two neighboring
tribes, the Plebeians all left the city (the first Plebeian
Secession). The result of this first secession was the creation of the
office of Plebeian Tribune, and with it the first acquisition of real
power by the Plebeians.
Map of the centre of
Rome during the time of the Roman Empire
According to tradition,
Rome became a republic in 509 BC.
However, it took a few centuries for
Rome to become the great city of
popular imagination. By the 3rd century BC,
Rome had become the
pre-eminent city of the Italian peninsula. During the Punic Wars
Rome and the great Mediterranean empire of
Carthage (264 to
146 BC), Rome's stature increased further as it became the
capital of an overseas empire for the first time. Beginning in the 2nd
Rome went through a significant population expansion as
Italian farmers, driven from their ancestral farmlands by the advent
of massive, slave-operated farms called latifundia, flocked to the
city in great numbers. The victory over
Carthage in the First Punic
War brought the first two provinces outside the Italian peninsula,
Sicily and Sardinia. Parts of
Spain (Hispania) followed, and in
the beginning of the 2nd century the Romans got involved in the
affairs of the Greek world. By then all Hellenistic kingdoms and the
Greek city-states were in decline, exhausted from endless civil wars
and relying on mercenary troops.
The Romans looked upon the Greek civilisation with great admiration.
Rome as a useful ally in their civil strifes, and it
wasn't long before the Roman legions were invited to intervene in
Greece. In less than 50 years the whole of mainland Greece was
subdued. The Roman legions crushed the Macedonian phalanx twice, in
197 and 168 BC; in 146 BC the Roman consul Lucius Mummius
razed Corinth, marking the end of free Greece. The same year Cornelius
Scipio Aemilianus, the son of Scipio Africanus, destroyed the city of
Carthage, making it a Roman province.
In the following years,
Rome continued its conquests in
Tiberius Gracchus, and it set foot in Asia, when the last king of
Pergamum gave his kingdom to the Roman people. The end of the 2nd
century brought another threat, when a great host of Germanic peoples,
Cimbri and Teutones, crossed the river Rhone and moved to
Gaius Marius was consul five consecutive times (seven total),
and won two decisive battles in 102 and 101 BC He also reformed
the Roman army, giving it such a good reorganization that it remained
unchanged for centuries.
The first thirty years of the last century BC were characterised by
serious internal problems that threatened the existence of the
Republic. The Social War, between
Rome and its allies, and the Servile
Wars (slave uprisings) were hard conflicts, all within Italy, and
forced the Romans to change their policy with regards to their allies
and subjects. By then
Rome had become an extensive power, with
great wealth which derived from the conquered people (as tribute, food
or manpower, i.e. slaves). The allies of
Rome felt bitter since they
had fought by the side of the Romans, and yet they were not citizens
and shared little in the rewards. Although they lost the war, they
finally got what they asked, and by the beginning of the 1st century
AD practically all free inhabitants of
Italy were Roman citizens.
However, the growth of the Imperium Romanum (Roman power) created new
problems, and new demands, that the old political system of the
Republic, with its annually elected magistrates and its sharing of
power, could not solve. The dictatorship of Sulla, the extraordinary
Pompey Magnus, and the first triumvirate made that clear.
In January 49 BC,
Julius Caesar the conqueror of Gaul, marched
his legions against Rome. In the following years, he vanquished his
opponents, and ruled
Rome for four years. After his assassination in
44 BC, the Senate tried to reestablish the Republic, but its
champions, Marcus Junius Brutus (descendant of the founder of the
Gaius Cassius Longinus
Gaius Cassius Longinus were defeated by Caesar's
lieutenant Marcus Antonius and Caesar's nephew, Octavian.
The years 44–31 BC mark the struggle for power between Marcus
Octavian (later known as Augustus). Finally, on 2
September 31 BC, in the Greek promontory of Actium, the final
battle took place in the sea.
Octavian was victorious, and became the
sole ruler of
Rome (and its empire). That date marks the end of the
Republic and the beginning of the Principate.
Further information: Roman Empire
44 BC – AD 14
Augustus establishes the Empire.
Great Fire of Rome
Great Fire of Rome during Nero's rule.
Flavian Dynasty. Building of the Colosseum.
Crisis of the Roman Empire. Building of the
Baths of Caracalla
Baths of Caracalla and the
Diocletian and Constantine. Building of the first Christian basilicas.
Battle of Milvian Bridge.
Rome is replaced by
Constantinople as the
capital of the Empire.
Definitive separation of Western and Eastern Roman Empire.
Goths of Alaric sack Rome.
Vandals of Gaiseric sack Rome.
Fall of the west empire and deposition of the final emperor Romulus
Gothic War (535–554). The
Goths cut off the aqueducts in the siege
of 537, an act which historians traditionally regard as the beginning
of the Middle Ages in Italy
Phocas donates the Pantheon to
Pope Boniface IV, converting it
into a Christian church. Column of
Phocas (the last addition made to
the Forum Romanum) is erected.
Curia Julia (vacant since the disappearance of the Roman Senate)
is transformed into the basilica of Sant'Adriano al Foro.
Constans II visits
Rome for twelve days—the only emperor to set foot
Rome for two centuries. He strips buildings of their ornaments and
bronze to be carried back to Constantinople.
Lombard conquest of the Exarchate of Ravenna, the
Duchy of Rome
Duchy of Rome is now
completely cut off from the empire.
Alliance with the Franks, Pepin the Younger, declared Patrician of the
Romans, invades Italy. Establishment of the Papal States.
By the end of the Republic, the city of
Rome had achieved a grandeur
befitting the capital of an empire dominating the whole of the
Mediterranean. It was, at the time, the largest city in the world.
Estimates of its peak population range from 450,000 to over
3.5 million people with estimates of 1 to 2 million being
most popular with historians. This grandeur increased under
Augustus, who completed Caesar's projects and added many of his own,
such as the Forum of
Augustus and the Ara Pacis. He is said to have
remarked that he found
Rome a city of brick and left it a city of
marble (Urbem latericium invenit, marmoream reliquit). Augustus's
successors sought to emulate his success in part by adding their own
contributions to the city. In AD 64, during the reign of Nero, the
Great Fire of Rome
Great Fire of Rome left much of the city destroyed, but in many ways
it was used as an excuse for new development.
Rome was a subsidised city at the time, with roughly 15 to 25 percent
of its grain supply being paid by the central government. Commerce and
industry played a smaller role compared to that of other cities like
Alexandria. This meant that
Rome had to depend upon goods and
production from other parts of the Empire to sustain such a large
population. This was mostly paid by taxes that were levied by the
Roman government. If it had not been subsidised,
Rome would have been
The Arch of
Gallienus is one of the few monuments of ancient
the 3rd century, and was a gate in the Servian Wall. Two side gates
were destroyed in 1447.
Rome's population declined after its peak in the 2nd century. At the
end of that century, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the Antonine
Plague killed 2,000 people a day.
Marcus Aurelius died in 180, his
reign being the last of the "Five Good Emperors" and Pax Romana. His
son Commodus, who had been co-emperor since AD 177, assumed full
imperial power, which is most generally associated with the gradual
decline of the Western Roman Empire. Rome's population was only a
fraction of its peak when the
Aurelian Wall was completed in the year
273 (in that year its population was only around 500,000).
Crisis of the Third Century
Starting in the early 3rd century, matters changed. The "Crisis of the
third century" defines the disasters and political troubles for the
Empire, which nearly collapsed. The new feeling of danger and the
menace of barbarian invasions was clearly shown by the decision of
Emperor Aurelian, who at year 273 finished encircling the capital
itself with a massive wall which had a perimeter that measured close
to 20 km (12 mi).
Rome formally remained capital of the
empire, but emperors spent less and less time there. At the end of 3rd
century Diocletian's political reforms,
Rome was deprived of its
traditional role of administrative capital of the Empire. Later,
western emperors ruled from
Milan or Ravenna, or cities in Gaul. In
Constantine I established a second capital at Constantinople. At
this time, part of the Roman aristocratic class moved to this new
centre, followed by many of the artists and craftsmen who were living
in the city.
Further information: Early Christianity, Decline of Greco-Roman
polytheism, Constantinian shift, and State church of the Roman Empire
Rome during the 1st century AD. For the first two
centuries of the Christian era, Imperial authorities largely viewed
Christianity simply as a Jewish sect rather than a distinct religion.
No emperor issued general laws against the faith or its Church, and
persecutions, such as they were, were carried out under the authority
of local government officials. A surviving letter from Pliny the
Younger, governor of Bythinia, to the emperor
Trajan describes his
persecution and executions of Christians;
Trajan notably responded
that Pliny should not seek out Christians nor heed anonymous
denunciations, but only punish open Christians who refused to
Suetonius mentions in passing that during the reign of Nero
"punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a
new and mischievous superstition" (superstitionis novae ac
maleficae). He gives no reason for the punishment.
that after the
Great Fire of Rome
Great Fire of Rome in AD 64, some among the
Nero responsible and that the emperor attempted to
deflect blame onto the Christians. The war against the Jews during
Nero's reign, which so destabilised the empire that it led to civil
war and Nero's suicide, provided an additional rationale for
suppression of this 'Jewish' sect.
Diocletian undertook what was to be the most severe and last major
persecution of Christians, lasting from 303 to 311.
become too widespread to suppress, and in 313, the Edict of
tolerance the official policy. Constantine I (sole ruler
324–337) became the first Christian emperor, and in 380
Theodosius I established
Christianity as the official religion.
Under Theodosius, visits to the pagan temples were forbidden, the
eternal fire in the Temple of Vesta in the
Roman Forum extinguished,
Vestal Virgins disbanded, auspices and witchcrafting punished.
Theodosius refused to restore the
Altar of Victory
Altar of Victory in the Senate
House, as asked by remaining pagan Senators.
The Empire's conversion to
Christianity made the Bishop of
called the Pope) the senior religious figure in the Western Empire, as
officially stated in 380 by the Edict of Thessalonica. In spite of its
increasingly marginal role in the Empire,
Rome retained its historic
prestige, and this period saw the last wave of construction activity:
Maxentius built buildings such as its
basilica in the Forum, Constantine himself erected the Arch of
Constantine to celebrate his victory over the former, and Diocletian
built the greatest baths of all. Constantine was also the first patron
of official Christian buildings in the city. He donated the Lateran
Palace to the Pope, and built the first great basilica, the old St.
Germanic invasions and collapse of the Western Empire
The ancient basilica of St. Lawrence outside the walls was built
directly over the tomb of the people's favourite Roman martyr
Rome remained one of the strongholds of Paganism, led by the
aristocrats and senators. However, the new walls did not stop the city
being sacked first by Alaric on 24 August, 410, by Geiseric in 455 and
even by general Ricimer's unpaid Roman troops (largely composed of
barbarians) on 11 July, 472. This was the first time in almost
800 years that
Rome had fallen to an enemy. The previous sack of
Rome had been accomplished by the
Gauls under their leader Brennus in
387 BC. The sacking of 410 is seen as a major landmark in the
decline and fall of the Western Roman Empire. St. Jerome, living in
Bethlehem at the time, wrote that "The City which had taken the whole
world was itself taken." These sackings of the city astonished all
the Roman world. In any case, the damage caused by the sackings may
have been overestimated. The population already started to decline
from the late 4th century onward, although around the middle of the
fifth century it seems that
Rome continued to be the most populous
city of the two parts of the Empire, with a population of not less
than 650,000 inhabitants. The decline greatly accelerated
following the capture of
Africa Proconsularis by the Vandals. Many
inhabitants now fled as the city no longer could be supplied with
grain from Africa from the mid-5th century onward.
At the beginning of the 6th century Rome's population may have been
less than 100,000. Many monuments were being destroyed by the citizens
themselves, who stripped stones from closed temples and other precious
buildings, and even burned statues to make lime for their personal
use. In addition, most of the increasing number of churches were built
in this way. For example, the first
Saint Peter's Basilica
Saint Peter's Basilica was erected
using spoils from the abandoned Circus of Nero. This "self-eating"
attitude was a constant feature of
Rome until the Renaissance. From
the 4th century, imperial edicts against stripping of stones and
especially marble were common, but the need for their repetition shows
that they were ineffective. Sometimes new churches were created by
simply taking advantage of early Pagan temples, while sometimes
changing the Pagan god or hero to a corresponding Christian saint or
martyr. In this way, the Temple of
Romulus and Remus
Romulus and Remus became the
basilica of the twin saints Cosmas and Damian. Later, the Pantheon,
Temple of All Gods, became the church of All Martyrs.
Barbarian and Byzantine rule
Further information: Ostrogothic Kingdom,
Duchy of Rome, and Sack of
During the Gothic Wars of the mid-6th century,
Rome was besieged
several times by Byzantine and Ostrogoth armies
South east view of the Pantheon
The Column of Phocas, last imperial monument in the Roman Forum.
In 480, the last Western Roman emperor, Julius Nepos, was murdered and
a Roman general of barbarian origin, Odoacer, declared allegiance to
Eastern Roman emperor Zeno. Despite owing nominal allegiance to
Odoacer and later the
Ostrogoths continued, like the
last emperors, to rule
Italy as a virtually independent realm from
Ravenna. Meanwhile, the Senate, even though long since stripped of
wider powers, continued to administer
Rome itself, with the Pope
usually coming from a senatorial family. This situation continued
Theodahad murdered Amalasuntha, a pro-imperial Gothic queen, and
usurped the power in 535. The Eastern Roman emperor, Justinian I
(reigned 527–565), used this as a pretext to send forces to Italy
under his famed general Belisarius, recapturing the city next year.
The Byzantines successfully defended the city in a year-long siege,
and eventually took Ravenna.
Gothic resistance revived however, and on 17 December, 546, the
Totila recaptured and sacked Rome. Belisarius
soon recovered the city, but the
Ostrogoths retook it in 549.
Belisarius was replaced by Narses, who captured
Rome from the
Ostrogoths for good in 552, ending the so-called Gothic Wars which had
devastated much of Italy. The continual war around
Rome in the 530s
and 540s left it in a state of total disrepair — near-abandoned and
desolate with much of its lower-lying parts turned into unhealthy
marshes as the drainage systems were neglected and the Tiber's
embankments fell into disrepair in the course of the latter half of
the 6th century. Here, malaria developed. The aqueducts were never
repaired, leading to a shrinking population of less than 50,000
concentrated near the
Tiber and around the Campus Martius, abandoning
those districts without water supply. There is a legend, significant
though untrue, that there was a moment where no one remained living in
Justinian I tried to grant
Rome subsidies for the maintenance of
public buildings, aqueducts and bridges — though, being mostly drawn
Italy dramatically impoverished by the recent wars, these were
not always sufficient. He also styled himself the patron of its
remaining scholars, orators, physicians and lawyers in the stated hope
that eventually more youths would seek a better education. After the
wars, the Senate was theoretically restored, but under the supervision
of the urban prefect and other officials appointed by, and responsible
to, the Byzantine authorities in Ravenna.
Pope was now one of the leading religious figures in the
Byzantine Empire and effectively more powerful locally than
either the remaining senators or local Byzantine officials. In
practice, local power in
Rome devolved to the
Pope and, over the next
few decades, both much of the remaining possessions of the senatorial
aristocracy and the local Byzantine administration in
absorbed by the Church.
The reign of Justinian's nephew and successor
Justin II (reigned
565–578) was marked from the Italian point of view by the invasion
Alboin (568). In capturing the regions of
Benevento, Lombardy, Piedmont,
Spoleto and Tuscany, the invaders
effectively restricted Imperial authority to small islands of land
surrounding a number of coastal cities, including Ravenna, Naples,
Rome and the area of the future Venice. The one inland city continuing
under Byzantine control was Perugia, which provided a repeatedly
threatened overland link between
Rome and Ravenna. In 578 and again in
580, the Senate, in some of its last recorded acts, had to ask for the
Tiberius II Constantine
Tiberius II Constantine (reigned 578–582) against the
approaching Dukes, Faroald I of
Zotto of Benevento.
Maurice (reigned 582–602) added a new factor in the continuing
conflict by creating an alliance with
Childebert II of Austrasia
(reigned 575–595). The armies of the Frankish King invaded the
Lombard territories in 584, 585, 588 and 590.
Rome had suffered badly
from a disastrous flood of the
Tiber in 589, followed by a plague in
590. The latter is notable for the legend of the angel seen, while the
Pope Gregory I (term 590–604) was passing in
procession by Hadrian's Tomb, to hover over the building and to
sheathe his flaming sword as a sign that the pestilence was about to
cease. The city was safe from capture at least.
Agilulf, however, the new Lombard King (reigned 591 to c. 616),
managed to secure peace with Childebert, reorganised his territories
and resumed activities against both
Rome by 592. With the
Emperor preoccupied with wars in the eastern borders and the various
succeeding Exarchs unable to secure
Rome from invasion, Gregory took
personal initiative in starting negotiations for a peace treaty. This
was completed in the autumn of 598—later recognised by
Maurice—lasting until the end of his reign.
The position of the Bishop of
Rome was further strengthened under the
Phocas (reigned 602–610).
Phocas recognised his primacy over
that of the Patriarch of
Constantinople and even decreed
III (607) to be "the head of all the Churches". Phocas's reign saw the
erection of the last imperial monument in the Roman Forum, the column
bearing his name. He also gave the
Pope the Pantheon, at the time
closed for centuries, and thus probably saved it from destruction.
During the 7th century, an influx of both Byzantine officials and
churchmen from elsewhere in the empire made both the local lay
aristocracy and Church leadership largely Greek speaking. However, the
strong Byzantine cultural influence did not always lead to political
Rome and Constantinople. In the controversy over
Monothelitism, popes found themselves under severe pressure (sometimes
amounting to physical force) when they failed to keep in step with
Constantinople's shifting theological positions. In 653,
Pope Martin I
was deported to
Constantinople and, after a show trial, exiled to the
Crimea, where he died.
Then, in 663,
Rome had its first imperial visit for two centuries, by
Constans II—its worst disaster since the Gothic Wars when the
Emperor proceeded to strip
Rome of metal, including that from
buildings and statues, to provide armament materials for use against
the Saracens. However, for the next half century, despite further
Rome and the Papacy continued to prefer continued Byzantine
rule—in part because the alternative was Lombard rule, and in part
because Rome's food was largely coming from Papal estates elsewhere in
the Empire, particularly Sicily.
Lombards briefly conquer
Charlemagne liberates the city a
Charlemagne is crowned
Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor in St. Peter's Basilica.
The Saracens sack St. Peter.
Building of the Leonine Walls.
Otto I crowned Emperor by
Pope John XII
Emperor Otto III and
Pope Sylvester II.
Normans sack Rome.
Creation of the commune of Rome.
First Jubilee proclaimed by
Pope Boniface VIII.
Foundation of the Roman University.
Pope Clement V moves the Holy Seat to Avignon.
Cola di Rienzo
Cola di Rienzo proclaims himself tribune.
Gregory XI moves the Holy Seat back to Rome.
Break with Byzantium and formation of the Papal States
Duchy of Rome
Duchy of Rome and Papal States
Pope Gregory II refused to accept the decrees of Emperor Leo
III, which promoted the Emperor's iconoclasm. Leo reacted first by
trying in vain to abduct the Pontiff, and then by sending a force of
Ravennate troops under the command of the
Exarch Paulus, but they were
pushed back by the
Lombards of Tuscia and Benevento. Roman general
Eutychius sent west by the Emperor successfully captured
restored it as a part of the empire in 728.
On 1 November, 731, a council was called in St. Peter's by Gregory III
to excommunicate the iconoclasts. The Emperor responded by
confiscating large Papal estates in
transferring areas previously ecclesiastically under the
Pope to the
Patriarch of Constantinople. Despite the tensions Gregory III never
discontinued his support to the imperial efforts against external
In this period the Lombard kingdom revived under the leadership of
King Liutprand. In 730 he razed the countryside of
Rome to punish the
Pope who had supported the duke of Spoleto. Though still protected
by his massive walls, the pope could do little against the Lombard
king, who managed to ally himself with the Byzantines. Other
protectors were now needed. Gregory III was the first
Pope to ask for
concrete help from the Frankish Kingdom, then under the command of
Charles Martel (739).
Aistulf was even more aggressive. He conquered
Ferrara and Ravenna, ending the Exarchate of Ravenna.
Rome seemed his
next victim. In 754,
Pope Stephen II went to
France to name Pippin the
Younger, king of the Franks, as patricius romanorum, i.e. protector of
Rome. In the August of that year the King and
Pope together crossed
back the Alps and defeated
Aistulf at Pavia. When Pippin went back to
St. Denis however,
Aistulf did not keep his promises, and in 756
Rome for 56 days. The
Lombards returned north when they
heard news of Pippin again moving to Italy. This time he agreed to
Pope the promised territories, and the
Papal States were
In 771 the new King of the Lombards, Desiderius, devised a plot to
Rome and seize
Pope Stephen III during a feigned pilgrimage
within its walls. His main ally was one Paulus Afiarta, chief of the
Lombard party within the city. He conquered
Rome in 772 but angered
Charlemagne. However the plan failed, and Stephens' successor, Pope
Hadrian I called
Charlemagne against Desiderius, who was finally
defeated in 773. The Lombard Kingdom was no more, and now Rome
entered into the orbit of a new, greater political institution.
Numerous remains from this period, along with a museum devoted to
Medieval Rome, can be seen at Crypta Balbi in Rome.
Formation of the Holy Roman Empire
Papal States and Kingdom of
Italy (Holy Roman
A 13th-century fresco of Sylvester and Constantine, showing the
Donation of Constantine, Santi Quattro Coronati, Rome
19th-century drawing of
Old Saint Peter's Basilica
Old Saint Peter's Basilica as it is thought to
have looked around 1450 AD
From the Forum, the medieval and
Renaissance Senate House stands
directly upon the Tabularium, ancient Rome's repository of archives.
On 25 April, 799 the new Pope, Leo III, led the traditional procession
Lateran to the Church of
San Lorenzo in Lucina
San Lorenzo in Lucina along the Via
Flaminia (now Via del Corso). Two nobles (followers of his predecessor
Hadrian) who disliked the weakness of the
Pope with regards to
Charlemagne, attacked the processional train and delivered a
life-threatening wound to the Pope. Leo fled to the King of the
Franks, and in November, 800, the King entered
Rome with a strong army
and a number of French bishops. He declared a judicial trial to decide
if Leo III were to remain Pope, or if the deposers' claims had reasons
to be upheld. This trial, however, was only a part of a well thought
out chain of events which ultimately surprised the world. The
declared legitimate and the attempters subsequently exiled. On 25
Pope Leo III crowned
Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor in
St. Peter's Basilica.
This act forever severed the loyalty of
Rome from its imperial
progeny, Constantinople. It created instead a rival empire which,
after a long series of conquests by Charlemagne, now encompassed most
of the Christian Western territories.
Following the death of Charlemagne, the lack of a figure with equal
prestige led the new institution into disagreement. At the same time
the universal church of
Rome had to face emergence of the lay
interests of the City itself, spurred on by the conviction that the
Roman people, though impoverished and abased, had again the right to
elect the Western Emperor. The famous counterfeit document called the
Donation of Constantine, prepared by the Papal notaries, guaranteed to
Pope a dominion stretching from
Ravenna to Gaeta. This
nominally included the suzerainty over Rome, but this was often highly
disputed, and as the centuries passed, only the strongest Popes were
to be able to assert it. The main element of weakness of the Papacy
within the walls of the city was the continued necessity of the
election of new popes, in which the emerging noble families soon
managed to insert a leading role for themselves. The neighbouring
powers, namely the
Spoleto and Toscana, and later the
Emperors, learned how to take their own advantage of this internal
weakness, playing the role of arbiters among the contestants.
Rome was indeed prey of anarchy in this age. The lowest point was
touched in 897, when a raging crowd exhumed the corpse of a dead pope,
Formosus, and put it on trial.
See also: Commune of
Rome and 14 regions of
From 1048 to 1257, the papacy experienced increasing conflict with the
leaders and churches of the Holy
Roman Empire and the Byzantine
Empire. The latter culminated in the East-West Schism, dividing the
Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church. From 1257 to 1377, the
pope, though the bishop of Rome, resided in Viterbo, Orvieto, and
Perugia, and then Avignon. The return of the popes to
Rome after the
Avignon Papacy was followed by the Western Schism: the division of the
western church between two, and for a time three, competing papal
In this period the renovated Church was again attracting pilgrims and
prelates from all the Christian world, and money with them: even with
a population of only 30,000,
Rome was again becoming a city of
consumers dependent upon the presence of a governmental bureaucracy.
In the meantime, Italian cities were acquiring increasing autonomy,
mainly led by new families which were replacing the old aristocracy
with a new class formed by entrepreneurs, traders and merchants. After
the sack of
Rome by the
Normans in 1084, the rebuilding of the city
was supported by powerful families such as the Frangipane family and
the Pierleoni family, whose wealth came from commerce and banking
rather than landholdings. Inspired by neighbouring cities like Tivoli
and Viterbo, Rome's people began to consider adopting a communal
status and gaining a substantial amount of freedom from papal
Led by Giordano Pierleoni, the Romans rebelled against the aristocracy
and Church rule in 1143. The Senate and the Roman Republic, the
Commune of Rome, were born again. Through the inflammatory words of
preacher Arnaldo da Brescia, an idealistic, fierce opponent of
ecclesiastical property and church interference in temporal affairs,
the revolt that led to the creation of the Commune of
until it was put down in 1155, though it left its mark on the civil
government of the Eternal City for centuries. 12th-century Rome,
however, had little in common with the empire which had ruled over the
Mediterranean some 700 years before, and soon the new Senate had
to work hard to survive, choosing an ambiguous policy of shifting its
support from the
Pope to the Holy
Roman Empire and vice versa as the
political situation required. At Monteporzio, in 1167, during one of
these shifts, in the war with Tusculum, Roman troops were defeated by
the imperial forces of Frederick Barbarossa. Luckily, the winning
enemies were soon dispersed by a plague and
Rome was saved.
Interior of the basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, one of the most
beautiful Roman churches built or re-built in the Middle Ages
In 1188 the new communal government was finally recognised by Pope
Clement III. The
Pope had to make large cash payments to the communal
officials, while the 56 senators became papal vassals. The Senate
always had problems in the accomplishment of its function, and various
changes were tried. Often a single Senator was in charge. This
sometimes led to tyrannies, which did not help the stability of the
Guelphs and Ghibellines
Further information: Guelphs and Ghibellines
In 1204 the streets of
Rome were again in flames when the struggle
Pope Innocent III's family and its rivals, the powerful Orsini
family, led to riots in the city. Many ancient buildings were then
destroyed by machines used by the rival bands to besiege their enemies
in the innumerable towers and strongholds which were a hallmark of the
Middle Age Italian towns.
Torre dei Conti
Torre dei Conti was one of the many towers built by the noble
Rome to mark their power and defend themselves in the
several feuds that marked the city in the Middle Ages. Only the lower
third part of
Torre dei Conti
Torre dei Conti can be seen today.
The struggle between the Popes and the emperor Frederick II, also king
Naples and Sicily, saw
Rome support the Ghibellines. To repay his
loyalty, Frederick sent to the commune the
Carroccio he had won to the
Lombards at the battle of Cortenuova in 1234, and which was exposed in
In that year, during another revolt against the Pope, the Romans
headed by senator
Luca Savelli sacked the Lateran. Curiously, Savelli
was the nephew of
Pope Honorius III and father of Honorius IV, but in
that age family ties often did not determine one's allegiance.
Rome was never to evolve into an autonomous, stable reign, as happened
to other communes like Florence,
Siena or Milan. The endless struggles
between noble families (Savelli, Orsini, Colonna, Annibaldi), the
ambiguous position of the Popes, the haughtiness of a population which
never abandoned the dreams of their splendid past but, at the same
time, thought only of immediate advantage, and the weakness of the
republican institutions always deprived the city of this possibility.
In an attempt to imitate more successful communes, in 1252 the people
elected a foreign Senator, the Bolognese Brancaleone degli Andalò. In
order to bring peace in the city he suppressed the most powerful
nobles (destroying some 140 towers), reorganised the working classes
and issued a code of laws inspired by those of northern Italy.
Brancaleone was a tough figure, but died in 1258 with almost nothing
of his reforms turned into reality. Five years later Charles I of
Anjou, then king of Naples, was elected Senator. He entered the city
only in 1265, but soon his presence was needed to face Conradin, the
Hohenstaufen's heir who was coming to claim his family's rights over
southern Italy, and left the city. After June 1265
Rome was again a
democratic republic, electing Henry of Castile as senator. But
Conradin and the Ghibelline party were crushed in the Battle of
Tagliacozzo (1268), and therefore
Rome fell again in the hands of
Nicholas III, a member of Orsini family, was elected in 1277 and moved
the seat of the Popes from the
Lateran to the more defensible Vatican.
He also ordered that no foreigner could become senator of Rome. Being
a Roman himself, he had himself elected senator by the people. With
this move, the city began again to side for the papal party. In 1285
Charles was again Senator, but the
Sicilian Vespers reduced his
charisma, and the city was thenceforth free from his authority. The
next senator was again a Roman, and again a pope, Honorius IV of the
Boniface VIII and the Babylonian captivity
The successor to Celestine V was a Roman of the Caetani family,
Boniface VIII. Entangled in a local feud against the traditional
rivals of his family, the Colonna, at the same time he struggled to
assure the universal supremacy of the Holy See. In 1300 he launched
the first Jubilee and in 1303 founded the first University of
Rome. The Jubilee was an important move for Rome, as it
further increased its international prestige and, most of all, the
city's economy was boosted by the flow of pilgrims. Boniface died
in 1303 after the humiliation of the Schiaffo di
Anagni ("Slap of
Anagni"), which signalled instead the rule of the King of
the Papacy and marked another period of decline for Rome.
Boniface's successor, Clement V, never entered the city, starting the
so-called "Babylonian Captivity", the absence of the Popes from their
Roman seat in favour of Avignon, which would last for more than
70 years. This situation brought the independence of the
local powers, but these were revealed to be largely unstable; and the
lack of the holy revenues caused a deep decay of Rome. For
more than a century
Rome had no new major buildings. Furthermore, many
of the monuments of the city, including the main churches, began to
fall into ruin.
Cola di Rienzo
Cola di Rienzo and the Pope's return to Rome
Cola di Rienzo
Cola di Rienzo stormed the
Capitoline Hill in 1347 to create a new
Roman Republic. Though short-lived, his attempt is recorded by a
19th-century statue near the ramped
Cordonata leading to
Michelangelo's Piazza del Campidoglio.
In spite of its decline and the absence of the Pope,
Rome had not lost
its spiritual prestige: in 1341 the famous poet Petrarca came to the
city to be crowned as
Poet laureate in Capitoline Hill. Noblemen and
poor people at one time demanded with one voice the return of the
Pope. Among the many ambassadors that in this period took their way to
Avignon, emerged the bizarre but eloquent figure of Cola di Rienzo. As
his personal power among the people increased by time, on 20 May 1347
he conquered the Capitoline at the head of an enthusiastic crowd. The
period of his power, though very short-lived, aspired to the prestige
of Ancient Rome. Now in possession of dictatorial powers, he took the
title of "tribune", referring to the pleb's magistracy of the Roman
Republic. Cola also considered himself at an equal status of that of
the Holy Roman Emperor. On 1 August, he conferred Roman citizenship on
all the Italian cities, and even prepared for the election of a Roman
emperor of Italy. It was too much: the
Pope denounced him as heretic,
criminal and pagan, the populace had begun to be disenchanted with
him, while the nobles had always hated him. On 15 December, he was
forced to flee.
The so-called Casa di Rienzi still in its urban context before the
opening of the Via del Mare in a watercolour by Ettore Roesler Franz
In August 1354, Cola was again a protagonist, when Cardinal Gil
Alvarez De Albornoz entrusted him with the role of "senator of Rome"
in his program of reassuring the Pope's rule in the Papal States. In
October the tyrannical Cola, who had become again very unpopular for
his delirious behaviour and heavy bills, was killed in a riot provoked
by the powerful family of the Colonna. In April 1355, Charles IV of
Bohemia entered the city for the ritual coronation as Emperor. His
visit was very disappointing for the citizens. He had little money,
received the crown not from the
Pope but from a Cardinal, and moved
away after a few days.
With the emperor back in his lands, Albornoz could regain a certain
control over the city, while remaining in his safe citadel in
Montefiascone, in the Northern Lazio. The senators were chosen
directly by the
Pope from several cities of Italy, but the city was in
fact independent. The Senate council included six judges, five
notaries, six marshals, several familiars, twenty knights and twenty
armed men. Albornoz had heavily suppressed the traditional
aristocratic families, and the "democratic" party felt confident
enough to start an aggressive policy. In 1362
Rome declared war on
Velletri. This move, however, provoked a civil war. The countryside
party hired a condottieri band called "Del Cappello" ("Hat"), while
the Romans bought the services of German and Hungarian troops, plus a
citizen levy of 600 knights and even 22,000 infantry. This was the
period in which condottieri bands were active in Italy. Many of the
Savelli, Orsini and Annibaldi expelled from
Rome became leaders of
such military units. The war with
Velletri languished, and
gave itself to the new Pope, Urban V, provided Albornoz did not enter
On 16 October 1367, in reply to the prayers of St Brigid and Petrarca,
Urban finally visited for the city. During his presence, Charles IV
was again crowned in the city (October 1368). In addition, the
Byzantine emperor John V Palaeologus came in
Rome to beg for a crusade
against the Ottoman Empire, but in vain. However, Urban did not like
the unhealthy air of the city, and on 5 September 1370 he sailed again
to Avignon. His successor, Gregory XI, officially set the date of his
Rome at May 1372, but again the French cardinals and the
King stopped him.
Only on 17 January 1377,
Gregory XI could finally reinstate the Holy
See in Rome.
Western schism and conflict with Milan
The incoherent behaviour of his successor, the Italian Urban VI,
provoked in 1378 the Western Schism, which impeded any true attempt of
improving the conditions of the decaying Rome. The 14th century, with
the absence of the popes during the
Avignon Papacy, had been a century
of neglect and misery for the city of Rome, which dropped to its
lowest level of population. With the return of the papacy to Rome
repeatedly postponed because of the bad conditions of the city and the
lack of control and security, it was first necessary to strengthen the
political and doctrinal aspects of the pontiff.
When in 1377
Gregory XI was in fact returned to Rome, he found a city
in anarchy because of the struggles between the nobility and the
popular faction, and in which his power was now more formal than real.
There followed four decades of instability, characterised by the local
power struggle between the commune and the papacy, and internationally
by the great Western Schism, at the end of which was elected Pope,
Martin V. He restored order, laying the foundations of its
Michelangelo's ceiling in the Sistine Chapel.
In 1433 the Duke of Milan,
Filippo Maria Visconti
Filippo Maria Visconti signed a peace
Florence and Venice. He then sent the condottieri Niccolò
Fortebraccio and Francesco Sforza to harass the Papal States, in
vengeance for Eugene IV's support to the two former republics.
Fortebraccio, supported by the Colonna, occupied Tivoli in October
1433 and ravaged Rome's countryside. Despite the concessions made by
Eugene to the Visconti, the Milanese soldiers did not stop their
destruction. This led the Romans, on 29 May 1434 to institute a
Republican government under the Banderesi. Eugene left the city a few
days later, during the night of 4 June.
However, the Banderesi proved incapable of governing the city, and
their inadequacies and violence soon deprived them of popular support.
The city was therefore returned to Eugene by the army of Giovanni
Vitelleschi on 26 October 1434. After the death in mysterious
circumstances of Vitelleschi, the city came under the control of
Ludovico Scarampo, Patriarch of Aquileia. Eugene returned to
28 September 1443.
Renaissance and early modern Rome
Rome becomes a centre of the Renaissance. Founding of the new St.
Peter's Basilica. Sistine Chapel.
The Landsknechts sack Rome.
Creation of the Ghetto.
Urban reforms under
Pope Sixtus V.
Caravaggio working in Rome.
Giordano Bruno is burned.
St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica is consecrated.
Baroque era. Bernini and Borromini.
Rome has 120,000 inhabitants.
Building of the Port of Ripetta.
Building of the Fontana di Trevi.
Main article: Roman Renaissance
The latter half of the 15th century saw the seat of the Italian
Renaissance move to
Rome from Florence. The Papacy wanted to surpass
the grandeur of other Italian cities. To this end the popes created
increasingly extravagant churches, bridges, town squares and public
spaces, including a new Saint Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel,
Ponte Sisto (the first bridge to be built across the
antiquity), and Piazza Navona. The Popes were also patrons of the arts
engaging such artists as Michelangelo, Perugino, Raphael, Ghirlandaio,
Luca Signorelli, Botticelli, and Cosimo Rosselli.
Pope Nicholas V, who became Pontiff on 19 March 1447, the
Renaissance can be said to have begun in Rome, heralding a period in
which the city became the centre of Humanism. He was the first
embellish the Roman court with scholars and artists, including Lorenzo
Valla and Vespasiano da Bisticci.
On 4 September 1449 Nicholas proclaimed a Jubilee for the following
year, which saw a great influx of pilgrims from all Europe. The crowd
was so large that in December, on Ponte Sant'Angelo, some 200 people
died, crushed underfoot or drowned in the River Tiber. Later that year
the Plague reappeared in the city, and Nicholas fled.
Rome in 1493
However Nicholas brought stability to the temporal power of the
Papacy, a power in which the Emperor was to have no part at all. In
this way, the coronation and the marriage of Frederick III, Holy Roman
Emperor on 16 March 1452, was more a civil ceremony. The Papacy now
Rome with a strong hand. A plot by Stefano Porcari, whose
aim was the restoration of the Republic, was ruthlessly suppressed on
January 1453. Porcari was hanged together with the other plotters,
Francesco Gabadeo, Pietro de Monterotondo, Battista Sciarra and
Angiolo Ronconi, but the
Pope gained a treacherous reputation, as when
the execution was beginning he was too drunk to confirm the grace he
had previously given to Sciarra and Ronconi.
Nicholas was also actively involved in Rome's urban renewal, in
collaboration with Leon Battista Alberti, including the construction
of a new St Peter's Basilica.
A painting from the Roman Renaissance.
Nicholas' successor Calixtus III neglected Nicholas's cultural
policies, instead devoting himself to his greatest passion, his
nephews. The Tuscan Pius II, who took the reins after his death in
1458, was a great Humanist, but did little for Rome. During his reign
Lorenzo Valla demonstrated that the
Donation of Constantine
Donation of Constantine was a
forgery. Pius was the first
Pope to use guns, in campaign against the
rebel barons Savelli in the neighbourhood of Rome, in 1461. One year
later the bringing to
Rome of the head of the Apostle St. Andrew
produced a great number of pilgrims. The reign of
Pope Paul II
(1464–1471) was notable only for the reintroduction of the Carnival,
which was to become a very popular feast in
Rome in the following
centuries. In the same year (1468) a plot against the
uncovered, organised by the intellectuals of the Roman Academy founded
by Pomponio Leto. The conspirators were sent to Castel Sant'Angelo.
The Tempietto (San Pietro in Montorio), an excellent example of
More important by far was the Pontificate of Sixtus IV, considered the
first Pope-King of Rome. In order to favour his relative Girolamo
Riario, he promoted the unsuccessful Congiura dei
Pazzi against the
Florence (26 April 1478) and in
Rome fought the Colonna and
the Orsini. The personal politics of intrigue and war required much
money, but in spite of this Sixtus was a true patron of art in the
manner of Nicholas V. He reopened the Academy and reorganised the
Collegio degli Abbreviatori, and in 1471 began the construction of the
Vatican Library, whose first curator was Platina. The Library was
officially founded on 15 June 1475. He restored several churches,
including Santa Maria del Popolo, the
Aqua Virgo and the Hospital of
the Holy Spirit; paved several streets and also built a famous bridge
Tiber river, which still bears his name. His main building
project was the
Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Palace. Its decoration
called on some of the most renowned artists of the age, including Mino
da Fiesole, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Pietro Perugino,
Luca Signorelli and Pinturicchio, and in the 16th century Michelangelo
decorated the ceiling with his famous masterpiece, contributing to
what became one of the most famous monuments of the world. Sixtus died
on 12 August 1484.
Chaos, corruption and nepotism appeared in
Rome under the reign of his
successors, Innocent VIII and
Pope Alexander VI (1492–1503). During
the vacation period between the death of the former and the election
of the latter there were 220 murders in the city. Alexander had to
face Charles VIII of France, who invaded
Italy in 1494 and entered
Rome on 31 December of that year. The
Pope could only barricade
himself into Castel Sant'Angelo, which had been turned into a true
fortress by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. In the end, the skilful
Alexander was able to gain the support of the king, assigning his son
Cesare Borgia as military counsellor for the subsequent invasion of
the Kingdom of Naples.
Rome was safe and, as the King directed himself
Pope again changed his position, joining the
anti-French League of the Italian States which finally compelled
Charles to flee to France.
The most nepotist
Pope of all, Alexander, favoured his ruthless son
Cesare, creating for him a personal
Duchy out of territories of the
Papal States, and banning from
Rome Cesare's most relentless enemy,
the Orsini family. In 1500 the city hosted a new Jubilee, but grew
ever more unsafe as, especially at night, the streets were controlled
by bands of lawless "bravi". Cesare himself assassinated Alfonso of
Bisceglie; as well as, presumably, the Pope's son, Giovanni of Gandia.
Renaissance had a great impact on Rome's appearance, with works
Michelangelo and the frescoes of the Borgia
Apartment, all made during Innocent's reign.
Rome reached the highest
point of splendour under
Pope Julius II (1503–1513) and his
successors Leo X and Clement VII, both members of the Medici family.
During this twenty-year period
Rome became the greatest centre of art
in the world. The old
St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica was demolished and a new
one begun. The city hosted artists like Bramante, who built the Temple
San Pietro in Montorio
San Pietro in Montorio and planned a great project to renovate the
Vatican; Raphael, who in
Rome became the most famous painter in Italy,
creating frescos in the Cappella Niccolina, the Villa Farnesina, the
Raphael's Rooms, and many other famous paintings.
the decoration of the ceiling of the
Sistine Chapel and executed the
famous statue of Moses for the tomb of Julius.
Rome lost in part its
religious character, becoming increasingly a true
with a great number of popular feasts, horse races, parties, intrigues
and licentious episodes. Its economy was prosperous, with the presence
of several Tuscan bankers, including Agostino Chigi, a friend of
Raphael and a patron of the arts. Despite his premature death, and to
his eternal credit,
Raphael also promoted for the first time the
preservation of the ancient ruins.
Early modern history
The sack of
Rome in 1527, by Johannes Lingelbach, 17th century.
In 1527 the ambiguous policy followed by the second Medici Pope, Pope
Clement VII, resulted in the dramatic sack of the city by the unruly
Imperial troops of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. After the execution
of some 1,000 defenders, the pillage began. The city was
devastated for several days, many of the citizens were killed or took
shelter outside the walls. Of 189 Swiss Guards on duty only 42
Pope himself was imprisoned for months in Castel
Sant'Angelo. The sack marked the end of one of the most splendid eras
of modern Rome.
The 1525's Jubilee resulted in a farce, as Martin Luther's claims had
spread criticism and even despise against the Pope's greed of money
throughout Europe. The prestige of
Rome was then challenged by the
defections of the churches of
Germany and England.
Pope Paul III
(1534–1549) tried to recover the situation by summoning the Council
of Trento, although being, at the same time, the most nepotist
all. He even separated
Piacenza from the
Papal States to
create an independent duchy for his son Pier Luigi. He continued
the patronage of art supporting the Michelangelo's Last Judgment,
asking him to renovate the Campidoglio and the ongoing construction of
St. Peter's. After the shock of the sack, he also called the brilliant
Giuliano da Sangallo
Giuliano da Sangallo the Younger to strengthen the walls of
the Leonine City.
The need for renovation in the religious customs became evident in the
vacancy period after Paulus' death, when the streets of
seat of masked carousels which satirised the Cardinals attending the
conclave. His two immediate successors were feeble figures who did
nothing to escape the actual Spanish suzerainty over Rome.
Pope Paul IV, elected in 1555, was a member of the anti-Spanish party
in the Italian War of 1551–59, but his policy resulted in the
Neapolitan troops of the viceroy again besieging
Rome in 1556. Paul
sued for peace, but had to accept the supremacy of Philip II of
Spain. He was one of the most hated Popes of all, and, after his
death the raging populace burned the Holy Inquisition's palace and
destroyed his marble statue on the Campidoglio.
Counter-Reformation views are well shown by his order that
a central area of Rome, around the Porticus Octaviae, be delimited,
creating the famous Roman Ghetto, the very constricted area in which
the city's Jews were forced to live in seclusion. They had to remain
in the rione Sant'Angelo and locked in at night. The
Pope decreed that
Jews should wear a distinctive sign, yellow hats for men and veils
or shawls for women. Jewish ghettos existed in Europe for the next
Counter-Reformation gained pace under his successors, the milder
Pope Pius IV and the severe Saint Pius V. The former was a nepotist
lover of court splendours, but more severe customs arrived anyway
through the ideas of his advisor, the prelate Charles Borromeo, who
was to become one of the most popular figures among the Rome's people.
Pius V and Borromeo gave
Rome a true
All pomp was removed from the court, the jokers were expelled, and
cardinals and bishops were obliged to live in the city. Blasphemy and
concubinage were severely punished. Prostitutes were expelled or
confined in a reserved district. The Inquisition's power in the city
was reasserted, and its palace rebuilt with an increased space for
prisons. During this period
Michelangelo opened the
Porta Pia and
turned the Baths of
Diocletian into the spectacular basilica of Santa
Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, where Pius IV was buried.
The pontificate of his successor, Gregory XIII, was considered a
failure. As he tried to use milder measures than those of St. Pius,
the worst element of the Roman population felt free to scourge again
the streets. The French writer and philosopher Montaigne maintained
that "life and goods were never as unsure as at the time of Gregorius
XIII, perhaps", and that a confraternity even held same-sex marriage
in the church of San Giovanni a Porta Latina. The courtesans repressed
by Pius had now returned.
Sixtus V was of very different temper. Although short (1585–1590),
his reign however remembered as one of the most effective in the
modern Rome's history. He was even tougher than Pius V, and was
variously nicknamed castigamatti ("punisher of the mad"), papa di
ferro ("Iron Pope"), dictator and even, ironically, demon, since no
Pope before him pursued with such a determination the reform of
the church and the customs. Sixtus profoundly reorganised the Papal
States' administration, and cleaned the streets of
Rome of thugs,
procurers, dueling and so on. Even the nobles and Cardinals could not
consider themselves free from the arms of Sixtus' police. The money
from taxes, which were not now wasted in corruption, permitted an
ambitious building program. Some ancient aqueducts were restored, and
new one, the Acquedotto Felice (from Sixtus' name, Felice Peretti) was
constructed. New houses were built in the desolate district of
Esquilino, Viminale and Quirinale, while old houses in the centre of
the city were destroyed to open new, larger streets. Sixtus's
principal aim was to make
Rome a better destination for pilgrimages,
and the new streets were intended to permit a better access to the
major Basilicas. Old obelisks were moved or erected to embellish St.
John in Lateran, Santa Maria Maggiore and St. Peter, as well as Piazza
del Popolo, in front of Santa Maria del Popolo.
Piazza Navona (17th century)
Rome from Topographia Italiae, published by Matthaeus Merian's
heirs in 1688.
In the 18th century, the Papacy reached the peak of its temporal
Papal States including most of Central Italy, including
Latium, Umbria, Marche and the Legations of Ravenna,
Bologna extending north into the Romagna, as well as the small
Benevento and Pontecorvo in southern
Italy and the larger
Comtat Venaissin around
Avignon in southern France.
Rococo architecture flourishes in Rome. Work on the Trevi
Fountain begins in 1732 (completed in 1762). The
Spanish Steps are
designed in 1735.
Pope Clement XIII's tomb by
Canova is completed in
Palazzo Nuovo becomes the world's first public museum in 1734.
Some of the most famous views of
Rome in the 18th century were etched
by Giovanni Battista Piranesi. His grand vision of classic Rome
inspired many to visit the city and examine the ruins themselves.
1798–1799 and 1800–1814
Roman Republic with Mazzini and Garibaldi.
Rome conquered by Italian troops.
Building of the Termini Station and founding of the Vittoriano.
March on Rome.
Building of Cinecittà.
Bombing of Rome.
Rome is seat of the Summer Olympics.
Years of terrorism. Death of Aldo Moro.
Pope John Paul II is shot.
Rome is seat of the Football World Championship.
Rome is seat of the Jubilee.
Proclamation of the
Roman Republic in 1849, in Piazza del Popolo.
View of the dome of
Saint Peter's Basilica
Saint Peter's Basilica from Borgo Santo Spirito.
In 1870, the Pope's holdings were left in an uncertain situation when
Rome itself was annexed by the Piedmont-led forces which had united
the rest of Italy, after a nominal resistance by the papal forces.
Between 1861 and 1929 the status of the
Pope was referred to as the
"Roman Question". The successive Popes were undisturbed in their
palace, and certain prerogatives recognized by the Law of Guarantees,
including the right to send and receive ambassadors. But the Popes did
not recognise the Italian king's right to rule in Rome, and they
refused to leave the Vatican compound until the dispute was resolved
in 1929. Other states continued to maintain international recognition
Holy See as a sovereign entity.
The rule of the Popes was interrupted by the short-lived Roman
Republic (1798), which was under the influence of the French
Revolution. During Napoleon's reign,
Rome was annexed into his empire
and was technically part of France. After the fall of Napoleon's
Papal States were restored by the Congress of Vienna, with
the exception of
Avignon and the Comtat Venaissin, which remained part
Roman Republic arose in 1849, within the framework of
revolutions of 1848. Two of the most influential figures of the
Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi, fought
for the short-lived republic. However, the actions of these two great
men would not have resulted in unification without the sly leadership
of Camillo Benso di Cavour, Prime Minister of Piedmont-Sardinia.
Even among those who wanted to see the peninsula unified into one
country, different groups could not agree on what form a unified state
would take. Vincenzo Gioberti, a Piedmontese priest, had suggested a
confederation of Italian states under rulership of the Pope. His book,
Of the Moral and Civil Primacy of the Italians, was published in 1843
and created a link between the Papacy and the Risorgimento. Many
leading revolutionaries wanted a republic, but eventually it was a
king and his chief minister who had the power to unite the Italian
states as a monarchy.
In his attempt to unify Northern
Italy under the Kingdom of
Piedmont-Sardinia, Cavour enacted major industrialisation of the
country in order to become the economic leader of Italy. In doing so,
he believed that the other states would naturally come under his rule.
Next, he sent the army of
Piedmont to the
Crimean War to join the
French and British. Making minor successes in the war against Russia,
cordial relations were established between Piedmont-
France; a relationship to be exploited in the future.
Rome from the Saint Peter´s Basilica, 1901.
The return of
Pope Pius IX in Rome, with help of French troops, marked
the exclusion of
Rome from the unification process that was embodied
in the Second Italian Independence War and the Mille expedition, after
which all the Italian peninsula, except
Rome and Venetia, would be
unified under the House of Savoy. Garibaldi first attacked Sicily,
luckily under the guise of passing British ships and landing with
Taking the island, Garibaldi's actions were publicly denounced by
Cavour but secretly encouraged via weapons supplements. This policy or
real-politik, where the ends justified the means of unification, was
continued as Garibaldi faced crossing the Strait of Messina. Cavour
privately asked the British navy to allow Garibaldi's troops across
the sea while publicly he again, denounced Garibaldi's actions. The
maneuver was a success and Garibaldi's military genius carried him on
to take the entire kingdom.
Cavour then moved to take Venetia and
Lombardy via an alliance with
France. The Italians and French together would attack the two states
France getting the city of Nice and the region of Savoy in
return. However, the French pulled out of their agreement soon after,
enraging Cavour who subsequently resigned. Only
Lombardy had been
captured at the time.
With French units still stationed at
Rome however, Cavour, being
called back to office, foresaw a possibility of Garibaldi attacking
Papal States and accidentally disrupting French-Italian relations.
The army of
Sardinia was therefore mobilised to attack the Papal
States but remain outside Rome.
In the Austro-Prussian war however, a deal was made between the new
Italy and Prussia, where
Italy would attack Austria in return for the
region of Venetia. The war was a major success for the Prussians
(though the Italians did not win a single battle), and the northern
Italy was complete.
In July 1870, the
Franco-Prussian War started, and French Emperor
Napoleon III could no longer protect the Papal States. Soon after, the
Italian army under general
Raffaele Cadorna entered
Rome on 20
September, after a cannonade of three hours, through
Porta Pia (see
capture of Rome). The
Leonine City was occupied the following day, a
provisional Government Joint created by Cadorna out of local noblemen
to avoid the rise of the radical factions.
annexed to the Kingdom of
Italy after a plebiscite held on 2 October.
133,681 voted for annexion, 1,507 opposed (in
Rome itself, there were
40,785 "Yes" and 57 "No").
Rome was eventually taken, the Italian government reportedly
intended to let
Pope Pius IX keep the part of Rome, west of the Tiber,
known as the
Leonine City as a small remaining Papal State, but Pius
IX rejected the offer because acceptance would have been an implied
endorsement of the legitimacy of the Italian kingdom's rule over his
former domain. One week after entering Rome, the Italian troops
had taken the entire city save for the Apostolic Palace; the
inhabitants of the city then voted to join Italy. On 1 July 1,
Rome became the official capital of united
Italy and from then
until June 1929 the popes had no temporal power.
The pope referred to himself during this time as the "prisoner of the
Vatican", although he was not actually restrained from coming and
going. Pius IX took steps to ensure self-sufficiency, such as the
construction of the Vatican Pharmacy. Italian nobility who owed their
titles to the pope rather than the royal family became known as the
Black Nobility during this period because of their purported mourning.
Kingdom of Italy
Italian soldiers enter
Rome in 1870.
Rome became the focus of hopes of Italian reunification when the rest
Italy was reunited under the Kingdom of
Italy with a temporary
capital at Florence. In 1861,
Rome was declared the capital of Italy
even though it was still under the control of the Pope. During the
1860s, the last vestiges of the
Papal States were under the French
protection of Napoleon III. And it was only when this was lifted in
1870, owing to the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, that Italian
troops were able to capture
Rome entering the city through a breach
near Porta Pia. Afterwards,
Pope Pius IX declared himself as prisoner
in the Vatican, and in 1871 the capital of
Italy was moved from
Florence to Rome.
Soon after World War I,
Rome witnessed the rise to power of Italian
Fascism guided by Benito Mussolini, who, at the request of King Victor
Emmanuel III, marched on the city in 1922, eventually declaring a new
Empire and allying
Italy with Nazi Germany.
The interwar period saw a rapid growth in the city's population, that
surpassed 1,000,000 inhabitants.
The Apostolic Palace.
Roman Question was finally resolved on 11 February 1929 between
Holy See and the Kingdom of Italy. The
Lateran Treaty was signed
Benito Mussolini on behalf of King
Victor Emmanuel III
Victor Emmanuel III and by
Cardinal Secretary of State
Cardinal Secretary of State
Pietro Gasparri for
Pope Pius XI. The
treaty, which became effective on 7 June 1929, and the Concordat
established the independent State of the
Vatican City and granted
Roman Catholicism special status in Italy.
Propaganda inscription, "the work of the liberators" (opera dei
liberatori) on wall of a bombed building, Rome, 1944
During World War II,
Rome suffered few bombings (notably at San
Lorenzo) and relatively little damage because none of the nations
involved wanted to endanger the life of
Pope Pius XII in Vatican City.
There were some bitter fights between Italian and German troops in the
south of the city and even in sight of the Colosseum, shortly after
the armistice between
Italy and Allied armed forces.
On 4 June 1944
Rome became the first capital city of an Axis nation to
fall to the Allies, but was relatively undamaged because on 14 August
1943, a day after the last allied bombing, the Germans declared it an
"open city" and withdrew, meaning that the Allies did not have to
fight their way in.
Italy made no attempt to interfere with the Holy See
within the Vatican walls. However, they confiscated church property in
many other places, including the Quirinal Palace, formerly the pope's
Pope Pius IX (1846–78), the last ruler of the
Papal States, claimed that after
Rome was annexed he was a "Prisoner
in the Vatican".
Vatican City during World War II
Vatican City officially pursued a policy of neutrality during World
War II, under the leadership of
Pope Pius XII. Although the city of
Rome was occupied by
Germany from 1943 and the Allies from 1944,
Vatican City itself was not occupied. One of Pius XII's main
diplomatic priorities was to prevent the bombing of Rome; so sensitive
was the pontiff that he protested even the British air dropping of
pamphlets over Rome, claiming that the few landing within the
city-state violated the Vatican's neutrality. Before the American
entry into the war, there was little impetus for such a bombing, as
the British saw little strategic value in it.
After the American entry, the US opposed such a bombing, fearful of
offending Catholic members of its military forces, while the British
then supported it. Pius XII similarly advocated for the
Rome as an "open city", but this occurred only on 14
August 1943, after
Rome had already been bombed twice. Although
the Italians consulted the Vatican on the wording of the open city
declaration, the impetus for the change had little to do with the
Capital of the Italian Republic
Via del Corso
Via del Corso (2008)
View of the EUR district (2003)
Rome grew substantially after the war, as one of the driving forces
behind the "Italian economic miracle" of post-war reconstruction and
modernisation. It became a fashionable city in the 1950s and early
1960s, the years of "la dolce vita" ("the sweet life"), with popular
classic films such as Ben Hur, Quo Vadis,
Roman Holiday and La Dolce
Vita being filmed in the city's iconic
A new rising trend in population continued until the mid-1980s, when
the commune had more than 2.8 million residents; after that,
population started to slowly decline as more residents moved to nearby
Rome metropolitan area
Rome metropolitan area has about 4.4 million inhabitants
as of 2015[update].
Being the capital city of Italy, all the principal institutions of the
nation are located there, including the President; the seat of
government with its single Ministeri; the Parliament; the main
judicial Courts, and the diplomatic representatives for both
the Vatican City. A number of notable international cultural,
scientific and humanitarian institutions are located in Rome,
including the German Archaeological Institute, and the FAO.
Rome hosted the 1960 Summer Olympics, using many ancient sites such as
the Villa Borghese and the Thermae of Caracalla as venues. For the
Olympic Games new structures were created: the Olympic Stadium (which
was itself enlarged and renovated to host qualifying rounds and the
final match of the 1990
FIFA football World Cup); the Villaggio
Olimpico (Olympic Village), created to house the athletes, was later
redeveloped as a residential district.
Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport
Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport opened in 1961. Tourism
brings an average of 7–10 million visitors a year.
Rome is the 3rd
most visited city in the European Union, after
London and Paris. The
Colosseum (4 million tourists) and the
Vatican Museums (4.2 million
tourists) are the 39th and 37th (respectively) most visited places in
the world, according to a 2012 study. Many of the ancient
Rome were restored by the Italian state and by the
Vatican for the 2000 Jubilee.
Historical city center
Further information: List of ancient monuments in Rome, List of
monuments of the Roman Forum, and Churches of Rome
Further information: Tourism in
Rome and List of tourist attractions
Rome is a modern metropolis, yet it reflects the
stratification of the epochs of its long history. The historical
centre, identified as those parts within the limits of the ancient
Imperial walls, contains archaeological remains from Ancient Rome.
These are continuously being excavated and opened to the public, such
as the Colosseum; the Roman Forum, and the Catacombs. There are areas
with remains from
Medieval times. There are palaces and artistic
treasures from the Renaissance; fountains, churches and palaces from
Baroque times. There is art and architecture from the Art Nouveau,
Rationalist periods. There are museums, such
as the Musei Capitolini, the Vatican Museums, Galleria Borghese.
Parts of the historical centre were reorganised after the 19th-century
Italian Unification (1880–1910 – Roma Umbertina). The increase of
population caused by the centralisation of the Italian state
necessitated new infrastructure and accommodation. There were also
substantial alterations and adaptations made during the Fascist
period, for example, the creation of the Via dei Fori Imperiali; and
Via della Conciliazione
Via della Conciliazione in front of the Vatican. These projects
involved the destruction of a large part of the old Borgo
neighbourhood. New quartieri were founded, such as EUR (Esposizione
Universale Roma), San Basilio, Garbatella, Cinecittà, Trullo and
Quarticciolo. So great was the influx of people that on the coast,
there was restructuring of Ostia and the inclusion of bordering
villages such as Labaro, Osteria del Curato, Quarto Miglio,
Capannelle, Pisana, Torrevecchia, Ottavia, Casalotti.
Timeline of the city of Rome
Timeline of Roman history
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This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "The History of
Rome". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University
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The History of Rome, Book II at Project Gutenberg
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Rome he suffered nothing human
to remain, leaving it altogether, in every part, a perfect desert."
^ listed as 8th largest by Wendell Cox, Demographia (2014), between
Berlin and Naples.
^ "GaWC (Globalization and World Cities Research Network) – The
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Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his "The Social Contract", Book IV,
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Rome is Greek in origin and means force. "There are writers
who say that the name 'Rome' is derived from 'Romulus'. It is in fact
Greek and means force."
^ This has been deduced from the name of a figure painted in the
François Tomb at Vulci, inscribed in Etruscan Cneve Tarchunies
Rumach, interpreted as Gnaeus Tarquinius of Rome.
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^ Dionysius of Halicarnassus. "Book 1.11". Roman Antiquities. But the
most learned of the Roman historians, among whom is Porcius Cato, who
compiled with the greatest care the "origins" of the Italian cities,
Gaius Sempronius and a great many others, say that they [Aborigines]
were Greeks, part of those who once dwelt in Achaia, and that they
migrated many generations before the Trojan war. But they do not go on
to indicate either the Greek tribe to which they belonged or the city
from which they removed, or the date or the leader of the colony, or
as the result of what turns of fortune they left their mother country;
and although they are following a Greek legend, they have cited no
Greek historian as their authority. It is uncertain, therefore, what
the truth of the matter is.
^ Dionysius of Halicarnassus. "Book I.14". Roman Antiquities.
Twenty-four stades from the afore-mentioned city stood Lista, the
mother-city of the Aborigines, which at a still earlier time the
Sabines had captured by a surprise attack, having set out against it
from Amiternum by night.
^ Larissa Bonfante:Etruscan Inscriptions and Etruscan Religion in The
Religion of the
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the term Tusci was used by the major authors of the Roman Republic:
Livy, Cicero, Horace, et al. A number of cognate words developed,
including Tuscia and Tusculanensis. Tusci was clearly the principal
term used to designate things Etruscan. Etrusci and Etrūria were used
less often, mainly by
Cicero and Horace, and they lack cognates.
According to the Online Etymological Dictionary, the English use of
Etruscan dates from 1706.
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Julius Caesar as perpetual dictator in 44 BC, the defeat of Mark
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Actium in 31 BC, and the Roman Senate's
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Library resources about
History of Rome
Resources in your library
Resources in other libraries
Thomas W. Africa (January 1991). The immense majesty: a history of
Rome and the Roman Empire. Harlan Davidson.
ISBN 978-0-88295-874-3. Retrieved 15 July 2011. online
Roloff Beny; Peter Gunn (1981). The churches of Rome. Simon &
Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-43447-2. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
Gary Forsythe (14 February 2005). A critical history of early Rome:
from prehistory to the first Punic War. University of California
Press. ISBN 978-0-520-22651-7. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
Tenney Frank (1 February 2006). An Economic History of Rome. Cosimo,
Inc. ISBN 978-1-59605-647-3. Retrieved 15 July 2011. online
Michael Grant (author) (1 March 1987). The world of Rome. Meridian.
ISBN 978-0-452-00849-6. Retrieved 15 July 2011. online
edition; excerpt and text search
Grant, Michael. History of
Rome (1997), good survey
Christopher Hibbert (1987). Rome: the biography of a city. Penguin.
ISBN 978-0-14-007078-1. Retrieved 15 July 2011. (1985). 386
pp. good introduction
Jenkyns, Richard; The Legacy of Rome: A New Appraisal (1992) online
H. H. Scullard (1980). A History of the Roman World, 753 to 146 BC.
Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-415-30504-4. Retrieved 15 July
2011. (1961), standard scholarly history online edition
Scullard, H. H. From the Gracchi to Nero: A History of
Rome from 133
B.C. to A.D. 68 (1968), standard scholarly history online edition
Duncan, Mike. "The History of Rome". Retrieved 2016-02-13.
Matthew Bunson (2002). Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire. Infobase
Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8160-4562-4. (2002) 636pp, at Google
J. B. Campbell (2002). War and society in imperial Rome, 31 BC-AD 284.
Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-27881-2. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
(2002) online edition
Harvard University. Library (1975). Ancient history: classification
schedule, classified listing by call number, chronological listing,
author and title listing. Harvard University Library :
distributed by Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-03312-2.
Retrieved 15 July 2011. (1951) online edition
Walter A. Goffart (2006). Barbarian tides: the migration age and the
later Roman Empire. University of Pennsylvania Press.
ISBN 978-0-8122-3939-3. Retrieved 15 July 2011. Volume 6,
Issue 3, Pages 855–883 Online at Wiley-Interscience; historiography
Adrian Keith Goldsworthy
Adrian Keith Goldsworthy (2009). How
Rome fell: death of a superpower.
Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-13719-4. Retrieved 15 July
2011. (2009), 560pp; by leading scholar excerpt and text search
Grant, Michael. The Roman Emperors: A Biographical Guide to the Rulers
Rome 31 B.C.-A.D. 476 (1997)
Heather, Peter. The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome
and the Barbarians (2006) 572pp
Potter, David. The
Roman Empire at Bay: AD 180–395 (2004). online
Rodgers, Nigel. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire: A
complete history of the rise and fall of the
Roman Empire (2008)
Rostovtzeff, M. The Social and Economic History of the
Roman Empire (2
vol 1957); famous classic vol 2 online
Starr; Chester G. The Emergence of
Rome as Ruler of the Western World
(1953) online edition
Ward-Perkins, Bryan. The Fall of
Rome and the End of Civilization
(2005) 239 pp.
Medieval, Renaissance, Early Modern
Blunt, Anthony. Guide to
Rome (1982) architecture 1621–1750
Rome before Avignon: A Social History of
Rome (1974) online edition
Habel, Dorothy Metzger. The Urban Development of
Rome in the Age of
Alexander VII (2002) 424 pp. + 22