Holy Roman Empire

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					Part 1: Roman Empire Part 2: Medieval Europe
Lesson 18

Part 1: Roman Empire
Theme: Republic and Empire

Lesson 18

Origins of Rome
• Rome was founded in the 8th Century B.C. and was originally a small city-state ruled by a single king • Late in the 6th Century B.C., the city’s aristocrats deposed the king, ended the monarchy, and instituted a republic
– A republic is a form of government in which delegates represent the interests of various constituents

• The Roman republic survived for over 500 years and at one time dominated the Mediterranean basin

Mediterranean Basin

Legend of Rome’s Founding
• Aeneas migrated from Troy to Italy • Two of his descendants, Romulus and Remus, were abandoned by an evil uncle in the flooded Tiber River • A kindly she-wolf found them and nursed them to health • The boys grew strong and courageous and in 753 B.C., Romulus founded the city of Rome and established himself as its

Romulus and Remus being nursed by the she-wolf

Rise of Rome
• From humble beginnings, Rome grew into a strong commercial center, in part because of its geographic location
– Rome enjoyed easy access to the Mediterranean via the Tiber River, but because it was not on the coast, it was safe from invasion or attack by the sea

• By the 6th Century B.C., trade routes from all parts of Italy converged in Rome

Establishment of the Republic
• When the aristocracy deposed the king in 509 and established a republic, they instituted a republican constitution
– Executive responsibilities were entrusted to two consuls who wielded civil and military power – Consuls were elected by an assembly dominated by hereditary aristocrats and wealthy classes – Consuls served one year terms

Establishment of the Republic
• The Senate was composed mostly of aristocrats with extensive political experience • They advised the consuls and ratified all major decisions

Roman Senate house

Patricians versus Plebeians
• Both the consuls and the Senate represented the interests of the patricians– the hereditary aristocrats and wealthy classes • This caused tension between the patricians and the common people– the plebeians In honor of the Roman plebeians, freshmen at West Point are called plebes

Patricians versus Plebeians
• In the early 5th Century, tensions got so bad that the plebeians threatened to secede from Rome and establish a rival settlement • In order to maintain the integrity of the Roman state, the patricians granted the plebeians the right to elect officials known as tribunes to represent their interests

Patricians versus Plebeians
• Originally the plebeians were authorized two tribunes, but that number eventually rose to ten • Tribunes had the power to intervene in all political matters and to veto measures they thought were unfair
– Still the patricians continued to dominate Rome

Increased Representation for Plebeians
• During the 4th Century, plebeians became eligible to hold almost all state offices and gained the right to have one of the consuls come from their ranks • By the early 3rd Century, plebeian-dominated assemblies won the power to make decisions binding on all of Rome • Republican Rome was gradually broadening the base of political participation

• In times of civil or military crisis, the Roman constitution allowed for the appointment of a dictator who wielded absolute power for a term of six months

Cincinnatus, shown here handing the rods of power back to the city fathers, served as dictator of Rome twice

Expansion of the Republic
• Rome expanded from central Italy, to the Italian Peninsula, to the Mediterranean basin • Defeated the Carthaginians in the Punic Wars between 264 and 146 B.C.

Territory under Roman control near the end of the republic, 44 B.C.

From Republic to Empire
• Imperial expansion brought wealth to Rome, but the wealth was unequally distributed which aggravated class tensions
– Conflicts arose over political and social policies – During the 1st Century B.C. and the 1st Century A.D., Roman civil and military leaders will gradually dismantle the republican constitution and replace it with a centralized imperial form of government

Problems with Conquered Lands
• Conquered lands usually fell into the hands of wealthy elites who organized enormous plantations known as latifundia • The owners of latifundia enjoyed great economies of scale and used slave labor to drive the owners of smaller holdings out of business

Problems with Conquered Lands
• Tiberius and Gaius Gracchi worked to limit the amount of conquered land an individual could hold • They met strong resistance from the wealthy and ruling classes and were both assassinated

Bigger Problem
• The problem of land distribution was a symptom of a bigger problem
– The constitution of the Roman republic had been designed for a small city-state – It was not suitable for a large and growing empire

• Roman politicians and generals began jockeying for power and several raised personal armies for support

Civil War
• The two most important generals were Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Sulla
– Marius sided with social reformers who favored redistribution of land – Sulla sided with the conservative and aristocratic classes



Civil War
• In 87 B.C., Marius marched on Rome, placed the city under military occupation, and began hunting down his enemies • When Marius died the next year, Sulla moved to replace him • In 83, Sulla seized Rome and began slaughtering his enemies

• Sulla initiated a reign of terror that lasted almost five years until he died in 78 • During that period he killed some ten thousand individuals • He imposed an extremely conservative legislative program that weakened the influence of the lower classes and strengthened the hand of the wealthy

Julius Caesar
• Sulla’s program did not address Rome’s most serious social problems • The latifundia continued to crush small farmers and poverty was rampant • There were many social eruptions when times were especially hard • Julius Caesar stepped into the chaos and inaugurated a process that replaced the Roman republican constitution with a centralized imperial form of government

Julius Caesar
• Caesar was a nephew of Marius and he favored Marius’ liberal policies and social reform • In the 50s B.C., Caesar led an army that conquered Gaul and made him very popular

Gaul (now mostly France)

Julius Caesar
• In 49 Caesar marched his army to Rome and by early 46 he had named himself dictator • But instead of the constitutional six month term, Caesar claimed to be dictator for life

Julius Caesar
• Caesar centralized military and political functions and brought them under his control • He confiscated property from conservatives and distributed it among veterans of his army and other supporters • He launched large scale building projects to provide employment for the poor • He extended Roman citizenship to people in the imperial provinces

Julius Caesar
• But Caesar’s reforms alienated many of Rome’s elite who considered him a tyrant • In 44 B.C. they assassinated him • However it was too late to return to the old conservative ways and a new round of civil crisis ensued for thirteen years – Octavian emerged in power

• Octavian was a nephew, protégé, and adopted son of Julius Caesar • He defeated his principal rival, Mark Anthony, and Anthony’s ally Cleopatra at Actium, Greece in 31 B.C.

Anthony and Cleopatra by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

• Octavian consolidated his rule and in 27 B.C., the Senate bestowed upon him the title Augustus
– “Augustus” has religious connotations suggesting a divine or semidivine nature

• Augustus ruled virtually unopposed for 45 years in “a monarchy disguised as a republic”

• Augustus centralized political and military power like Julius Caesar did, but he was careful to preserve traditional republican offices and forms of government and included members of the Roman elite in his government

Government under Augustus
• Accumulated vast powers for himself and ultimately took responsibility for all important governmental functions
– Placed individuals loyal to him in all important positions

• Reorganized the military system
– Created a new standing army with commanders who owed allegiance to him • Eliminated the personal armies of earlier years

• Stabilized the land after the years of civil war and allowed the institutions of empire to take root

Mare Nostrum
• After Augustus, the Roman Empire continued to grow to the point that it surrounded the Mediterranean
– Romans called the Mediterranean mare nostrum (“our sea”)

• Expansion brought Roman soldiers, diplomats, gove rnors, and merchants throughout the region • Trade flourished

Roman Empire, 117 A.D.

Pax Romana
• By stopping the civil wars, Augustus inaugurated an era known as pax romana (“Roman peace”) which greatly facilitated trade and communication
– Lasted from 27 B.C. to 180 A.D.

• Also included applying standards of justice and a basic code of law throughout the empire

How were populations controlled by the Romans?
• Under the republic?

• Under the empire?

How were populations controlled by the Romans?
• Under the republic
– Representation (consuls and Senate) – Resolution of conflicts between the patricians and plebeians (tribunes) – Dictators

• Under the empire
– Julius Caesar centralized authority but alienated elite – Augustus continued centralization but placated elite and ensured loyalty through patronage – Pax romana stabilized region through trade, communication, and law

Part 2: Medieval Europe
Theme: Order in the absence of empire
Lesson 18

Regional States
• Germanic invaders toppled Rome’s authority in the late 5th Century A.D. but no clear successor to centralized authority emerged – The Franks temporarily revived empire; the high point of which was the reign of Charlemagne from 768-814


Regional States
• After Charlemagne, his successor Carolingians had no effective means of defending against Magyars, Muslims, Vikings, and other invaders • In response, European nobles sought to protect their lands and maintain order in their own territories • Political authority in early medieval Europe thus devolved into competing local and regional jurisdictions with a decentralized political order – “Feudalism”

Viking long ship

• There really was no “feudal system” if that implies a neat hierarchy of lords and vassals who collectively took charge of political and military affairs • Because the feudal hierarchy arose as a makeshift for defense against invaders, it always had a provisional, ad hoc, and flexible character – There was no “system” • However, medieval European society was characterized by: – Fragmentation of political power – Public power in private hands – Armed forces secured through private contracts

Medieval Society
Early Middle Ages (450-1050)
• The country was not governed by the king but by individual lords who administered their own estates, dispensed their own justice, minted their own money, levied taxes and tolls, and demanded military service from vassals • Usually the lords could field greater armies than the king
– In theory the king was the chief feudal lord, but in reality the individual lords were supreme in their own territory • Many kings were little more than figurehead rulers

• The nobles maintained their armies by offering grants, usually land, to armed retainees • In exchange for the grants, the retainees pledged their loyalty and military service to their lords
– The retainees gained increased rights over their land, to include the prerogative to pass on their rights to the heirs

Political-Military Relationship
• A close relationship between political and military authorities developed
– As a result, political authorities and military specialists merged into a hereditary noble class which lived off the surplus agricultural production that it extracted from the cultivators – Only by tapping into this surplus could the lords and their retainees secure the material resources necessary to maintain their control over military, political, and legal affairs

• Free peasants sought protection from a lord and pledged their labor and obedience in exchange for security and land to cultivate • Beginning in the mid 17th Century, this category became recognized as serfs– neither fully slave nor fully free
– Not chattel slaves subject to sale by their master – But still owed obligations to the lords whose lands they cultivated

Serfs’ Obligations
• Had the right to work certain lands and to pass those lands on to their heirs • In exchange they had to perform labor services and pay rents in kind (a portion of the harvest, chickens, eggs, etc) • Male serfs typically worked three days a week for their lords with extra services during planting and harvesting times • Women serfs churned butter, spun thread, and sewed clothes for their lords and their families

Serfs’ Obligations
• Since the lord provided the land, the serfs had little opportunity to move and had to get the lord’s permission to do so
– Even had to pay fees to marry someone who worked for a different lord

• Manors were large estates consisting of fields, meadows, forests, agricultural tools, domestic animals, and serfs • The lord of the manor and his deputies provided government, administration, police services, and justice for the manor • Many lords had the authority to execute serfs for serious misconduct • In the absence of thriving cities in rural areas, manors became largely self-sufficient communities

Transition to the High Middle Ages
(1050 to 1400)
• The regional stability of the early middle ages allowed local rulers to organize powerful regional states – Holy Roman Empire – Capetian France – Norman England – Papal States – etc • The kings of England and France used their relationships with retainees to build powerful, centralized monarchies – Still no one could consolidate all of Europe under a single empire

Three Estates of Medieval Society
• Those who pray – The clergy of the Roman Catholic Church • Those who fight – Nobles • Those who work – Peasants • The result was a society marked by political, social, and economic inequality

• Church officials originally proposed a chivalric code to curb fighting within Christendom • By the 12th Century, the ritual by which a young man became a knight commonly included the candidate placing his sword upon an altar and pledging his service to God

• With chivalry, warriors were encouraged to adopt higher ethical standards and refined manners and become cultivated leaders of society • The chivalric code called for a noble to devote himself to the causes of order, piety, and the Christian faith rather than seeking wealth and power

How was order maintained in the Early Middle Ages?

How was order maintained in the Early Middle Ages?
• In the absence of a strong centralized authority, local political and military elites worked out various ad hoc ways to organize and protect their territories
– Lords and retainees – Manors – Serfs

How was order maintained in the High Middle Ages?

How was order maintained in the High Middle Ages?
• The regional stability of the Early Middle Ages allowed powerful regional states to be built, but there was still no single European Empire • The code of chivalry helped provide some order and protection for those who otherwise would be most vulnerable to unchecked power

• Papers Due

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