History of Rome
The history of Rome spans more than two-and-a-half millennia of the existence of a city that grew from a small Latin village in the 8th century BC into the centre of a vast civilization that dominated the Mediterranean region for centuries. The population of the city fell in the Late Empire after Rome ceased to be the capital of the Empire, and remained far lower than its ancient peak until Rome became the capital of a reunited Italy in the late 19th century. This assured the survival of very significant ancient Roman material remains in the centre of the city, some abandoned and others continuing in use. For most of the centuries in between, the Papacy was the ruler of the city and Rome became the capital of the Papal States, which grew to include large parts of central Italy. Although economically weak, Rome remained a centre of pilgrimage and also tourism.
Rome is one of the oldest named cities in the world. Its political power was eventually replaced by that of peoples of mostly Germanic origin, marking the beginning of the Middle Ages. Rome became the seat of the Roman Catholic Church and the home of a sovereign state, the Vatican City, within its walls. Today it is the capital of Italy, an international worldwide political and cultural centre, a major global city, and is regarded as one of the most beautiful cities of the ancient world.
The traditional date for the founding of Rome, following Marcus Terentius Varro, is 21 April 753 BC, and the city and surrounding region of Latium has continued to be inhabited with little interruption since around that time. Recent (2014) excavations 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 and the beginning of the 8th century, and there is evidence of people arriving on the Palatine hill as early as the 10th century BC.
- 1 Ancient Rome
- 2 Medieval Rome
- 3 Pilgrimage
- 4 Roman Commune
- 5 The Vatican
- 6 14th and 15th centuries
- 7 Renaissance Rome
- 8 Sack of Rome and Counter-Reformation
- 9 Italian unification
- 10 Late modern and contemporary
- 11 Timeline
- 12 References
- 13 External links
For more information, and history of Rome as a complete civilization, see Ancient Rome
|Roman Kingdom and Republic|
|753 BC||According to legend, Romulus founds Rome.|
|753–509 BC||Rule of the seven Kings of Rome.|
|509 BC||Creation of the Republic.|
|390 BC||The Gauls invade Rome. Rome sacked.|
|264-146 BC||Punic Wars.|
|146-44 BC||Social and Civil Wars. Emergence of Marius, Sulla, Pompey and Caesar.|
|44 BC||Julius Caesar assassinated.|
There is archaeological evidence of human occupation of the Rome area from at least 5,000 years, but the dense layer of much younger debris obscures Palaeolithic and Neolithic sites. Evidence of stone tools, pottery and stone weapons attest to at least 6,000 years of human presence. The power of the well known tale of Rome's legendary foundation tends also to deflect attention from its actual, and much more ancient, origins.
Legend of Rome
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, who were suckled by a she-wolf after being abandoned, decided to build a city. After an argument, Romulus killed Remus and named the city Rome, after himself. After founding and naming (as the story goes) Rome, he permitted men of all classes to come to Rome as citizens, including slaves and freemen without distinction. To provide his citizens with wives, 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 the 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 named Ramnes (meaning Romans), Tities (after the Sabine king) and a third called 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.
More recently, 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, as with that of most Etruscan words, remains unknown. The Basque scholar Manuel de Larramendi thought that the origin could be related to the Basque language word orma (modern Basque kirreal), "wall". Thomas G. Tucker's Concise Etymological Dictionary of Latin (1931) suggests 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 / vr'h" - "top, summit", Russ. верх / verkh - "top; upward direction", Lith. virsus "upper").
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. Another of these hills, the Quirinal Hill, was probably an outpost for another Italic-speaking people, the Sabines. At this location the Tiber forms a Z-shape curve that contains an island where the river can be forded. Because of the river and the ford, Rome was at a crossroads of traffic following the river valley and of traders traveling north and south on the west side of the peninsula.
Archaeological finds have confirmed that in the 8th century BC in the area of the future Rome there were two fortified settlements: 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 by surprise the city of Lista which was regarded as the mother-city of the Aborigines.
In the 8th century BC, these Italic speakers — Latins (in the west), Sabines (in the upper valley of the Tiber), Umbrians (in the north-east), Samnites (in the South), Oscans and others — shared the peninsula with two other major ethnic groups: the Etruscans in the North, and the Greeks in the south.
The Etruscans (Etrusci or Tusci in Latin) were settled north of Rome in Etruria (modern northern Lazio, Tuscany and part of Umbria). They founded cities like 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 Etruscans are 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 evolved out of Etruscan funerary customs. Future studies of Etruscan and more excavations in the region will no doubt shed more light on the origin of Rome and the Romans.
The Greeks had founded many colonies in Southern Italy (that 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, between 750 and 550 BC.
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 mythic Romulus who along with his brother Remus were said to have founded the city of Rome. Two of the last three kings, namely Tarquinius Priscus and Tarquinius Superbus, were said to be (at least partially) Etruscan (Priscus is said by the ancient literary sources to be the son of a Greek refugee, and an Etruscan mother), their names referring to the Etruscan town of Tarquinia.
This traditional account of Roman history, which has come down to us through Livy, Plutarch, Dionysius of Halicarnassus and others, is that in Rome's first centuries, it was ruled 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, since the work of Barthold Georg Niebuhr, has been generally discounted by modern scholarship. The Gauls destroyed much of Rome's historical records when they sacked the city after the Battle of the Allia in 390 BC (Varronian, 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 disputed) that Rome was under the influence of the Etruscans for about a century. During this period a bridge called the Pons Sublicius was built to replace the Tiber ford, and the Cloaca Maxima was also built; the 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 the Greeks. After initial success in conflicts with the Greek colonists, Etruria went into a decline. Taking advantage of this, around 500 BC Rome rebelled and gained independence from the Etruscans. 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 annually.
The 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 evolution 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.
After 500 BC, Rome joined with the Latin cities in defence against incursions by the Sabines. Winning the Battle of Lake Regillus in 493 BC, 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 Latium.
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.
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 eastern Italy and led by Brennus, who had successfully defeated the Roman army at the Battle of the Allia in Etruria. Multiple contemporary records suggest that the Senones hoped to punish Rome for violating its diplomatic neutrality in Etruria. The Senones marched 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 Tusculum soon afterwards.
After that, 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.
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), Rome had 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 was the major issue during the History of the Constitution of the Roman Republic, and 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.
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 between 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 century BC, 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. The Greeks saw 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 Spain with 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 once again threat, when a great host of Germanic peoples, namely Cimbri and Teutones, crossed the river Rhone and moved to Italy. 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 very 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 commands of 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 republic) and 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 Antonius and 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.
|44 BC - AD 14||Augustus establishes the Empire.|
|AD 64||Great Fire of Rome during Nero's rule.|
|69-96||Flavian Dynasty. Building of the Colosseum.|
|3rd century||Crisis of the Roman Empire. Building of the Baths of Caracalla and the Aurelian Walls.|
|284-337||Diocletian and Constantine. Building of the first Christian basilicas. Battle of Milvian Bridge. Rome is replaced by Constantinople as the capital of the Empire.|
|395||Definitive separation of Western and Eastern Roman Empire.|
|410||The Goths of Alaric sack Rome.|
|455||The Vandals of Gaiseric sack Rome.|
|476||Fall of the west empire and deposition of the final emperor Romulus Augustus.|
|6th century||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|
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 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 significantly smaller.
Rome's population declined after its peak in the 2nd century. At the end of that century, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, a 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 (at that year its population was only around 500,000).
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 330, 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.
However, the Senate, while stripped of most of its political power, was socially prestigious. The Empire's conversion to Christianity made the Bishop of Rome (later 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: Constantine's predecessor 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. Peter's Basilica.
Still 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 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, perhaps changing the Pagan god or hero to a corresponding Christian saint or martyr. In this way, the Temple of 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.
Christianity reached 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 recant.
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. Tacitus reports that after the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64, some among the population held 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.
|608||Emperor 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.|
|630||The Curia Julia (vacant since the disappearance of the Roman Senate) is transformed into the basilica of Sant'Adriano al Foro.|
|663||Constans II visits Rome for twelve days—the only emperor to set foot in Rome for two centuries. He strips buildings of their ornaments and bronze to be carried back to Constantinople.|
|772||The Lombards briefly conquer Rome but Charlemagne liberates the city a year later.|
|800||Charlemagne is crowned Holy Roman Emperor in St. Peter's Basilica.|
|846||The Saracens sack St. Peter.|
|852||Building of the Leonine Walls.|
|962||Otto I crowned Emperor by Pope John XII|
|1000||Emperor Otto III and Pope Sylvester II.|
|1084||The Normans sack Rome.|
|1144||Creation of the commune of Rome.|
|1300||First Jubilee proclaimed by Pope Boniface VIII.|
|1303||Foundation of the Roman University.|
|1309||Pope Clement V moves the Holy Seat to Avignon.|
|1347||Cola di Rienzo proclaims himself tribune.|
|1377||Pope Gregory XI moves the Holy Seat back to Rome.|
Barbarian and Byzantine rule
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 Constantinople, 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 until 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 Ostrogoths under 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 Rome.
Justinian I tried to grant Rome subsidies for the maintenance of public buildings, aqueducts and bridges — though, being mostly drawn from an 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.
However, the Pope was now one of the leading religious figures in the entire 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 Rome were 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 of the Lombards under 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 support of Tiberius II Constantine (reigned 578–582) against the approaching Dukes, Faroald I of Spoleto and 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 newly elected 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 Naples and 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 usurper Phocas (reigned 602–610). Phocas recognised his primacy over that of the Patriarch of Constantinople and even decreed Pope Boniface 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 harmony between 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 tensions, 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.
However, in 727, 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 Rome and 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 Sicily and Calabria and 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 threats.
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).
Liutprand's successor 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 besieged Rome for 56 days. The Lombards returned north when they heard news of Pippin again moving to Italy. This time he agreed to give the Pope the promised territories, and the Papal States were born.
In 771 the new King of the Lombards, Desiderius, devised a plot to conquer 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.
Holy Roman Empire
On 25 April, 799 the new Pope, Leo III, led the traditional procession from the Lateran to the Church of 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 Pope was declared legitimate and the attempters subsequently exiled. On 25 December, 800, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne 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 the 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 Duchy of 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 has been a major Christian pilgrimage site since the Middle Ages. People from all over the Christian world visit Vatican City, within the city of Rome, the seat of the papacy. The Pope was the most influential figure during the Middle Ages. Catholics believe that the Vatican is the last resting place of St. Peter.
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 authority.
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 Rome continued 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.
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 newborn organism.
In 1204 the streets of Rome were again in flames when the struggle between 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.
The struggle between the Popes and the emperor Frederick II, also king of 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 the Campidoglio.
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 Charles.
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 Savelli.
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 France over 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 and the Pope's return to Rome
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 enthusiast crowd. The period of his power, though very short-lived, is anyway one of the most interesting in the life of Rome in Middle Ages, as Cola tried to assure himself a renovating, almost mystical aura of a paladin of Italian independence, within a confused political dream inspired to the prestige of the 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.
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 Italy was scourged by these ruthless condottieri bands. Many of the Savelli, Orsini and Annibaldi expelled from Rome became leaders of such military units. The war with Velletri languished, and Rome again gave itself to the new Pope, Urban V, provided the dreadful Albornoz did not enter the walls.
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 return to 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.
During the Early Church, the bishops of Rome enjoyed no temporal power until the time of Constantine. After the fall of Rome (the "Middle Ages"), the papacy was influenced by the temporal rulers of and surrounding the Italian Peninsula; these periods are known as the Ostrogothic Papacy, Byzantine Papacy, and Frankish Papacy. Over time, the papacy consolidated its territorial claims to a portion of the peninsula known as the Papal States. Thereafter, the role of neighboring sovereigns was replaced by powerful Roman families during the saeculum obscurum, the Crescentii era, and the Tusculan Papacy.
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 claimants.
The Renaissance Papacy is known for its artistic and architectural patronage, forays into European power politics, and theological challenges to papal authority. After the start of the Protestant Reformation, the Reformation Papacy and Baroque Papacy lead the Catholic Church through the Counter Reformation. The popes during the Age of Revolution witnessed the largest expropriation of wealth in the church's history, during the French Revolution and those that followed throughout Europe. The Roman Question, arising from Italian unification, resulted in the loss of the Papal States and the creation of Vatican City.
|Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List|
|Criteria||i, ii, iv, vi|
|Inscription||1984 (8th Session)|
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (February 2011)|
In this originally uninhabited area (the ager vaticanus) on the opposite side of the Tiber from the city of Rome, Agrippina the Elder (14 BC – 18 October AD 33) drained the hill and environs and built her gardens in the early 1st century AD. Emperor Caligula (31 August AD 12–24 January AD 41; r. 37–41) started construction of a circus (AD 40) that was later completed by Nero, the Circus Gaii et Neronis, usually called, simply, the Circus of Nero. In AD 69, the Year of the Four Emperors, when the northern army that brought Aulus Vitellius to power arrived in Rome, "a large proportion camped in the unhealthy districts of the Vatican, which resulted in many deaths among the common soldiery; and the Tiber being close by, the inability of the Gauls and Germans to bear the heat and the consequent greed with which they drank from the stream weakened their bodies, which were already an easy prey to disease".
The Vatican obelisk was originally taken by Caligula from Heliopolis, Egypt to decorate the spina of his circus and is thus its last visible remnant. This area became the site of martyrdom of many Christians after the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64. Ancient tradition holds that it was in this circus that Saint Peter was crucified upside-down.
Opposite the circus was a cemetery separated by the Via Cornelia. Funeral monuments and mausoleums and small tombs as well as altars to pagan gods of all kinds of polytheistic religions were constructed lasting until before the construction of the Constantinian Basilica of St. Peter's in the first half of the 4th century. Remains of this ancient necropolis were brought to light sporadically during renovations by various popes throughout the centuries increasing in frequency during the Renaissance until it was systematically excavated by orders of Pope Pius XII from 1939 to 1941.
In 326, the first church, the Constantinian basilica, was built over the site that early Roman Catholic apologists (from the 1st century on) as well as noted Italian archaeologists argue was the tomb of Saint Peter, buried in a common cemetery on the spot. From then on the area started to become more populated, but mostly only by dwelling houses connected with the activity of St. Peter's. A palace was constructed near the site of the basilica as early as the 5th century during the pontificate of Pope Symmachus (reigned 498–514).
Popes in their secular role gradually came to govern neighbouring regions and, through the Papal States, ruled a large portion of the Italian peninsula for more than a thousand years until the mid-19th century, when all of the territory of the Papal States was seized by the newly created Kingdom of Italy. For much of this time the Vatican was not the habitual residence of the Popes, but rather the Lateran Palace, and in recent centuries, the Quirinal Palace, while the residence from 1309 to 1377 was at Avignon in France.
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 of the Holy See as a sovereign entity.
In practice Italy made no attempt to interfere with the Holy See within the Vatican walls. However, they confiscated church property in many other places, including, perhaps most notably, the Quirinal Palace, formerly the pope's official residence. 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".
This situation was resolved on 11 February 1929 between the Holy See and the Kingdom of Italy. The Lateran Treaty was signed by Benito Mussolini on behalf of King Victor Emmanuel III and by 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.
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 declaration of 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 Vatican.
14th and 15th centuries
|1420–1519||Rome becomes a centre of the Italian Renaissance. Founding of the new St. Peter's Basilica. Sistine Chapel.|
|1527||The Landsknechts sack Rome.|
|1555||Creation of the Ghetto.|
|1585–1590||Urban reforms under Pope Sixtus V.|
|1592–1606||Caravaggio working in Rome.|
|1600||Giordano Bruno is burned.|
|1626||The new St. Peter's Basilica is consecrated.|
|1638–1667||Baroque era. Bernini and Borromini. Rome has 120,000 inhabitants.|
|1703||Building of the Port of Ripetta.|
|1732–1762||Building of the Fontana di Trevi.|
|1798–1799 and 1800–1814||French occupation.|
|1848–1849||Roman Republic with Mazzini and Garibaldi.|
|1870||Rome conquered by Italian troops.|
|1874–1885||Building of the Termini Station and founding of the Vittoriano.|
|1922||March on Rome.|
|1932–1939||Building of Cinecittà.|
|1943||Bombing of Rome.|
|1960||Rome is seat of the Summer Olympics.|
|1975–1985||Years of terrorism. Death of Aldo Moro. Pope John Paul II is shot.|
|1990||Rome is seat of the Football World Championship.|
|2000||Rome is seat of the Jubilee.|
The 14th century, with the absence of the popes during the Avignon Papacy, was 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 rebirth.
In 1433 the Duke of Milan, Filippo Maria Visconti signed a peace treaty with 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 Rome on 28 September 1443.
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 Tiber since 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.
Under 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 Pope to 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.
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 controlled 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' 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 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 Pope was uncovered, organised by the intellectuals of the Roman Academy founded by Pomponio Leto. The conspirators were sent to Castel Sant'Angelo.
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 Medici of 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 over the 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 southwards, the 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.
The Renaissance had a great impact on Rome's appearance, with works like the Pietà by 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 was demolished and a new one begun. The city hosted artists like Bramante, who built the Temple of 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. Michelangelo began 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 Renaissance city, 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.
Sack of Rome and Counter-Reformation
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 survived. The 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 Pope of all. He even separated Parma and 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 on-going construction of St. Peter's. After the shock of the sack, he also called the brilliant architect 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 Rome became 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, 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. Pope Paul's 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 315 years.
The 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 Counter-Reformation character. 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 and 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 other 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.
The rule of the Popes was interrupted by the short-lived Roman Republic (1798), which 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 Empire, new states were created in Italy through the Congress of Vienna of 1814. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (Naple and Sicily) under Bourbon Ferdinand IV, the restored Papal States, and the kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia under King Charles-Albert. The two regions of Venetia and Lombardy were given to the Austrians under their direct control for some time.
Another Roman Republic arose in 1849, within the framework of revolutions of 1848. Two of the most influential figures of the Italian unification, 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-Sardinia and France; a relationship to be exploited in the future.
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 little resistance.
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 with 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 the 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 front of 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. Rome and Latium were 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").
When 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, 1871 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.
Late modern and contemporary
Today's 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, Neoclassic, Modernist and 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 the 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.
Rome became the focus of hopes of Italian reunification when the rest of 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 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.
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. After the war, Rome continued to expand due to Italy's growing state administration and industry, with the creation of new quartieri and suburbs. The current official population stands at 2.5 million; during the business day, workers increase this figure to over 3.5 million. The previous figures were 138,000 in 1825, 244,000 in 1871, 692,000 in 1921, 1,600,000 in 1931.
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 fims such as Ben Hur, Quo Vadis, Roman Holiday and La Dolce Vita being filmed in the city's iconic Cinecittà Studios.
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 and later redeveloped as a residential district.
A new rising trend in population continued until the mid-1980s, when the commune had more than 2,800,000 residents; after that, population started to slowly decline as more residents moved to nearby suburbs. Many of the ancient monuments of Rome were restored by the Italian state and by the Vatican for the 2000 Jubilee.
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 Italy and the Vatican City. Rome also contains the Vatican City's Embassy to Italy, a unique case of an Embassy being both on 'foreign soil' as well as within the boundaries of its own country. A number of notable international cultural, scientific and humanitarian institutions are located in Rome, including the German Archaeological Institute, and the FAO.
Among its hundreds of churches, Rome contains the only major Basilicas of the Catholic Church: Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (St. John Lateran, Rome's cathedral), Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano (St. Peter's Basilica), Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura (St. Paul Outside the Walls), and Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major). Along with the minor basilica of Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura (St. Lawrence Outside the Walls), these churches correspond to the five ancient Sees of Chalcedonian Christianity namely Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem respectively. The Pope is also Bishop of Rome.
750 BC - Tarpeia besieged cities, and handed it over to the Sabines
700 BC - Near Rome, the Etruscan civilization began.
659 BC - The enemy city of Alba Longa is destroyed by the Romans.
616 BC - The first Etruscan king of Rome, Tarquinius Priscus established a Forum and a Circus Maximum.
c. 600 BC - Cloaca Maxima sewer system was probably first built around this year.
578 BC - Servius Tullius became the next Etruscan king of Rome
565 BC - Servian Walls were built.
534 BC - King Servius was assassinated.
510 BC - Temple of Jupiter on the Capitol was completed and consecrated.
508 BC - A Treaty was made between Rome and Carthage.
499 BC - A battle against foreign tribes commences, including the construction of the Temple of Castor and Pollux.
396 BC - The Etruscan city of Veio is defeated by the Romans.
390 BC - the Gauls attempt to invade Rome, including the famous story of the quacking geese.
380 BC - The once destroyed Severian wall is reconstructed.
312 BC - The Via Appia and Aqua Appia are constructed.
264 - 241 BC - The period of the First Punic War
220 BC - Via Flamina is constructed.
218 - 202 BC - The Second Punic War
149 - 146 BC - The Third Punic War
133 BC - 120 BC - Gracchi brothers are controversially killed.
71 BC - Spartacus is killed and his rebel army destroyed.
51 BC - Caesar conquers Gaul
49 BC - Caesar crosses the Rubicon in order to take Rome.
27 BC - Augustus is made Rome's first emperor.
13 BC - The Ara Pacis is constituted since Augustus secured his empire.
42 AD - The apostle St Peter arrives in Rome.
64 AD - Rome burns, and by popular myth, was caused by Emperor Nero, who apparently fiddled when it happened.
c. 65 AD - Christians are first persecuted and killed by Nero.
72 AD - Work on the Flavian Amphitheatre (Colosseum) begins.
212 AD - All the inhabitants of the empire are granted citizenship.
216 AD - Work on the Baths of Caracalla is finally over, as the building gets completed.
247 AD - The first millennium of Rome is celebrated.
270 AD - The Aurelian wall is begun.
284 AD - The Roman Empire is divided into Eastern and Western ones.
Early Medieval period
312 AD - Constantine the Great achieves winning the Roman Empire after the Battle of Milvian Bridge.
c. 320 AD - The First St. Peter's Basilica is constructed.
380 AD - The Christian emperor Theodosius makes Christianity the official religion of Rome, persecuting pagans and destroying temples.
410 AD - Rome is sacked by the Goths.
422 AD - The Church of Santa Sabina is founded.
455 AD - Rome is even more destructively sacked by the Vandals (thus the word vandalism was coined).
476 AD - The Western Empire falls, and Constantinople becomes the sole capital of the remaining Roman Empire.
C. 590 - 604 AD - Pope Gregory the Great makes the Christian church exceedingly strong.
609 AD - The Pantheon becomes a Christian church.
630 AD - The Church of Sant' Agnese is the first Roman church to be constructed in Byzantine style.
725 AD - The King Ine of Wessex is the first man to create a hostel for pilgrims to Rome.
778 AD - Charlemagne conquers Italy and Rome.
800 AD - Charlemagne is crowned the emperor in St. Peter's Basilica.
880 - 932 AD - A rare occasion, the city is governed by women, Theodora and later her daughter Marozia.
High Middle Ages
1084 AD - The city of Rome is attacked by the Normans
1108 AD - The church of San Clemente is in this year rebuilt.
1140 AD - The church of Santa Maria in Trastevere is restored.
1200 AD - The city becomes an independent commune
1232 AD - The cloisters in the Basilica of St. John Lateran are finished.
1300 AD - Pope Boniface VIII proclaims the First Holy Year.
1347 AD - The patriot and rebel Cola di Rienzo tries to restore the Roman Republic.
1348 AD - Just like across Italy and parts of Europe, the Black Death strikes Rome.
1377 AD - The Papacy returns to Rome with Pope Gregory XI.
1409–1415 AD - For a short while, the Papacy moves over to Pisa.
1417 AD - The Great Schism of the 14th century is ended by Pope Martin V
1444 AD - Bramante is born.
1452 AD - Old St. Peter's Basilica is demolished and a new one is begun.
1475 AD - Painter Michelangelo is born.
1483 AD - Raphael is born.
1486 AD - The Palazzo della Cancelleria is built.
1506 AD - The first significant works on the New St. Peter's Basilica re begun with Pope Julius II
1508 AD - Michelangelo paints the famous Sistine Chapel
1519 AD - The famous frescos of the Villa Farnesina are finally completed.
1527 AD - Charles V's troops attack Rome, looting and ruining the city.
1547 AD - Michelangelo is appointed by Pope Paul III as the main architect of St. Peter's Basilica.
1568 AD - The Jesuits build the early Baroque church of the Gesu.
1571 AD - Caravaggio is born.
1585 AD - Rome's streets are re-planned by Pope Sixtus V
1595 AD - The frescos in the Palazzo Farnese are begun by Annibale Carracci
1600 AD - Giordano Bruno (philosopher) is burned at the stake for his heresies.
1626 AD - New St. Peter's Basilica is finally completed.
1633 AD - Galileo is condemned for heresy.
1651 AD - Piazza Navona is fully re-designed by Bernini.
1656 AD - Bernini's colonnades in St. Peter's Square are begun.
1657 AD - Borromini finishes his work in Sant' Agnese in Agone.
1694 AD - The Palazzo di Montecitorio is finished.
1721 AD - The English prince and pretender Bonnie Prince Charlie is born in the city.
1732 AD - Work on the Trevi Fountain begins.
1734 AD - The Palazzo Nuovo is made by Pope Clement XII the world's first public museum.
1735 AD - This is the year in which Rome's Spanish Steps are designed.
1751 AD - The Views of Rome by Piranesi revives interest in Rome's classical ruins.
1762 AD - The Trevi Fountain is completed.
1797 AD - Napoleon Bonaparte has Rome captured.
19th century and Risorgimento
1800–1801 AD - Napoleon retakes Italy and Rome.
1807 AD - Garibaldi is born.
1816 AD - Work on the Piazza del Popolo begins.
1820 AD - There are a series of revolts in Rome and the rest of Italy.
1821 AD - The British poet Keats dies in Rome.
1848 AD - Uprisings in Rome.
1849 AD - The Pope is restored to power in the city, with French help.
1870 AD - Rome is made part of the Italian kingdom.
20th century and Modern Rome
1911 AD - The Vittorio Emanuele monument is completed.
1915 AD - Italy enters the World War I
1922 AD - March on Rome
1926 AD - Any party opposing Fascism is banned.
1929 AD - A separate country, the Vatican City is created with the Lateran Treaty.
1944 AD - (4 June) Rome is liberated by the Allied troops from the Germans almost without fights.
1946 AD - A National Referendum states that Italy becomes a Republic.
1957 AD - Treaty of Rome
1960 AD - Rome hosts the Olympic Games 1960.
1962 AD - Roman Catholic church reforms are brought about with the Second Vatican Council.
1978 AD - Italian prime minister Aldo Moro is kidnapped and later killed by the Brigate Rosse; This is a Year of Three Popes, with the elections of Pope John Paul I and Pope John Paul II following the death of Pope Paul VI.
c. 1978 – 1990 AD - Years of Lead.
1981 AD - An assassination attempt is made on Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square.
1990 AD - Italy hosts the FIFA World Cup.
1993 AD - Francesco Rutelli becomes the first elected mayor of Rome.
2000 AD- The city enters the New Millennium, featuring a new Holy Year, or the Jubilee.
2004 AD - A new constitution of the EU is signed in Rome.
2005 AD - Pope John Paul II dies in Rome, and Pope Benedict XVI takes his place.
2011 AD - Silvio Berlusconi resigns from power.
2013 AD - Pope Benedict XVI announces his resignation, and Pope Francis is elected.
- 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 edition
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- 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 edition
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- Duncan, Mike. "The History of Rome".
- Matthew Bunson (2002). Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8160-4562-4. (2002) 636pp, at Google Books
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- 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 (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 of Imperial 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
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- 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 Baroque Rome (1982) architecture 1621–1750
- Brentano, Robert; Rome before Avignon: A Social History of Thirteenth-Century Rome (1974) online edition
- Habel, Dorothy Metzger. The Urban Development of Rome in the Age of Alexander VII (2002) 424 pp. + 223 plates; on 1660s
- Bloch, Raymond (1969). The ancient civilization of the Etruscans. New York: Cowles Book.
- Boak, Arthur Edward Romilly (1921). A history of Rome to 565 A. D.. New York: Macmillan.
- Bonfante, Larissa; et al. ed. (1986). Etruscan Life and Afterlife: a Handbook of Etruscan Studies. Warminster: Aris and Phillips.
- Bonfante, Larissa (1990). Etruscan. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-07118-2.
- Bonfante, Larissa (2006). Etruscan Inscriptions and Etruscan Religion in The Religion of the Etruscans. Austin: University of Texas Press.
- Bonfante, G.; L. Bonfante (2002). The Etruscan Language. An Introduction. Manchester University Press.
- Bury, J B (2009). History of the Later Roman Empire: From the Death of Theodosius I. BiblioLife. ISBN 978-1-113-20104-1.
- Döge, F.U. (2004) "Die militärische und innenpolitische Entwicklung in Italien 1943–1944", Chapter 11, in:Pro- und antifaschistischer Neorealismus. PhD Thesis, Free University, Berlin. 960 p. [in German]
- Ekonomou, Andrew J. 2007. Byzantine Rome and the Greek Popes: Eastern influences on Rome and the papacy from Gregory the Great to Zacharias, A.D. 590–752. Lexington Books.
- Gregorovius, Ferdinand. History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages.
- Fields, Nic (2007). The Roman Army of the Punic Wars 264-146 BC. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84603-145-1. Retrieved 8 July 2011.*Theodor Mommsen The History of Rome, Books I, II, III, IV, V.
- Frost Abbott, Frank (1911). A history and description of Roman political institutions. Harvard Univ. Press. ISBN 0-543-92749-0. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
- Kertzer, David (2004). Prisoner of the Vatican. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-618-22442-4.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- "GaWC - The World According to GaWC 2008". Lboro.ac.uk. 3 June 2009. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
- "10 of the World's Most Beautiful Ancient Cities | WebEcoist | Green Living". WebEcoist. Retrieved 17 October 2009.
- Potter, D.S. (2009). Rome in the Ancient World: From Romulus to Justinian. London: Thames & Hudson. p. 10. ISBN 9780500251522.
- Hooper, John (13 April 2014). "Archaeologists' findings may prove Rome a century older than thought". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
- Heiken, G., Funiciello, R. and De Rita, D. (2005), The Seven Hills of Rome: A Geological Tour of the Eternal City. Princeton University Press.
- Livy, Ab Urbe Condita I, 7
- Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:8
- Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:9-13
- Livy, Ab urbe condita, 1:8, 13
- Cf. Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his "The Social Contract", Book IV, Chapter IV, written in 1762, where he writes in a footnote that the word for 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. http://www.mysteriousetruscans.com/francois.html
- Ismarmed.com (2011). "History of Rome (Italy)". ismarmed.com. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
- 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.
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- The Roman Republic was never restored; but nor was it abolished, so the event which signaled its transition to Roman Empire is a matter of interpretation. Historians have variously proposed the appointment of Julius Caesar as perpetual dictator in 44 BC, the defeat of Mark Antony at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, and the Roman Senate's grant of extraordinary powers to Octavian (Augustus) under the first settlement in 27 BC, as candidates for the defining pivotal event ending the Republic.
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Mexican revolutionary Benito Juarez, named his son after the patriot and hero. Benito Mussolini was an avid writer and after he finished his schooling, he became an editor for the Milan socialist paper “Avanti”. He became well known among the Italian socialists, but soon started promoting his views for
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