Romans ruled for around one thousand years. They became one of the most influential civilisations of all time. At its peak, Ancient Rome controlled the lands across Europe, North Africa and Asia. Rome did not always govern in the same way throughout its history.
Between 509 BC and 27 BC, it was called the Roman Republic. The Roman Republic did not have one single leader, like a king, queen, president, emperor or dictator.
Instead, Rome was governed by a senate during the Republic. The Senate was made up of 100 noblemen. These men were the rich elites of Ancient Rome. The Senate debated and discussed issues such as taxes, wars and town planning.
The Senate elected two men to be in charge of Rome. These two men were called consuls. They only ruled for one year to avoid one single person becoming too powerful.
In the second part of Roman history, Ancient Rome was ruled by a single leader. This period was called the Roman Empire. One single person was at the head of the Empire as an emperor.
The route from Republic to Empire was not straightforward. There were lots of twists and turns, with battles and murder plots along the way. One man, Augustus, became the first emperor of Rome. Augustus was very popular and successful.
So how did Rome go from being a republic to an empire?
Things all started to go wrong for the Roman Republic in 59 BC when three powerful politicians grouped together in an alliance. These politicians included the famous Julius Caesar.
Caesar was mighty powerful. He worked with Pompey the Great and Marcus Licinius Crassus to create the First Triumvirate. They ruled Rome together until Crassus died in battle.
After this, things turned sour between Pompey and Caesar, and the two went from friends to foes. A civil war began when Pompey and Caesar’s armies began to fight. A civil war is when two groups in the same country fight. Caesar beat Pompey and Julius Caesar became the most powerful man of Rome.
Things went drastically wrong for Julius Caesar. There was a lot of plotting against him. Powerful Romans were really unhappy about the way Julius Caesar had taken power for himself. Julius Caesar was assassinated by his own senators on the 15th March 44 BC.
Julius Caesar was quite an arrogant man, according to reports. Apparently, he was handed a warning note telling him that he would get murdered but he chose not to read it. Senators, holding daggers, surrounded Julius Caesar and murdered him in broad daylight!
After this point, the way Rome was ruled changed.
Mark Anthony and Caesar’s heir, Octavian, joined a man called Lepidus to rule together. This alliance was called the Second Triumvirate. They ruled from 43 BC to 33 BC.
These men were powerful too. They were ranked above the consuls, so they were more powerful. This Second Triumvirate lasted a bit longer than the First Triumvirate. The three men worked well together to rule Rome until Octavian removed Lepidus in 36 BC.
The peace did not last long. Octavian and Mark Anthony set to war. Even though Mark Anthony teamed with the powerful Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra VII, Octavian still won. Octavian had built up a strong force in Rome and beat Cleopatra and Mark Anthony in the final battle of Actium 31 BC.
Octavian was named ‘Augustus’ when he became emperor. Augustus had more power than any one man had over Rome. The period of rule saw an end to the Roman Republic. The era of the Roman Empire had begun. For Romans and their growing number of subjects across the Mediterranean Sea, this was one of the most prosperous eras.