What if there were no Roman Empire

Could this be?

Not. Sooner or later the system would crash. The law of the Roman Republic provided for a number of deterrent mechanisms that were supposed to prevent a return to tyranny. Having expelled the last king in the 6th century BC, the Romans made sure that no one ever received more sole authority. The system lasted for more than four centuries, but at the turn of the II-I centuries. BC she began to fall apart. The process dragged on for almost 80 years. The Republic slowly and reluctantly reborn in the Empire. This transformation took very painful forms for the state and its citizens, developed into a chain of civil wars and claimed thousands of lives in the end.

Roman laws laid under the republic of a time bomb

For the sake of justice, it should be noted that such changes are never without victims, for they always cause, as side effects, hard times when every ambitious person with influence tries to use the situation to increase his influence. The first such man in Rome was Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Not being an emperor in the modern sense of the word, he, however, had sole and unlimited power in the republic. His dictatorship dates from 83−80 years BC, but the period of his sole reign began, in fact in the 88th, when Sulla was elected consul. This post he held for eight years, contrary to all laws, including the constitution. Formally, democratic institutions with him existed. There was even a second consul. Here are just this consul was technical, fulfilling the will of Sulla. There was a senate that was also controlled by a dictator. And the death of Sulla did not lead to serious changes.

Map of the Roman Empire under Emperor Trajan, when the Roman state reached its greatest size in its history

The republic was cracking at the seams, and military people were becoming more and more influential in it. The transition to sole rule was a matter of time. The weight of each particular commander increased many times. And if before the Senate categorically demanded the addition of powers from the consuls, now he has become more cautious. Supporters of preserving the republic, and there were still very many of them, in the end, they saw in commanders a means of protection against dictatorship. The senators themselves, possessing only legislative, but not military power, began to turn to the generals for the protection of republican values.

The first triumvirate (Crassus, Pompey, Caesar) was a sort of transitional form of democracy. Three commanders concluded an alliance thanks to which each of them received very great powers. Bypassing all laws, they divided consulates among themselves, and other important posts between their people. But the republic was preserved. Moreover, the presence of precisely three commanders was an insurance against the fact that one of them usurps power. For in this case, the other two would be forced to conclude an alliance against him.

This system collapsed with the death of Crassus. After this, the transformation of the republic into an empire became inevitable. The Senate turned to Pompey for protection against Caesar, later he would appeal to Octavian for protection against Antony. But the question was only in the winner. If Pompey had succeeded in defeating Caesar, he himself would have become a dictator, but he would not restore the power of the senate. The trouble with the Roman democracy was laid in the fact that for many years it had been its mainstay - in those very laws. They left the Senate - the main carrier of republican values ​​- completely defenseless before the military. When the military learned to circumvent the laws, the republic began to burst at the seams.

If the republic survived

Becoming the sole ruler of Rome, Caesar carried out a number of reforms aimed at strengthening his personal power. He did not, however, transform the republic into an empire. Democratic institutions were thus virtually destroyed. Caesar replenished the Senate with his people, securing a majority in him. He became a dictator for 10 years, although all supporters of Pompey were already defeated and Rome was not threatened by external enemies. Finally, he took the censor's power for himself. But with the supporters of the republic still had to be considered.

The dictatorship was inevitable, it remained only to find out the name of the dictator

Caesar did not feel the strength and ability to officially declare himself the sole ruler of Rome. He gradually added power to himself, making democracy controlled and sovereign. His work has left a deep mark on history. No wonder the name of Caesar in many languages ​​has become synonymous with the sole authority. So, the German emperors were called Kaisers, "Caesars", if translated. Guy Julius, however, underestimated the supporters of democracy. He was killed by Republicans from his inner circle. People whom he trusted, whom he did much good. This did not put them to slaughter Caesar, sacrificing him to his political ideals.

If you think about it, the murder of Caesar is simply an attempt of the Republicans to prevent the commander from establishing personal power in Rome, contrary to the laws

Further, the republic had two chances for preservation. The Senate was ruled by Cicero, who eventually managed to win a local victory over Mark Antony. But seriously, Cicero could only rely on Cassius with Brutus, in which citizens saw not so much the supporters of the republic as the murderers of Caesar. Perhaps, if Cicero, Cassius and Brutus, forming a kind of triumvirate, would have won Antony with Octavian, the republic would have lived for some time. True, these would be times of new upheavals and conflicts. Rome would inevitably become an empire in the modern sense of the word. Only not in the 27th year BC, as it happened, and later.

Now it is very difficult to assess the level of political ambitions of Cassius and Brutus. Through the centuries, at least Brutus, is seen as a staunch supporter of democracy. But having obtained power, he could also change his views in favor of personal ambitions. However, a virtual battle between two conspirators would rather have been won by Cassius. But even if Cassius with Brutus would remain supporters of the republic and would direct efforts to preserve and restore democratic institutions, their time would still pass. And then someone quite ambitious would have entered the political arena to take all the power for himself.


Octavian in no hurry becomes emperor

Suppose a miracle happened, and the republic, having survived the crisis, was revived. Rome has forgotten about potential dictators and lives as it lived before Sulla. There would be another problem. The republican system was not very suitable for governing a state of such impressive size. The country, which stretched from Spain to Syria and from Britain to Egypt, is much easier to obey the will of one person, who not only decides everything himself, but also takes responsibility for the future of the state. It would be possible to save the republic in such open spaces in only one way - by giving the provinces autonomy and opportunities for self-government. That is, it would be necessary to create local senates to solve actual problems that arose in the provinces. No other way.

Caligula Third Emperor of the Roman Empire

Remote Britain cannot wait for the Senate to solve its problems. Because the senators in Britain have never been, they don’t know the essence of the problems, but are guided only by second-hand information. But even if the senate made the only right and extremely wise decision, the Romans themselves, located in Britain, will know about it only after a few months. And where there is broad self-government, there is the risk of collapse. Where is the guarantee that such a local senate will not decide, one day, that they can live without Rome? And these are new conflicts, new warriors and the slow spread of the country.

Preserving the republic would not have prevented the disintegration of Rome, but it might have been easier for the self-governing provinces to resist the hordes of barbarians when they came to Europe.

Watch the video: What if the Roman Empire Never Existed? (January 2020).


Popular Categories