An Empire Across Three Continents Class 11 Notes History Chapter 2 - CBSE  

Chapter : 2

What Are An Empire Across Three Continents ?

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    Roman Empire was spread across the three continents namely Europe, Asia and Africa.

    • The two empires that ruled between the birth of Christ and 630 CE were Rome and Iran.
    • The Romans and Iranians were neighbours, separated by narrow strip of land that ran along the river Euphrates.

    The Phases of Roman Empire

    • The Roman Empire can be broadly divided into two phases- Early Roman Empire and Late Roman Empire.
    • Many languages were spoken during the regin of Roman Empire. All the people in the Roman Empire were subjects of single ruler.
    • Family descent, either natural or adoptive, was the decisive factor in the succession to the throne in the Roman Empire. The army was also wedded to this concept. The Augustan age is known as the age of peace.
    • All the territories of the empire were organised into provinces and were subject to taxation.
    • It was through these cities that the government was able to collect tax from the provincial countryside which
      generated much of the wealth.
    • Emperor Gallienus consolidated their rise to power by excluding senators from military command. He did this in order to prevent control of the empire from falling into their hands.
    • There was widespread prevalence of nuclear family.
    • The women enjoyed considerable legal rights in owning and managing property
    • Divorce was easy for both men as well as women.
    • There was a vast diversity of religious cults and local deities, in the plurality of languages that were spoken, in the styles of dresses that were worn. The food the people ate their forms of social organisation and their types of settlement, all reflected cultural diversity.
    • Different languages were spoken in different areas. Most of the linguistic cultures were purely oral, at least
      until a script was invented for them.
    • As late as fifth century, Armenian began to be used as written form of language. In other areas, the spread of Latin displaced the other widespread written form of languages.
    • The Roman Empire had substantial economic infrastructure of harbours, mines, quarries, brickyards, olive oil factories, etc.
    • Goods for trade consisted mainly wheat, wine and olive oil which came from Spain, the Gallic provinces, North
      Africa, Egypt and Italy. These areas had conditions that were best suited for these types of crops.
    • Spanish olive oil was a vast commercial enterprise that reached its peak in the years 140-160 BCE.
    • Transhumance was widespread in the countryside of Numidia (Modern Algeria).
    • As Roman estates expanded in North Africa, the pastures of those communities were drastically reduced and their movements more tightly regulated.
    • Widespread use of money indicates that the Roman Empire had sophisticated economy.
    • Slavery was an institution deeply rooted in Ancient Roman world.
    • Though slavery was institutionalised and was greatly used as labour but it was not always slaves that performed labour in the Roman economy.
    • On the other hand, slaves and freedmen were extensively used in jobs where labour was not required in large number i.e. as business managers.
    • There was a presumption that without supervision no work would ever get done. So supervision was most
      important for both freed slaves and slaves.
    • Although all this looks harsh, yet similar principles of labour control are being enforced in most of the factories in the world today.
    • Debt contracts were a type of agreements between the private employers and their workers. In these debt contracts, it was claimed that the employees were in debt to their employers and as a result, were under
      tighter control. A large number of families went into debt bondage in order to survive.
    • In the early Roman Empire, Senators were at the top. Next were the leading members of equestrian classes.
      Respectable section of the people who were attached to the great houses was next in the social order. Then was the untidy lower classes and slaves were at the bottom.
    • In the fourth century by the time of Constantine I, the senators and equities had merged into an expanded
      aristocracy and at least half of the families were of Eastern or African origin.
    • Like senators, most 'knights' were landowners, but unlike senators many of them involved in business activities
      like shipping, trade and banking.
    • This late Roman aristocracy was very wealthy but was less powerful than purely military elites who came
      entirely from non-aristocratic backgrounds.
    • Next in the social hierarchy was the middle class. It consisted of persons working in bureaucracy and army,
      prosperous merchants and farmers.
    • According to Olympiodorus, a historian of the early 5th century, the aristocracy based in the city of Rome received annual incomes up to 4,000 pounds of gold from their estates.
    • Below the middle class was the vast mass of the lower classes collectively known as humiliores. Literally, it
      means 'lower'.
    • The monetary system broke down in the late empire because Spanish silver mines were exhausted and the
      government ran out of stock of the metal to support a stable coinage in silver. This was also led to the introduction of a new denomination in gold, the solidus.
    • Late antiquity is the term used to describe the final, fascinating period in the evolution and break-up of the
      Roman Empire and refers from the fourth to seventh centuries.
    • The period saw considerable changes in cultural, economic, and administrative levels.
    • The emperor Diocletian abandoned territories with little strategic and economic importance.
    • He granted greater autonomy to the military commanders who became powerful. Constantine consolidated
      some of these changes and added others of his own.
    • The most important innovations of Constantine were in the monetary sphere. He introduced Solidus, a coin
      weighing 4 ½ gm of pure gold. These coins were minted in millions.
    • The other innovation was the creation of a second capital at Constantinople.
    • The late antiquity period witnessed considerable change in economic life. Monetary stability and an expanding population stimulated economic growth.
    • The period also saw a revival of the long- distance trade. All this led to strong urban prosperity.
    • Significant changes were observed in the religious life.
    • Emperor Constantine declared Christianity as official religion of the Roman empire.(4th century).
    • Seventh century was associated with the rise of Islam. The traditional religious culture of the classical world, both Greek and Roman, had been polytheist. The other religions in the empire were Judaism and Islam.
    • The Roman Empire was divided into eastern and western halves in the fourth century C.E.
    • During the late antiquity period, the general prosperity was especially marked in the East.
    • There were wars between Rome and Iran during the 7th century.
    • The East Roman Empire came to be known as Byzantium.
    • Large parts of the Roman and Iranian Empires had fallen into the hands of the Arabs.