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CHAPTER 5: AN AGE OF EMPIRES: ROME AND HAN CHINA, 753 B.C.E.–330 C.E. INSTRUCTIONAL OBJECTIVES After studying this chapter students should: Be able to analyze the causes of the rise, the stability, and the decline of the Roman and Han empires in terms of their respective geographical locations, natural resources, economic base, administrative structures, and ideological systems. Understand the political evolution of the Roman state from the Republic to the principate, paying particular attention to how change was related to the growth of empire and questions of land ownership. Be able to describe the development of Christianity and to explain how it became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. Understand the institution of emperorship and the respective roles of the gentry, the small landholders, peasants, and nomads in the history of Han China. MAPS
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CHAPTER OUTLINE I. Rome’s Creation of a Mediterranean Empire, 753 B . C . E .–330 C . E . A. Geography and Resources 1. Italy and Sicily are at a crossroads of the Mediterranean and serve as a link between Africa and Europe. Rome is at a crossroads of the Italian peninsula. 2. Italy’s natural resources included navigable rivers, forests, iron, a mild climate, and enough arable land to support a large population of farmers whose surplus product and labor could be exploited by the Roman state. B. A Republic of Farmers, 753–31 B . C . E . 1. Rome was inhabited at least as early as 1000 B . C . E . According to legend it was ruled by seven kings between 753 B . C . E . and 507 B . C . E . Kingship was eliminated in 507 B . C . E . when representatives of the senatorial class of large landholders overthrew the last king and established a republic. 2. The centers of political power were the two consuls and the Senate. In practice, the Senate made laws and governed. 3. The Roman family consisted of several generations living under the absolute authority of the oldest living male, the paterfamilias . 4. Society was hierarchical. Families and individuals were tied together by patron/client relationships that institutionalized inequality and gave both sides of the relationship reason to cooperate and to support the status quo. 5. Roman women had relatively more freedom than Greek women, but their legal status was still that of a child, subordinate to the paterfamilias of her own or her husband’s family. Eventually procedures evolved which made it possible for some women to become independent after the death of their fathers. 6. Romans worshiped a large number of supernatural spirits as well as major gods such as Jupiter and Mars. Proper performance of ritual ensured that the gods continued to favor the Roman state. C. Expansion in Italy and the Mediterranean 1. Rome began to expand, at first slowly and then very rapidly in the third and second centuries B .
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