Welcome to Rome Across Europe! Once the Imperium Rōmānum began, there was lots of territory that spread further than the lands that now comprise modern Europe.
Because of this we occasionally like to explore some items or locations that lie outside Europe’s borders. Sometimes you just need a little change of pace.
That is why today we are discovering Provincia Syria Palaestina!
Shortly after AD 193, the Syrian regions were split off as Syria Coele in the north and Phoenice in the south, thus reducing the province Syria Palaestina to Judea. The earliest numismatic evidence for the name Syria Palaestina comes from the period of Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
Syria was an early Roman province, annexed to the Res Publica Romana in 64 BC by Pompey in the Third Mithridatic War, following the defeat of Armenian King Tigranes the Great. Following the partition of the Herodian Kingdom into tetrarchies in AD 6, it was gradually absorbed into Roman provinces, with Roman Syria annexing Iturea and Trachonitis.
The capital of Roman Syria was established in Antioch from the very beginning of Roman rule. The administrative capital of the Judaea province, however, was shifted to Caesarea Maritima beginning in 6 AD.
Judea province was the scene of unrest at its founding in AD 6 during the Census of Quirinius and several wars were fought in its history, known as the Jewish-Roman wars. The Temple was destroyed in 70 as part of the Great Jewish Revolt resulting in the institution of the Fiscus Judaicus.
The Provinces of Judaea and Syria were key scenes of an increasing conflict between Judean and Hellenistic population, which exploded into full scale Jewish-Roman Wars from AD 66–70. Disturbances followed throughout the region during the Kitos War in AD 117–118.
Between AD 132–135, Simon Bar Kokhba led a revolt against the Roman Empire. He controlled parts of Judea, but seemingly not Jerusalem for 3 years. As a result, Hadrian sent Sextus Julius Severus to the region and brutally crushed the revolt.
After the Bar Kokhba’s revolt, the Roman Emperor Hadrian changed the name of the Judea province and merged it with Roman Syria to form Syria Palaestina. Jerusalem was renamed to Aelia Capitolina, which certain scholars conclude was done in an attempt to remove the relationship of the Jewish people to the region.
Hadrian probably chose a name that revived the ancient name of Philistia (Palestine), combining it with that of the neighboring province of Syria, in an attempt to suppress Jewish connection to the land. However Roman Historian Cassius Dio does not mention the change of name nor the reason behind it in his Roman History.
In AD 193, the province of Syria-Coele was split from Syria Palaestina. Syrians even ended up reaching for imperial power with the Severan dynasty since they were of crucial strategic importance during the Crisis of the Third Century.
Beginning in AD 212, Palmyra’s trade diminished as the Sassanids occupied the mouth of the Tigris and the Euphrates. In AD 232, the Syrian Legion rebelled against the Roman Empire, but the uprising went unsuccessful.
Septimius Odaenathus, a Prince of Palmyra, was appointed by Valerian as the province’s Governor. After Valerian was captured by the Sassanids in AD 260, and died in captivity, Odaenathus campaigned as far as Ctesiphon for revenge, invading the city twice.
Zenobia rebelled against Roman authority with the help of Cassius Longinus and took over Bosra and lands as far to the west as Egypt, establishing the short-lived Palmyrene Empire. Next, she took Antioch and large sections of Asia Minor to the north.
In AD 272, the Roman Emperor Aurelian finally restored Roman control and Palmyra was besieged and sacked, never to recover her former glory. Aurelian captured Zenobia, bringing her back to Rome.
He paraded her in golden chains in the presence of the Senator Marcellus Petrus Nutenus, but allowed her to retire to a villa in Tibur, where she took an active part in society for years.
Diocletian built the Camp of Diocletian in the city of Palmyra to harbor more Legiones and walled it in to try and save it from the Sassanid threat. The Byzantine period following the Roman Empire only resulted in the building of a few churches; much of the city went to ruin.
Around AD 390, Syria Palaestina was reorganized into the several administrative units: Palaestina Prima, Palaestina Secunda, Palaestina Tertia, Syria Prima, Phoenice and Phoenice Lebanensis. All were included within the larger Byzantine Diocese of the East.
Palaestina Prima consisted of Judea, Samaria, Paralia and Peraea with the Governor residing in Caesarea. Palaestina Secunda consisted of the Galilee, the lower Jezreel Valley, the regions east of Galilee, and the western part of the former Decapolis with the seat of government at Scythopolis.
Palaestina Tertia, also known as Palaestina Salutaris, included the Negev, southern Transjordan part of Arabia, most of Sinai with Petra. A number of events with far-reaching consequences took place, including religious schisms, such as Christianity branching off from Judaism.
The practicing population of the Mosaic faith at the time included the Jews, Samaritans, Nabateans and Edomeans. Among the Jews and Edomeans, the Jewish–Roman Wars created a crisis of religion, out of which the Rabbinic Judaism emerged.
Following the Jewish–Roman Wars, many Jews left the country altogether for the Diaspora communities and large numbers of prisoners of war were sold as slaves throughout the Empire. This changed the perception of Jerusalem as the center of faith and autonomous Jewish communities shifted from centralized religious authority into more dispersed one.
After the Jewish–Roman wars, the significance of Jerusalem to Christians entered a period of decline. Jerusalem temporarily converted to the pagan Aelia Capitolina, but interest resumed again with the pilgrimage of Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, to the Holy Land from AD 326–28.
The Romans destroyed the Jewish community of the Mother Church in Jerusalem, which had existed since the time of Jesus. Traditionally it is believed the Jerusalem Christians waited out the Jewish–Roman wars in Pella in the Decapolis.
The line of Jewish bishops in Jerusalem, which is claimed to have started with Jesus’ brother James the Righteous as its first bishop, ceased to exist, within the Empire. Christianity was practiced in secret and the Hellenization of Palaestina continued under Septimius Severus.
As a large province, the territory of Syria Palaestina comprised the Levant and the western part of Mesopotamia. In Northern Levant, the mixed pagan population of Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans formed the majority.
A mix of Arameans and Assyrians were populating the western Mesopotamia and nomad Arabs were thriving in the Syrian Desert and south. In Southern Levant, until about AD 200 Jews had formed a majority of the population. Due to the decline of Jewish population, Samaritans and Greco-Romans became the dominant societies in this region by the end of the 2nd Century.
By the beginning of the Byzantine period, the Jews had become a minority and were living alongside Samaritans, pagan Greco-Syrians and a large Christian community. Other opinions however, put the majority population of southern Levant on Samaritans or Christian Byzantines.
We hope you enjoyed venturing outside the realm of Europe to discover other places within the Empire. Please stop on by soon to see what we have in store for you.
Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!
Belayche, Nicole. Foundation myths in Roman Palestine. Amsterdam University Press (2009).
Lehmann, Clayton Miles. Palestine: History: 135–337: Syria Palaestina and the Tetrarchy. The On-line Encyclopedia of the Roman Provinces. University of South Dakota (1998).
Lewin, Ariel. The archaeology of Ancient Judea and Palestine. Getty Publications (2005). ISBN 0-89236-800-4.
Roman Arabia. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2007-08-11.
Cassius Dio. Roman History, Book 69 parts 12-15.
Welcome to Rome Across Europe! With the holidays no setting in, we thought you may need a break.
We sure did. That’s why it’s time for another video.
Today we are taking a look at Rome in the 1st Century!
The First Century was the century that lasted from 1 to 100 according to the Julian calendar. It is often written as the First Century AD or First Century CE to distinguish it from the First Century BC which preceded it. The First Century is considered part of the Classical era, epoch, or historical period.
During this period Europe, North Africa and the Near East fell under increasing domination by the Imperium Rōmānum, which continued expanding, most notably conquering Britannia under the Emperor Claudius.
The reforms introduced by Augustus during his long reign stabilized the Empire after the turmoil of the previous century’s civil wars. Later in the century the Julio-Claudian dynasty, which had been founded by Augustus, came to an end with the suicide of Nero in AD 68.
There followed the famous Year of Four Emperors, a brief period of civil war and instability. It was all finally brought to an end by Vespasian, the 9th Roman Emperor, and founder of the Flavian dynasty.
The Roman Empire generally experienced a period of prosperity and dominance in this period and the First Century is remembered as part of the Empire’s golden age.
We hope you enjoyed your day off. We thank you for allowing us to have one too.
Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!
Welcome to Rome Across Europe! We love Roman Architecture. How could you not?
So RAE is going through the list of monuments each week, and adding some extra information for you.
Today we bring you the Arch of Caracalla at Djemila!
The Arch of Caracalla is a Roman Arcus Triumphalis from the beginning of the 3rd Century, located at Djémila in Algeria. The arch was erected in AD 216 in honor of the Emperor Caracalla, his mother Julia Domna and his deceased father Septimius Severus.
The arch, with a single span (fornix) reaches a height of 41 ft, a width on 38.1 ft and a depth of 12.8 ft. It was placed on the road leading to Sétif, about 31.1 mi to the south-west, and constituted the entrance to the city’s Foro Severus.
On both sides of the span, on the pylons, are niches, each framed by a pair of Corinthian columns on pedestals, with smooth drums, detached from the wall. Each pair of columns supports an entablature, which is surmounted in turn by a small aedicula, with a pediment, reaching to the top of the Attic.
On top of the Attic, 3 bases remain, which originally supported statues of the members of the Imperial Family.
Known under its antique name Cuicul, Djémila is an establishment of an ancient Roman colonia founded during the reign of Nerva (96 – 98 AD). The Roman town occupied a singular defensive position. Cuicul is one of the flowers of Roman architecture in what was the Africa Proconsularis.
Cuicul was remarkably adapted to the constraints of the mountainous site. On a rocky spur at an altitude of 2953 ft, the fort was spread between the wadi Guergour and the wadi Betame, a pair of mountain torrents.
Around the beginning of the 3rd Century, it expanded beyond its ramparts with the creation of the Septimius Severus Temple, the Arch of Caracalla, the market and the civil basilica. The site has also been marked by Christianity in the form of several cult buildings: a cathedral, a church and its baptistery are considered among the biggest of the Paleo-Christian period.
In 1839, Prince Ferdinand Philippe, Duke of Orléans saw the arch during an expedition and planned to have it transported to Paris. He intended to have it erected with the inscription “L’Armée d’Afrique à la France” (The African Army, to France).
After his death, in 1842, the project, which was almost ready to be carried out, was abandoned.
The arch, together with the rest of the archaeological site of Djémila, has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites since 1982. It also comprises an impressive collection of mosaics, illustrating mythological tales and scenes of daily life.
Now fenced in, the site contains all the elements necessary to express the classic formula of Roman urban planning. There are gates located at each end of the Cardo Maximus; in the center, is the Forum surrounded by buildings essential to the functioning of public life: the Capitoleum, the Curia, a civil basilica and the Basilica Julia.
We hope you enjoyed this journey outside of Europe and appreciate granting us the latitude for at least staying within the Imperium Rōmānum.
Please join us again soon to see what we have in store for you. Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!
Fevrier, Paul . Notes sur le développement urbain en Afrique du Nord. Les exemples comparés de Djemila et de Sétif”, in Cahiers d’archéologie. 1964.
Romanelli, Pietro . Gemila. Enciclopedia dell’arte antica (1960).
De Maria, Silvio. Arco onorario e trionfale. Enciclopedia dell’arte antica. 1994.
52 Ancient Roman Monuments. Touropia.com.
Fourth, consider that thou also doest many things wrong, and that thou art a man like others; and even if thou dost abstain from certain faults, still thou hast the disposition to commit them, though either through cowardice, or concern about reputation, or some such mean motive, thou dost abstain from such faults.
Welcome to Rome Across Europe! The countdown is getting closer to Thanksgiving, and to my wife giving birth to our first child.
With so much going on it’s been easier to share information via films and video. It gives us more time, and it still provides you as the reader with the same information we wanted to share. The only difference is the means by which it happens.
The anti-Roman alliance was led by Arminius, who had acquired Roman citizenship and received a Roman military education, thus enabling him to personally deceive the Roman commander and foresee the tactical responses of the Exercitus Romanus.
The Germanic victory against the Roman Legions in the Teutoburg Forest had far-reaching effects on the subsequent history of both the ancient Germanic peoples and on the Roman Empire. Modern historians have regarded Arminius’ victory as “Rome’s greatest defeat” and one of the most decisive battles in history.
We thank you for stopping by and we hope you enjoyed today’s lesson of Rome not being invincible. Come back soon to see what we have in store for you.
Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!
Welcome to Rome Across Europe! With so much going on in the world, it’s hard to keep track of everything out there.
Like other media sources, articles on our site were completed well before they are posted. Because of this not every event gets to match up with the proper corresponding date in which it took place.
Since we got caught up with other articles we missed an Emperor’s birthday. We figured it’s close enough to still bring some celebration and shout Happy Birthday for this historical figure.
Today we check out the life of Titus Flāvius Caesar Vespasiānus Augustus, aka Vespasian!
The Vespasiānus family was relatively undistinguished and lacking in pedigree. Vespasian’s paternal grandfather, Titus Flavius Petro, was first to distinguish himself as he rose to the rank of Centurio and then becoming a debt collector upon his retirement from the Exercitus Romanus.
Petro’s son, Titus Flavius Sabinus, worked as a customs official in the provincia of Asiana and became a money-lender on a small scale among the Helvetii. He gained a reputation as a scrupulous and honest “tax-farmer”.
Sabinus and Vespasia would have 3 children. The eldest child was a girl who died in infancy.
The 3rd child was born on 17 November 9 AD in a village north-east of Rome called Falacrinae. The youngest child, Vespasian, seemed far less likely to be successful, initially not wishing to pursue high public office.
Little is known about Vespasian’s childhood other than he followed in his brother’s footsteps, especially when driven to it by his mother’s taunting. During this period he married Flavia Domitilla, the daughter of Flavius Liberalis from Ferentium and formerly the mistress of Statilius Capella, a Roman equestrian from Sabrata in Africa Proconsularis.
Vespasian and Domitilla had 2 sons, Titus Flavius Vespasianus and Titus Flavius Domitianus, and a daughter, Domitilla. Sadly, his wife and his daughter both died before Vespasian became Emperor in AD 69.
After the death of his wife, Vespasian’s longstanding mistress, Antonia Caenis, became his wife in all but formal status, a relationship that survived until she died in AD 75.
In preparation for a Praetorship, Vespasian needed 2 periods of service in the minor magistracies, one military and the other public. Vespasian then went to Thrace for about 3 years to serve in the military.
On his return to Rome around AD 30, he obtained a post in the Vigintisexviri, most probably in one of the posts in charge of street cleaning. His early performance was so unsuccessful that Emperor Caligula reportedly stuffed handfuls of muck down his toga to correct the unclean Roman streets, formally his responsibility.
Not a good start at all.
After completion of a term in the Vigintisexviri, Vespasian was entitled to stand for election as Quaestor. Lack of political or family influence meant that Vespasian served as Quaestor in one of the provincial posts in Crete, rather than as assistant to important men in Rome.
Longing to hold the Imperium, Vespasian needed to gain a Praetorship. This would be difficult since non-Patricii and the less well-connected, like himself, had to serve in at least one intermediary post as an Aedile or Tribunus.
Although Vespasian failed at his initial attempt to gain an aedileship he was successful in his following attempt, becoming an Aedile in AD 38. Despite his lack of significant family connections or success in office, the next year Vespasian achieved praetorship at the youngest age permitted (30 years old), during a period of political upheaval in the organization of elections.
His longstanding relationship with freedwoman Antonia Caenis, confidential secretary to the Emperor’s grandmother and part of the circle of courtiers and servants around the Emperor, may have contributed to his success (wink, wink).
Upon the accession of Claudius as Emperor in AD 41, Vespasian was appointed Legate of Legio II Augusta, stationed in Germania. In AD 43, Vespasian and the Legio II Augusta participated in the Roman invasion of Britain.
Here Vespasian distinguished himself under the overall command of Aulus Plautius. After participating in crucial early battles on the rivers Medway and Thames, Vespasian was sent to reduce the south west, with the probable objectives of securing the south coast ports and harbors along with the tin mines of Cornwall and the silver and lead mines of Somerset.
Vespasian marched from Noviomagus Reginorum to subdue the hostile Durotriges and Dumnonii tribes, captured 20 oppida (towns or hill forts, including Hod Hill and Maiden Castle in Dorset). He also invaded Vectis, finally setting up a fortress and legionary headquarters at Isca Dumnoniorum.
The success of Vespasian as the Legate of a Legion earned him a consulship in AD 51, after which he retired from public life. He came out of retirement in AD 63 when he was sent as Governor to Africa Province.
Vespasian used his time in North Africa wisely. Instead of extorting huge amounts of money to regain the wealth spent on previous political campaigns, like most Governors or Consuls did, Vespasian made friends.
Vespasian’s decision would be far more valuable in the years to come. During his time in North Africa Vespasian did find himself in financial difficulties, but was able to revive his fortunes via the mule trade and gained the nickname mulio (muleteer).
Two Legiones, with 8 Cavalry squadrons and 10 Auxiliary Cohorts, were then dispatched under the command of Vespasian. His elder son, Titus, arrived from Alexandria with another.
During this time Vespasian became the patron of Flavius Josephus, a Jewish resistance leader captured at the Siege of Yodfat, who would later write his people’s history in Greek. Ultimately, thousands of Jews were killed and the Romans destroyed many towns in re-establishing control over Judea and Jerusalem.
Vespasian is remembered by Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews, as a fair and humane official, in contrast with the notorious Herod Agrippa II whom Josephus goes to great lengths to demonize.
After Nero’s death in AD 68, Rome saw a succession of short-lived rulers and a year of civil wars. Galba was murdered by supporters of Otho, who was defeated by Vitellius. Otho’s supporters, looking for another candidate to support, settled on Vespasian.
According to Suetonius, a prophecy ubiquitous in the Eastern provinces claimed that from Judaea would come the future rulers of the world. Vespasian eventually believed that this prophecy applied to him, and found a number of omens, oracles and portents that reinforced this belief.
Although Vespasian was a strict disciplinarian and reformer of abuses, Vespasian’s soldiers were thoroughly devoted to him. All eyes in the East were now upon him.
Nevertheless, Vitellius occupied the throne and had the veteran Legions of Gallia and the Rhineland on his side. But the feelings in Vespasian’s favor quickly gathered strength, and the forces in Moesia, Pannonia and Illyricum soon declared for Vespasian.
This made him the de facto master of half of the Roman world.
While Vespasian himself was in Egypt securing its grain supply, his troops entered Italy from the northeast under the leadership of Marcus Antonius Primus. They defeated Vitellius’s army at Bedriacum, sacked Cremona and advanced on Rome.
Vitellius hastily arranged a peace with Antonius, but the Emperor’s Praetoriani forced him to retain his seat. After furious fighting, Antonius’ army entered Rome.
On receiving the tidings of his rival’s defeat and death at Alexandria, the new Emperor Vespasian at once forwarded supplies of urgently needed grain to Rome, along with an edict in which he gave assurance of an entire reversal of the laws of Nero.
Vespasian was declared Emperor by the Senate while he was in Egypt in December of AD 69. The Egyptians had declared him Emperor in June of the same year.
In the short-term, administration of the Empire was given to Mucianus who was aided by Vespasian’s son, Domitian. Mucianus started off Vespasian’s rule with tax reform that was to restore the Empire’s finances.
After Vespasian arrived in Rome in mid-70, Mucianus continued to press Vespasian to collect as many taxes as possible. Vespasian and Mucianus renewed old taxes and instituted new ones.
They increased the tribute of the provinces, and kept a watchful eye upon the treasury officials. The Latin proverb Pecunia non olet (Money does not smell) was created when Vespasian introduced a urine tax on public toilets.
When Vespasian first returned to Rome, in mid-70 AD, Vespasian immediately embarked on a series of efforts to stay in power and prevent future revolts. He offered gifts to many in the military and much of the public.
Soldiers loyal to Vitellius were dismissed or punished. He also restructured the orders of the Senators and Equites, removing his enemies and adding his allies.
Regional autonomy of Greek provinces was repealed. Additionally, he made significant attempts to control public perception of his rule.
Many modern historians note the increased amount of propaganda that appeared during Vespasian’s reign. Construction projects bore inscriptions praising Vespasian and condemning his predecessors.
Nearly 1/3 of all coins minted in Rome under Vespasian celebrated military victory or peace. The word vindex was removed from coins so as not to remind the public of rebellious Vindex.
Vespasian also gave financial rewards to writers. The ancient historians who lived through the period such as Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus and Pliny the Elder speak suspiciously well of Vespasian while condemning the Emperors who came before him.
Those who spoke against Vespasian were punished. A number of stoic philosophers were accused of corrupting students with inappropriate teachings and were expelled from Rome.
Between AD 71 and 79, much of Vespasian’s reign is a mystery. Historians report that Vespasian ordered the construction of several buildings in Rome. Additionally, he survived several conspiracies against him.
After the civil war, Vespasian helped rebuild Rome. He added the temple of Peace and the temple to the Deified Claudius.
In AD 75, Vespasian erected a colossal statue of Apollo, begun under Nero, and he dedicated a stage of the theater of Marcellus. He also began construction of the Amphitheatrum Flavium, aka the Colosseum, using funds from the spoils of the Jewish Temple after the Siege of Jerusalem.
Even with claims of constant conspiracies against Vespasian, only one conspiracy is known specifically. In AD 78 or 79, Eprius Marcellus and Aulus Caecina Alienus attempted to kill Vespasian but the reason why is unknown.
According to Suetonius’s The Lives of the Twelve Caesars: “At last, being taken ill of a diarrhea, to such a degree that he was ready to faint, he cried out, “An emperor ought to die standing upright.” In endeavoring to rise, he died in the hands of those who were helping him up, upon the eighth of the calends of July [24 June], being sixty-nine years, one month, and seven days old”.
Vespasian was known for his wit and his amiable manner alongside his commanding personality and military prowess. He could be liberal to impoverished Senators and equestrians and to cities and towns desolated by natural calamity.
He was especially generous to men of letters and rhetors, several of whom he pensioned with salaries of as much as 1,000 gold pieces a year. Quintilian is said to have been the first public teacher who enjoyed this imperial favor.
Vespasian distrusted philosophers in general, viewing them as unmanly complainers who talked too much. It was the idle talk of philosophers, who liked to glorify the good times of the Res Publica Romana, which provoked Vespasian into reviving the obsolete penal laws against this profession as a precautionary measure.
According to Suetonius, Vespasian bore the frank language of his friends, the quips of pleaders, and the impudence of the philosophers with the greatest patience. He was also noted for his benefactions to the people.
Much money was spent on public works and the restoration and beautification of Rome: a new forum, the Temple of Peace, the public baths and the great show piece, the Colosseum.
Vespasian debased the denarius during his reign, reducing the silver purity from 93.5% to 90%. The silver weight dropped from 0.105 ounces to 0.101 ounces.
In modern Romance languages, urinals are still named after him (for example, vespasiano in Italian, and vespasienne in French) in reference to a tax he placed on urine collection. Vespasian appears as the King of Paltisca in Saxo Grammaticus‘ Gesta Danorum.
Come back tomorrow to see what we have in store for you. Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!
Suetonius. The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Vespasian.
Cassius Dio. Roman History, Books 64, 65 and 66.
Flavius Josephus. The War of the Jews, Books 2, 3 and 4.
Lissner, I. Power and Folly: The Story of the Caesars. Jonathan Cape Ltd., London (1958).
Courtney, H. Vespasian. Routledge (1999). ISBN 0-415-16618-7.
Roberts, J. Vespasian. Oxford University Press (2007).
If any have offended against thee, consider first: What is my relation to men, and that we are made for one another; and in another respect, I was made to be set over them, as a ram over the flock or a bull over the herd. But examine the matter from first principles, from this: If all things are not mere atoms, it is nature which orders all things: if this is so, the inferior things exist for the sake of the superior, and these for the sake of one another.
So today we head back to Italy to discover the Historic Centre of Florence!
Florence was built on the site of an Etruscan settlement and the later Roman colonia of Florentia (founded in 59 BC). This Tuscan city became a symbol of the Renaissance during the early Medici period (between the 15th and the 16th Centuries), reaching extraordinary levels of economic and cultural development.
The Historic Centre of Florence can be perceived as a unique social and urban achievement, the result of persistent and long-lasting creativity, which includes museums, churches, buildings and artworks of immeasurable worth. Florence had an overwhelming influence on the development of architecture and the fine arts, first in Italy, and then in Europe.
It is within the context of Florence that the concept of the Renaissance came to be. This heritage bestows upon Florence unique historical and aesthetic qualities.
The present historic centre covers almost 1,248 acres and is bounded by the remains of the city’s 14th-Century Arnolfian walls. These walls are represented by surviving gates, towers and the 2 Medici strongholds: that of Saint John the Baptist in the north, popularly known as da Basso, and the Fort of San Giorgio del Belvedere located amongst the hills of the south side.
Seven hundred years of cultural and artistic blooming are tangible today in the 14th-Century Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Basilica di Santa Croce, the Palazzo Vecchio, the Galleria degli Uffizi and the Palazzo Pitti. The city’s history is further evident in the artistic works of great masters such as Giotto, Brunelleschi, Botticelli and Michelangelo.
The Historic Centre of Florence comprises all the elements necessary to express its Outstanding Universal Value. The city includes the Quadrilatero Romano, which is made up of the present Piazza della Repubblica, the narrow, cobblestone streets of the medieval city, and the Renaissance city.
The urban environment of the historic centre remains almost untouched and the surrounding hills provide a perfect harmonious backdrop. This landscape maintains its Tuscan features, adding to its value.
Many of the threats to the historic centre relate to the impact of mass tourism, such as urban traffic air pollution, and of the decreasing number of residents. Natural disasters, specifically the risk of floods, have been identified as a threat to the cultural heritage and landscape. The 2006 Management Plan addresses this concern by defining emergency measures to be taken in the case of flooding.
Unique Florentine handicraft and traditional shops in the historic centre are a concrete testimonial to the local past. Thus, they guarantee continuity for an outstanding tradition perpetuating the historical image of the city.
The Connection to Rome:
Florence was established by Lucius Cornelius Sulla in 80 BC as a settlement for his veteran soldiers and was named originally Fluentia, owing to the fact that it was built between 2 rivers. This was later corrupted to Florentia.
It was built in the style of an army camp with the main streets, the cardo and the decumanus, intersecting at the present Piazza della Repubblica. Situated at the Via Cassia, the main route between Rome and the north, and within the fertile valley of the Arno, the settlement quickly became an important commercial center.
We hope you enjoyed today’s visit to Florence. If this has inspired you to visit, don’t wait!
Ciao. Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!
Welcome to Rome Across Europe! The Romans did well in their own time, and much of what they accomplished still impacts us today.
We don’t dress in togae or tunicae anymore, but we still experience a lot of what they either created or perfected. From food & drink, to art & architecture, to military foresight & inventions, the Romans were busy folks.
Roman Law is the legal system of Ancient Rome, including Roman Military Jurisdiction and the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (754-449 BC), to the Corpus Juris Civilis (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I. The historical importance of Roman Law is reflected by the continued use of Latin legal terminology in legal systems influenced by it.
After the dissolution of the Western Roman Empire, the Justinian Code remained in effect in the Eastern Empire or Byzantine Empire (331–1453). From the 7th Century onward, the legal language in the East was Greek.
Roman Law also denotes the legal system applied in most of Western Europe until the end of the 18th Century. In Germany, Roman Law practice remained in place longer under the Holy Roman Empire (963–1806).
Roman Law served as a basis for legal practice throughout Western continental Europe, as well as in most former colonies of these European nations, including Latin America, and also in Ethiopia. English and North American Common Law were influenced also by Roman Law, notably in their Latinate legal glossary (for example: Stare Decisis, Culpa In Contrahendo, Pacta Sunt Servanda).
Eastern Europe was also influenced by the jurisprudence of the Corpus Juris Civilis, especially in countries such as medieval Romania which created a new system, a mixture of Roman and local law. Also, Eastern European law was influenced by the Farmer’s Law of the medieval Byzantine legal system.
Before the Twelve Tables, private law comprised the Roman Civil Law (Ius Civile Quiritium) that applied only to Roman citizens, and was bonded to religion. This civil law was undeveloped, with attributes of strict formalism, symbolism, and conservatism, e.g. the ritual practice of Mancipatio (a form of sale).
The Jurist Sextus Pomponius said, “At the beginning of our city, the people began their first activities without any fixed law, and without any fixed rights: all things were ruled despotically, by kings”. It is believed that Roman Law is rooted in the Etruscan religion, emphasizing ritual.
The foremost legal text is the Law of the Twelve Tables. The Plebeian Tribunus, C. Terentilius Arsa, proposed that the law should be written, in order to prevent Magistrates from applying the law arbitrarily.
After 8 years of political struggle, the plebeian social class convinced the Patricii to send a delegation to Athens, to copy the Laws of Solon. The Plebeians also dispatched delegations to other Greek cities for like reason.
In 451 BC, according to the traditional story, as told by Livy, 10 Roman citizens were chosen to record the laws (Decemviri Legibus Scribundis). While they were performing this task, they were given supreme political power (imperium), whereas the power of the Magistrates was restricted.
In 450 BC, the Decemviri produced the laws on 10 tablets (tabulae), but these laws were regarded as unsatisfactory by the plebeians. A second decemvirate is said to have added 2 further tablets in 449 BC, and thusly the new Law of the Twelve Tables was approved by the people’s assembly.
Many scholars consider it unlikely, however, that the patricians sent an official delegation to Greece, as the Roman historians believed. Instead, these scholars suggest the Romans acquired Greek legislations from the Greek cities of Magna Graecia, the main portal between the Roman and Greek worlds.
Sadly, the original text of the Twelve Tables has not been preserved. The tablets were probably destroyed when Rome was conquered and burned by the Gauls in 387 BC.
The fragments which did survive show that it was not a law code in the modern sense, rather the tables contained specific provisions designed to change the then-existing Customary Law. Although the provisions pertain to all areas of law, the largest part is dedicated to Private Law and civil procedure.
Many laws include Lex Canuleia (445 BC; which allowed the marriage, ius connubii, between patricians and plebeians), Leges Licinae Sextiae (367 BC; which made restrictions on possession of public lands, Ager Publicus, and also made sure that 1 of the 2 Consuls was Plebeian), Lex Ogulnia (300 BC; Plebeians received access to priest posts), and Lex Hortensia (287 BC; verdicts of Plebeian assemblies, Plebiscita, now bind all people).
Another important statute from the Republican era is the Lex Aquilia of 286 BC, which may be regarded as the root of modern Tort Law. However, Rome’s most important contribution to European legal culture was not the enactment of well-drafted statutes, but the emergence of a class of professional Jurists (Prudentes or Jurisprudentes) and of a legal science.
Traditionally, the origins of Roman legal science are connected to Gnaeus Flavius. Around 300 BC, Flavius is said to have published the formularies containing the words which had to be spoken in court to begin a legal action.
Before the time of Flavius, these formularies are said to have been secret and known only to the priests. Their publication made it possible for non-priests to explore the meaning of these legal texts.
In the period from roughly 201 to 27 BC we can see the development of more flexible laws to match the needs of the time. In addition to the old and formal ius civile a new juridical class is created.
The Ius Honorarium can be defined as “The law introduced by the Magistrates who had the right to promulgate edicts in order to support, supplement or correct the existing law.” With this new law the old formalism is being abandoned and new more flexible principles of Ius Gentium are used.
The adaptation of law to new needs was given over to juridical practice, to Magistrates, and especially to the Praetores. Since a Praetor was not a legislator and did not technically create new law when he issued his edicts (Magistratuum Edicta), the results of his rulings enjoyed legal protection (Actionem Dare) and were in effect often the source of new legal rules.
A Praetor‘s successor was not bound by the edicts of his predecessor, but he did take rules from previous edicts that had proved to be useful. In this way a constant content was created that proceeded from edict to edict (Edictum Traslatitium).
Over the course of time, parallel to the Civil Law and supplementing and correcting it, a new body of praetoric law emerged. In fact, praetoric law was so defined by the famous Roman Jurist Amilius Papinianus (Papinian):
Ius praetorium est quod praetores introduxerunt adiuvandi vel supplendi vel corrigendi iuris civilis gratia propter utilitatem publicam.
(Praetoric Law is that law introduced by praetors to supplement or correct Civil Law for public benefit).
Ultimately, Civil Law and Praetoric Law were fused in the Corpus Juris Civilis.
The opening 250 years of the current era are the period during which Roman Law and Roman legal science reached its greatest degree of sophistication is considered Classical Roman Law. The literary and practical achievements of the Jurists of this period gave Roman Law its unique shape.
The Jurists worked in different functions such as: giving legal opinions at the request of private parties; advising Magistrates who were entrusted with the administration of justice; helping Praetores draft edicts; or even holding high judicial and administrative offices themselves.
The jurists also produced all kinds of legal punishments. Around AD 130 the Jurist Salvius Iulianus drafted a standard form of the Praetor’s edict, which was used by all Praetors from that time onwards.
The edict contained detailed descriptions of all cases, in which the praetor would allow a legal action and in which he would grant a defense. The standard edict thus functioned like a comprehensive law code, even though it did not formally have the force of law.
The edict became the basis for extensive legal commentaries by later classical jurists like Paulus and Domitius Ulpianus. The new concepts and legal institutions developed by pre-classical and classical jurists are too numerous to mention here. Only a few examples are given here:
Roman Jurists clearly separated the legal right to use a thing (ownership) from the factual ability to use and manipulate the thing (possession). They also found the distinction between contract and tort as sources of legal obligations.
The standard types of contract (sale, contract for work, hire, contract for services) regulated in most continental codes and the characteristics of each of these contracts were developed by Roman jurisprudence.
The classical Jurist Gaius (around 160) invented a system of private law based on the division of all material into personae (persons), res (things) and actiones (legal actions). This system was used for many centuries. It can be recognized in legal treatises like William Blackstone‘s Commentaries on the Laws of England and enactments like the French Code civil or the German BGB.
By the middle of the 3rd Century AD the conditions for the flourishing of a refined legal culture had become less favorable. The general political and economic situation deteriorated as the Emperors assumed more direct control of all aspects of political life.
The political system of the principate, which had retained some features of the republican constitution, began to transform itself into the absolute monarchy of the dominate. The existence of a legal science and of jurists did not fit well into the new order of things.
While legal science and legal education persisted to some extent in the eastern part of the Empire, most of the subtleties of Classical Law came to be disregarded and finally forgotten in the west. Classical Law was replaced by so-called Vulgar Law.
Ius Civile – Citizen Law (originally Ius Civile Quiritium) was the body of common laws that applied to Roman citizens and the Praetores Urbani, the individuals who had jurisdiction over cases involving citizens.
Ius Gentium – The Law of Peoples was the body of common laws that applied to foreigners, and their dealings with Roman citizens. The Praetores Peregrini were the individuals who had jurisdiction over cases involving citizens and foreigners.
The Ius Scriptum was the body of statute laws made by the legislature. The laws were known as leges (laws) and plebiscita (originating in the Plebeian Council).
Ius non Scriptum was the body of common laws that arose from customary practice and had become binding over time.
Ius Commune – General or Ordinary Law
Ius Singulare – Singular Law was a special law for certain groups of people, things, or legal relations. Because of the uniqueness it is an exception from the general rules of the legal system, unlike Ius Commune.
An example of this is the law about wills written by people in the military during a campaign, which are exempt of the solemnities generally required for citizens when writing wills in normal circumstances.
Ius Publicum – Public Law was meant to protect the interests of the Roman state. In Roman Law, Ius Privatum included personal, property, civil and criminal law.
Public law will only include some areas of private law close to the end of the Roman state. Ius Publicum was also used to describe obligatory legal regulations, today called Ius Cogens. This term is applied in modern international law to indicate peremptory norms that cannot be derogated from.
The Roman Republic’s constitution or Mos Maiorum (Custom of the Ancestors) was not formal or even official. It was an unwritten set of guidelines and principles passed down mainly through precedent, and it was constantly evolving throughout the life of the Republic.
Concepts that originated in the Roman constitution live on in constitutions to this day. Examples include the following: Checks and Balances, the Separation of Powers, Vetoes, Filibusters, Quorum requirements, Term Limits, Impeachments, Powers of the Purse and regularly scheduled Elections. Even some lesser used modern constitutional concepts, such as the block voting found in the Electoral College of the United States, originate from ideas found in the Roman constitution.
Throughout the 1st Century BC, the power and legitimacy of the Roman constitution was progressively eroding. Even Roman constitutionalists, such as the Senator Cicero, lost a willingness to remain faithful to it towards the end of the Republic.
When the Roman Republic ultimately fell in the years following the Battle of Actium and Mark Antony‘s suicide, what was left of the Roman constitution died along with the Republic. The first Roman Emperor, Augustus, attempted to manufacture the appearance of a constitution that still governed the Empire.
The belief in a surviving constitution lasted well into the life of the Imperium Rōmānum.
Ius Privatum – Private Law was to protect individuals. Judicial proceeding was private process and crimes were private, except the most severe ones that were prosecuted by the state.
Stipulatio was the basic form of contract in Roman Law. It was made in the format of question and answer. The precise nature of the contract was disputed, as can be seen below.
Rei vindicatio is a legal action by which the plaintiff demands that the defendant return a thing that belongs to the plaintiff. It may only be used when plaintiff owns the thing, and the defendant is somehow impeding the plaintiff’s possession of the thing. The plaintiff could also institute an actio furti (a personal action) to punish the defendant. If the thing could not be recovered, the plaintiff could claim damages from the defendant with the aid of the Condictio Furtiva (a personal action). With the aid of the Actio Legis Aquiliae (a personal action), the plaintiff could claim damages from the defendant. Rei Vindicatio was derived from the Ius Civile, therefore was only available to Roman citizens.
To describe a person’s position in the legal system, Romans mostly used the expression togeus. The individual could have been a Roman citizen (Status Civitatis) unlike foreigners, or he could have been free (Status Libertatis) unlike slaves, or he could have had a certain position in a Roman family (Status Familiae) either as the head of the family (Pater Familias), or some lower member.
The history of Roman Law can be divided into 3 systems of procedure: Legis actiones, Formulary System and Cognitio Extra Ordinem. The periods in which these systems were in use overlapped one another and did not have definitive breaks, but it can be stated that the Legis Actio system prevailed from the time of the Twelve Tables (754 BC) until about the end of the 2nd Century BC.
The Formulary System was primarily used from the last century of the Republic until the end of the classical period (c. AD 200), and that of Cognitio Extra Ordinem was in use in post-classical times. Again, these dates are meant as a tool to help understand the types of procedure in use, not as a rigid boundary where one system stopped and another began.
During the Republic and until the bureaucratization of Roman judicial procedure, the judge was usually a private person (Iudex Privatus). He had to be a Roman male citizen. The parties could agree on a judge, or they could appoint one from a list, called Album Iudicum.
They went down the list until they found a judge agreeable to both parties, or if none could be found they had to take the last one on the list. No one had a legal obligation to judge a case.
Because the judge was not a jurist or a legal technician, he often consulted a jurist about the technical aspects of the case, but he was not bound by the jurist’s reply. At the end of the litigation, if things were not clear to him, he could refuse to give a judgment, by swearing that it wasn’t clear.
Also, there was a maximum time to issue a judgment, which depended on some technical issues (type of action, etc.). Later on, with the bureaucratization, this procedure disappeared, and was substituted by the so-called “extra ordinem” procedure.
The whole case was reviewed before a magistrate, in a single phase. The magistrate had obligation to judge and to issue a decision, and the decision could be appealed to a higher magistrate.
When the center of the Empire was moved to the Greek East in the 4th Century, many legal concepts of Greek origin appeared in the official Roman legislation. The influence is visible even in the law of persons or of the family, which is traditionally the part of the law that changes least.
For example, Constantine started putting restrictions on the ancient Roman concept of Patria Potestas, the power held by the male head of a family over his descendents, by acknowledging that persons In Potestate, the descendents, could have proprietary rights.
The Codes of Justinian, particularly the Corpus Juris Civilis (529-534) continued to be the basis of legal practice in the Empire throughout its so-called Byzantine history. Leo III the Isaurian issued a new code, the Ecloga, in the early 8th Century.
In the 9th Century, the Emperors Basil I and Leo VI the Wise commissioned a combined translation of the Code and the Digest, parts of Justinian’s Codes, into Greek, which became known as the Basilika.
Roman Law as preserved in the codes of Justinian and in the Basilika remained the basis of legal practice in Greece and in the courts of the Eastern Orthodox Church even after the fall of the Byzantine Empire and the conquest by the Turks, and also formed the basis for much of the Fetha Negest, which remained in force in Ethiopia until 1931.
In the West, Justinian’s political authority never went any farther than certain portions of the Italian and Hispanic peninsulas. Law codes were issued by the Germanic kings.
However, the influence of early Eastern Roman codes on some of these is quite discernible. In many early Germanic states, Roman citizens continued to be governed by Roman laws for quite some time, even while members of the various Germanic tribes were governed by their own respective codes.
The Codex Justinianus and the Institutes of Justinian were known in Western Europe, and along with the earlier code of Theodosius II, served as models for a few of the Germanic law codes. However, the Digest portion was largely ignored for several centuries until around 1070, when a manuscript of the Digest was rediscovered in Italy.
This was done mainly through the works of glossars who wrote their comments between lines (glossa interlinearis), or in the form of marginal notes (glossa marginalis). From that time, scholars began to study the ancient Roman legal texts, and to teach others what they learned from their studies.
The center of these studies was Bologna. The law school there gradually developed into Europe’s first university.
Students who were taught Roman Law in Bologna, and later in many other places, found that many rules of Roman Law were better suited to regulate complex economic transactions than were the customary rules, which were applicable throughout Europe.
For this reason, Roman Law, or at least some provisions borrowed from it, began to be re-introduced into legal practice, centuries after the end of the Roman Empire. This process was actively supported by many kings and princes who employed university-trained jurists as counselors and court officials and sought to benefit from rules like the famous Princeps legibus solutus est (The sovereign is not bound by the laws), a phrase initially coined by Roman jurist Ulpian.
Roman Law was favored in the Middle Ages because it regulated the legal protection of property and the equality of legal subjects and their wills, and because it prescribed the possibility that the legal subjects could dispose their property through testament.
By the middle of the 16th Century, the rediscovered Roman Law dominated the legal practice of many European countries. A legal system, in which Roman Law was mixed with elements of Canon Law and of Germanic custom, especially Feudal Law, had emerged.
This legal system, which was common to all of continental Europe and Scotland, was known as Ius Commune. This Ius Commune and the legal systems based on it are usually referred to as Civil Law in English-speaking countries.
Only England and the Nordic countries did not take part in the wholesale reception of Roman Law. One reason for this is that the English legal system was more developed than its continental counterparts by the time Roman Law was rediscovered.
Therefore, the practical advantages of Roman Law were less obvious to English practitioners than to continental lawyers. As a result, the English system of Common Law developed in parallel to Roman-based Civil Law, with its practitioners being trained at the Inns of Court in London rather than receiving degrees in Canon or Civil Law at the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge.
Elements of Romano-Canon Law were present in England in the ecclesiastical courts and through the development of the equity system. In the early 19th Century concepts from Roman Law made their way into the common law, especially when English lawyers and judges were willing to borrow rules and ideas from continental jurists and directly from Roman Law.
The practical application of Roman Law and the era of the European Ius Commune came to an end, when national codifications were made. In 1804, the French civil code came into force.
In the course of the 19th Century, many European states either adopted the French model or drafted their own codes. In Germany, the political situation made the creation of a national code of laws impossible.
From the 17th Century, Roman Law in Germany had been heavily influenced by domestic law, and it was called Usus Modernus Pandectarum. In some parts of Germany, Roman Law continued to be applied until the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, BGB) came into force in 1900.
Colonial expansion spread the civil law system.
Today, Roman Law is no longer applied in legal practice, even though the legal systems of some states like South Africa and San Marino are still based on the old Ius Commune. However, even where the legal practice is based on a code, many rules deriving from Roman Law apply.
No code completely broke with the Roman tradition. Rather, the provisions of Roman Law were fitted into a more coherent system and expressed in the national language.
For this reason, knowledge of Roman Law is indispensable to understand the legal systems of today. Thus, Roman Law is often still a mandatory subject for law students in civil law jurisdictions.
As steps towards a unification of the private law in the member states of the European Union are being taken, the old Ius Commune, which was the common basis of legal practice everywhere, but allowed for many local variants, is seen by many as a model.
For anyone else that got this far, we thank you for sticking it out and wanting to expand your mind. Thanks for stopping by.
Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!
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