The origins of Roman civilization are shrouded in mystery. The Romans themselves had several myths to explain their beginnings. Many believed that the origin of Rome lies with a mysterious set of twins named Romulus and Remus. According to legend, around the year 753 BC, the twins were abandoned by their mother, Rhea Silvia, and were floated down the Tiber River, to the place where Rome was founded, and were raised by a she-wolf. Ultimately, Romulus would kill his brother Remus, and would become the first great king of Rome. Another myth, told by Virgil in the Aeneid, traces Roman origins back even farther, to the time of Achilles and Hector and the fall of Troy. In this version of the story, a young Trojan boy named Aeneas escapes the sack of Troy, and over the course of many years travels the Mediterranean in search of a new home for the displaced Trojans. Aeneas, after many adventures, settles along the Tiber River, and it is asserted by Virgil that Romulus and Remus are descendants of Aeneas. Neither of these myths can be substantiated by any physical evidence, and the existence of all three mythical characters is highly doubtful.
What can be substantiated is that the site of the city of Rome was settled around the time that Romulus and Remus are recorded as having founded the city. The original settlement was nothing more than a series of primitive huts, and who the original Romans actually were is also very mysterious. Most of the earliest settlements are found on the Capitoline Hill (Collis Capitolinus), one of the seven main hills located in Rome. It is from these origins that the Roman Monarchy begins.
Rome under the rule of the monarchs was still in its fledgling infancy, and was in many ways dominated by the great Etruscan civilization to the north. Almost all of its kings, though many are possibly fictional, took Etruscan names. The Roman kings, in order, are Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, Ancus Marcius, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius, and Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. The monarchs of Rome were not the supreme rulers that many associate with absolute monarchy. Even at this early stage there was a Senate, which held in check the powers of the king. Kingship in Rome was not a hereditary institution. Traditionally, Roman kings were succeeded by their sons-in-law, that is the men who married into their families by wedding their daughters. This process could be interrupted, however, as the Senate could nominate an interrex, of intermediary monarch who would then nominate someone for the position of king. This nominee was submitted to the Comitia Curiata, an assembly of the people who would vote and then pass their findings on to the Senate, whose vote on the nominee would decide whether he would become king. The process was not always as lawful as this, however. Several times in early Roman history, kings were overthrown, and replaced by new kings.
The greatest achievements of the kings were the expansion of Roman hegemony to the outlying areas of the city, and the draining of the swamplands that surrounded the hills of Rome. The city expanded and grew in influence under their guidance. The final Roman king, Tarquin II, or Tarquin “the Superb,” was responsible for the construction of the Cloaca Maxima, or Great Sewer. This sewage system would remain functional well beyond the fall of the Western Empire almost 1000 years later.
Tarquin II was a despotic king, however. He had used violence and treachery to gain the throne, and subsequently rescinded a constitutional law by the Senate to obtain more power for himself. His son’s rape of a prominent Roman noblewoman, Lucretia, lead to a popular revolt against the Tarquins, and their exile to Etruria. This ended the monarchy in Roman history, and ushered in the new era of Roman civilization, the Republic!
The new Republican government was the result of vast political changes in Roman life. First and most importantly, the position of king was entirely abandoned, and the power in Rome was now vested in the Senate. The Senate had several key positions of power, the foremost of which being the consulship. The Senate followed the practices of annuality, or rather the stipulation that the position of consul be obtained by one man for only a one year term, and collegiality, which stated that there must be two consuls who would have equal veto rights over the decisions of the other consul. This prevented the power from becoming too concentrated into one man’s hands. During military operations, both consuls would exercise command of the army, alternating days on which they were in overall command. As the Senate matured, other positions of lesser power began to emerge. The Praetorship, for example, was begin in 356 BC, and was originally a sort of third consulship. Ultimately, by the late Republic, the Senate would have 8 Praetors, and over 20 Quaestors. Early in the history of the Republic, the office of dictator was created, to be filled only in times of military emergencies. The dictator could either be a consul himself, or someone that one of the consuls nominated and was approved by the Senate. The dictator served for a period of six months, and had supreme command of the Roman army. There could only be one dictator at a time, and he had to abide by his term of six months.
The original Senate was comprised entirely of the Roman noble class, commonly known as patricians. These patricians formed the Roman elite, and ruled with little regard for the lower classes of Romans, or plebians. The Roman class structure was ancestral and it was inherited through the generations. Conflict between the two classes was commonplace in the early days of the Republic, sometimes growing so heated that the entire plebian class would pack up and move outside the city until the Senate or patricians bowed to their demands. A series of clashes between the patricians and plebians would lead to the plebians gaining control of much of Roman legislation. They originally elected two Tribunes, or plebian officers, who would be sacred to the plebians and would speak for them in the Senate. Later, there came to be ten Tribunes. Finally, after many secessions, the patricians awarded them the Concilium Plebis, or Council of the Plebians, which had the power to bind laws to both the patricians and the plebs. Thus, the plebians had found power in the Roman Republic.
Until the 4th Century BC, Rome remained a small, if influential, city state, almost exclusively limited to the land surrounding the city, and leading west towards the port of Ostia on the Tyrrhenian Sea. The Romans saw their first limited expansion at the expense of the neighboring city-state of Veii, who they defeated in a lengthy war in 396 BC. Six short years later, however, Rome suffered a disaster that in many ways shapes the historical record of Rome prior to that event. In 390 BC, a Gallic chieftain by the name of Brennus made his way south and attacked the Romans along the Allia River, north of Rome. This battle was a disaster of unmitigated proportions for the Romans, whose army gave way when the young men on their right flank routed under the Gallic attack. The Gauls then easily sacked the defenseless city of Rome, and destroyed all Roman records, among other things. This in large part explains why Roman history prior to 390 remains so mysterious to scholars. Brennus occupied the city for a lengthy period of time, ultimately leaving after taking 1,000 pounds of gold and suffering from a plague as a result of not burying the dead of the campaign. He was also harried away from the city by a relief army under Marcus Furius Camillus.
As a result of this disaster, the city of Rome was fortified with much thicker and sturdier walls. Roman military organization would undergo rapid and radical reforms. The phalanx would eventually be abandoned once and for all, and new armor and weapons adopted for the legions. The typical deployment of a Roman legion would be altered to become what we know it as today; the young men, or Hastati, in front; the principes, or older men, in a second supporting line, and finally the elder veterans, or Triarii, in a reserve line. Rome would not be sacked by invaders again for almost a millennia.
The Roman response to the Gallic attack was remarkable, and before long they were once again fighting to expand their nascent Republic. Wars with the Latins and Sabines neighboring Rome were not uncommon. Towards the middle of the 4th Century, Rome faced a new enemy, this time to the south: the Samnites. The Samnites were a confederation of four central Italic tribes, the Pentri, the Caraceni, the Caudini, and the Hirpini. They were viciously effective warriors, and at their greatest expanse they occupied land on both coasts of the Italian Peninsula. Their first treaty with Rome came in 354 BC, but tensions soon arose as Rome continually expanded southward. Rome fought three great wars against the Samnites, the first one beginning in 343 BC as a result of Roman alliance with the city of Capua. The war lasted until 341, with neither side gaining any noticeable advantage.
The Second Samnite War was a long and bloody struggle fought over three decades, from 327 to 304 BC. It began when the Romans established a colony at Fregellae, in Samnite controlled territory. This increased tensions, so that when Rome declared war on the Greek colony of Neapolis, the Samnites came to the assistance of the Greek colonists. The war was evenly fought until Rome suffered another fateful reverse on the battlefield. This reverse was dealt by a Samnite army under Gaius Pontius at what is known as the Battle of Caudine Forks. The Samnite commander, Pontius, succeeded in tricking the Roman army into marching through a narrow pass at Caudine where escape was possible through only two narrow defiles. When the Romans passed through one of the defiles, they quickly found the next defile blocked by Samnite warriors, and turned around to discover more Samnites had trapped them in by blocking the other defile. A crisis then arose as to what the Samnites should do to these trapped Romans. Pontius was given advice by several others, some of whom argued for him to free all the Romans, others for him to slaughter them to a man. Pontius chose the middle route, and offered the Romans a humiliating offer of surrender, which the Romans accepted. The Romans marched in shame back to Rome, but by 316 they were back campaigning against the Samnites. By 304, yearly invasions of Samnium were commonplace, and Rome was gaining the advantage in the Romano-Samnite conflict. Peace arrived that year, but it was a peace both sides knew would not last.
The inter-war period between the Second and Third Samnite Wars were a time where Roman expansion began to have effect on the complexities and routines of Roman life. During this six year period, the first Roman aqueduct, the aqua Appia, was constructed. This is clear evidence that the population of Rome had grown too large to be accommodated by the local water resources. Another great public works project was begun, the famous Via Appia, or Appian Way, the great Roman road that would eventually transverse most of Italy. In its original state, the Via Appia was meant to be a military highway, used to move troops efficiently towards the Samnite front. Also during this period, Rome flexed her military muscles and showed that she had the capacity to wage wars on two fronts and against many enemies. Roman armies sacked many Etruscan towns in this age, reaching as far north as Arretium. To the south and east, the Romans annihilated the local Aequi and Hernici tribes. Everywhere was evidenced the fact that Rome was in the ascendant.
The final showdown with the Samnites would begin in 298. Hostilities began this time as a result of Roman actions in Lucania, and the Samnites this time had many allies to support them, as a result of Roman expansion in the region. The Samnites had a confederation of Etruscans, Gauls, and Umbrians to support them in this war, unlike the previous wars which had been exclusively Roman versus Samnite affairs. As a result of this confederation, the stakes in this war had been raised to most of central Italy. The war went well for Rome right from the start. In 295, the consuls defeated the allied forces at Sentium in Umbria. This loss proved catastrophic, and Rome went on to finish off the Samnites at Aquilonia in 291. The war ended in 290 with Rome either controlling all of central Italy, or ruling it through proxy by allied states now under Roman military occupation.
This Roman dominance of the peninsula lead to their increased attention in areas surrounding those they already controlled. Rome’s greatest challenge yet would be found as a result of their aspirations for dominance of southern Italy, specifically the city of Tarentum. Tarentum was a city of Greek colonial origin, and in the late 4th Century it was experiencing some diplomatic issues with its northern neighbors, the Romans. As a result of the falling out of Tarentum from Roman favor, the Tarentines enlisted the aid of the King of Epirus: Pyrrhus Aikedes. Pyrrhus was widely considered to be the greatest military genius of his day, and he sailed to Italy in 280 with a vast army of 26,000 men, including 19 war elephants.
The Pyrrhic war would ultimately bring Rome to the world stage by 272 BC, but in 280, they still had a long way to go to get there. In 280, the Romans amassed 80,000 men in legionary and auxiliary forces and separated them into four armies to confront the new threats. One army would occupy Samnium, since there was great threat that the Samnites would move to join Pyrrhus. Another army was sent directly to intercept Pyrrhus in southern Italy, and the other two armies marched against the Etruscans and secured Rome, respectively. The army under Publius Laevinus, a consul that year, that had been sent to intercept Pyrrhus, was badly beaten at the battle of Heraclea. The battle began well enough for the Romans, but when Pyrrhus committed his war elephants and his elite Thessalian cavalrymen to the battle, the Romans gave way. Pyrrhus then marched almost all the way to Rome, pillaging as he went, and was finally met by another Roman army two days march from the city itself. In the face of this threat, he withdrew.
The Romans pursued him south into Campania and Samnium the next year, and the two forces met once again at Asculum. Both Pyrrhus and the Romans had about 40,000 soldiers, but Pyrrhus had the advantage in cavalry, as well as his war elephants. By this time, the Romans had devised some methods of anti-elephant warfare, and were eager to test them against the elephants that had caused so much destruction at Heraclea. Also at this battle, Pyrrhus had managed to gain some Italian Greek and Samnite auxiliaries to his army, and would deploy them in light formations so as to balance the inflexibility of his phalanx against the flexibility of the legions. The first day of battle consisted mostly of light infantry contact with the Epirotes and Greeks pushing the Romans back into a steep wooded hill by dusk. Once again, Pyrrhus’ elephants had been crucial. The second day of battle saw a battle very similar to that at Heraclea: an even fight between the infantry of both sides, but the war elephants yet again being the crucial deciding factor, followed up by a cavalry charge that broke the Roman formations. The victory, as at Heraclea, had been tough to bear for Pyrrhus, who is reputed to have said “One more such victory and we are finished.” Following his “Pyrrhic victory” he withdrew south, and no more battles were fought with the Romans until 275.
Growing weary of the war in Italy, Pyrrhus fought one last battle against the persistent Romans at Beneventum. This battle was fought in a manner strikingly similar to those he had fought before against the Romans, but this time, he lacked his Samnite and Greek allies, and his elephants were turned against him by Roman anti-elephant tactics. Despite the battle ultimately ending in a draw, he decided that the time had come for him to leave Italy, and in so doing he surrendered the fates of Southern Italians to be conquered by the Romans.
Thus, by 272, Rome is just entering her prime. She has just completed the conquest of large portions of the Italian peninsula. She has survived a disaster most other city-states would have succumbed to in 390. She fought three long and bloody wars against a tough and determined Italian enemy for a half century. Finally, she had defeated in a war of attrition perhaps the greatest general the world had seen since the time of Alexander. She now stood astride the Italian peninsula and for the first time, looked outward upon the vastness of the Mediterranean, and saw a world that she would one day rule. Within a decade, she would be at war with the greatest enemy she would perhaps ever face: Carthage. The wars she had just fought with the Samnites and with Pyrrhus would prove that she was ready for that war.
Though Carthage had been brought to cow, and her resources taxed to their limits to satisfy Roman indemnities, Hamilcar Barca single-handedly revived its spirit. Independent of the Carthaginian Senate, Hamilcar had moved into Iberia, conquering much of Southern Iberia. With Hamilcar's death in combat, his son-in-law Hasdrubal the Handsome would take up where he left off, furthering Carthaginian interests in the peninsula enormously. Despite establishing a stable relationship with most of Carthage's client Iberian tribes, and expanding the territory under its direct administration, Hasdrubal was ill equipped to resist the assassin's blade when it found him in his capital at Cartagena.
With Hasdrubal the Handsome dead, the eldest natural son of Hamilcar inherited the vast Barca fortune in Iberia as well as his brother-in-law's command of the Carthaginian army, through the almost unanimous acclamation of the army itself. Having secured the support of his brother's forces and the blessing of the Carthaginian Senate, Hannibal began his career by consolidating his people's holdings in Iberia - with great success. When Hannibal first moved against Rome, all of Iberia South of the River Ebro, and much of it to the North, was in Carthaginian hands.
In Rome, the Senate was overly ambivalent to the events in Iberia, and when Hannibal attacked her allies in Saguntum... no military response was sent. Rome was once more at war with the Carthaginian trading empire, and not a single legion was on foot even in the same continent. Though Rome had learned a lesson from Regulus' gamble in North Africa, they would need to reorder their thoughts to secure Carthage's defeat. For the moment though, no such thing occurred, and Hannibal's march towards Italy was entirely unopposed by Roman arms.
Response to Hannibal's march came late, only challenging him at the River Ticinus, where his greatly reduced army of now 26,000 Iberians and Africans defeated the Romans. Falling back from this relative skirmish, the Roman Consular Army under the direct command of the two Senate Consuls was lured into combat, and defeated yet again - this time with enormous casualties, which would include the two Consuls. With a significant victory over a better equipped Roman army to his name, Hannibal gained the support of 24,000 Gauls and rebellious Italians in the North.
To deal with the defeat, the Roman Senate elected Gaius Flaminius as Consul, and dispatched him to ambush Hannibal. The Carthaginian general was warned of the ambush, however, and marched completely around the new Consular army. Giving chase to Hannibal, Flaminius' forces were completely destroyed in what is historically regarded as one of the most amazing ambushes of all time, at the Battle of Lake Tresimene. This defeat brought a great deal of concern to Rome, and the newly appointed dictator resolved on a new approach to defeating the Carthaginian army, namely one of non-engagement. The dictator Fabius believed that if he avoided direct engagements with Hannibal, that he could eventually contain and starve out his army, which he nearly succeeded at doing. Unfortunately for the Roman armies, the Senate demanded swifter results, and two new Consuls were elected to command a massive army of nearly 100,000 soldiers. When these two Consuls met Hannibal on the field at Cannae, he encircled their troops, and destroyed all but a few thousand of them.
Realizing their precarious situation in Italy itself, Rome was content to renew the war on their own terms in Iberia - which was initially done with great success. General Gnaeus Scipio had presently won a great many victories in the peninsula, depriving Carthage of many of their local allies and resources. Despite this great initial success, Scipio's army was completely routed by Hannibal's brothers in Iberia. Regardless of this defeat, Rome believed that victory lay in Iberia, so Scipio's son Publius was dispatched there to take up his campaigns. Within a year of his arrival in Iberia, Scipio had conquered Carthage's capital there, leading Hannibal's brother Hasdrubal to attempt a union with him in Italy. Hasdrubal attempted to emulate Hannibal in his march through the North, an effort in which he was successful, but his eventually defeat in the Po Valley was as devastating as any of his elder brother's victories.
With Carthaginian power in Iberia broken, and the Roman Senate unwilling to engage Hannibal in Italy, Scipio was permitted to raise an army in the newly acquired Sicilian territories for a direct engagement on Carthaginian soil. With his armies well equipped and trained, Scipio moved swiftly into Carthage where he quickly laid siege to Utica - defeating two Carthaginian armies put on foot to oppose him. In response to the Carthaginian Senate's plea for aid, Hannibal quickly returned in a launching that is known in and of itself for its incredible speed and efficiency. Arriving in Carthage, Hannibal received some new elephants and infantry to supplement his largely Gallic and Italian army. When Scipio met Hannibal at the Battle of Zama, his heavier infantry and new wing of Numidian cavalry destroyed the outclassed Carthaginians. Having destroyed the most fearsome opponent Rome had ever faced, the Senate was only too happy to impose enormous war indemnities on the suffering Empire, restricting its territory and forbidding it to make war independently.
Rome had conquered the oldest West Mediterranean Empire, as well as the Illyrians and Macedonians, and finally moved into Asia Minor. This swift series of conquests placed Rome in the most secure position in its early history, doubling its territory in the process, and creating numerous new provinces. With such a list of victories to their name, the Romans would forever be addicted to conquest. Before they could proceed on their greatest ventures of conquest however, Rome would face her first civil war.
In Gaul, the campaigns of Julius Caesar had destroyed Vercingetorix's massive tribal alliance, bringing a vast new track of territory into Roman control and a valuable political coin into Caesar's hands. To secure his power and prestige before his assault on Gaul, Caesar had formed the first triumvirate in Roman history, with the wealthy and locally influential Crassus, and the popular general Pompey. When Caesar returned from his conquest, Crassus had been defeated and killed during a campaign in Parthia, and Pompey had raised an army with the Senate to oppose the entrance of the ambitious Caesar. Pompey and the Senate army were defeated, and the general fled the peninsula, and would eventually die at the hands of a Ptolemaic King offering him refuge.
When Caesar returned to Rome after chasing Pompey across the Mediterranean, he was "pressed" into serving as the Roman dictator for life. Believing that he would abolish the Senate and oppress the Roman people, a coalition of Senators assassinated him on the Senate floor. With Caesar dead, two of the Senators, Cassius and Brutus, fled to Philipi in Asia Minor with their personal armies to oppose Caesar's friend Marc Antony and his adopted son Octavian. In the ensuing battle, both of the Senatorial faction leaders were killed, leaving Octavian to dominate Roman politics and Marc Antony to flee to Egypt in fear of them - despite their former alliance. Octavian quickly defeated the Egyptian fleet, and invaded their mainland, leading the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, and her new lover Marc Antony, to commit suicide. After Antony's death, the age of the Roman empire began, when Octatvian was renamed Augustus and declared Imperator.
Under the rule of Augustus Caesar, Roman power was secured completely in Iberia, Gaul, Egypt, Germania, and Dacia. When Augustus died, he was succeeded by the variously incompetent, shortsighted, or insane Emperors Tiberus, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. After these men had been rapidly deposed in succession, the Emperor Vespasian came to rule, following his quick defeat of weak rivals in Italy. His rule led to a solid reform of the empire's finances and an even greater reform of the military, that spread the legionary auxiliaries of different Roman provinces across the entire breadth of the Empire - to discourage aid to local rebellions that had previously plagued the Eastern provinces prior to his ascendancy. Despite his vigorous reforms, Vespasian was an older man, and he left the empire to his son Titus after only ten years on the throne.
Titus' rule was even shorter though, and after two years of rebuilding Rome from the disastrous fire under his distant predecessors, he died mysteriously at the age of 41 - to be succeeded by his brother Domitian. Domitian's unfortunately long rule of 15 years was characterized by popular bribery with great civic spectacles, and later incredible paranoia, as well as illegal arrests and executions. Fortunately his rule was cut short, when a conspiracy amongst his family and advisors led to his murder.
After Domitian's death, the next century was one of incredible prosperity in Rome and one of unusually smooth Imperial successions. Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antonius, and Marcus Aurelius all succeeded to the throne within their successor's lifetimes and reigned over the largest extent of Rome's borders in its entire history. Despite growth, prosperity, and a reinvigorated military institution, when Marcus Aurelius' son Commodus began his reign, it began its collapse. Under Commodus, most institutions were renamed for him, and after a fortunately short rule of little more then a decade, he was strangled to death in his sleep.
Commodus' death ushered in a new and unstable dynasty of rulers that would preside over the eventual collapse of the Romans. The founder of the new dynasty was Septimus Severus, a leading nobleman from the Roman city of Leptis Magna on the Libyan coast, who rose to prominence through a family marriage to a prominent Syrian family. After Septimus' death, the only other notable Severian Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus took the throne, and granted Roman citizenship to all peoples of the provinces, effectively equalizing the ethnic classes within the Empire. Antoninus was succeeded rapidly by Macrinus, Elagabalus, and Alexander Severus whose cumulative reigns lasted less then a decade.
When Alexander Severus died, the Roman Empire nearly collapsed, during a period in which more then three dozen Emperors reigned in various different parts of the Empire. Each one rose into the ascendancy through local political prominence, and fell out of it after singular defeat in battle or the minor political machinations of their superior rivals. After this year long period, the Emperor Diocletian was briefly the single Emperor of the Romans, but wouldn't retain the position for long. Realizing that the Empire was effectively ungovernable as a single unit, with so many enemies on so many fronts, he divided the Empire and placed his long time friend Maxinian as the Emperor of the East. After a few years of rule, Maxinian abdicated to a relative Galerius, and Diocletian to Maxentius - though the later was now at odds with the other Roman Empire. In the confusion leading up to the final rule of Lucinius in the West, Carthage was ruled as an independent empire under Domitius Alexander, whose son had been threatened by the challenged West Roman Emperor.
Now, amidst ever growing confusion, Maxinius become the sole ruler of the East when Galerius died, and Constantine first emerges on the scene. Constantine having been previously in the Britons with his father's army, moved into Europe where he defeated Maxinius and allied with Lucinius. His victory over Maxinius and his eventual defeat of Licinius after his betrayal led Constantine to continue on towards a central position in the Eastern Empire, where he established his new capital at Byzantium, naming it Nea Roma and Constantinople. After the reign of more then four dozen emperors, in a span of only decades, Constantine was the ruler of a united empire. Constantine's rule brought great prosperity to the East, but more important to the course of history, he brought Christianity to the whole of the Empire in thanks for what he claimed was heavenly intervention in one of his key victories.
Regardless of Constantine's efforts, however, the Empire would erupt into civil war shortly after his death, with his three sons contending for rule. After a series of battles, Constantine II would begin his rule over the Empire and maintain it for around a decade, before his death and Julian's succession. Julian's rule was ended quickly, however, when his army was defeated in the East, forcing the remainder of his forces to nominate an officer named Jovian to replace him as Emperor. After Jovian's ignamonious return to Rome, another officer named Valentinian came to power, and immediately divided the Empire with his half-brother Valens - who would rule in the East.
Valentinian was succeeded by his son Gratian, who would ruler of a gradually declining Western Empire, during a time of increasing rivalry with the East. When he died, leaving his own son Valentinian II to rule the Western Empire, his supporters were few enough that one of his more popular generals managed to seize the imperial throne. The new Eastern Emperor, however, helped Valentinian regain the throne, but forced him to adopt Christianity completely in the West. Shortly after his successful return, Valentinian II was assassinated by pagan partisans, and another officer named Eugenius ruled briefly in his place - before being deposed by Theodosius in the East. Once more the Empire was united, but it would only be for a year, before Theodosius died.
With Theodosius dead, all sympathetics in the East fell away, and the West was left to the rule of Honorius. Though he would rule successfully for decades until his death, Honorious was incapable of preventing Visigothic invasions in the far West and Vandal incursions all throughout North Africa. In 410, under Honorious, Rome was sacked. Though his rule would last another 13 years, and Latins would remain in power for that time, after his death the rule of Romans over the West Roman Empire was ended. After 423, the only true Romans to continue in their commands, or to eventually rule as kings, were in small pockets of Gaul and the Britons. The Roman Empire, as an ethnically Latin ruled power, was forever ended in the world.