The history of the Roman Empire intersects with the story of Christianity in many ways. Jesus' life and ministry was during Roman times. The Church was spread by and through the empire because of the common culture, relative peace and transportation systems.  The Roman Empire officially persecuted Christians for a time but after the conversion of Constantine, Christianity went on to become the official religion of the Empire.  

Rome is of course more ancient than the Christian story so beginning at the beginning of Rome seems appropriate. The Roman attitude toward other religions was, in the main, one of tolerance with a few exceptions. Rome also interacted with the Jews beginning with the conquest of the Hasmonean kingdom in 63 BC. (Abraham is dated around 1800 BC and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah from 1000 to 586 BC.) Indeed the united tribes of Israel dominated the world around 1000 BC which is before the founding of Rome. Time lines of this sort collect famous events and put them into an chronological order but lack the details of the story. There are some links that fill in some of the details but most of the details are beyond the scope of this site.

Through its history the Rome was a monarchy, a republic and became a totalitarian state. As an empire it was united under the leadership of Julius Caesar and increased in power and spread until the time of Constantine. After the death of Constantine the empire was split into as many as three parts under his successors before it finally crumbled.  Finding an actual point in crumbling things gets a bit sketchy.  The transition from Republic to Empire is often dated from the Agustinian reform circa 27 BC and that is where the list of Emporers begins. The "fall" of the roman empire is really more of a crumble. From the Western perspective 476 is often used as it is the date of the exile of the last Roman Emperor from the city of Rome but the west was crumbling before that. For someone from the East, and for the purpose of this timeline we go to the fall of Constantinople in 1453. 

The general outline is:

  1. The Founding 753 BC - 509 BC
  2. The Republican Era 509 BC - 44 BC
  3. The Imperial Era 44 BC - 1453 AD

It is interesting to note that in the 2206 year history covered here, Rome essentially went from monarchy to monarchy with only a brief 553-year republican era. Although in a timeline of this sort we are constrained to point to a particular date for a transition, the changes were more gradual. The actual founding of Rome is buried in a mix of history and myth. Romulus and Remus are thought to be mythical demigods on which the traditional story of the founding of Rome rests. For reasons that are unclear to me Romulus is considered historical as in the time line below. The story of Romulus and Remus does provide for the divine founding of Rome and the divine rights of the Roman monarchy. (Kings always seem to need some notion of divinity behind their rule.)

The transition to the republic began with the revolution which eventually overthrew the Roman Kingdom in 510 BC. The Roman aristocracy was composed of a class of citizens called Patricians, while all other citizens were called Plebeians. During the monarchy, the Patrician aristocracy dominated the state, and the Plebeians began seeking political rights. These were gradually granted until the Plebeians completely overthrew the Patrician aristocracy. Since the aristocracy was overthrown simply through alterations to the Roman law, this revolution was not violent.

This change saw the emergence of a joint Patricio-Plebeian aristocracy, along with a dangerous military situation that helped to maintain internal stability within the republic. Rome was not set up to conquer the world, but the military gradually took it in that direction. The constant conflict on the margins of Roman territory provided the unifying force that held the republic together.

At the end of the "wars of expansion," the factor that had ensured internal stability was removed. While the Plebeians sought to address their economic misfortune through the enactment of laws, the military had become increasingly powerful. When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon river, he completed the overthrow of the republic. Still looking for divine justification for the government of the day the religious cult of Julius Caesar was established and Caesar became the title used by the emperors.

The Imperial period was characterized with wars on the margins of the empire and internal crises. The Emperor often a military man many times was selected by his troops.

Time Event
 753 BC - 509 BCFounding
753 BC Rome is founded by Romulus (traditional date).
750 BC First Etruscan inscriptions
600 BC The Forum is built
Oldest Latin inscriptions
578 BC Tarquinius Priscus builds the Cloaca Maxima, the name literally means Greatest Sewer. Certainly one of the first sewers ever constructed.
 509 BC - 44 BC The Republican Era
509 BC The last king is expelled and Rome becomes a republic
450 BC The Twelve Tables of the Roman law
334–323 BC  Alexander the Great (Greek) builds the Greek Empire
326 BC The Circus Maximus is built
312 BC The first aqueduct, the Aqua Appia, is built
280 BC Rome issues coins
264-241 BC  First Punic War
218 BC Hannibal invades Italy and the Gauls of northern Italy ally with him. (The second Punic war.)
189 BC Antiochus III, king of the Seleucids, is defeated at the battle of Magnesia and surrenders his possessions in Europe and Asia Minor.
149-146 BC Third Punic War
138 BC Slave revolt in Sicily (crucifixion of 4,500 slaves)
128 BC Southern France (Aquitania) becomes a province of Rome
123 BC Tiberius's brother Gaius Gracchus enacts populist laws
73 - 71 BC  Spartacus leads the revolt of the gladiators ("third servile war")
63 BC Pompey captures Judea for Rome
59 BC Caesar is elected consul
53 BC In the first war against Persia, Crassus is defeated and killed by the Parthians at Carrhae (Syria)
50 BC Rome introduces the gold coin "aureus"
49 BC Ceasar crosses the Rubicon, defeats Pompey and becomes sole dictator of Rome, calling himself "imperator"
45 BC Julius Caesar employs the Egyptian astronomer Sosigenes to work out a new 12-month calendar (Julian calendar)
 44 BC - 1453 AD The Imperial Era
44 BC Julius Caesar is killed.
42 BC The religious cult of Julius Caesar is officially instituted
36 BC Rome tries to invade Persia
31 BC Octavianus defeats Mark Anthony at the battle of Actium and ending the civil wars
30 BC Cleopatra commits suicide and Egypt is annexed to the Roman Empire
27 BC Octavianus appoints himself "Augustus" (the first emperor) and founds the Praetorian Guard
20 BC Treaty between Rome and Persia (Parthians) fixes the boundary between the two empires along the Euphrates river (Iraq)
5 AD Rome acknowledges Cymbeline, King of the Catuvellauni, as king of Britain
14 AD Augustus dies and Tiberius becomes emperor
25 AD Agrippa builds the Pantheon
54 AD Claudius is succeeded by Nero
64 AD Nero sets fire to Roma and blames the Christians for it
70 AD Titus (Flāvius Caesar Vespasiānus Augustus) destroys Jerusalem and Jews spread in Armenia, Iraq, Iran, Arabia, Egypt, Italy, Spain and Greece
79 AD Vesuvius erupts and Pompeii is buried under ash 
the Colosseum is completed
80 AD Colosseum dedicated
97 AD Rome forbids human sacrifice throughout the Roman empire
Chinese general Pan Chao sends an embassy to the Roman Empire
107 The Roman Empire sends an embassy to India
122 Hadrian's Wall in England is built along the northern frontier to protect from the Barbarians
132 Jews, led by Bar-Kochba, whom some identify as the Messiah, revolt against Rome
136 Emperor Hadrian crushes the Jewish resistance, forbids Jews from ever entering Jerusalem, and changes the name of the city to Aelia Capitolina
218 Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, the last of the Antonines, becomes emperor and promotes the cult of Elegabalus, a Syriac sun god
249-270? Third Century crisis - the Soldier Emperors
284 Diocletian becomes emperor but rules from Nicomedia in the East (last of the Soldier Emperors)
303 Diocletian orders a general persecution of the Christians
312 Constantine becomes emperor and disbands the Praetorian Guard
313 Constantine ends the persecution of the Christians (edict of Milano)
Constantine recognizes the Christian church
324 Constantine I founds a new city, Constantinople (Byzantium)
330 Constantine I moves the capital of the Roman empire to Constantinople (Byzantium)
337

On Constantine's death, his sons split the empire:

  • Constantine II (Spain, Britain, Gaul)
  • Constans I (Italy, Africa, Illyricum, Macedon, Achaea)
  • Constantius II (the East)
380 Theodosius I proclaims Christianity as the sole religion of the Roman Empire (Edictum de Fide Catholica)
393 Theodosius forbids the Olympic Games because pagans and shuts down the temple of Zeus at Olympia
395 Theodosius divides the Roman empire in the Western and Eastern Empires, with Milano and Constantinople as their respective capitals. The Empire is never again unified under a single ruler.
450 Theodosius II dies and Marcian succeeds him, the first Roman emperor to be crowned by a religious leader (the patriarch of Constantinople)
476 The Fall of Rome is conventionally dated in 476 because that's when the Germanic warrior Odoacer deposed the last Roman emperor, Romulus, in the western part of the Roman Empire.
Eastern Empire Continues (Called Byzantine by the West)
527 Byzantium enforces anti-Jewish laws and the Jews all but disappear from the eastern Roman Empire
529 Roman emperor Justinian shuts down the Academia of Plato
533 Justinian's code of law ("Corpus Juri Civilis") is published
537 Justinian's general Belisarius deposes pope Silverius and replaces him with pope Vigilius
542 The plague decimates the Empire
552 Nestorian monks smuggle silkworm eggs from China to Byzanthium
602 the Persians (Sassanids) attack the eastern Roman empire in Asia Minor
614 the Persians (Sassanids) capture Jerusalem
636 Arabs capture Syria and Palestine - beginning the rise of the Rashidun Caliphs
726 Emperor Leo III orders the destruction of all icons (iconoclasm) Icons are restored in 787 at the seventh ecumenical council
739 Emperor Leo III issues the Ecloga that introduces Christian principles into law <@@@>
800 The Western Empire is reborn? Charlemagne, king of the Franks, is crowned emperor by Pope Leo III and founds the Holy Roman Empire
840 Basil's fleet retakes Bari from the Muslims
1054 The patriarch of Constantinople and the pope in Roma excommunicate each other (the Great Schism)
1099 the first Crusade captures Jerusalem
1187 Saladin defeats the crusaders
1204 the Crusaders, led by the Doge of Venezia, sack Constantinople, expel the Greek emperor Alexius III and set up a Latin kingdom, led by Baldwin I of the Flanders, while Venezia acquires territories in the Mediterranean and Black Seas
1291 the Moslems expel the Crusaders from the Middle East
1345 Serbia defeats the eastern Roman empire and annexes Macedonia and Thrace
1347 the plague (Black Death) strikes Constantinople and it will kill half the population of the city
1348 Serbia defeats the eastern Roman empire and annexes Thessaly and Epirus
1453 the Ottoman Turks under Mehmet II capture Constantinople

 based in large part on http://www.scaruffi.com/politics/romans.html 6/11/10