Over the past 2,000 years, several empires have come and gone. Of these, the Roman Empire was one of the most successful and powerful empires for 3 major reasons! At the height of its power in 117 AD Rome controlled close to 2 million square miles!
Rome was one of the most powerful empires in history because of these three reasons. First, the Roman Empire allowed the plebians to join the Roman army. Second, the early Roman Empire had a banking system in place to allow for large-scale credit to take place. Third, the Roman Empire became powerful because of its extensive use of official records to keep track of taxes and population.
Because of these three reasons, the Roman Empire became the dominant state in the Mediterranean region. Here at The History Ace, I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If in the end, you enjoyed this article then consider subscribing to the free newsletter and sharing around the internet.
Without further ado, here are the 3 reasons why Rome became so powerful.
Rome Became Powerful Because Rome Allowed Plebeians to Join the Army
One of the main reasons why Rome became so powerful was because in 107 BC Roman politician and general Gaius Marius reformed how the Roman Army recruited its soldiers.
Before Gaius Marius, the Roman soldier had to provide his own equipment and received no payment other than the spoils of war. Because of this the only people who were capable of serving the Roman Army were of noble birth and could afford to buy the expensive equipment needed to be a Roman soldier.
However, in 107 BC Gaius Marius made it so that the Roman General had to pay the soldiers as well as provide their equipment and retirement. Suddenly now anybody could join the Roman army and sell their labor.
This was a major thing because before this the poor of Rome had almost nowhere to go to make money. Instead, they relied on handouts from Roman patricians and sometimes took up odd jobs helping around the city.
Because of this, the Roman army swelled in size. Almost overnight legions sprang up across Rome and now Rome could easily conquer outside land. This was one of the major reasons why Rome became so powerful over only a couple of centuries.
As such, one of the main reasons why Rome became so powerful was because in 107 BC the rules for who could join the Roman army changed. Now anybody could join and work hard to eventually buy land and retire.
The Early Roman Empire Had a Banking System in Place to Allow For Large-Scale Credit to Take Place
Another reason why Rome became so powerful over only a couple of decades was because of its relatively impressive banking and credit system that somehow fell into place around 2,000 years ago.
Rome had no central bank. Unlike today there was no need for a large central bank complex as most of the wealth was pooled at the top part of the Roman population. The Emperor and Senators held nearly all of the tangible wealth in the Roman Empire.
Instead of a large central bank, these powerful and wealthy Roman families and individuals acted as small banks themselves. Roman senatorial families would borrow and give money based on a complex social standing. A Roman senator would give another senator money and in return, they would expect that senator to support them politically.
This system of lending and borrowing created an extremely efficient credit system for the Senatorial elite who also served as generals and building engineers. As such what we see is a system where large-scale Roman projects could be paid for by borrowing cash from other senators near you.
Because of this credit system, a Roman senator could afford to raise an army to go on a campaign to further their political agenda. That or they could afford to build large civil infrastructure projects such as Aqueducts.
Simply put, this credit system was one of the main reasons why Rome became so powerful over only a couple of decades. Without the Roman credit system in place, Rome would have likely never become as powerful as it did.
Rome Became Powerful Because of Its Extensive Use of Records to Keep Track of Resources
Another reason why Rome became so powerful was because of its extensive use of records to keep track of its resources.
Rome was not unique in the fact that it kept records. Many empires before Rome took records of things to keep track of populations, food, or other resources. However, Rome took the concept of record-taking to the extreme.
Romans took great pride in their ability to read and write. Historians are aware of a thriving book trade taking place across the Roman world. Record-taking was no exception.
The Roman people would take a record of everything from taxes, population, weather, and even spiritual omen reports. These reports would be circulated across the Roman Empire to help information spread faster than anywhere else.
An example of this extreme record-taking can be seen in the process of capturing and annexing Roman territory. Right after the Roman army took control of a new land Roman surveyors would scour the land. These record keepers would write down accurate populations, registrations of cities and towns, and land topography.
As the new province became settled these recordkeepers would keep track of births, deaths, taxes, judicial proceedings, and even real estate transactions. Starting in the Roman Empire each year around 160 officials would be sent by the Emperor every year just to collect and catalog these large records from each province.
Because of this record-keeping the Roman Empire was capable of becoming more powerful than any other empire near it. This was because Rome could use nearly all of its resources to further its growth. As such, these extensive records are one of the main reasons why Rome became so powerful.
There you have it; the three major reasons why Rome became so powerful.
Many people glance over the reasons why Rome became powerful in the late Republic and Early Empire period. If you had lived in Rome during this time you would have seen your small city of Rome expand rapidly into becoming the largest Empire in your known world!
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