Who Ruled The Roman Empire At Its Peak

Dates For Roman Empire At Its Peak98-161 AD
Further ReadingEmperor Trajan: 3 Reasons He Was A Successful Leader and Emperor Antoninus Pius: 3 Reasons He Is Remembered Today

The Roman Empire lasted four around 400 years before falling into decay and ruin. Over the course of this time the Empire would reach its peak in wealth, population, and land mass sometime between the year 100-200 AD. Five emperors would rule Rome during its peak.

The Nerva-Antonine dynasty (96-192 AD) ruled the Roman Empire during its peak. During this time the Roman Empire would reach its maximum size, have the strongest economy, and have its largest population. This article outlines when the Roman Empire was at its peak and who ruled it during this time.

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Without further ado, here is an entire article answering the question of who ruled the Roman Empire at its peak.

Emperor Trajan (98-117 AD): Peak Of The Roman Empire’s Territorial Expansion

Emperor Trajan ruled Rome while it was at its peak of territorial expansion.

Trajan was a military commander who was known to be at the front of the battle with his men. Over the course of his life Trajan would build many monuments to his battlefield glory and those of his men.

Because of this when Emperor Nerva died in 98 AD Trajan immediately started to expand the borders of the Roman Empire. Trajan’s best method of doing this was to engage in a series of military campaigns. The most famous of these was his last campaign into Parthia.

From these subsequent campaigns Trajan would expand the Roman Empire to its peak of territorial expansion. Here Rome would directly hold land from modern Iran to England. Simply put, at its peak the Roman Empire would have been one of the largest empires in history.

It has been estimated by historians that during the peak of its size the Roman Empire held around 1,930,510 square miles of territory.

All of this would greatly enrich Trajan who would use the spoils from his conquests to build several amazing public buildings which still stand to this day.

However, much of Trajan’s territory would be lost after his death from a sudden stroke in 117 AD. Rome would never again reach the size that Trajan had extended it to.

Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD): Peak Of Roman Empire’s Economy

After the death of Trajan the next emperor of Rome would be Emperor Hadrian.

Hadrian realized that much of Trajan’s territorial expansions would be lost. Instead of committing Roman legions to their defense he would instead pull back and fortify Rome’s borders.

This domestic focus had the added effect of drastically increasing the Roman economy. The Roman Empire would reach its peak of economic power under the rule of Emperor Hadrian.

This was because these strong fortifications and focus on internal trade allowed for the Roman’s to do what they do best, focus upon earning higher profits from trade.

Under Hadrian the Mediterranean would see an explosion in trade. This allowed the Roman Empire’s economy to expand at a rate that was never reached again. Modern economic historians have carbon dated trade ships found in the Mediterranean that demonstrate that during Hadrian the Roman Empire reached its peak in internal trade.

Further, during the reign of Hadrian the Roman Empire had a treasury of around 10,000 tons of silver. This would mean that the reserve treasury of the Roman Empire would be valued at around $6 billion in the modern U.S dollar.

Hadrian would use this money to focus upon building up a series of Roman fortifications which would last until the fall of Rome in the 5th century AD.

As such Emperor Hadrian would rule the Roman Empire during its peak of economic power.

Emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161 AD): Peak Of Roman Empire’s Population

After the death of Emperor Hadrian in 138 AD Emperor Antoninus Pius would become the next emperor of Rome.

The Roman Empire would reach its peak of population under Emperor Antoninus Pius. During the reign of Pius the Roman Empire would reach a population size of around 76 million people.

We know of this massive population of Roman citizens because shortly after the death of Antoninus Pius a deadly plague would break out across the Roman Empire. This plague was called the Antonine Plague and historians have estimated that it killed off around 10% of the total population of the Roman Empire.

Ancient sources such as Cassius Dio detail this plague in only passing detail along with the subsequent population statistics. From this we can gather that under the reign of Antoninus Pius the total population of the Roman Empire was at its peak of around 76 million people.

As such Emperor Antoninus Pius would rule the Roman Empire during its peak of population.

Conclusion

There you have it; an entire article going over who ruled the Roman Empire at its peak.

Roman power is a fascinating subject of discussion. Historians argue as to when the Roman Empire was at its peak. Culturally speaking this could have been under the Roman Emperor Augustus or under Hadrian.

Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If you enjoyed this article then consider subscribing to the free newsletter and sharing around.

Further, you can check out some of the other articles below.

Sincerely,

Nick