Roman Invasion of Britain
753 BC Rome founded
According to legend, two brothers descended from the Trojan Prince Aeneas are exposed at birth. Romulus and Remus want to found a city but quarrel over which hill to site it on. Romulus kills Remus and Rome is founded on the Palatine Hill, on the bank of the River Tiber in Latium.
509 BC Republic established
Roman history states that worsening misrule under King Tarqunius Superbus prompts his expulsion by Rome's aristocracy. In its place, nobles establish a Republic ruled by annually elected consuls and guided by a powerful Senate. Citizens vote in popular assemblies weighted in favour of higher-ranking individuals.
406 BC Rome attacks Veii
After centuries of beating back invaders, Rome goes on the offensive against the neighbouring Etruscan city of Veii. The siege of Veii lasts 10 years. It's the first major victory in a campaign of steady expansion into adjacent Latin and Etruscan territory.
390 BC Gauls sack Rome
Roman defenders fail to stop a huge Gallic invasion at the battle of the Allia river. The Gauls sweep into Rome and sack the city. It takes payments of gold to persuade them to leave. The defeat leaves a permanent scar on the collective Roman consciousness.
343-341 BC First Samnite War
Seeking to extend its sphere of influence further into Italy, Rome takes on its toughest enemy yet – the Samnite nation of fierce mountain warriors. Rome wins this conflict, leaving it in control of the fertile Campania region south of Latium. This victory increases Rome's power-base significantly.
340-338 BC Latin War
Frustration at Rome's increasing domination of Latium leads to a revolt by a number of Latin states. Rome swiftly crushes military resistance in Latium but consolidates its hold on power there by extending Roman citizenship to almost all parts of the territory.
326-304 BC Second Samnite War
Rome's second clash with the Samnites is far more arduous. Roman legions take fierce beatings at the battle of the Claudine Forks (321 BC) and Lautulae (315 BC). But superior Roman reserves of men and material take their toll and the Samnites are eventually crushed.
298-290 BC Third Samnite War
The Samnites make a last-ditch effort to shake off Roman domination by allying themselves with the Etruscans, Umbrians and Gauls. But the Roman war machine is stronger than ever, partly due to the construction of new roads. Rome defeats the alliance at the battle of Sentinum (295 BC).
280-275 BC Pyrrhic War
Rome quarrels with the Greek-founded city of Tarentum, which summons assistance from the Greek King Pyrrhus. A gifted general, Pyrrhus defeats the Romans at Heraclea (280 BC) and Asculum (279 BC). But the "Pyrrhic" victories have come at too great a cost. Pyrrhus is crushed by Rome at Beneventum (275 BC).
264-241 BC First Punic War
Rome's first conflict with the Phoenician city of Carthage is fought mainly at sea. Until this point, Rome has not been a sea power but it builds its own navy and defeats Carthage in a series of sea battles. Victory in this war leaves Rome in possession of Sicily.
238 BC Rome gains Sardinia and Corsica
Insurgents in Carthage-controlled Sardinia invite Roman forces into the island's garrison. Rome is in clear violation of its peace treaty with Carthage but threatens war when Carthage objects. The Phoenician city is obliged to cede Sardinia and Corsica to Rome.
218-202 BC Second Punic War begins
The Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca marches his forces over the Alps to take on the Romans. He wins a series of spectacular victories and almost defeats Rome. But the Romans hold out and take the fight to Africa, defeating Hannibal at the battle of Zama. Rome now controls Spain.
214-205 BC First Macedonian War
King Philip of Macedonia throws in his lot with Carthage and invades Rome's client states in Illyria (the modern Balkans). Effective Roman retaliation is difficult because resources are needed for the war against Carthage. The conflict ends in stalemate.
200-196 BC Second Macedonian War
Rome gathers Greek allies and then defeats Philip of Macedonia at the battle of Cynoscephalae in 197 BC. Philip keeps his throne but must stay within his borders. Over the next decade, Rome intervenes in Greece on several occasions in order to assert its dominance in the eastern Mediterranean.
171-168 BC Third Macedonian War
King Perseus of Macedonia agitates among the Greek states. Rome sends a force to engage Perseus but, in a sign of a growing trend among Roman nobles abroad, its commander is more interested in collecting booty. Eventually, Perseus is defeated at the battle of Pydna. Macedonia is divided into four separate states.
149-146 BC Third Punic War
After taking advantage of a border dispute, Rome moves to crush Carthage utterly. Its far superior forces besiege the city. When Carthage eventually falls in 146 BC, the Romans level it and enslave 50,000 Carthaginians. This brutal victory leaves Rome in possession of Carthaginian north Africa.
150-146 BC Fourth Macedonian War
Andriscus, a pretender to the throne, attempts to wrest control of the four Macedonian states from Rome. He is defeated in 148 BC. Rome goes on to stamp out any remaining resistance in Greece. The ancient city of Corinth is sacked and completely destroyed in 146 BC.
133 BC Tiberius Gracchus murdered
Tiberius Gracchus, a reform-minded Tribune, proposes the redistribution of public land to peasants. Aristocrats accustomed to profiting from the land object. The row sparks civil disorder and Gracchus is killed at a popular assembly meeting. In 121 BC, Tiberius' brother, Gaius, is murdered amid rioting over more reform proposals.
107 BC Marius elected Consul
A gifted soldier and popular politician, Gaius Marius is elected consul six times between 107 BC and 100 BC. He is responsible for abolishing property qualifications for military service. Crucially, this means that previously poor soldiers in search of future property settlements learn to express more loyalty to their commanders than to the Republic.
91-89 BC Social War
Attempts to grant Italians Roman citizenship founder and several Italian states rise up against Rome. The states declare an independent confederacy called Italia and mint their own coins. Their powerful army is a real threat and Rome agrees to extend citizenship to most Italians.
88 BC Sulla marches on Rome
Lucius Cornelius Sulla, an ambitious consul, marches troops personally loyal to him into Rome when he is stripped of a potentially lucrative military command in Asia. After campaigning in the East, Sulla returns to Rome and rules as dictator, killing many enemies and giving their land to his veterans.
73-71 BC Spartacus leads slave revolt
Spartacus, a Thracian gladiator, leads a slave revolt that recruits at least 90,000 people. After ranging across Italy, the revolt is put down by Marcus Crassus and Spartacus is killed. Remnants of his force are finished off by Pompey. Pompey and Crassus join forces politically and both become consuls in 70 AD.
65 BC Caesar elected aedile
Julius Caesar, after years of steady progression in Roman political life, is elected to this mid-ranking but influential position with responsibility for organising games. While in office, he exploits his knack for populism and spends lavishly. In 63 BC, he is elected Pontifex Maximus, or high priest.
63 BC Catiline conspiracy
Amid steadily increasing political violence, consul Marcus Tullius Cicero accuses Lucius Sergius Catalina (Catiline) of conspiring against the Republic. Cicero orders the ringleaders to be executed but Cataline escapes and raises an army of veterans and other dissidents. He is killed by Republican forces in 62 BC.
59 BC Caesar, Pompey and Crassus strike alliance
Julius Caesar surprises the Senate by pulling off a three-way alliance between himself, Pompey and Marcus Crassus. The accord propels him to the consulship of 59 BC. Renewed in 56 BC, the agreement permits all three men to secure lucrative foreign commands for themselves.
58-50 BC Caesar campaigns in Gaul
Eight years as governor of Gaul brings Julius Caesar great riches and much popularity. By employing harsh tactics against scattered tribes, Caesar extends the frontier of Gaul to the west bank of the Rhine. His stiffest test comes in 52 BC, when he defeats a huge combined force of Gauls at the battle of Alesia.
53 BC Defeat of Romans at Carrhae
Marcus Crassus, eager for a share of the glory won by contemporary rivals like Pompey, embarks on a poorly planned adventure in Parthia, far to the east of his Syrian governorship. The campaign founders in the harsh Parthian desert. Crassus, along with thousands of his men, are cut to pieces at the battle of Carrhae.
49 BC Caesar crosses Rubicon
Julius Caesar commits himself to civil war when he takes his legion across the small Rubicon river separating Gaul and Italy. Caesar sweeps into a Rome abandoned by the coalition of nobles opposed to him and swiftly establishes control of the city.
48 BC Caesar defeats Pompey
Julius Caesar pursues opposition forces commanded by Pompey to north-western Greece, where he defeats them at the battle of Pharsalus. Pompey flees to Egypt, where he is murdered. Caesar strikes an alliance – and fathers a son – with Queen Cleopatra before crushing the remnants of the opposition army in north Africa.
44 BC Death of Caesar
Julius Caesar is declared dictator for life. Despite the fact that his rule, by recent standards, has not been bloody, more and more aristocrats feel that he is becoming too king-like and that he threatens their interests. On March 15, a group of nobles surround Caesar in the Senate and stab him to death.