The great achievement of the Roman empire was in the art of government. The emperors succeeded for nearly five centuries in holding together a state which extended from the Atlantic to the Arabian desert, and from the Danube to the Sahara, protecting it from the attacks of its often aggressive enemies, and giving it orderly administration, equitable justice based on a uniform and enlightened body of law, and a well-organized system of taxation, in short, peace, order, and prosperity. Finally they converted what had originated as a subject empire ruled by a conquering people into a uniform state, whose citizens, whether Italians or Britons or Egyptians, all enjoyed the same political status and were subject to the same law. There were of course bad periods of civil war, foreign invasion, and financial collapse, but these were relatively brief. There was also a growing discrimination not only in wealth but in legal status between the rich and the poor, and much corruption and extortion in the administration. But on the whole the population of the countries which composed the empire had never before enjoyed such good government, and were not to enjoy it again for centuries after the empire’s fall.


Military History Roman Empire Arabian Desert Contemporary Document Foreign Invasion 
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© A. H. M. Jones 1970

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  • A. H. M. Jones

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