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Pax Romana

The Pax Romana (Roman Peace) was a period of relative peace and stability across the Roman Empire that lasted for over 200 years. Emperor Augustus and his successors wanted to guarantee law, order, and security within the empire. Sometimes they had to use military intervention and conquest to achieve this goal.

Throughout the existence of both the Roman Republic and Empire, the borders of Rome continually expanded, until Rome became one of largest empires that had ever existed. Governing a territory that large gave rise to many difficulties, including riots, rebellions, and insurrections. Emperor Augustus proposed the Pax Romana as the solution.

The Roman people valued the peace and security that Augustus brought to the empire. They began to worship him through the Imperial Cult in which an emperor was deified after his death. There was an occasional rebellion (Christians would oppose the Cult, for example), but the empire remained largely at peace.

The emperors who followed Augustus maintained the Pax Romana by reducing conflict, expanding the borders, and maintaining harmony at home. Yet sometimes the provinces resisted the Roman legions and paid a high cost. During the Roman conquest of Britain, Calgacus, a Briton leader, addressed his men, saying: “Today the boundary of Britain is exposed; beyond us lies no nation, nothing but waves and rocks and the Romans, more deadly still than they, for you find in them an arrogance which no reasonable submission can elude. They are unique in being as violently tempted to attack the poor as the wealthy. Robbery, butchery, rapine, the liars call Empire; they create desolation and call it peace.”

Despite these challenges, the Pax Romana continued as the empire expanded. Only in the late 3rd century CE, plague and invasions devastated the empire.


Source: Pax Romana
Donald L. Wasson, World History Encyclopedia (2009-2021), under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

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