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Legacy of the Roman Empire


Several states claiming to be the Roman Empire's successor arose, before as well as after the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. The Holy Roman Empire, an attempt to resurrect the Empire in the West, was established in 800 when Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as Roman Emperor on Christmas Day, though the empire and the imperial office did not become formalized for some decades. After the fall of Constantinople, the Russian Tsardom, as inheritor of the Byzantine Empire's Orthodox Christian tradition, counted itself as the third Rome (with Constantinople being the second). And when the Ottomans, who based their state around the Byzantine model, took Constantinople in 1453, Mehmed II established his capital there and claimed to sit on the throne of the Roman Empire, and he even went so far as to launch an invasion of Italy with the purpose of "re-uniting the Empire", although Papal and Neapolitan armies stopped his march on Rome at Otranto in 1480. Constantinople was not officially renamed to Istanbul until March 28, 1930.

But excluding these states claiming their heritage, the Roman state lasted (in some form) from the founding of Rome in 753 BC to the fall in 1461 of the Empire of Trebizond (a successor state and fragment of the Byzantine Empire which escaped conquest by the Ottomans in 1453), for a total of 2214 years. The Roman impact on Western and Eastern civilizations lives on. In time most of the Roman achievements have been duplicated by later civilizations. For example, the technology for cement was rediscovered 1755–1759 by John Smeaton.

The Empire contributed many things to the world, such as the (more-or-less) modern calendar, the institutions of Christianity and aspects of modern neo-classicistic architecture. The extensive system of roads, which were constructed by the Roman Army, still last to this day. Because of this network of roads, the amount of time necessary to travel between destinations in Europe did not decrease until the 19th century after the invention of steam power.

The Roman Empire also contributed its form of government, which influences various constitutions including those of most European countries, and that of the United States, whose framers remarked, in creating the Presidency, that they wanted to inaugurate an "Augustan Age." The modern world also inherited legal thinking from the Roman law, codified in Late Antiquity. Governing a vast territory, the Romans developed the science of public administration to an extent never before conceived nor necessary, creating an extensive civil service and formalized methods of tax collection. The western world today derives its intellectual history from the Greeks, but it derives its methods of living, ruling and governing from those of the Romans.

 

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