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Thread: Did the Roman Empire really end with WWI ?

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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.

    Post Did the Roman Empire really end with WWI ?



    It may come as a surprise to most people, but from a historian's point of view it makes perfect sense to say that the Roman Empire truly cease to exist in 1918, when the German Empire, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires were dismantled.

    Let me explain. The Romans founded Europe's first empire. In 285, the empire was partitioned in a Western Roman Empire and an Eastern Roman Empire (later known as the Byzantine Empire). After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, the Roman Catholic Church took the role of heir of the empire and quickly recognised the Frankish king Clovis I as the rightful heir of the Romans in Gaul and the defender of the Roman Catholic Church. In 800, Charlemagne was crowned "Emperors of the Romans" by the Pope in Rome with the title of "Emperor and Augustus", confirming that the Franks had now officially succeeded as Roman Emperors.

    Charlemagne's grandson divided his empire in three, and the title of Holy Roman Emperor was eventually to stay with the German part of Charlemagne's empire, although French Kings kept a rightful claim to the title as partial heirs of Charlemagne too. This is why when Napoleon rose to power and crowned himself emperor he dismantled the Holy Roman Empire to assert his claim as heir of Charlemagne and of the Roman Empire. There could only be one rightful emperor at the same time. Since the crown of Holy Roman Emperor had been in the House of Habsburg for over three and a half centuries, the Habsburgs proclaimed themselves Emperors of Austria the same year as Napoleon planned his coronation. This was clearly an attempt to invalidate Napoleon's legitimacy.

    When the French Empire was abolished in 1814, the Habsburgs could finally reclaim their rights as heirs of the Western Roman Empire unopposed. A competition between France and Austria now escalated in the 19th century. Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte intended to reclaim the title for France, and established the Second French Empire with himself as emperor under the name Napoleon III in 1852.

    During that time, Germany was unified under the Hohenzollern, and Prussia defeated Austria in the Seven Weeks' War in 1866. This caused the collapse of the Austrian Empire and prompted the Habsburgs to rebrand themselves as Austro-Hungarian emperors, granting the Kingdom of Hungary the same status as Austria in 1867. From then on the Austro-Hungarian Empire was no longer regarded as the true heir of the Holy Roman Empire, but merely an alliance of two kingdoms. The Prussian king intended to get the title for himself, and had to defeat the only other claimant, Napoleon III. When this was achieved in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, Napoleon III relinquished the title of emperor in favour of William of Hohenzollern.

    In the meantime the Byzantine Empire had been taken over by the Ottomans, who came to regard themselves as the successors of the (Eastern) Roman Empire, hence their occasional use of the title Caesar (قیصر kaysar).

    The Russians also decided that it might be nice to style themselves as Roman emperors, even though Russia was never a part of the Roman, Byzantine or Carolingian empire. They started calling themselves Czar, a corruption of Caesar from 1721. That was really just a way of attracting international attention on their rising power, but it is interesting that they also regarded the title of emperor as indissociable from that of Caesar and Rome.

    In 1917, in the midst of World War I, the Bolshevik Revolution brought the Russian Empire to an end. By an ironic twist of fate, the three empires with claims as heirs of the Romans, namely Germany, Austro-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, fought on the same side in WWI, and lost. Consequently, all three empires were dismantled at the same time, and with them all legitimate claim of succession to the Roman Empire disappeared. It can therefore be said that the Roman Empire truly came to an end in the aftermath of WWI, when all the empires descended from the Romans collapsed. If one date is to be remembered it should be that of 1 November 1922, when the Ottoman Empire was abolished.
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    It's funny, everybody wants to be Roman and everybody also has an "opinion" about Italians.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by kamani View Post
    It's funny, everybody wants to be Roman and everybody also has an "opinion" about Italians.
    Romans are not Italians, which is why when the first Italians appeared in 1861 they wanted to make headway into the Hapsburg domains and claim the old Roman title for themselves. But the first government went backrupt, then next issue was that the italians where saved from the Austrians by a prussian victory. WW1 saw Italy changed sides to claim hapsburg title...........but it was too late
    có che un pòpoło no 'l defende pi ła só łéngua el xe prónto par èser s'ciavo

    when a people no longer dares to defend its language it is ripe for slavery.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    It may come as a surprise to most people, but from a historian's point of view it makes perfect sense to say that the Roman Empire truly cease to exist in 1918, when the German Empire, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires were dismantled.

    Let me explain. The Romans founded Europe's first empire. In 285, the empire was partitioned in a Western Roman Empire and an Eastern Roman Empire (later known as the Byzantine Empire). After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, the Roman Catholic Church took the role of heir of the empire and quickly recognised the Frankish king Clovis I as the rightful heir of the Romans in Gaul and the defender of the Roman Catholic Church. In 800, Charlemagne was crowned "Emperors of the Romans" by the Pope in Rome with the title of "Emperor and Augustus", confirming that the Franks had now officially succeeded as Roman Emperors.

    Charlemagne's grandson divided his empire in three, and the title of Holy Roman Emperor was eventually to stay with the German part of Charlemagne's empire, although French Kings kept a rightful claim to the title as partial heirs of Charlemagne too. This is why when Napoleon rose to power and crowned himself emperor he dismantled the Holy Roman Empire to assert his claim as heir of Charlemagne and of the Roman Empire. There could only be one rightful emperor at the same time. Since the crown of Holy Roman Emperor had been in the House of Habsburg for over three and a half centuries, the Habsburgs proclaimed themselves Emperors of Austria the same year as Napoleon planned his coronation. This was clearly an attempt to invalidate Napoleon's legitimacy.

    When the French Empire was abolished in 1814, the Habsburgs could finally reclaim their rights as heirs of the Western Roman Empire unopposed. A competition between France and Austria now escalated in the 19th century. Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte intended to reclaim the title for France, and established the Second French Empire with himself as emperor under the name Napoleon III in 1852.

    During that time, Germany was unified under the Hohenzollern, and Prussia defeated Austria in the Seven Weeks' War in 1866. This caused the collapse of the Austrian Empire and prompted the Habsburgs to rebrand themselves as Austro-Hungarian emperors, granting the Kingdom of Hungary the same status as Austria in 1867. From then on the Austro-Hungarian Empire was no longer regarded as the true heir of the Holy Roman Empire, but merely an alliance of two kingdoms. The Prussian king intended to get the title for himself, and had to defeat the only other claimant, Napoleon III. When this was achieved in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, Napoleon III relinquished the title of emperor in favour of William of Hohenzollern.

    In the meantime the Byzantine Empire had been taken over by the Ottomans, who came to regard themselves as the successors of the (Eastern) Roman Empire, hence their occasional use of the title Caesar (قیصر kaysar).

    The Russians also decided that it might be nice to style themselves as Roman emperors, even though Russia was never a part of the Roman, Byzantine or Carolingian empire. They started calling themselves Czar, a corruption of Caesar from 1721. That was really just a way of attracting international attention on their rising power, but it is interesting that they also regarded the title of emperor as indissociable from that of Caesar and Rome.

    In 1917, in the midst of World War I, the Bolshevik Revolution brought the Russian Empire to an end. By an ironic twist of fate, the three empires with claims as heirs of the Romans, namely Germany, Austro-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, fought on the same side in WWI, and lost. Consequently, all three empires were dismantled at the same time, and with them all legitimate claim of succession to the Roman Empire disappeared. It can therefore be said that the Roman Empire truly came to an end in the aftermath of WWI, when all the empires descended from the Romans collapsed. If one date is to be remembered it should be that of 1 November 1922, when the Ottoman Empire was abolished.
    Certainly there were many cultural and titular continuities of Roman Empire. For the titular I don't care much. Anyone can get himself a title, but so what? It doesn't make him a Roman Emperor.
    Obviously there was religious continuity of christian faith, as state religion. However one can question how Roman was Christianity, and was christianity a major source of Roman collapse, by destroying old religious and political centers and bringing intolerance?
    There was strong continuity of the Latin language among nobles, scientists and priesthood of Europe.
    There was some continuity in architecture, although there were no more amphitheaters, aqueducts, baths and magnificent Roman roads being built, till renaissance. The classical landmarks of Roman Empire.

    Some cons:
    The capital of Roman Empire was always in Rome, unlike in case of other Roman-wannabe empires.
    Most traditional inhabitants of old Roman Empire were left outside borders of new once. Holy Roman Empire mostly consisted of Germanic people same as ruling elite, unheard of in ancient Rome.
    Classical Roman army, the pillar of Roman Empire, didn't exist anymore.
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate the present, and demonize the future.

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    The only flaw i see in this continuation-tree is (early on) the Roman Catholic Church as one of the heirs;

    If the Roman Catholic Church is truly an heir and part of the direct continuation than therefor the Roman Empire still exists in present-day-time and did not end at any historical event/date to date; Pope still retains the title of Pontifex Maximus;

    If it is not part of the direct continuation as a legitimate heir - than the Roman Empire truly ended in 476 (West/Odoacer) and 1453 (East/Mehmed); Not other dates;

    The Roman Empire de-facto ended/crumbled in the 3rd cen AD; Beginning with the granting of Roman citizenship to all peoples (except slaves) of the Empire (Constitutio Antoniniana 212AD) - major turmoils with the Six Emperors Year 238AD and followed by more usurpators and secessionist realms (Gallic Empire/Palmyrene Empire) and ending with the Tetrachy and Rome no longer being the capital from 286AD onwards;

    The following century (the 4th) marked the rise of the East - with that century ending in the ultimate split of West and East 395AD;
    Practically disposing the dead cadaver i.e. the West from the still healthy organism i.e. the East;
    As to how much the West Roman Empire was still a continuation of the proper Roman Empire in itself is clear with a close look - not at all;

    The Glory and Virtues of Rome was the Republic - and those merits and legacy were carried on into the early Empire (Augustus/Tiberius-Trajan/Hadrian) - but that continuation def. ended by/in the 3rd cen AD;

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nobody1 View Post
    The only flaw i see in this continuation-tree is (early on) the Roman Catholic Church as one of the heirs;

    If the Roman Catholic Church is truly an heir and part of the direct continuation than therefor the Roman Empire still exists in present-day-time and did not end at any historical event/date to date; Pope still retains the title of Pontifex Maximus;
    Pontifex Maximus is a purely religious title. Although Popes were the ones who crowned Holy Roman emperors, they did not crown ancient Roman emperors. Besides, when Napoleon I invited the Pope in Paris for his coronation and deliberately crowned himself in front of the Pope, he meant symbolically that popes no longer had the power to crown emperors. This is why none of the latter emperors, be them French, Austrian or German were crowned by popes any more. The Catholic Church lost its role of validating temporal power in 1804.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Certainly there were many cultural and titular continuities of Roman Empire. For the titular I don't care much. Anyone can get himself a title, but so what? It doesn't make him a Roman Emperor.
    Except that Rome was part of the Holy Roman Empire at the start, and emperors were traditionally crowned in Rome and in Latin, even though they were German. As long as Rome is still part of the empire, or the power comes from Rome, I don't see why they couldn't use the term "Roman Empire". The original empire of Augustus was after all very cosmopolitan and already included the biggest part of the medieval Holy Roman Empire (central and northern Italy, Switzerland, Austria, southern and western Germany, Belgium and France). Only the north and east of Germany were not part of the ancient Roman Empire. But borders shifted all the time, and were expanded by emperors after Augustus. So I don't see how it could be an issue.


    Some cons:
    The capital of Roman Empire was always in Rome, unlike in case of other Roman-wannabe empires.
    That is not true. In 285 the empire was partitioned in east and west, and the next year Emperor Diocletian moved the capital of the Western Roman Empire from Rome to Mediolanum (Milan). In 330, Emperor Constantine transferred the main capital from Rome to Byzantium. He rebuilt the city as a new Rome and named it Constantinople. From that time onwards the capital would never move back to Rome. The Western Roman Empire was administered mostly from Milan or Ravenna (from 402). Augusta Treverorum (Trier) also served briefly as the capital of the Western Roman Empire in the 4th century.

    So if you only regard the Roman Empire as the empire that had Rome as its capital, then it only existed from 27 BCE to 286 CE.

    Most traditional inhabitants of old Roman Empire were left outside borders of new once. Holy Roman Empire mostly consisted of Germanic people same as ruling elite, unheard of in ancient Rome.
    As I have explained above, the Holy Roman Empire comprised mostly territories and people who were already part of the empire since its foundation in 27 BCE. Even the Franks had lived in the Roman Empire since the 3rd century (before the partition), and provided Roman generals and senators for centuries. This is why they regarded themselves as true Romans and tried to salvage the empire when it was attacked from outside by the Huns, Alans, Vandals, Goths and Burgundians. The Franks always fought on the Roman side against these invaders.

    Classical Roman army, the pillar of Roman Empire, didn't exist anymore.
    Armies evolve with time. One of the main reasons that the Western Roman Empire was destroyed is because its legions were not as efficient as they used to be. The empire was founded at a time when legionaries were mostly true Romans. Over time legionaries came to be recruited mostly from outside of Italy, then the use of "barbarian" mercenaries gained in importance, until the Romans became completely dependent on them and they overrun the empire. So the true Roman legions were more a feature of the Roman Republic than of the Roman Empire.

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    0 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    I guess we can think of the later Roman Empire as composed of its traditional Italian core and of various other nationalities that became "naturalized" in Rome. At first these other nationalities were considered second class citizens and a source of exploitation, but later they learned military skills and overthrew the Italian elite. Then the knowledge and riches shifted from Rome to Western Europe. Then a few hundred years ago, they decided that still calling themselves Roman would be embarasing, since they were never serious about it and Italy now was a dump, so they revived their old national identities and told Rome: "haha, it was a joke, we were never Roman". It's funny how ideology and perceptions shifts with power.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Pontifex Maximus is a purely religious title. Although Popes were the ones who crowned Holy Roman emperors, they did not crown ancient Roman emperors. Besides, when Napoleon I invited the Pope in Paris for his coronation and deliberately crowned himself in front of the Pope, he meant symbolically that popes no longer had the power to crown emperors. This is why none of the latter emperors, be them French, Austrian or German were crowned by popes any more. The Catholic Church lost its role of validating temporal power in 1804.
    Exactly all correct;
    But even before the Church lost its powers - How legitimate (in the Roman tradition/continuity) was the title of Imperator Augustus bestowed to Charlemagne in 800AD; Giving that this title was granted by the Church (Pope Leo III) and the Church (since the beginning) was never legitimized as a successor by and to the Roman state;

    Basically an institution crowning Emperors in the old tradition and titles with no actual legitimacy to do so;
    The Carolingian Empire and successor Holy Roman Empire were succesors to the Roman Empire in legacy and (some) traditions but not in legitimate continuity; That ended (ultimately) in 476 AD with Odoacer; What ended after WWI was the old dynastic structures that essentially emerged after the Roman and Roman/Byzantine realms in West and East;

    Struggles between Pope and Emperors for legitimate powers were also long before Napoleon; The Staufer dynasty in the 12th and 13th cen would be just one example;

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    1 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nobody1 View Post
    Exactly all correct;
    But even before the Church lost its powers - How legitimate (in the Roman tradition/continuity) was the title of Imperator Augustus bestowed to Charlemagne in 800AD; Giving that this title was granted by the Church (Pope Leo III) and the Church (since the beginning) was never legitimized as a successor by and to the Roman state;

    Basically an institution crowning Emperors in the old tradition and titles with no actual legitimacy to do so;
    The Carolingian Empire and successor Holy Roman Empire were succesors to the Roman Empire in legacy and (some) traditions but not in legitimate continuity; That ended (ultimately) in 476 AD with Odoacer; What ended after WWI was the old dynastic structures that essentially emerged after the Roman and Roman/Byzantine realms in West and East;

    Struggles between Pope and Emperors for legitimate powers were also long before Napoleon; The Staufer dynasty in the 12th and 13th cen would be just one example;
    The first Emperor not to be crowned in Rome was Maximilian in 1508, Venice would not allow him to march trough Venetian lands. This led to the 1508 war between Venice and the Hapsburgs, which Venice easily won inside 6 months, gain IIRC 6 towns and territories ( maybe Gorz).
    Maximilian signed a 3 year peace with Venice, which be broke the following year after the Pope, annoyed with Venice in not allowing the Coronation, formed an alliance with major catholic nations which resulted in the Treaty of Cambrai which led to war in in Italy in 1509 and ultimately lasted 55 years known as the Italian wars.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Did the Roman Empire really end with WWI ?

    The title has been vacant for more than 350 years before. Perhaps some caution with calling the concept ended? ;)

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    0 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    Does European Union have any characteristics and contains heritage of Roman Empire, and can be seen, especially by Middle Eastern nations as such?
    - Biggest conglomeration of European nations under one political and economic center. Aking to Roman Republic days, although in many Greeks opinion of having ultimate hegemonic powers of true empire.
    - Vast cultural heritage and admiration for Roman Empire.
    - Christian faith (if it counts).
    Only one united EU army is missing for full liking. ;)

    Or maybe EU is more like confederation of Greek city states?

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    Eastern roman empire still exists

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    It may come as a surprise to most people, but from a historian's point of view it makes perfect sense to say that the Roman Empire truly cease to exist in 1918, when the German Empire, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires were dismantled.

    Let me explain. The Romans founded Europe's first empire. In 285, the empire was partitioned in a Western Roman Empire and an Eastern Roman Empire (later known as the Byzantine Empire). After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, the Roman Catholic Church took the role of heir of the empire and quickly recognised the Frankish king Clovis I as the rightful heir of the Romans in Gaul and the defender of the Roman Catholic Church. In 800, Charlemagne was crowned "Emperors of the Romans" by the Pope in Rome with the title of "Emperor and Augustus", confirming that the Franks had now officially succeeded as Roman Emperors.

    Charlemagne's grandson divided his empire in three, and the title of Holy Roman Emperor was eventually to stay with the German part of Charlemagne's empire, although French Kings kept a rightful claim to the title as partial heirs of Charlemagne too. This is why when Napoleon rose to power and crowned himself emperor he dismantled the Holy Roman Empire to assert his claim as heir of Charlemagne and of the Roman Empire. There could only be one rightful emperor at the same time. Since the crown of Holy Roman Emperor had been in the House of Habsburg for over three and a half centuries, the Habsburgs proclaimed themselves Emperors of Austria the same year as Napoleon planned his coronation. This was clearly an attempt to invalidate Napoleon's legitimacy.

    When the French Empire was abolished in 1814, the Habsburgs could finally reclaim their rights as heirs of the Western Roman Empire unopposed. A competition between France and Austria now escalated in the 19th century. Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte intended to reclaim the title for France, and established the Second French Empire with himself as emperor under the name Napoleon III in 1852.

    During that time, Germany was unified under the Hohenzollern, and Prussia defeated Austria in the Seven Weeks' War in 1866. This caused the collapse of the Austrian Empire and prompted the Habsburgs to rebrand themselves as Austro-Hungarian emperors, granting the Kingdom of Hungary the same status as Austria in 1867. From then on the Austro-Hungarian Empire was no longer regarded as the true heir of the Holy Roman Empire, but merely an alliance of two kingdoms. The Prussian king intended to get the title for himself, and had to defeat the only other claimant, Napoleon III. When this was achieved in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, Napoleon III relinquished the title of emperor in favour of William of Hohenzollern.

    In the meantime the Byzantine Empire had been taken over by the Ottomans, who came to regard themselves as the successors of the (Eastern) Roman Empire, hence their occasional use of the title Caesar (قیصر kaysar).

    The Russians also decided that it might be nice to style themselves as Roman emperors, even though Russia was never a part of the Roman, Byzantine or Carolingian empire. They started calling themselves Czar, a corruption of Caesar from 1721. That was really just a way of attracting international attention on their rising power, but it is interesting that they also regarded the title of emperor as indissociable from that of Caesar and Rome.

    In 1917, in the midst of World War I, the Bolshevik Revolution brought the Russian Empire to an end. By an ironic twist of fate, the three empires with claims as heirs of the Romans, namely Germany, Austro-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, fought on the same side in WWI, and lost. Consequently, all three empires were dismantled at the same time, and with them all legitimate claim of succession to the Roman Empire disappeared. It can therefore be said that the Roman Empire truly came to an end in the aftermath of WWI, when all the empires descended from the Romans collapsed. If one date is to be remembered it should be that of 1 November 1922, when the Ottoman Empire was abolished.
    Eastern Roman Empire did not end it is alive in Ankara and fully functioning as the same State institutional body after it had to change its legal title several times from RoMan to OttoMan in 1453, from OttoMan to TurkMan (Turkia) Republic in 1923.

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