Timeline of the Period of the Dominate

Imperial Rome Part II

Ostia The Harbour City Of Ancient Rome
Michel Porro / Getty Images

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Legendary Rome | Early Republic | Late Republic | Principate | Dominate

Rome started in a period when little local kings ruled their tribes and fought one another, frequently. Rome's farmer-soldiers fared well, comparatively, and their territory expanded. By the time Rome had acquired the area north of the Alps in Italy, south of the area where the Greeks had colonized, and beyond, it is fair to think of Rome as having an empire. NB: This is not the same as the Imperial period. The government of Rome, at the time it started growing its empire, was Republican, run by elected officials. The Imperial period is the time when the government of Rome was in the hands of monarchical emperors. The period of Roman kings had left so enduring and foul a memory, that there was resistance to calling a monarch rex 'king' or even seeing him as such. The early emperors knew this.

When the Imperial period began, the emperor held office with a co-consul and consulted members of the advisory council known as the Senate. While there were exceptional emperors, like the mad Caligula, who acted without concern for maintaining the Republican forms, the illusion continued until the third century (some say, late second). At this point, the emperor became lord and master with his decisions effectively the law. Instead of advisors from the Senate, he had a bureaucracy of civil servants. With luck, he also had the support of the soldiers.

The Dominate vs The Principate

Cameo of the Crowning of Constantine
Cameo of the Crowning of Constantine. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Understanding the labels may help make this period easier to understand. The French refer to the Dominate as

le Bas Empire le Haut Empire Le Haut Empire dominus Dominus vobiscum le Bas Empire

has been described as "bureaucratic despotism."

4th Century

Romulus Augustus Engraving
Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

5th Century

Statue of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, York Minster
Darren Hendley / Getty Images
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Your Citation
Gill, N.S. "Timeline of the Period of the Dominate." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/period-of-the-dominate-timeline-120847. Gill, N.S. (2023, April 5). Timeline of the Period of the Dominate. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/period-of-the-dominate-timeline-120847 Gill, N.S. "Timeline of the Period of the Dominate." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/period-of-the-dominate-timeline-120847 (accessed May 28, 2023).