Roman territory originally limited to Rome itself. Rivalry with the neighbouring countries allowed to broaden the sphere of influence. Along with the fall of monarchy, foreign policy changed. Military reforms were made which let the expansionism begin.
Already in 264 BCE Rome dominated the whole Apennine Peninsula. Over time it became harder to create new provinces. Their number and size changed over the centuries, depending on the external circumstances and domestic policy. Expansion beyond Italy’s territory brought many benefits.
The first Roman province was Sicily, conquered in 245 BCE during the First Punic War.
Provinces were administrated by the governors. During the Republic they were appointed each year. In the beginning of the year, they were either chosen by drawing or directly assumed designated provinces. They were usually politicians from the Senate’s circle, former praetors or consuls.
After Augustus became caesar, Roman provinces were divided into two categories:
- imperial provinces – provinces in which caesar was a nominal intendant (in a rank of proconsul) on behalf of the Senate and Roman people.
- senatorial provinces – provinces which were the property of Roman nation and were located far from limes, so they were not in danger and there were no legions in there (which was supposed to prevent the Senate from taking over caesar’s power). Senate had the right to appoint the governor (proconsul).
Further expansion went outside the Peninsula. Defeating Carthage in the three Punic Wars and subordinating Greece in the 2nd century BCE provided Rome the title of the most powerful country in the Mediterranean region.
Until the beginning of the 1st century CE, the conquest policy was over and the domestic policy of the provinces began the main focus.
Along with the end of the Republic the expansion was ran to a lesser extent. However, Rome managed to achieve domination over Hispania, Gaul, Middle East, Britannia. During that time there were fought many wars and checked numerous uprisings, eg. the War of Spartacus, Jewish rebellion or Boudica uprising in 61 CE. After the last member of the Severan dynasty, Alexander, died in 235 CE, all the fights reached the climax, including the ones about the throne, which arose total confusion in the country’s structure. The 3rd century CE is said to be the time of the great crisis in the Empire. It ended when Diocletian came to power in 284 CE.