2.2.2- Rome's Imperial Management

By: Ian Eickholdt, Casey Callahan, Jan Plzak, Tyler Hillstead

Chinese and roman innovation along the lines of administration, military, and economics are some of the most notable and studied. These two great civilizations were at the forefront of their time. the following information will go into detail about the history and legacy of these two great civilizations.


Imperial Administration / Legal System
After the Qin dynasty fell due to civil unrest, the Han dynasty emerged to power. The Han dynasty ruled the longest span of time, lasting between 206 B.C.E – 220 C.E. In the Han government, the emperor was the supreme judge and lawgiver, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and sole designator of official nominees appointed to the top posts in central and local administrations. Which were those who earned a 600-dan salary-rank or higher. Theoretically, there were no limits to his power, However state officials with competing interests and institutions could use such things as the court conference to convene their points and to reach a majority consensus on issues proposed to the emperor. The emperor also had the power to overrule a majority and convene his own policy. This was the way the Chinese ran their government administration.

Military Power
At the beginning of the Han Dynasty, every male commoner aged twenty-three was eligible for conscription into the military. The minimum age for the military draft was reduced to twenty after Emperor Zhao's (87–74 B.C.E.) reign. Conscripted soldiers underwent one year of training and one year of service as non-professional soldiers. The year of training was served in one of three branches of the armed forces: infantry, cavalry, or navy. The year of active service was served either on their frontier, in a king's court or under the Minister of the Guards in the capital. A small professional standing army was stationed near the capital. During the Eastern Han, conscription could be avoided if one paid a commutable tax.

The Eastern Han court favored the recruitment of a volunteer army. The volunteer army comprised the Southern Army, while the standing army stationed in and near the capital was the Northern Army. Led by Colonels, the Northern Army consisted of five regiments, each composed of several thousand soldiers. When central authority collapsed after 189 C.E., wealthy landowners, members of the aristocracy or nobility, and regional military-governors relied upon their retainers to act as their own personal troops. During times of war, the volunteer army was increased, and a much larger militia was raised across the country to supplement the Northern Army. In these circumstances, a General led a division, which was divided into regiments led by Colonels and sometimes major regiments were divided into companies and led by Captains. Platoons were the smallest units of soldiers.

A branched set od roads in China during the Han dynasty made to help transport troops and suppies.

The Han dynasty had many well stretched trade routes to keep their frontlines supplied, and ready for any attack. On the down side, these roads were not well known for their strength. Many lacked support form stones to protect it from erosion and pot-holes.

A representation on how the roads troops traveled on looked like.

The Han had many major cities each standing as a military fortification that provided shelter for standing armies. However the real worry they had would be their main capitals. They had a central military command center which would always be in their current capital, if it was attacked and conquered, then the dynasty would fall. “Cut off the snakes head.” Mr. Compton, this analogy describes how their military can fail. The snake's body cannot move without its head, just as the Chinese army is useless without it's command. The Han inherited the Great Wall of China from the Qin dynasty which helped supply all of their military's fronts. The Great Wall of China was built as a barrier to keep all unwanted attackers out of China. Stretching 5,500.3 miles across the landscape, the wall stopped invaders with It's attack towers and high walls. Beacons were placed on each of these towers which would be ignited to signal the other towers. It was also a great use for transporting supplies to the soldiers on the wall, and the neighboring local people.

Promotion of Trade and Economic Integration
The Han Dynasty inherited the Ban Liang coin type from the Qin. In the beginning of the Han, Emperor Gaozu closed the government mint in favor of private minting of coins. This was important for the Chinese government so that they could regulate their own economy. The nation with the control of their currency controls the nation more effectively.

Ban Liang Bronze Coin

The bronze coins shown above began to circulate through the entire Han empire and were used for trade on the Silk Road. A long stretch of roads and sea routes connected the known world in a trading system identified as the silk road. The Silk Road is an example globalization 1.0 in that anywhere a individual may go, they can find items from thousands of miles away. Goods and supplies that were made in China could be sent to as far west as Europe or as far south as Java, and Somalia. The merchant class was popular on this road due to the vast exotic goods they would make available. Spices from India, to Persian jewelry or anything that a person would seek to find, could be obtained from these merchants. However, the merchant class in china was seen as a class of cheats and liars due to the wide belief that making one's fortune through bartering was considered untrustworthy.

The Silk Road is a land and water trade route that expands throughout the known world

In Chinese art, bronze and jade were popular choices in the crafting of jewelry. Many of their paintings were two dimensional, the great majority of them symbolizing wealth or power. These paintings also depicted fame and fortune of an emperor, or the battle of a victorious warrior. China has a vast geography including portions close to the equator, which have long days of hot weather, as well as a span of desert. Also the south western region included the Himalayan Mountains. To the far eastern region of the empire was the Pacific Ocean. China had a powerful military that conquered many lands and defeated many invaders. The idea of a great nation (great meaning powerful in protection and strength in attack) was centrally focused on the military. The social role of the Chinese commoner was to always obey the emperor. The Emperor had supreme command over everything; having advisers to help the emperor make decisions was the basis of the Han political system. In China, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism can be found. Chinas Knowledge of the medical field far surpassed the west. Metallurgy was a skill the Chinese possessed and mastered. Chinese military technology was also advanced; one example is a sword with a long, curved blade ideal for slashing. Another technological advancement of the Chinese was indoor plumbing. China had their own currency (Ban Liang) and the trade route called the Silk Road. These attributes show what China and it's people embodied.


Imperial administration: The Roman Empire was lead by a single leader, the emperor, and a senate. Although the senate was suppose to have a say in the ruling of Rome, they were usually at the mercy of the emperor so had little importance. As economic and other troubles began to be significant, Emperor Diocletian decided to attempt a radical idea in the hopes of solving the issues by splitting the empire into two: The Byzantine (Eastern) Empire and the Western Empire. However this split lead to the more rapid decline of the Empire. To be precise, the Western Roman Empire died out and was eventually overrun by barbarians while the Eastern Byzantines flourished for many centuries longer.

Legal systems: In the early ages of the Roman Empire, punishment for breaking laws was decided by the ruler, but after revolts of the Plebians (the Roman middle-class), a system of judges and jurists was established and known as the 12 tables. The men of this group wrote laws and the punishments for violating these laws. The system of judges and jurists and even some of the written laws are still used today.

Military diplomacy: As Rome expanded and conquered lands, it wrote treaties with the conquered territories which granted partial self government, but the territory still took direct orders from the Emperor. This was rather ingenious on behalf of the Romans because they still retained control of the area while simultaneously quelling rebellions in the general population by allowing people to live by most of their own ways and still incorporate important Roman ideals.

Military supply lines: Since Roman armies were usually on the march far from sources of resources, they had several ways of establishing supply lines. The main way they acquired supplies was through taking what they could through the land they moved to. The second was to find the enemy supply line and steal the supplies from them. Therefore they took in resources which helped them and hurt and demoralized their enemies.

Military fortifications: There were 3 main fortifications in the roman military: fortified camps, war forts, and naval forts. Fortified camps where usually built on the high ground and surrounded by a trench filled with pikes. Since the infantry made up the bulk of the military, their safety was seriously considered and valued. War Forts where fortified mounds of wood and dirt. These were usually built near siege areas or were used as outposts near enemy territory. Naval Forts where simply ships that were stripped of their wood to be used to build war forts on coastal areas.

Gate of a roman fortification

Promotion of trade: Like any successful empire, trade was an integral part of Rome's economy. Trade lanes criss-crossed the Roman Empire. Most consisted in the Mediterranean and Black Sea. he high quality of the Roman Roads also made trade over land easy.

Extent of roman trade routes

Currency: There were many different types of currency across the Roman Empire but almost all coinage was made from gold, silver, or bronze. These coins were much more convenient than bartering because a person could carry coins on them and purchase many goods or services instead of trading objects of equal value.

Silver coins from the roman empire

Roads: Primarily used for trade and movement of troops. Romans had some of the most advanced, well built, and lasting roads of the era. The Romans built roads across their empire, which allowed for fast movement of both troops and goods throughout their domain. Also, they built their roads to last and completed roads that stretched thousands of miles. This example shows that infrastructure was of the utmost importance to the Roman empire.

Well Built roman road lasting to present day

Art in Rome usually consisted of sculptures depicting human images, which can be seen in the many busts of roman emperors and the etchings of emperors on the coinage. Because the Roman empire extended from England to Persia, it consited of several different types of geography including mountains, deserts, and forests. Roman civilization valued their military. Soldiers were thought of very highly and no expences where spared on the military. Roman soldiers were well trained and well equiped for battle. The romans also had a complex social structure which introduced a middle class called the plebians. The government was aristocratic meaning it had one leader. Roman government also had a senate designed to keep the emperors power in check. However the emperor could easily overstep this senate. The Roman empire was also religiously tolerant for the most part. Most romans recieved educations and valued inteligence. Rome, being so large, had a surplus of inventors creating new war machines and ways to make life easier for the civilians. Rome used currency to purchase goods or pay for labor as an alternative to trading items of equal value. These attributes show the Basis of the Roman empire.


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