The Roman Heritage of Medieval Civilisation
The Roman state began its thousand-year life when the Latin's ejected the more sophisticated Etruscans from Rome in the sixth century BC. The Romans faced little open internal discontent and were able to concentrate their power on the frontiers until hostile forces began to threaten the Empire. The Roman Empire in the west evolved gradually into the Europe of the Germanic successor kingdoms. Aspects of Roman civilisation continued subconsciously to affect every person inhabiting what had been the Empire and consciously to inspire the leaders. The Roman society was always based, however, on status criteria such as public office-holding and lineage rather than, as now, on economic wealth. Although the Roman government became much larger from Diocletian's period, many functions that are considered the province of the state were still handled by private contract. This chapter discusses the aspect of administrative and institutional continuity from Rome more fully in.