Compare-and-Contrast Essay

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Please make a compare and contrast essay about these two empires:
Roman Empire
British Empire

Answer

Contents

Introduction. 1

Similarities. 2

Differences. 4

Conclusion. 6

Works Cited. 8

Analytical Essay: Comparing Two Empires: Roman Empire and British Empire

Introduction

The Roman Empire and the British Empire share some similarities and differences as well. The Roman Empire was based in Italy while the British Empire was based in England. Moreover, while the Roman Empire was restricted to Europe, the Roman Empire spread to all the continents of the world (Ando 48). The empires came into existence at different times in world history. Different tactics were used as a means of conquering other societies and gaining prominence. For instance, the British Empire thrived because of mastery of sea routes linking different continents while the Romans put more emphasis on land routes linking different parts of Europe.

Nevertheless, both empires share some striking similarities. Both were extremely large and had a lasting impact on the societies over which they exercised authority. Additionally, both empires used military conquests to acquire new territories. Both empires also used structures of hereditary leadership, which greatly contributed to their longevity. Moreover, both empires embraced highly imperialistic characteristics because they were essential for the survival. The aim of this paper is to provide a detailed analysis of the main similarities and differences between the Roman Empire and the British Empire.

Similarities

Both Empires had lasting legacies that continue to manifest themselves in the world today. The Roman Empire remains one of the ancient civilizations whose impact on the world continues to be felt in virtually all aspects of life today. Rome, which was the headquarters of this empire, continues to retain the grandeur, which illustrates the qualities that made it as one of most advanced cultures of its time. The creativity that Romans employed in the construction of roads, amphitheaters, and basilicas continues to influence modern-day construction practices in many countries. For example, in many civic buildings of the modern world, the Romanesque styling is normally adopted.

Perhaps the most important legacy of the Roman Empire is its administrative institutions in terms of government systems and legal codes. The administrative institutions that define the western political life today trace their origin to the Roman Empire. Although the western culture is not homogenous, it has been profoundly influence by the cultural practices of ancient Rome. Although Roman rulers did not adhere to democracy in its strictest form, they ensured that the idea of democratic governance was inculcated in their citizens. Through this education, democratic ideals were ultimately embedded firmly on the contemporary Western consciousness.

Like the British Empire, the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as its dominant religion. In the case of Roman Empire, this triggered a gradual process in which polytheistic religions were being replaced with monotheism. This gradual process eventually formed the foundation of the western civilization, which continued to thrive long after the fall of Rome. Christianity was transformed into a mechanism of social order as well as a unifying factor for the empire. In Britain, for instance, many administrative offices and terms of the Roman Empire, for example diocese and vicar, were adopted by the Christian church and continue to be used even today.

Similarly, the legacy of the British Empire has had its share fair of influence on the way people lead their lives in the present day. The British Empire is arguably the most remarkable achievement arising from an attempt by a sovereign state to extend its dominance over the world in the modern age. When the British Empire reached its height during the early 1900s, it had taken control over more than 20 percent of the world’s land mass that was inhabited by about 400 million people. This remarkable achievement was captured in the saying: “the sun never sets on the British Empire” (Armitage 39). This saying sheds some light on the sheer geographical spread of the empire, such that at any given time, one territory or the other was experiencing daylight hours.

Like the Roman Empire, the British Empire continues to influence the way present-day sovereign states structure their administrative and governance systems. For example, India continues to operate as a sovereign state against the backdrop of the legal, economic, and administrative structures that were established during British colonial rule. During the 17th century, Britain obtained permanent colonies in many parts of North America. The impact of this conquest continues to be felt today in the modern-day United States of America and Canada. Moreover, British colonists made remarkable efforts to spread their influence to the Far East. The present-day political structures of many Asian countries such as Burma, India, and Pakistan are based on the governance structures that had been established during British colonial rule. Following the peaceful dissolution of the empire, the newly independent states lacked the ability to establish and manage new, untested systems of governance. For expediency purposes, the newly created governments had to continue relying on the legal, economic, financial, and military frameworks that had proven to be success during British rule.

In Africa, the influence of the British Empire was equally significant. British colonists were at the forefront in the scramble for and the partitioning of Africa into colonies. Today, the boundaries that British colonists drew for administrative purposes continue to be relied upon as borders of sovereign states. Upon attaining independence, most African sovereign states did not redraw these boundaries. Again for expediency reasons, the new breed of African leaders had to continue managing the affairs of their nation-states and charting their destinies based on the socio-economic and political foundation established by Britain.

Although the British Empire has already been dissolved, its legacy lives on. For example, Britain continues to provide leadership and a framework for cooperation and assistance to virtually all its former colonies under the banner of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Within this framework, the former colonies come together to share views on how to improve on the progress that they achieved in the form of roads, hospitals, infrastructure, and canals as part of the British Empire. In broader terms, the Commonwealth of Nations forms a formidable network and a powerful frontier in the pursuit of improved living standards through advancements in diverse areas such as science, democracy, commerce, law, and agriculture.

Differences

The biggest difference between the Roman Empire and the British Empire is that the former existed in Europe and some parts of North Africa as well as the Middle East while the latter operated round the world. This variation in the geographical reach of the two empires translated into differences in the nature and magnitude of their respective legacies. The legacy of the Roman Empire was not immediately reflected in all parts of the world. In fact, most parts of the world have only come to feel the impact of this legacy through indirect means. For example, in Africa, the impact of the Roman Empire was felt largely when the British colonists introduced administrative structures that were inspired by the Roman culture. In contrast, the impact of the British Empire was directly and immediately felt in virtually all the societies that were exposed to British explorers, missionaries, merchants, and colonists.

Another major difference is that the Roman Empire thrived almost entirely on military conquests. Military conquests were relied upon in the goal of expanding the empire to cover a large part of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Although the mode of acquiring new territories for the British Empire certainly entailed a fair measure of deadly military confrontation, focus was mostly on peaceful means. Explorers and missionaries greatly contributed to efforts aimed at acquiring new territories without necessarily engaging in costly wars. For example, large colonies in Australia and North America were established by British explorers. In most cases, British colonists would resort to war after the failure of peaceful means or upon realizing that they did not stand a chance of taking over the control of a new territory peacefully in the first place.

The circumstances surrounding the collapse of the two empires are also radically different. The Roman Empire collapsed largely because of political anarchy and a series of military defeats. The leaders of the empire embarked on a task of overexpansion, which brought about numerous administrative challenges. Eventually, the split between the western and eastern empire greatly contributed to the collapse of the entire Roman Empire. Whereas the Roman Empire fell violently, the British Empire was dissolved in a relatively peaceful manner. Although pocket of resistance were experienced in some colonies, the ultimate decision to dissolve the empire did not come as an emergency. British colonists had all the time to protect their interests even as they planned to withdraw from the territories that they had been controlling for years. This strategic exit afforded Britain the opportunity to put in place structures for ensuring that the legacy of its empire would continue to manifest itself in future interactions with its former colonies. Today, this legacy lives on, for example, through the ongoing stewardship of Britain in the context of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Tyrannical rule, one of the first survival tactics of Imperial Rome, turned out to be the empire’s ultimate undoing. In the context of this rule, a rapid succession of short-, medium- and long-term reforms was necessary to ensure that the violent sea- and land-locked society stuck together. The rulers of the empire mercilessly executed everyone who rebelled against their rule. They also employed the tactic of diverting the poor and enslaving them into constructing mega projects that enhanced the lifestyles of well-off members of society. Ruins of these building projects and mammoth engineering works survive today across North Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Near East. Unfortunately, the fact that this tyrannical approach to governance was not sustainable became evident with the emergence of political rivalries, rebellions, violent conflicts, and eventual collapse of one of the most powerful empires in mankind’s history.

Conclusion

From this analysis, it is evident that there are several similarities as well as differences between the Roman Empire and the British Empire. Both empires relied on imperialist expansion for survival. Moreover, in both contexts, war was one of the instruments of territorial expansion. The most important difference is that the Roman Empire fell violently while the British Empire collapsed peacefully. Moreover, the Roman Empire was restricted to Europe, North America, and some parts of the Middle East while the British Empire extended its direct influence and dominance in all the inhabited continents of the world.

Works Cited

Ando, Clifford. Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. Print.

Armitage, David. The Ideological Origins of the British Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Print.

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