In antiquity, Italy was the homeland of the Romans and the metropole of the Roman Empire. According to tradition, Rome was founded as a Kingdom on April 21, 753 BC and became a Republic in 509 BC, when the monarchy was overthrown in favor of a government of the Senate and the People. Following the Roman unification of Italy at the expense of the Etruscans, Celts, and Greeks of the peninsula, Rome led a federation of the Italic peoples to the conquest of Western Europe, Northern Africa and the Near East. In 27 BC Caesar Augustus became the first Roman Princeps and inaugurated the Pax Romana, a period of more than 200 years during which Italy's technology, economy, art and literature flourished. The crisis of the third century led to the separation of the Eastern Roman Empire from the Western Roman Empire. The Edict of Milan ended the persecution of Christians and the Edict of Thessalonica recognised religious primacy to the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. The West collapsed when Italy capitulated to the Herulians of Odoacer in 476 AD, but the legacy of the Roman Empire endured its fall and can be observed in the global distribution of culture, law, governments, Christianity and the Latin script.
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