Officially it collapsed in 476, ushering in (supposedly) The Dark Ages and The Middle Ages.The Empire differed from the much later feudal notion of succession, in that it did not really have primogeniture, but carried the idea of Hereditary Republic by means of client-patronage relations, and the concept of titles passing to the blood descendant came much later, with Marcus Aurelius, and became much more of a constant in the still later Eastern Roman Empire.A great deal was direct empire: Rome had immediate authority over the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.However, Rome's peace was the result of its Hegemonic Empire.Around a quarter of Europe's capitals, and many other cities besides, claim to be built on seven hills as Rome was.Titles such as "Emperor" (derived from the Latin word , a title given to victorious generals but eventually reserved solely for the ruler of the Empire) and later Kaiser and Tsar (both derived from the word Caesar) were adopted by later European rulers.At its peak the Empire stretched from the Atlantic to the Tigris, and from the Highlands of Scotland to the deserts of North Africa.Its territorial extent covered dozens of contemporary nations and the entire Mediterranean which the Romans called "Mare Nostrum" (Our Sea).
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Not only did these client states not make war with Rome, they also served as buffers.Augustus was keen to maintain the illusion that he was a conservative restorer of public order who was ending the polarization, factionalism and violence of the Late Republican era, and as such he and his successors maintained the pretense of The Republic, with many institutions such as the Senate, Consul and other offices transferring from the Republic to the Imperial period but with much of its power reduced and its appointments carefully controlled.One-Man-Rule became the name of the game and attempts by his successors, such as Tiberius, to devolve to the Senate, only confirmed it since it led to further chaos and bad governance that only an actual tyrant could solve.One of the Pope's titles, (chief priest) was originally held by the head of the college of priests in ancient Rome.
A famous example is the Frankish King Charlemagne who was granted the title of Emperor by the Church and he likewise named his Kingdom the "Holy Roman Empire" in 800 AD.
Within Europe, it failed to penetrate north into the German speaking lands as well as Scandinavia, the Baltic coasts and Russia.