The Roman Empire was an undisputed superpower in Western Civilization. The Romans dominated the ancient world for five hundred years. Although the empire was once a powerful kingdom various contributing factors such as, internal decay in political and military issues, economics, sociology, and religion brought about the demise of Rome. The decline and fall of the Roman Empire was a long slow process with one problem leading to another, marking the transition from Classical Antiquity to the beginning of the European Middle Ages. The Roman Empire emerged from the Roman Republic, when Octavian defeated Anthony and Cleopatra at the naval Battle of Actium in 31 B.C.E., ending the civil wars. Octavian, who came to be known by the title of Augustus became the first Roman Emperor. He transformed the Roman Empire from a republic into a monarchy. Although he instituted many important administrative reforms and continued to grant the senate a role in governing, most of the political power remained within the hands of the princeps, as he called himself. The army swore loyalty to him and the restoration of peace soon made his newly established political order acceptable to most people within the empire. .
During this period the Roman Empire spread its power and influence over a large part of Europe. Roman politics, lifestyle, and culture were introduced to various areas including France, Spain, the Netherlands, England, Northern Africa, Greece, and the Near East. The Romans brought with them a centralized government, a system of currency, roads and cities. Augustus added more territory, expanding the Roman Empire further than any other Roman. After the final pacification of Spain in 19 B.C.E, he continued his expansion by conquering the central and Maritime Alps, as well as extending Roman control to the Balkan Peninsula up to the Danube River. Augustus halted his expansion plans into Germany after the Great Catastrophe of 9 B.