According to tradition, the Roman Empire was founded in the 8th century BC by a group of fugitives lead by Aeneas, who fled from the city of Troy in Asia Minor, after the war with the Greeks in about 1000 BC. These Trojans, arrived on the shores of Italy, immediately conquered the inhabitants and ruled for numerous years. However, the Trojan king began to fear for his title when the twin sons Romulus and Remus were born to his niece and Mars, the God of War. Incensed with jealousy and fear, the king ordered the babes to be drowned. Instead, they were placed in a basket on the river. They reached safety on the banks of the Tiber River, were suckled by a she-wolf, and were raised by herdsmen.
After having discovered their royal heritage, the young princes raised an army, marched into the city and defeated their uncle, the King. The brothers decided to build a new city on the Tiber, which was their childhood home, but Remus died at the hands of a builder after they argued over the exact location of the city. As a consequence, the city was named Rome, in honor of Romulus. Suddenly one night, in the midst of a torrential rain-storm, Romulus disappeared into a conflagration and was conveyed to heaven on a chariot of fire by his father Mars. His last words were a prophecy that Rome would become the greatest city in the world. Moreover, according to the early Roman Augurs, Romulus once had a vision of 12 vultures, which were believed to represent the 12 centuries assigned for the fatal period of Rome.
Whatever its origins may be, the Roman Empire represented an intricate, ethnic jigsaw. From Neolithic times to the 2nd century AD, people from all areas of the Mediterranean world emigrated to the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire had brought about an extraordinary synthesis of peoples. A unique mosaic of Greeks, Etruscans, Illyrides, Celts, and Italic peoples were blended together into a homogenous group, that spoke the same language, worshipped the same gods, and enjoyed the same institutions. The Roman Empire came to embrace all the countries on the Mediterranean Sea, northward as far as the Rhine and England.
In the 5th century, the Roman Empire was devastated by the fierce waves of barbarian invasions. With the fall of the Roman Empire in 476, Europe lost the unity and majestic peace of the "Pax Romana" and was left unprotected from the hordes of northern barbarian tribes. The barbarians introduced the Feudal System into their conquered lands. Under this system, the vast majority of people were reduced to vassals, tilling the land and pledging allegiance to their lord, in return for the protection of the castle and the lords army. Nonetheless, the Roman Empire has a rich legacy, which is evident in the modern world, in both the Catholic religion and Roman law.