Italy before Roman conquest In its early years, the Romans shared Italy with several other peoples. The dominant power in the neighborhood of Rome was the Etruscans. We don't know very much about these people, in part because we haven't figured out how to read their distinctive language. But the evidence suggests that Rome was ruled by Etruscan kings until the Romans revolted and established a republic — an event that is traditionally dated to 509 BC.
A British chieftain pays taxes to the Romans. One of the main factors in the fall of the Western Roman Empire was the willingness of the later empire to cede territory to non tax paying barbarian allies, who contributed soldiers, but no revenue to the Roman state - in fact barbarian Kings took on tax raising powers of their own from Roman provincials.
Before the beginning of the Roman Empire (1st century BCE), there were many empires (the Babylonian/the Persian/Macedonian). All of these empires had great leaders, yet, according to history these great men were called kings; emperor was never used. In contrast, the Roman Empire didn’t have a king; it had an emperor. Before Rome was an empire, it was a republic with a history of democratic rule. After ousting the Etruscans & their king, the city-state was ruled by a Senate. -- AHE
Wine Making; detail | c. 350 CE | Chiesa di S. Costanza (Rome, Italy) | Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. ; artres.com ; scalarchives.com | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.